Face it: hotel rooms in London are expensive. Very expensive. If you want to find a room that costs less than $100 a night, you’re going to have to compromise on something. Reviews of inexpensive lodgings suggested they were inconveniently located, less than acceptably clean, frequented by a clientele given to partying in hallways at all hours of the night or with small, dated rooms and shared baths. Given these options, I decided I could live with a small room and shared bath over any of the others. That’s how I decided on the Edward Lear.
Location is the primary attraction of this small hotel, located two blocks from Marble Arch in two townhouses, one of which was briefly home to Edward Lear, 19th-century artist and author of nonsense poetry.
Another plus is the friendly hotel staff. They are uniformly pleasant and helpful; the women at the front desk especially so. I arrived hours before check-in time, but they found a room and invited me to take breakfast.
Rooms are spread over five floors, there is no elevator, the stairs grow increasingly narrow and winding as you go up, and you will likely porter your own bags.
Rooms on the top floors are very small. My first room, on the 4th-floor, measured about 48-square-feet, was smoky and faced the street, whose every noise I could hear. I stopped by the desk to see if I could move. Luckily, a room at the back was available beginning the next day. It was on the 1st (US 2nd) floor, was a bit larger, and not smoky.
The décor is strictly 1950s floral, the carpets are threadbare, and spotted in places. However, both rooms were quite clean, cigarette odor notwithstanding.
The hotel’s plumbing layout is rather odd. Each room had a sink; the toilet and shower were down the hall in separate rooms. Although I had some reservations about sharing a bath, I only once had to wait to use the facilities, which, like the rooms, were clean but dated.
The hotel’s clientele was a mixed bag of families and couples, with a few singles thrown in. Nationalities represented were American, French and German, in addition to English and Irish guests. By 11pm, most guests were settled in and a hush fell over the place, allowing for a good night’s rest after a busy day.
A full English breakfast is included, and the hotel’s website isn’t kidding when it says they aim to fill you up. Cooked to order items included eggs (2 fried or about 4 scrambled), wonderful English bacon, sausages, warmed plum tomatoes (not grilled, alas), beans, and toast. You could help yourself to cold breakfast cereals, apple, orange and grapefruit juice and really good coffee.
I’ve stayed in fancier hotels, but I’ve also stayed in worse. When it comes to value, I’d say the Edward Lear is near the top of my list.
Results 1-5of 5 Reviews
November 1, 2005
From journal Back in the UK again
June 6, 2003
Honestly they were fine. The room was cleaned daily and the bathroom was spotless. Although the bath was not attached it was never busy. I didn't wait once. The room did have a sink so I was able to brush and shave in my room without leaving.
The bed was small but comfortable. I guess European standards are a bit smaller than the U.S. No worries there.
The staff was nice helpful and pleasant. The breakfast was cooked to order and you usually got enough in the first helping to tide you over or cure your hangover.
The Internet access was a lifesaver. After spending the previous eight days in the Middle East I didn't have much opportunity to catch up on e-mail.
Oh yeah, it’s hard to find! But the best way is:
If you come out of the Tube turn left. Head towards the KFC. When you reach the KFC turn Left again. Once you reach the end of that street you will see the Hotel to your left across the street.
Oh yeah, do a search for their website, it has their current rates posted and an e-mail address that you can e-mail to get availability.
From journal London, forget about a budget. Expect to pay. But
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
April 6, 2003
From journal Give Thanks for London!
March 24, 2002
The exterior of the hotel is attractive, with cascading baskets of plants and a blue historical marker by the door. Like many hotels that have been converted from dwellings, however, it has its eccentrities. Narrow corridors branch off from the main reception area in a somewhat confusing array. It can be a challenge getting a suitcase up some of the staircases.
Most rooms in the Edward Lear are not spacious - but, frankly, I've never stayed in a London Hotel with large rooms. (They exist, but I can't afford them!) The rooms are clean, homey, and feature coffee/tea makers and a TV. The clientele wasn't noisy or inconsiderate; there were no thundering herds of package tours or visiting youth groups charging in late at night. As I was travelling solo I ended up sharing a breakfast table with different people each morning, and everyone was quite pleasant.
The staff was friendly and efficient, though they weren't long-term residents, so I didn't ask them for advice as I might have with an English staff.
The hotel offers guests free internet access on a computer in the lounge, though you're restricted to 15 minutes' use at one time. Still, this is a great way to keep in touch with family while travelling.
One thing that may put some people off is that many of the rooms - particularly the cheaper ones - do not have en suite bathrooms. Instead, bathrooms are located throughout various parts of the rabbit warren-like building. A few doors down from the room I stayed in, there was a room with a bathtub and sink - but no toilet! To use the toilet, I had to go up a short flight of steps. In that room, there was a toilet and sink, but no bath! It was a little strange, but didn't really put me off, as both the bath and toilet were clean and never crowded, at least during the hours I needed them.
The hotel is named after Edward Lear, who lived there for about a year while he was employed sketching birds at the London Zoo. Lear's drawings festoon the walls in the lounge and breakfast room, adding a warm, whimsical touch.
I'd recommend the Lear for anyone who wants good value for the money and doesn't mind a somewhat eccentric hotel layout. The location can't be beat, and I felt completely comfortable and safe staying on my own there, which is more than I can say for some places I've stayed in London.
From journal Footloose Female Off the Beaten Path in London
San Francisco, California
December 28, 2001
The bathroom had a fabulous claw-foot tub and was always very clean and bright.
The B&B included a wonderful and large full English breakfast with eggs, breakfast meats, toast, biscuits and more. I met several interesting travellers over breakfast.
The location of the Edward Lear can''t be beat... only a block from the Marble Arch Tube station and just off Oxford Street where there is good shopping.
From journal 2 days in London