Much as I love London, staying overnight can be expensive. Even basic hostels add up, and the big hotels can blow your bank balance!
Usually I look forward to staying with friends, but sometimes you need a hotel if you’ll be out late, up early, or want to enjoy London for longer. As a frugal blogger, I was fascinated to see if it was possible to offer a stylish hotel for less.
Nowadays, working from home around the school run, I’m rarely away overnight. Even when we go on holiday, we usually stick to self-catering. Hotel stays are few and far between.
But way back pre husband and pre kids, in a previous job when I knew flight times better than the local bus schedule, I stayed in hotels a lot. Think weeks of my life (and not all of them queuing for reception). From fancy 5 star for work to backpacker hostels, I’ve been there, done that and nabbed the mini shampoo.
Regardless of price, I like hotels that are welcoming, efficient and make my life easier. If there’s something extra about the experience – great food, stylish design, good location – all the better.
Why Point A?
So here’s the info. Point A is a small chain of family run hotels. Six branches across London, one in Glasgow, and more to come.
Prices start from just £69 a night, including speedy wi fi for free, power showers, 24 hour reception and discounts at local restaurants, bars and salons.
The cost varies depending on which day, when you book and whether you want a room with a window. But if you join the A-List loyalty scheme, you’ll get 10% off bookings, plus other benefits including free use of a local gym when staying at the Shoreditch, Liverpool Street and Glasgow hotels.
So for example on a Sunday night in February, you could book a room without a window at Point a Shoreditch for as little as £54, but even a Saturday night would come in under £100. If you try to book but the hotel is full, Point A shows prices at its other London locations with availability.
Affordable rooms, convenient locations and extra value? Sounded like much more with less to me.
Point A location
First off – the location of the Point A Shoreditch was super convenient for me. It’s only 10 minutes walk from Liverpool Street station, and about 5 minutes away from my event in Moorgate.
Point A Shoreditch is on a quiet road, and the City is always quieter at weekends, so I wasn’t disturbed by any traffic noise. I did hear several hotel guests chatting away as they stumbled back to their rooms, but it didn’t keep me awake.
It’s a fab location if you’ll be working the City, fancy visiting East London, or want to be near Liverpool Street station for the Stansted Express. Not so great if your vision of London is all about Buckingham Palace and Notting Hill, though you could nip over pretty quickly on the tube.
The other Point A hotels in London are also in useful locations rather than tourist traps: Liverpool Street, Kings Cross, Paddington, Canary Wharf and Westminster.
Check in and reception
Paul Street may be pretty grey, but I was positively surprised when I walked into Point A Shoreditch.
The reception was bright and stylish, with a funky mural, digital jukebox and lots of mirrors reflecting the light. All good for Instagram! It was buzzing at breakfast time, when I arrived early to drop off my bag, before returning to check in after the conference.
Officially you can check in from 3pm and need to check out before 11am. You can also pay extra if you want your room earlier or later – £20 to check in from 11am, £30 to check out up to 2pm, depending on availability.
As a veteran of waiting around to check in, I was impressed. Point A had several stands, rather than one desk with a single queue. I arrived clutching a print out with my booking number, but the receptionist found my booking immediately just using my surname. You’ll need to show photo ID and the credit card used to book.
I was given a key card, told how it worked, then given info on directions to my room, crucial wi fi instructions and breakfast times. The receptionist disappeared very briefly to fetch the bag I’d left that morning, and the whole experience was fast and friendly.
Point A bedrooms
No getting it round it, the rooms are small. (Think Point A prefers the term ‘compact’)
There was just about enough space to get round the bed. So pretty standard squeezed size for London/Paris/New York budget hotels. (Point A do also offer a few wheelchair accessible rooms).
My room had a window, although you can pay about a tenner less for rooms that don’t. Plus many cheers that I could actually open the window, if I wanted fresh air rather than relying on the air conditioning.
The rooms may be small, but like the lobby, they are stylish.
Bright white, scrupulously clean, with graphic designs on the curtains, loads of mirrors and another mural in the same style as the lobby. A world away from twee flower pictures and a Corby trouser press.
The lighting was fun to play with – you could choose different colours, red, blue, green, and even different tones of white. My gripe is that when the door closed after entering the room, I was left scrabbling around in the dark, trying to shove my keycard in a slot to turn the lights on. The slot itself was illuminated, but normally there’s dim lighting in the entrance to a hotel room.
Most importantly, the bed had crisp white bedding, the mattress was nice and firm, and I got a good night’s sleep. If Hypnos mattresses mean anything to you – Point A has them.
Whoever designed the rooms had thought hard about making the most of a limited space. Interested in tiny house living? Point A could give you some great tips.
