Qbic London City in East London is a one-of-a-kind budget hotel that still manages to be trendy and friendly and to make you feel like you're not staying somewhere cheap.
The hotel is located at 42 Adler Street, London E1. That's a place in the heart of the east of the city, and amazingly, it only took the quirky hotel group with community values six months to build. That's because, as perhaps their name suggests, they use a pod style of building where everything in the room is built around a pre-fab cube.
The new London hotel follows one in Amsterdam and, according to reports, the ethical venture capitalists who finance the project intend to open another eight hotels over the next ten years. The idea behind Qbic is to open hotels up in deprived areas and make sure they hire a big percentage of employees from the local area.
Green calm spaces surround the hotel even though it's at the heart of the City. — Photo courtesy of Jim Linwood
The vending machines in the hotel sell things with as few "food miles" as possible where they can. That means things like wine may come from British vinyards, or coffee from square mile coffee roasteries even if strictly speaking the beans will come from much farther away. All that combines with this philosophy of letting the local area and "life" into the hotel and trying to improve their immediate surroundings and be as environmental as possible.
Another idea of Qbic Hotels is that the hotel experience is for like-minded people. They want to give guests "stories to tell." There are little bike logos on the website, and both London and Amsterdam have great cycling cultures. That means, says the hotel blurb, that there might be a bike workshop in the basement, making bikes out of recycled or found parts.
The hotel also makes sure it is part of the local community, supporting local charities and working with local partners.
Each room is designed around the "Cubi": super-king-sized organic beds sit in front of a headboard that divides the bed and lighting from the bathroom area, complete with a rainshower. Thirty-two-inch LED TVs are attached to a plinth at the end of the bed because, as the designers say, "If you're going to watch TV in bed, it might as well be directly in front of you and at the right height." The TVs are also "Skype ready."
The frames around the bed that form a canopy above the headboard, where the mood lighting is housed, are "ergonomically designed." The lighting promises to match all the moods of the room's inhabitants, from "mellow yellow" to "red romance" and "deep purple love."
As befits a hotel in quirky Shoreditch and the east of London, Qbic has chosen to decorate the reading lamps on the end of the bed with garden hose, which makes for a slightly strange effect. But perhaps the budget travelers that get to stay in such a well-designed place will love the reuse of materials in different settings.
As in most new places designed for younger travelers, free WiFi is a given in this place, as is free soup, tea and coffee in the lobby. The lobby space is apparently designed to seat 100 people at one time.
The way the pricing works in this hotel is like budget airlines, so the earlier you book, the cheaper you might find your room to be. Rooms start at 59 pounds for a room with no view and go up to 84 pounds for a room with a park view.
There are towels in the room and body shampoo, but no toothpaste, hairdryers or hair irons. You can still find those kinds of things from the lobby hosts if you need to.
Every room comes with a complimentary breakfast grab bag, with juice and a cereal bar. For seven pounds fifty, you can eat as much as you like from the breakfast buffet.
All in all, if you plan early, you can get a chic designer room at Qbic for a great price.