Qbic London City: Does the new hotel manage to be both chic and cheap?
Dutch hotel company Qbic opened its first property in Amsterdam in 2007, and its new London hotel is the next step in an ambitious expansion plan which aims to see 10 properties opened in the UK & Europe over the next seven years. It’s a hotel wth an intriguing concept, but will it catch on?
What is Qbic?
Qbic is a design hotel concept that aims to offer modern accommodation to the cost-conscious traveler. The company promises a spotless, soundless room, a comfortable bed, powerful shower and free Wi-Fi as standard, but also adds aesthetically pleasing surroundings, stylish rooms and funky communal areas.
Related: Read our review of the Qbic London City.
With double rooms starting from just €38 per night in Amsterdam and £69 per night in London, we were intrigued to know just how they planned to offer all this at such a competitive rate.
Introducing The Cubi
Both hotels have “the Cubi” at the heart of their rooms. This is a patented, modular cube-shaped living space that comprises pretty much everything you need in a hotel room (bed, bathroom, lights, TV) in one slick piece of furniture. These Cubis can be erected in just a few hours, meaning that large numbers of funky, modern hotel room “pods” could be built very quickly and cheaply.
While rooms vary in price depending on whether you opt for windows, special views or a larger sized room, the Cubi has exactly the same proportions in all the rooms.
What’s the catch?
Another, less touted, cost-cutting measure is that the number of staff is limited. Guests check themselves in at digital check-in desks and use keycards to pay for any food or drink during their stay. Guests are expected to be relatively independent but, while you won’t find swarms of staff on hand, there are staffers available to assist with any problems or answer travel questions.
There is also the option to buy a continental breakfast from the rather lavish buffet, which is served in the lounge each morning. You can order it advance when you book your room if you wish.
Location, location, location
The original Amsterdam property is housed in the World Trade Center while the London property has given new life to a previously disused office block in the city’s East End. Both properties are near to financial and business districts, making them especially appealing for business travelers, while still being close enough to cultural attractions, restaurants and bars.
There’s an admirable socially-conscious streak at the hotels, as well. Both have worked with local businesses and organizations, whether it’s local designers to showcase their work, hiring staff from the neighborhood, selling locally produced food, or working with charities. For example, in the London property, you may find a pop up food station courtesy of FoodCycle or join a quirky city bike tour in collaboration with BikeWorks during your stay.
Additionally, regular promotions (including 100 rooms per month in London City sold at £1) see their proceeds given to a local charity selected by the guest.
So, what’s the verdict?
While we don’t make a habit of singing the praises of chain hotels, we certainly recognize that Qbic strikes a unique balance between (usually) affordable and chic. We say “usually,” because room rates quickly go up into not-so-cheapo territory, when supply falls. On several recent searches, we were able to find doubles from £100-139, which is still reasonable for London. However, it’s hardly rock-bottom, either.
Still, we reckon that the Qbic is on to a winning combination. Which just begs the question—where next?
For more details, check out our full review of Qbic London City.