Review by Fiona Duncan, published 3rd January 2010.
I'm lying in bed in one of those bruised-looking rooms that are standard fare for urban hotels these days, its large windows dressed in double curtains of purple gauze behind purple and gold stripes; brown, purple and gold cushions and a padded, dark brown, oversized headboard for the white-sheeted, good quality bed; beige walls, walnut furniture, leather and chrome armchair.
Given the contemporary, masculine, brooding character of the bedroom I could easily be in a Malmaison hotel, but I'm not; nor am I in any other hotel, because if I were, I wouldn't be faced with last night's washing up as I groggily pass the kitchen on the way to the bathroom.
For here, in the centre of Leeds, a short walk from the train station and the city's famously impressive shopping district, I'm in a brand new "aparthotel", with an entire two-bedroom apartment at my disposal, just for one night (you can book for a night or a year at Roomzzz). I'm trying out the new breed of flexible, affordable, boutique-style accommodation that's starting to emerge here in direct competition to hotels.
Roomzzz in Leeds is certainly taking off. This City branch, opened in June, is the third and latest. By the end of the year, it will have a Manchester branch, in what was the Yang Sing Oriental, the city's first boutique hotel that opened in the teeth of the recession, after massive investment, and promptly closed. The operators of Roomzzz are on to something; they won't be standing still, and doubtless competitors will soon start mimicking them.
Affordability matched with high standards is the aim, and thus you'll find Smeg appliances in your cleverly designed and well-equipped kitchen (complete with fridge, dishwasher, washer-dryer, microwave and hob), an Apple computer and television with Freeview in your living area, and Kudos bath products in your underfloor-heated shower room, all from £69 per night (Fridays and Sundays) for a "Smart Studio" and £135 per night for a two-bedroom "Maxima Suite" such as mine, with a "Grande Studio" or "Liberty Suite" in between. Complimentary local and national calls are also included in the price plus Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, hairdryer, iron and ironing board.
So what am I missing? There's no room service, of course, or public areas, bar the functional lobby. Rooms are cleaned and linen changed every three days, though you can request a daily clean at no extra charge. There's free coffee and pastries, plus basic items for sale, in the lobby.
There's a greater feeling of privacy, shut in your own self-contained mini-house, but there's absolutely none of the atmosphere of a people-fuelled hotel, Malmaison or otherwise.
Swinegate (0113 233 0400; www.roomzzz.co.uk) Doubles from £69. One adapted 'Grande Studio' for guests with disabilities. For information on trains to Leeds, contact National Express East Coast Trains (08457 225225; www.eastcoast.co.uk) More hotel reviews by Fiona Duncan at www.thehotelguru.com