I stayed at the College in September after paying in full in order to secure a single room with ensuite, as required, four months in advance. It was my first trip to London and I chose to stay there, without doing much comparison shopping, because I liked both the location and the idea of supporting the college. All the photos I'd seen looked fine and I was wow-ed by the uplifting virtual tour on their website.
Very clean and with attention to the environment.
My room was a tiny corner basement with a nice ensuite bathroom. It had one glass door as its only security, facing directly onto a cement wall, just a few feet away, with sidewalk at ground level above. The room was modern and brightly lit for a basement; it had no TV, a clock radio, a telephone, handy provisions for making coffee and tea, and shampoo and soap in the bathroom. Walls were bare and both bedspread and drape were the same solid colour. It had standard residence furniture: a bed, desk, chair, and metal shelving. There was nothing wrong with the room/I had expected just this: a bare residence room. However, its being both modern and underground caused it to feel like a stark, white box that became claustrophobic with the drape pulled -- a necessity for privacy from the outside space and the street above, especially at night. So I stayed out of it.
Desk and cafeteria staff were business-like. Room attendants were pleasant.
I had found it difficult to communicate with the college while arranging the booking. I rarely got straight answers to my email queries. Their replies, that seemed to be mostly form letters, shared a common theme: send money/read the Terms and Conditions. Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to press further.
Not sure how their system for allotting rooms works, but I assume they don't reserve specific rooms or room types when you book. I had no forewarning that I was in a different building than where they had told me to go. (As a result, I had to hike quite a distance from building to building with luggage, after walking from the tube.)
Also, the explanations for why I was stuck in a corner basement -- they said there was absolutely nowhere I could move because they were fully booked -- after paying so far in advance and indicating that a view mattered to me, made no sense. I was first told that the building they had booked for me was being refurbished. Then I was told that it had no ensuites (??) and that this building "was an upgrade anyway" (??).
No one was on duty who could discuss a refund. (Hadn't memorized the Terms and Conditions to see how it applied in such a case: I hadn't realized that basement rooms were even an option.) Didn't want to spend my first night in London dealing with the issue any further, so I dropped it, and no manager subsequently contacted me.
Breakfast was excellent, both hot and cold, lots of selection and very satisfying. Weekend breakfast service felt more relaxed with what seemed to be tourists as patrons; on Monday, the school/work-day pressure hit the cafeteria and I felt like I was back in university.
Ideal. Fantastic proximity to really wonderful, major sights. In an upbeat neighbourhood where I felt safe coming in at night along the streets. Also closeby are a selection of pubs, cafes, 'Pret a Manger', and other healthy food take-away places.
The college is a bit of a walk from the tube (maybe 10+ minutes) that can be done either above- or below-ground from nearby underground entrances. Buildings on campus that I needed to access are not that close to one another. In my case, my room was in one; the front desk was in the building next door; and breakfast was served in a building that was a bit short of 10 minutes from my room. Guests are provided access to two computers situated next to the front desk. There is also a small variety shop on campus.
I paid an average of $103 CDN after taxes each night for a single ensuite (charged two different rates for the room over my stay). This price can buy more in other countries but this is not a fair comparison because perhaps this is the best one can do in London. In my case, in retrospect, I would have paid more for more, not only because of my disappointment about my room, but, through no fault of the college -- they do not pretend to be anything but a student residence -- staying there, I did miss having a few frills that I either hadn't realized would matter to me or had wrongfully assumed would have been in place, and that would have made my first time in London less complicated and more memorable.
If you want a clean bed, shower, and breakfast, close to everything, and you can surrender your control about all aspects of your booking, then you won't be disappointed if you stay at the College. Suggest reviewing guest photos on this site.
If you are looking for warmth, hospitality, atmosphere -- if you need to feel like you are on vacation where you stay, and you neither want to feel like you're back in college nor be treated like a student -- this is not for you. Above all, don't expect guest service or hotel-style amenities (even as simple as being able to access everything in one building or catching some local telly before bed).
Suggest phoning and speaking directly to a person, rather than emailing queries, before booking.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Princes Gardens is located within easy walking distance of South Kensington Tube station and attractions, including the Royal Albert Hall, Natural History, Science and V&A museums, Harrods and Hyde Park. Part of Imperial College Prince's Gardens accommodation offers over 700 contemporary bedrooms set around a quiet leafy square in central London. Guests can benefits from: • 24 hours Reception • Buffet Style Full English/Continental Breakfast • Tea/Coffee making facilities in each room • Daily Housekeeping Service • Complimentary access to Ethos gym and swimming pool • Communal areas • 45 min. train ride from Heathrow Airport ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Imperial College Hotel London