The TV was a flat screen set into the wall, with a remote beside it in a little wall mounted holder. Rather than cram in a wardrobe or even a hanging rail, there were hangers on knobs and a coat hook. No desk or table with a chair either – instead, fold down panels in front of the bed, and a folding chair hung on the wall. Not even a luggage rack to put your suitcase on, but instructions to store your suitcase under the bed.
The safe that you’d normally expect to find inside a wardrobe doubled up as a bedside table. And instead of wasting space on bedside lamps, there were bulbs set into the ceiling directly above the pillows.
I was rather glad there were only shelves rather than drawers or cupboards, so I was less likely to leave anything behind. I was also delighted by the well positioned plugs half way up the walls – no scrabbling around at floor level every time you wanted to charge your mobile or plug in a laptop. The hairdryer was also visible in cubby hole on the wall, rather than buried at the back of a drawer. No iron or ironing board, but an ironing room downstairs.
Basically, you could see everything – TV, remote, safe, hairdryer, shelves, hangers. If you couldn’t see it – it wasn’t there.
Because it was also facinating to see what had been stripped out. Ditching hotel consumables must help keep prices down, by cutting the time and expense to replace them. On the plus side, it’s also environmentally friendly in cutting waste.
Point A doesn’t provide dinky milk cartons, tea, coffee, biscuits, mugs, teaspoons or a kettle. No extortionate mini bar either. If you’d like a drink, try the tap, or buy one in the lobby. Food? With no room service, you can buy snacks in the lobby, wait for breakfast, or stock up at a supermarket. They’ve cleared the clutter of decorative cushions, blankets, hotel phones, pens, paper, laundry bags, dressing gowns, slippers, sewing kits, shoe polishing mitts, shower caps and individual soaps. The bathroom stuck to refillable dispensers for tissues, liquid soap and fruity multi-purpose body/hair wash. At least there were a couple of spare loo rolls!
There wasn’t even a sheaf of marketing leaflets and a hotel directory – just clear instructions on the wall by the door.
Point A bathroom
Again, I thought the bathroom was compact but stylish, all white, chrome and mosaic tiles.
I was happy with a shower cubicle rather than a bath. But if your idea of a hotel stay involves a luxurious soak in a claw footed tub, Point A isn’t for you. The room came with a couple of bath towels, but no hand towels, and no heated towel rail either. Instead, there was a towel hook and a towel rail on the back of the frosted glass bathroon door, which doubled as a door handle (clever).
Thank goodness the shower was easy to operate, without a degree in engineering. Clear temperature control at one end and pressure at the other. I did have to clamber into the shower cubicle before I could turn it on. Luckily, you can control the flow until the water warms up, without being struck by a jet of freezing water.
Note if you’re more than one night – rooms are only cleaned every third day, rather than every day at most hotels. Wonder how many people stay in such a central location for more than a night or two?
Join the A-List
One extra Point A does provide is the A-List loyalty programme. As mentioned, this provides 10% off future bookings. You can also use a local DW Fitness First gym for free during your stay, when booked at reception.
There was also a smattering of offers at local independent bars, restarants and businesses. Examples include:
- 20% off at Shoreditch nails
- 15% off at Goldentours.com
- limited savings on food and drinks nearby
- reduced rate mid week at Ballie Ballerson, the cocktail bar ball pit (!)
Point A breakfast
Sadly, the budget hotel room rate doesn’t stretch to breakfast.
Instead, at Point A Shoreditch, you can pay £9 for the well-stocked breakfast bar, or head out elsewhere in London.
‘The Brekkie’ includes hot drinks, fruit juices, cereal, fruit, yogurt and pastries. This isn’t a hotel with a full english fry up.
You can sit down to eat in the breakfast area at the back of the lobby. (Better believe I went straight for one of the circular booths).
However, if you’re in a hurry, you can just grab stuff and go, unlike some hotels where you’re forced to wait around to be served.
Point A Shoreditch summary
Overall, I was really impressed with Point A Shoreditch. The bedrooms were small but stylish, cleverly designed to pack in all the essentials. The only ‘extra’ I missed was a kettle to make tea.
But otherwise the lobby was buzzing, the staff were friendly and efficient and breakfast was healthy and fast. Touches like the mural in the lobby and the digital jukebox gave it far more character and cred than the bland box of a Travelodge or Premier Inn. I also liked that the A list loyalty scheme featured handpicked local businesses – and also gives you 10% off future bookings!
Now – over to you. Ever tried a Point A Hotel? Any top tips for the best budget places to stay in London? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!
Disclaimer: I was given a one night stay plus breakfast in Point A Shoreditch in exchange for this review, but all views are my own.
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