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Behind the scenes tour of new Tune Paddington.
The Tune Hotel Paddington has just opened and we’ve already visited the budget property for an exclusive tour. On arrival, we were greeted by the hotel’s friendly receptionists, pictured standing proudly in front of their new sign. Having inspected all new Tune London hotels as they’ve sprung up, we were keen to note how the budget brand from Asia was evolving its model to adapt to the specific challenges of the London hotel market.
We were able to chat to the hotel’s suave General Manager, Arron Dorjbat, who helped us fill the gaps in our little detective work. And unlike at some other hotels which we visit, Arron had the confidence to let us freely take our own photos (all pics in this post are our own and not PR photos).
The first thing we noticed was the distinctly different ”buzz” in comparison to the other two Tune London properties in Westminster and Liverpool Street, largely because of its more central location. The reception is quite spacious and even has a cafe-style chill-out area with views onto the main road which takes you to Paddington station after a short walk.
The reception’s design is different to the chain’s first London venture, which has already consolidated its place among budget Westminster hotels. The idea there was to have a small reception. But the Tune Paddington’s lobby is generously-sized and bright and you can picture yourself hanging out there having a coffee from the snack bar while chatting to friends.
The lobby also features lively montage pictures of attractions in each Tune’s surrounding area. Is Tune becoming a bit more “budget boutique”? Maybe that would be stretching it slightly (particularly given its ultra-low prices) – but it’s certainly increasingly confident of its position within the market.
This particular Tune is perhaps the most central in terms of access to the shops of Oxford Street (a 10 minute walk away) while being even closer to Paddington station and the Heathrow Express train service. You can also pick up a great falafel or shawarma around the corner on Edgware Road. It’s still early days but we were told by management that it has picked up more of a leisure than corporate mix of business than Tune Liverpool Street, which is probably in line with other hotels in Paddington.
Hungry guests can purchase snacks and refreshments in the hotel lobby – Lavazza coffee and other favourite treats for reasonable prices. And just like at other Tune Hotels, the cleanliness of the hotel was impeccable in both the public areas and the rooms we saw (helped of course by the fact that it is brand new!). Several of the bedrooms we saw were significantly larger than those in the other two Tune Hotels we’ve visited – but if you’re not a frequent visitor of all their hotels you probably wouldn’t notice this.
The group makes no attempt to hide the fact that its rooms will generally be “cosy” but the average footprint certainly seems to be creeping up with each opening. Again this seems to be a sign of growing brand confidence in knowing it can offer a bit more to guests and still be profitable.
The rooms were all very similar in terms of cleanliness, feel and features with luxury Hypnos beds (as used in many 5 star hotels), flatscreen TV, a hairdryer, in-room safe, etc. The mirrors above the headboards added an extra feeling of space which is rather clever in a cheap hotel; and the coat-hangers have been fitted lower on the multi-purpose mirror/rack (image below) - a design that is functional and a response to feedback from guests who wanted to see themselves in the mirror when using the hairdryer without being obscured by their coats! That shows good attention to detail and customer listening - and is not typical of all budget travel brands.
The hotel also has a number of accessible bedrooms similar to other Tune Hotels, which is again good to see in a budget hotel. We were told that the hotel’s management carefully monitors TripAdvisor reviews on a day-to-day basis and implements changes accordingly across all its hotels. This process is helped by the fact that much of the team in Paddington has been transferred from its sister hotels, particularly Westminster.
The bathroom we snapped below is an accessible one and therefore considerably larger than the ones we saw in standard rooms. The standard bathrooms we saw were indeed a bit cramped and not in any sense luxurious – but they were spotlessly clean and functional.
Because of its central location, the hotel gets a lot of walk-in guests, we were informed. While many hotels will train their receptionists to quote higher room rates to walk-ins, Tune Hotels transparently displays the web rate on a screen outside – and sell their rooms for the same price. This transparency is one of the foundations of the Tune concept and the reason why the chain’s “pay-as-you-use” system is appreciated by guests, as reflected by the new hotel’s early positive reviews on TripAdvisor.
A nice touch we hadn’t expected but discovered as we snooped around downstairs was a little pamphlet offering guests exclusive discounts at local restaurants - handy if you’re not familiar with the local area.
After finishing our hotel tour we tweeted our image of the reception staff and to our surprise, the Malaysia-based CEO of Tune Hotels, Mark Lankester, retweeted it while spontaneously bigging up the staff in the pic (Inez and Luca)! When the CEO knows individual hotel receptionists by name, you know this is not a faceless chain with no personality but one where employee recruitment and training is key - a fact we’d already confirmed in our earlier interview with Jeremy at Tune Liverpool Street.
Overall, we left with high expectations of a stay at Tune Hotel Paddington – and we’ll find out soon if our hopes are satisfied or dashed since our blogger Marie-Helene is about to write a review of her stay. We’re also planning to visit Tune Kings Cross which is due to open shortly.
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight blogger Timea.