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Royal National Hotel 3.0

Bloomsbury, London, England

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Set in cultural Bloomsbury and Camden, close to sights and shopping
  • Basic rooms have TVs, free Wi-Fi, and tea-and-coffee-making facilities
  • Multiple eateries, including a pizzeria, traditional pub, and lounge 
  • Two-minute walk to Russell Square Underground station 
  • Conveniently located for Covent Garden, Oxford Street, and London landmarks
  • A sophisticated and contemporary style in City Sleeper rooms 
  • Multiple meeting spaces and five dining and drinking outlets on-site
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Some rooms and corners of the hotel are dated
  • Food and beverage program doesn't get the most enthusiastic marks
  • Rooms don’t have air-conditioning
  • Housekeeping issues have been reported

Bottom Line

The Royal National hotel is a mid-range property in the Bloomsbury area of Camden. It has a convenient setting nestled between trendy Clerkenwell and affluent Fitzrovia, with Covent Garden to the south and King’s Cross station to the north. Housed in a hulking building with a gray-brown exterior, as of 2018, most of the simple rooms are a bit dated and plain, but sufficient for short city stays. Amenities include TVs, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and desks, but no air-conditioning. However, City Sleeper rooms are modern and fresh, and worth the upgrade. Amenities include Blooms Pizza Cafe, though dining gets mixed reviews. Rates are good, though, especially for the central London location. For a more stylish stay, consider Mercure London Bloomsbury instead, though be prepared to pay more.

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Scene

Mid-range hotel with a casual vibe that's best for short stays in a cool area

Bedford Way, the street where The Royal National is set, isn’t the prettiest street in Bloomsbury but pockets of greenery and pleasing architecture are close by. From the outside, you get a feeling of the scale of the place, with a huge featureless frontage broken up only by the hotel’s name emblazoned in block capitals on it. The neighboring buildings have the same flat appearance and unfortunately, things aren’t much more interesting inside. The lobby is expansive, yet manages to be devoid of any seating, artwork, or personality, save a few potted plants and cash machines. The low ceilings don’t help matters, neither do the aged monochrome floor tiles. There’s nothing to remind guests that they're staying in a fashionable area of London, steeped in a rich literary history. As far as social vibes go, guests head for one of the five dining and drinking options inside the hotel. The highlight of these is Blooms Pizza Cafe, the newest and nicest addition with an outside courtyard and sleek style indoors. The London Pub also showcases some much-needed flair, with an old-English style, bar stools, and dark wood. Elsewhere, the vast spaces can feel cavernous and impersonal rather than regal and grandiose, as the hotel’s name would suggest, with the Pavilion Roastery and The Coffee Place too closely resembling canteens to really appeal to guests. This hotel does offer extremely good rates and -- as a result -- guests tend to be budget leisure travelers looking for a no-frills base as they explore London. 

Location

Convenient setting for sightseeing and shopping, just two minutes on foot from Russell Square station

This hotel’s location is its main draw, and is unanimously appreciated by guests. The Royal National sits in Bloomsbury, an artsy and cultural part of Camden. There are numerous restaurants and bars in the vicinity and Russell Square Underground station is a two-minute walk away, just across the road from Great Ormond Street Hospital. It takes five minutes to walk to The British Museum, with the route passing the Russell Square gardens. St. Pancras International takes 15 minutes to reach on foot, or a 10-minute train journey. Covent Garden -- home to several theaters -- is a 20-minute walk or a short 10-minute train journey. Oxford Street is a slightly longer 25-minute walk or 15-minute train ride away. For business guests it’s a straightforward 15-minute train journey to the city, picking up the Piccadilly line from Russell Square Station then changing to the Central line to get to Bank. Top London landmarks like Big Ben take 20 minutes and two trains to reach. Heathrow is the closest airport and takes around 45 minutes in a taxi, depending on the traffic, and over an hour by train. Budget an hour to reach Gatwick Airport by train.

Rooms

Mostly dull and dated, with standard amenities, but City Sleeper rooms are fresher and more contemporary

The rooms at The Royal National Hotel are fit for purpose, but little else. Overall, they aren’t particularly attractive, and the design scheme is best characterized as an upmarket motel look. Most rooms have faded carpets in old-fashioned royal blue with gold patterns. The walls blend into the light-wood furniture giving everything a beige hue. There are patterned curtains in a random purple-red hue, which is only exacerbated by the equally dated patterns on the bedspreads. The artwork is of the generic kind found in some budget hotels and does little to add any warmth or character to the rooms.

Things are much better in the newer City Sleeper rooms. Interiors in these rooms consist of a stylish gray palette, with brickwork effect carpets, modern tub armchairs, gray walls, and an attractive punch of color from the blue headboards. The artwork is a contemporary take on London’s skyline in black-and-white with yellow accents. The result is a more sophisticated look and feel than the older rooms. Larger rooms add sofas. There are also decent sized desks in all rooms, with large mirrors.

Amenities include TVs, telephones, free Wi-Fi, plus tea-and-coffee-making facilities and wardrobes, but no safes. Ironing boards and irons, hairdryers, and mini-fridges are available on request. Unfortunately, there is no air-conditioning, and some previous guests have complained about housekeeping issues. Most bathrooms are old-fashioned, with shower curtains and small tiles. The newer bathrooms have larger gray tiles and sleek black countertops.

Features

Numerous dining options including a pizzeria, pub, and coffee shop, plus meeting rooms 

This hotel has perhaps bitten off more than it can chew with an extensive list of dining and drinking options. While it has ample room to house them all, guests complain of below par food in many establishments, and the atmosphere can be lacking in some of these spaces. Blooms Pizza Cafe is the most recent addition and the nicest. Outside there’s a small courtyard with attractive foliage climbing on the fences. The Meeting Place is the hotel’s bar-cum-lounge, odd as they already have a pub and plenty of lounge areas. Inside there’s a pleasant mix of handsome brown leather and plush turquoise fabrics. Breakfast is served here and takes the form of a continental buffet. Elsewhere there’s The London Pub, which resembles an old-school boozer, complete with bar stools and plenty of dark wood. A traditional menu including burgers and fish and chips is served here. Less successful is the hotel’s Coffee Place, a canteen-esque space serving hot and cold drink and pastries. Royal National is part of the Imperial London Hotels Group, so you can access all of the group’s facilities. Guests staying here may prefer to head to Tavistock Hotel -- just around the corner -- which has a lovely Art Deco bar inspired by Virginia Woolf called Woolf and Whistle. Alternatively, the Bedford Hotel -- a seven-minute walk away -- has two communal areas superior to the ones found at Royal National called The Library and Bloom and Whistle. The Imperial London Hotels Group also has 30 meeting rooms across three of its Bloomsbury hotels for events, banquets, and business requests.

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Address

38-51 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0DG, United Kingdom