I went to UK after a gap of 5 years. I was going to cruise on the Harmony of the Seas (on invitation). I was sure I wanted to extend my stay. I was not sure what to do tough. In the end I decided to stay in London for 3 nights on my own. Visit Britain in India sponsored some of my tickets in and around London. The next task was to find a roof over my head. I now wonder why I was so nervous. In the end I asked one of my former students to recommend me a place in London. His name is Chander and he works in the hospitality industry from past many years in UK. He asked if I had any special requirements. My only requirement was that the hotel should be close to the underground and should not cost me a bomb. He told me in that case I could stay at his former workplace, Ibis Budget London Hounslow.
I booked the hotel closer to my departure. I paid in full from India itself. I arrived at Heathrow, went to Southampton to the cruise, which was amazing. I was dropped back at the Heathrow and it was time to find Ibis Budget hotel in Hounslow, London. As usual I walked for 20 minutes in the opposite direction before giving up on Google Maps offline. I asked a human being about the hotel and they set me on the right path.
I met Manuel (people mention him a lot on Tripadvisor) at the reception. To find my reservation, I handed him my passport. He offered to keep my luggage as I arrived much before the check-in time- 2.00 pm.
I went out to the High Street in Hounslow which is a one minute walk from the hotel. Before I headed out Manuel added I do not look old enough to be Chander’s teacher! Most of the staff at the hotel identified me as Chander’s teacher. When I came back around 2.00 pm, there was a young girl at the reception. I gave her my passport and waited for the room keys.
She said, “I immediately started smiling when I saw that you are related to Chander.” I repeated that I was his teacher. She said he was the best manager she has ever worked with. She praised him to the moon and back as a manager. It always feels good see my students doing well!
I went to my room, it was spacious. I have a feeling that it was the accessible room and hence it had more space. My window opened to the street below. There was a table for me to work but I would dump every odd and end there! The bed was comfortable. It was a basic room, absolutely clean. In the bathroom they give only soap but I read this on the Internet and I carried my shampoo. I am not much of a moisturizer person anyway.
I stayed there for 3 Nights. I paid the ‘friends and family rate’ thanks to Chander. Usually the breakfast is not included in the room rate but for me it was. I paid 42 pounds per night. There is no tea or coffee making facility in the room, there is a coffee machine in the lobby (extra charges) where there are café style tables. Breakfast is served in this area. Only at the breakfast the tea/coffee is free. The breakfast had fruits, bread, butter, other spreads, croissant and muffins and cakes. I enjoyed my breakfast on all the days.
Finding a reasonable room in London is no easy task. As I was paying for my London hotel stay from my own pocket I could not afford to spend a lot of money. The hotel is five to seven minutes walking distance from the Hounslow Central tube station. That made it perfect for my needs.
While I was staying at Ibis Budget Hotel, a large group of students also checked in. I was wondering if they would play football in the corridors at night! There were school kids all around my floor. But to their credit and to their teachers, they did not make any ruckus inside the hotel. One night, I was walking back to my room around 11.00 pm. I was coming back after meeting my two former students who stayed near the hotel. I think the instruction to the kids was that they could not venture in the corridors late at night. As soon as they heard the lift doors opening and my footsteps approaching in the corridors, they just ran back to the rooms. I could not even see a single one, they were that fast! When I saw so many students, I was a bit worried if it would get to noisy at night but it was not.
Not only did Chander get me a special rate, he also invited me to his home for dinner with his wife and son. When I met him, after a while he said, “ma’am do you remember how bad my English was?” I replied “I do remember but I am surprised that you remember!” He remarked, “It is one of those things one can never forget.” He has done so well for himself. Even though he is no longer the manager at Ibis Budget Hotel, London, Hounslow, his stuff remembers him with a lot of affection. Thanks to him and his staff, I had a comfortable stay in London!
This was a first, Chhavi and I stayed for a night at Ibis Delhi Airport, a newly opened hotel in my own city! We went on the Saturday and came back on Sunday. Now that I have done it, it actually made for a relaxing weekend!
Ibis Aerocity is a newly open hotel in the close proximity to the international and domestic airports in Delhi. When I presented myself at the hotel, there was a big queue for check-out at the reception. Looks like their Pay What You Want campaign is working for them. The campaign ends on September 21. Ibis is an economy hotel from the Accor Group. They have free shuttle service to both the airports.
The Room: We had a cozy, clean room with a tea and coffee maker. The room also had a large flat screen TV. The bathroom is designed to economize on space. It was clean and functional. I liked the hair and shower gel as it had a pleasing mild fragrance. As my daughter would use the milk sachets to make milk for her, we asked for more from the housekeeping staff and they always gave it to her! All over the hotel they have posted messages asking guests to help them save the environment. They put two complimentary half liter water bottles in the room. There is a safe in the room.
The Food: I was pleasantly surprised by the buffet, both for lunch and dinner at Ibis. I have actually stayed in quite a few Accor hotels- Novotel in Pune and Pullman in Putrajaya, Malaysia. I have visited Sofitel in Bangkok. I have always found their food quite good. The food at Ibis, Aerocity was almost comparable to Novotal in Pune. I found the tomato khus khus and the curd rice quite well done. I liked immensely that they had baklava (among many other things) for dessert both at lunch and dinner. I have tried to cut down on sweet but at dinner I went ahead and had two baklava! For the breakfast I went with upma and idli and both were done well. I asked for milk for Chhavi and they gave it. I saw a mother asking for plain rice and daal for her daughter at dinner and she got it too.
At lunch Chhavi was not eating much and I was worried that she would bother me later for food. The e-commerce manager had joined us for lunch and I mentioned this. He said, “Ma’am there is a whole room service menu at your disposal! Order anything you like!” I wonder why did it never occur to me even in spite of having stayed in many hotels. They have a tea coffee dispenser at the buffet which in my opinion is a really nice touch.
The Gorgeous Swimming Pool: Ibis Aerocity has a gorgeous swimming pool. It was our major playground and it was popular with other guests too. On Saturday we spent close to two hours in the pool. I had to finally drag the kid out as she was shivering by the end. But what a gala time we had. I learnt swimming when I was in 4th standard. All through my school and college I had access to a pool. It is only now that I don’t have it, so whenever I get to use one, I go all out.
The kid is learning to swim, she is so hyper that she won’t keep her head in the water for more than a second! We started swimming together at Hong Kong and we continued at Ibis. Ibis has a separate kid’s pool but she wanted to come to the big pool where she could not even stand as the depth is 4 feet. I would take her around and gradually she got the hang of floating. In a way it was good that she could not stand, that way she was forced to do something. I would always remember Ibis fondly as this is where the kiddo started taking baby steps towards swimming!
After coming to the room after the two hour session, I ordered a pizza. She ate three slices, I put on a cartoon on TV and within 10 minutes she was fast asleep. Ibis makes nice thin crust pizzas. With the kid asleep at 6.00 pm I had a lot of free time at hand. I put songs on Sony Mix and read a PG Wodehouse. Oh the bliss of spending a peaceful evening at a hotel in my own city. I woke up Chhavi at about 9.00 pm for dinner. She ate a little bit and fell asleep again in less than hour. I had more free time!
We went swimming again in the morning before breakfast. The swimming pool was the biggest highlight of our stay. After breakfast, which ends at 10.00 am, it was almost time to head back home. My daughter told me as we were walking out, “let us come back again!”
PS. I was invited to the hotel by Ibis. My daughter and I truly enjoyed our stay there.
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