London Hotels Insight provides up-to-date, independent advice for your perfect stay in London. We research guest feedback, meet management and identify hotels at the top of their game.
A new budget hotel with a keen sense of history.
The Tune Hotel Kings Cross is a brand new budget hotel housed in a building with real history – this was evident even from our first impressions of the exterior when we arrived for a behind-the-scenes tour recently.
The hotel is located in an area where shops stay open as late as 3 AM – not at the noisy Kings Cross St Pancras intersection, but on the quieter but still lively Gray’s Inn Road side. As soon as we entered the lobby, we were warmly greeted by the guest-friendly budget hotel staff led by General Manager Stuart Clay who gave us a comprehensive tour of the hotel.
We were first offered refreshments though, with the staff keen to show off their brand new Lavazza coffee machine, providing premium coffee for significantly less than Starbucks. Just like the Tune Paddington which we also visited, Tune Kings Cross has a coffee bar style chill-out area with snacks and comfy seats and a reception open 24 hours a day.
The reception itself was spacious and had a unique vibe, fusing the historic building’s beautiful features such as the mosaic floor, with the signature modern red and black Tune colours. It also had a couple of computers available for guests and funky disco-ball lamps hanging down from above – we haven’t seen these in any other Tune Hotels yet and loved them! Unexpectedly stylish for one of the cheapest hotels in London.
There was an intriguing juxtaposition of modern technology and design with the building’s historic heritage – sensitivity you’d be more likely to witness in 4 or 5 star hotels. The convenient hang-out space is great for tourists who want to plan their day with a coffee before setting off on a day of exploring London. There are also great pubs, cafes and restaurants nearby, some with exclusive discounts for hotel guests.
We also spotted a ramp which helps to make the entrance wheelchair-accessible. The Tune Hotel Kings Cross is the biggest Tune in London so far and since its sister hotels have accessible hotel rooms we were not surprised to find that this one does too – ideal for guests with wheelchairs in search of cheap Kings Cross hotels.
When construction workers began work on converting the building to transform it into a hotel, they amazingly found a number of the building’s original floor plans and design documents in the basement, which have now been lovingly restored and put on display throughout the hotel.
Apparently the building functioned as a steel warehouse and was originally built in the 1920s, but there is also a sign for a bank so the exact intentions of the architects remain something of a mystery. But in a world of cookie-cutter budget chain hotels, it’s certainly refreshing to find one which pays such fine attention to its roots and local history.
As we investigated the hotel further, we saw familiar Tune design elements: refreshing green walls, strategically-placed mirrors to create a sense of space and the all-important 5 star Hypnos beds. Some rooms even had unique circle-shaped “porthole” windows as pictured below - absolutely gorgeous – and of course a flatscreen TV and hairdryer too.
The bathrooms were clean and tidy, with a high-quality power shower taking pride of place. Although many cheap hotels have problems with cleanliness and the quality of furniture and bathroom equipment (I’m sure many of us have experienced budget hotels where the water is only lukewarm or there’s hardly any water pressure), Tune gives a lot of attention to the “basics” that travellers believe are most essential, as we learned from our interview with the Tune Hotels CEO.
In line with the established Tune pay-as-you-use philosophy, guests can purchase towels, a small bottle of shampoo and soap at the reception with the hotel’s ”gettin’ fresh” packages.
Prices for these extra amenities are transparently displayed and kept low, so there are no nasty surprises in store for value-conscious travellers. This system allows guests to ‘fine-tune’ their stay with wallet-friendly add-ons.
In sum, we felt the Tune Hotel Kings Cross did a solid job in integrating modern design and comfort while celebrating the building’s 1920s heritage and locality with images of nearby attractions and discounts for local restaurants too. The first TripAdvisor reviews have started to come in with one describing it as a “Japanese style budget hotel” - not a bad description given its impeccable cleanliness and smooth operation.
Tune Kings Cross certainly has the potential to live up to our earlier expectations when we speculated that it might be one of the most exciting hotel openings of 2012, largely because it’s so much harder to execute good budget hotels in London than to be yet another swanky property catering exclusively to the rich and famous (with room rates to match).
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight blogger Timea.