Ibis Blackfriars, London – Hotel Review
Ibis Blackfriars, London
by Ceri Saunders
If there’s one thing that’s certain about university reunions, it’s that choosing a destination to do them is always difficult. However, fortunately for myself and my now Staffordshire- and Surrey-based pals, my relocation from rural Shropshire to well-networked York did make the decision slightly easier this time around.
The criteria: A location that was easy and cheap to get to, offering a reasonably priced hotel to rest our weary heads while giving us all we would ever want and more from a long weekend. The answer: Yep, you guessed it – London.
With the quickest of LNER’s direct offerings transporting you from York to London King’s Cross in just an hour and 53 minutes, getting to the capital from God’s Own County is a doddle – and comfortable, too.
But where would we stay? After spamming our WhatsApp group with scores of suggestions in the run up to our chosen date, it became clear that there was one standout choice that made life easier for all of us: Ibis Blackfriars.
“Well-versed in hospitality”
Conveniently a stone’s throw from Southwark Tube station, it is just minutes from the ever-popular foodie wonderland that is Borough Market, the Tate, St Paul’s Cathedral and plenty of other must-see/must-do sights and landmarks – and its zone 1 location means you’re not forking out for travel across London. Perfect.
Ibis is a brand synonymous with travel – wherever you are, it has your back. With some 1,100 Ibis hotels in the UK alone, and its parent its parent group, Accor Hotels boasting more than 3,700 hotels in its portfolio around the world, and in more than 100 countries, the numbers speak for themselves. With brands including Raffles, Sofitel and Onefinestay under its belt – along with Ibis, Ibis Styles and even Ibis Budget – it’s clear they’re well-versed in hospitality.
This was to be my first stay in an Ibis in the capital, having previously stayed at one of their offerings in Liverpool – and having been seriously impressed, I was very much looking forward to it.
Ibis’s aim is to provide comfort and convenience teamed with both vibrancy and simplicity, and Ibis Blackfriars’ lobby reflected that immaculately.
Walking into it was like a breath of fresh air after my crowded Friday evening rush hour from King’s Cross (note to self: take advantage of earlier trains next time).
Ceilings were tall and lights were bright, as was its décor. I immediately clocked the huge ‘egg’ chairs either side of the room, occupied by plenty of happy customers.
Friendly staff were on hand to greet me and check my reservation, before having time to ask about my visit and my journey. Manners can go a long way in making you feel welcome – and are rarely found in central London hotels.
I opted to relax in the bar while I waited for my weekend companions, tastefully finished with a mixture of bold, modern décor and classic lighting.
“Thrilled with our choice”
I had landed in time for dinner at the hotel’s Fogg’s restaurant, served from 6pm to 10pm every evening to cater for weary late arrivers. Inspired by the ‘spirit of global adventure’, its menu offers a year-round range of fragrant soups, salads and pizzas as well as diner-style comfort food, and for an average price of around £11 a head. But a late lunch means I instead peruse the cocktail menu (naturally), with a combination of sophisticated classics and more exotic numbers at a price you might expect for this part of town, but no more.
After my chums arrived and we had spent longer than anticipated putting the world to rights, we made our way up to our rooms. I was placed with my gal pal in a ‘city view’ double on the 10th floor of the hotel – and a city view it was indeed.
From our window we could take in vast view of the Thames as well as the iconic Oxo Tower and even a glimpse of Westminster and the London Eye, illuminated in all of its night time glory. There’s no doubt that we were thrilled with our choice of location.
Our room is equipped with a sumptuous double bed, dressed with pillows a plenty, plus a couple of spares, just in case – just what we’d need for our two nights in the capital. It also has a modern and effective air con unit, ironing board, ample clothes-hanging space (and hangers), a hairdryer and a decent stash of tea- and coffee-making facilities – it is clear that ibis wants our stay to be as stress-free Amazing nuias possible. Though compact, we knew we wouldn’t have to go out of our way to make short residency comfortable.
The bathroom – again, compact, to say the least – was bright, clean and decked out with one of the most glorious showers I have used in a long, long time. Perhaps I’m easily pleased, but a powerful, easy-to-use shower that operates at a ‘normal’ temperature that neither freezes nor scalds you truly is one of life’s finer pleasures.
After scoping out our room, we decide to venture back out into the outside world, this time opting to bypass the hotel’s bar and take a short stroll to the fashionable Flat Iron Square, housing a host of incredible selection of street food-style cuisine, bars and entertainment, just some 10 minutes from the hotel by foot.
“Amazing night’s sleep”
That’s the beauty of Ibis Blackfriars’ location – a stay there can be whatever you want it to be. Simply want to relax and enjoy the on-site restaurant and drinks? No problem. A short walk or hop on the Tube to explore the city? No problem.
We were thrilled to head back to our room, resting our heads for what – and I can speak for both of us – was an amazing night’s sleep.
With a long day ahead of us, we knew we would need a decent breakfast – and once again, Ibis provided the goods. A selection of cereals, hot food and continental style-buffet awaited us, and was well seen to before our hop on the Tube.
If it’s convenience, comfort and value for money you’re after, you can’t go far wrong with Ibis Blackfriars – another university reunion might be in the works very soon.
Ibis Blackfriars, 49 Blackfriars Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8NZ
Nearest Tube station: Southwark