“Excellent low-price stay in London's Earl's Court, with useful kitchenettes for self-catering”

Review by Fiona Duncan, published 2nd March 2008.

Robert Nadler, co-creator of Base2Stay, is the first proprietor I can recall who asked me, implored me even, to tell him of anything – anything – that I think he might have got wrong in his hotel’s bedrooms. Highly unusual: many hoteliers, especially big city ones, would rather fry their own brains than take notice of what they consider the idiosyncratic nitpickings of the mere guest.

But not Nadler. “Write them down,” he urges me. OK, you said it, I thought, jumping at the chance of being allowed to let rip with my usual list of bugbears. And so, after a thorough inspection, I sat down at my comfortable “workstation”, pen in hand. And, wouldn’t you know it, found I had nothing to say.

If Base2Stay had been the much more expensive hotel I’d stayed in the night before, my list would have been protracted. Inadequate storage, nowhere to put a suitcase, awkward plug sockets, no proper shelf space in the bathroom, poor lighting, scuffed paint, tired furnishings... I could go on. But in my functional yet somehow calm and soothing first-floor room overlooking domestic gardens, I could find nothing to criticise – well, almost.

My suitcase stowed away neatly under the bed and there was more than adequate storage for clothes in a sleek, fitted wardrobe. Sockets were just where I wanted them. The bathroom was sensible rather than fancy, with bath and shower (some have wet rooms), a luxurious pile of towels and a long shelf for wash bags.

The room was fresh and immaculate, with its white walls and white blinds. Best of all, hidden inside the twin of the clothes wardrobe was a cleverly disguised miniature kitchen: fridge, microwave, kettle, attractive crockery, cutlery and glasses. Enough equipment to enable guests to eat in – perfect for those moments when a dwindling budget dictates a spot of belt-tightening. And since these are semi-apartments, your visitors can come and go as they please without feeling awkward.

Many hotels erroneously declare themselves a “new concept”, but Base2Stay has the right to do so. Somewhere between serviced apartments and b&b, its high standards and low (for central London) room rates are achieved by cutting out “F and B’” (food and beverage), cutting right down on extras and being transparent about any additional costs, which are minimal. “Edited service”, Nadler calls it.

Instead of a restaurant or room service, there’s a comprehensive list of addresses for eating both in and out. You’ll find it on the (free) plasma-screen internet/television/music library, plus vending machines at normal prices and a £3.99 “breakfast box” on request. The result is the first London hotel that I can recommend without a qualm to the stream of people, here and abroad, who bemoan the fact that they can’t afford a decent place to stay in our capital.

Back to my list. I know there’s a bin in the kitchenette, Mr Nadler, but I’d have liked a wastepaper basket under the desk as well. Oh, and in the next Base2Stay, I think there should be a reception room for guests. However “edited” the service, one often needs to hang around downstairs before leaving the building and it’s awkward having nowhere to sit.

That’s it. Thank you for the opportunity.

25 Courtfield Gardens, London SW5 (0845 262 8000; Doubles from £99.

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