When I hear “London is so expensive”, I reply “It doesn’t need to be if you know the secret spots”. That’s the key to most destinations – knowing where to find the off the radar, only locals know kind of places. For me, Z Hotel Soho is just one such find in the middle of everything yet hidden in plain sight in Soho. So while you are lamenting the expensive Western chain for your London stay you should look at alternative luxury for less options that continue to expand in major cities.
With six properties in London (Soho, Victoria, Piccadilly, Shoreditch, the City and Gloucester Place) and two others in the UK (Liverpool and Glasgow) Z Hotels is one such chain to consider for your visit to the U.K. and London with a caveat – best for short stays, solo travelers, couples with overnight bags.
They say they are for “The Urbanite Stay” providing affordable compact luxury in prime locations.
On my recent visit to London for my birthday, I contacted the Z Hotel Sales team to arrange a site visit. I was quite familiar with the hotel brand and all of the good press they’ve received. After recommending it to a few people, I thought I should check it out in person. A due diligence site visit involves viewing different room categories, public spaces and learning about the hotel amenities and guest experience. I’ve done site visits in the past in London as a Global Business Travel Manager.
Z Hotel Soho Location
I chose to tour the Soho location as it is the West End – central to so much – theatre district (the Prince Edward theatre is steps away as is the Palace theatre), Chinatown, Leicester Square and Covent Garden just to name a few key areas nearby. For a first time visitor or a late night out, this is a great location chock full of music, theatre, food and fun (including late night fun of Old Compton street). I always find myself wandering back to Soho no matter where I stay because it has so much choice.
The lobby consists of a small front desk on the left and a couch, chair and table as you enter. There is fresh fruit on the table. The hotel has a lift (elevator) and also stairs (work off those pub calories).
Z Hotel Soho Pricing
The prices for Soho start at £75 per night (yes, you read that correctly, the smallest single room can be had for just over $105 U.S. in low season with a good fx rate of course). So now you’re thinking “it’s London what do I get for that?” Is it a hostel? Surely, I’m sharing a bunk bed! Nope, at the Z Hotel you get one room, one price. The room are small no doubt, starting at 86 sq. ft., but they didn’t feel closed in. The contemporary styled and compact room includes free Wi-Fi, free selected Sky channels including Sports on the 40” flat screen television and free wine and nibbles at happy hour in the Z Café on the ground floor. It also has air conditioning which is a key fact if you are comparing a Z Hotel room with an Airbnb flat in the area.
Booking Tip: The hotel is very often sold out – with only 85 rooms, it’s best to book in advance. Note that the rates are seasonal (this is London!) and will vary. Sign up for their emails and follow Z Hotels on social media to keep up to date on specials
Z Hotel Soho Rooms
There are 85 rooms (5 are wheelchair accessible) spread over the twelve converted Georgian townhouses that are connected with a central courtyard for a breath of fresh air. Each room configuration is different due to the conversion (just look at the floor map). You can meet friends to socialize in the courtyard. It is set up to encourage conversation.
The inside (no window) double room still fit the three of us – the sales manager, my friend Kristen and me without too much trouble. This was similar in size to the studio cabins on the Norwegian cruise ships. The queen bed is snug against the wall and the bathroom – frosted glass shower is across from the bed. There is a small desk, bottle of still water and coffee maker. To store your bags? They slide under the bed. No closet so hang your clothes on the hanger pegs. This room is quiet without windows – nice and private if you party too much and don’t want to be awaken by the sunlight (ok, this is London, the overcast cloudy light).
The double room with a window is for those who want or need light and costs just a bit more.
The largest of the rooms, the Queen Room, with a queen bed, overlooked the street and yet I couldn’t hear anything from outside. With a similar set up to the smallest room – the difference was just high ceilings and slightly more space.
The hotel has five accessible rooms but all were in use during my visit so I wasn’t able to view them. Accessible rooms in London at a budget price is a wonderful feature. For the most part, newer hotels in the city or renovated like the Z Hotel Soho was will have accessible rooms but supply is low so book early.
The Z Hotel Soho Interior Courtyard
You first notice the spiral staircase in steel and then the tables, flowers and umbrella. This outdoor space is set up for guests to enjoy. It was a bit of an unexpected surprise on our visit but then when I realized it was connecting the buildings, it made sense.
Z Café at Z Hotel Soho
The ground floor has a café space, Z Cafe, that is open all day and hosts the nightly wine socials. It is open to the public as well and if you stop in from the street, it is a quiet space to work and enjoy a free pastry with your purchased coffee. For breakfast you can opt in advance for the buffet (£9.50 or £12.50 day of) or the express breakfast for £3.50. For lunch sandwiches freshly made on-site are £4.50.
The design is contemporary rustic with woods and metals throughout with pops of color and flowers. There is a communal table as well as booths, counter top and individual tables. It is a cozy space in the middle of the hectic West End but feels like a secret escape.
The Soho Neighborhood
You are in the heart of all food, fun and entertainment in London so expect to see people on the streets and in the area all day and night. It’s the pulse of the city with a plethora of restaurant options everywhere you turn. A few of my favorite casual options include Bryon Burgers, Jackson & Rye, Cote Brasserie and Muriel’s Kitchen.
For chocolate, you have Paul A Young Fine Chocolates or Hotel Chocolat (diagonal from hotel). Italian artisanal gelato at Amorino is a block away. For foodies, you have many options on Dean Street, Wardour Street and the many little streets in Soho through to Carnaby. You won’t go hungry or thirsty in this part of the city.
Overall Impression – Z Hotel Soho
The Z Hotel website is very accurate in depicting the room size, in my opinion, so there are no surprises as expectations are set. The biggest surprise was how stylish, chic and cozy the hotel felt on my visit. I love the West End as it is central to everything London I want to be a part of (it doesn’t hurt that my favorite cupcakes and chocolates are right around the corner on Wardour Street and shopping at M&S on Oxford Street is close by).
Location, location, location! The Z Hotel Soho has the location, has the modern edge and refreshingly has a sensible price. This is London, you aren’t meant to stay in your hotel room for too long, you are meant to explore the city, enjoy the pub and remember to look left!