Cast back 20 years and most Brits who pounded the country’s freeways knew exactly what a Travelodge was. They were the functional hotels strategically placed at major highway intersections across the country. Good for a one-night stop to break a long drive, but hardly the sort of spot you would choose for a cozy weekend away.
Affordable London stays
There has been a revolution at Travelodge and now the brand, while not forsaking its roadhouse roots, has moved boldly into city centers across Britain to offer a creative alternative to overpriced established urban brands like Holiday Inn and Hilton.
Travelodge has built new properties in British city centers, converting old office blocks into hotels and has even taken over hotels run by flagging rivals. Thus the Travelodge Covent Garden, in the heart of London’s tourist and theatre district, was until 2004 a well-known 3-star (some say 4-star) hotel called the Drury Lane Moat House.
With its three-fold development plan (new-build, conversion and acquisition) Travelodge has expanded to become one of London’s premier room providers, and now offers almost 5 percent of all rooms in the capital. Travelodge has 44 hotels within the M25 ring and seven more London hotels are under construction.
Many travelers to London reconcile themselves too easily to extortionate hotel rates but, for those prepared to book well in advance, Travelodge offers some incredible bargains.
Rooms at Travelodge Covent Garden, just a very easy walk from the eponymous piazza (with its galaxy of chic cafés and boutiques) really can be booked for as little as £29 per night (about $47 USD). The best bargains are on Sunday and Monday nights.
If, on first checking the Travelodge Web site, no “bargain saver” rooms are available, but only the more expensive flexible rates, it is always worth checking back a few days later. As the date approaches, if bookings are light, the company often releases a new block of rooms at saver prices.
Our experience is that about four months in advance is the best time to pick real bargains. You can use the Travelodge booking facility to explore room availability at a number of different hotels in the same area for any given night.
No-frills does not mean down-market. Rooms are simple, stripped down to bare necessities, but very clean and well presented. There is an emphasis on security and privacy while the quality of the pillows and duvets is first class.
The down side? Well, if you get a sudden craving for a club sandwich at two in the morning, you are not going to get anything on room service. That said, a lot of us just don’t need such creature comforts. That, at least, is the view of some British senior citizens who have found that living long-term in a Travelodge may be much cheaper and more convenient than having their own home.