A budget hotel at a budget price – but sometimes you really should pay more.
Even though I now live in Yorkshire, I still regularly head back to London. Last weekend was one such time. I was down for three days for my last day in my full-time job and a two-day festival, meeting up with different friends each day. Though I could have sofa-surfed each night, I’d had to bring a small suitcase with me, and I couldn’t take that to the festival. So I looked for hotels.
Now these aren’t cheap most weekends in London, but as this was a bank holiday prices were sky high. Fortunately, EasyHotel ran a flash sale, and I managed to get three nights at the EasyHotel in Croydon for a total of £95. It was a bit further out that I’d have liked, but a lot cheaper than a more central location.
At that price I expected things to be basic – which they were – but I didn’t expect what actually happened during my stay which . So I’ve broken this review down into two parts. The uneventful first two nights, and the stressful, sleep-deprived third night,
My first two nights – the EasyHotel review
The room was very basic. But I knew it would be. I’d paid a little more to get a room with a window, though these aren’t rooms you’re going to spend much time in even if you do have a little natural light.
The room contained two single beds. That’s pretty much it. No wardrobe, TV, side tables or stand for your luggage. There was a fixed coat hanger which I used to hang my towel after showering.
The bathroom was also very basic and very small, managing to cram in a loo, a sink and a shower. But it worked fine – though the single soap/shower gel dispenser didn’t pump so I had to take the lid off and scoop to wash my hands!
I actually slept OK both nights, though it was a very hot weekend and the fan wasn’t great. But I actually thought it’s not a bad place for someone travelling on their own. However, I wouldn’t have stayed there with another person – there just wasn’t enough room.
As I was on my own I used the second bed to lay out my suitcase and other things. If I’d had to put it on the floor it would have been incredibly difficult to get in and out of the bed and move around the room. Double rooms are no different, you’ve just space both sides of the bed rather than between the beds.
(Oh, a side note, there was a very random “shop” off the main lobby dedicated to all things “Easy”. Such as free luggage tags for EasyJet and beach balls for EasyHolidays. A really big shop and really weird. I’ve no idea why it exists.)
My third night – a stay is about more than a room
My festival was in East London and finished at 11pm, so I didn’t get back to the hotel until around 12.30, where I found all the guests waiting in the lobby. Other guests reported water streaming down walls and through light fittings and electrical sockets. Water was visably dripping through the ceiling in the hallways, and the leak went all the way from the seventh floor down to the toilets on the ground floor by reception. Guests were a mix of upset, angry and confused, and above all concerned for their safety. It certainly didn’t seem like a good idea to go back to the rooms!
The fire brigade arrived just before 1am and left not long after. I didn’t speak with them but other guests reported them as saying people really shouldn’t go back to their rooms. When EasyHotel’s maintenance crew arrived at 2am they found water had also come through the main electrical switcher cupboards, as well as knocking out some of the fire alarms. I was told that really no one should have been allowed back into the hotel until this had been checked and repaired.
However, the communication from the staff member was all over the place, saying both go to your rooms and don’t go to your rooms, sometimes in the same sentence. And at no time did anyone from EasyHotel head over to help the beleaguered desk clerk (when I checked out out the next day at 8.30 am I was told the manager himself wasn’t due in until 10am!) Whether it’s poor training or just the lack of a crisis management process, the situation was handled awfully.
And this is the major reason I’d not stay in an EasyHotel again. Ok, there wasn’t another incident that night, or cause for a further evacuation, but if there had been I’ve no confidence in the equipment or the competence of the staff to get everyone out safe. Even when I’m paying less for a basic room, I still expect there to be processes and standards in place that don’t affect my safety. You can’t cut corners on heath and safety.
But there’s another reason I’m giving EasyHotel the thumbs down.
During all this I found a disabled couple on the fifth floor who had been left there since the alarm went off. They were very distressed, and not clear what was going on. I made the desk clerk aware of this, and asked him to prioritise helping them – either directly or by getting someone from further up the chain to assist. This did not happen. I was told it was not possible to rehouse them at a different hotel. The disabled couple did manage to get downstairs on their own around 3am, having had no contact from the staff, with the woman in tears. They were still in the lobby at 8.30am when I left for my train.
I think this is appalling. There was another disabled guest who was also virtually ignored, though she’d made it down to reception on her own earlier. Yes it was stressful for the staff member, and yes the fire brigade hadn’t evacuated the hotel, but the treatment this couple got was just not on, and it’s something EasyHotel needs to address. Another reason why I won’t be giving any more money to EasyHotel.
At least I got my money back
As for me, well my room on the sixth floor was one of those flooded. It was lucky I had put my suitcase and belongings on the second bed as otherwise it would all have been sitting in a centimetre of water. Ok, not great. And I’d obviously not be able to sleep there that night. Though the hotel was apparently sold out, at around 4.30, as one of the last remaining guests still unable to return to their room, I was finally given a new room that wasn’t flooded. I got about three hours sleep before I had to go!
The next day I was offered the money back for that night and a free stay back at the EasyHotel Croydon. No chance. However, a few more emails and I got the money back for the whole stay – another example where it pays to ask for what you want and not take what you’re offered when you complain.
What EasyHotel say
I asked EasyHotel to respond to the following questions, and you can read their responses further down the page. I’ve offered to discuss what happened with them further, so we’ll see what happens.
My questions for EasyHotel
1. Why did the hotel manager or a senior member of the EasyHotel/EasyGroup team not immediately begin travelling to the hotel to help deal with the issue?
2. What is the policy for evacuation and returning to rooms after a fire alarm?
3. What should have happened with disabled guests when a fire alarm is raised?
4. Is there a policy to rehouse at-risk guests? If so what is it?
5. What is the “crisis management” or equivalent policy to assist the member of staff and communicate with upset/angry guests?
6. Which of these policies were not followed, and why?
7. What training is given to members of staff to deal with situations like this?
‘Parts of London experienced torrential rain on Saturday night. Unfortunately, some rooms in our Croydon hotel were affected by flooding due to the extraordinary volume of rain that fell.
The Fire Brigade were called to attend by the Hotel management team as a precautionary measure. Clearly this was disruptive, but guest safety is our number one priority.
Clearly, this was a significant and complex disruption in the middle of the night and we have apologised to all guests affected for the inconvenience caused. Guests were offered a late-checkout due and all affected guests have been offered a full refund.
At no time did the Fire Brigade advise evacuation. Had they done so, we would have acted immediately. Guests were never in any danger and all electrical systems in the hotel are fully protected from water. Our crisis management policies were followed. On the Fire Brigade’s advice we moved affected guests to alternative rooms in the hotel once we had been given the all-clear. Only two rooms were taken out of service as a result of the flooding.
For guests with impaired or limited mobility we have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan. Had the Fire Brigade asked us to evacuate, the plan would have been enacted immediately.
Our staff worked hard, in challenging circumstances, to resolve the incident. We have instructed a contractor to review the capacity of the Hotel’s drainage and guttering system to ensure that this freak incident does not recur.
With any incident, we carry out a post-incident review. Guest safety is our number one priority. If there are lessons to be learnt, we will do so and revise our policies accordingly.’