Behind the Scenes: London City Airport – To London, aLoft ExCeL
- Behind the Scenes: London City Airport: The Introduction
- Peak rush to London, aLoft ExCeL (THIS SECTION)
- Morning time at LCY – Inspecting runway lights
- Ramp Operations
- At the JetCentre
- Ramp Walk 1
- Ramp Walk 2
- From the Tower
- Watery Inspections with the Fire Service
- Leaving London and Final Thoughts
Of course, I live a 100 miles away from City Airport. Therefore, I need to get to London. London City Airport were kind enough to book a hotel for me on my behalf, so for me it was just a matter of getting down to London at a reasonable cost.
Which is why I chose the Chiltern lines over the West Coast main line. Even though this is a “peak” service, there is no such thing as an “evening peak fare” from Birmingham – which means one can purchase the cheapest train ticket.
Even though I departed office on schedule in what should be no surprise to anyone, I missed my target train thanks to Birmingham traffic. This is why I try and buy unrestricted tickets normally.
Thankfully, it gave me some time to get some nibbles before travelling and to get to Moor Street station without rushing. It was then a case of picking up the tickets, heading through the inspection barrier and over to platform 1 for the train
Waiting for the train…
Chiltern Clubman Mainline Service,
Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone
Price paid: £27.50 Super Off Peak Return
Oh, I’ve written about this service plenty of times… But let’s write more about it anyway 😉
I brought a cheap £27.50 ticket that has odd conditions attached to it – namely you can’t leave Birmingham before 11:00, and can’t return from London between 16:30 and 19:30.
These tickers work well for the budget traveller as they are still “walk up” tickets as opposed to advance purchase which locks you into fixed trains only.
The service was operated by a Class 168 unit – not the last word in modern trains, but a still comfortable enough ride. The service was running a bit late due to a late start, but hey – peak hour trains on time? That’s an odd enough concept.
The service was a stopper/commuter shuttle service, discharging most of its passenger at Solihull and then the local stations between Dorridge and Leamington spa. As a result, the furthur one got away from Birmingham, the more space opened up on the train.
WiFi as usual was offered free of charge as usual – a nice feature that makes Chiltern yet another reason to select over Virgin Trains – in fact the only Virgin has over Chiltern is speed to London. with the evening services taking up to 2 hours vs the fast trains of Virgin taking 1h 20 – but at £41 for a cheaper ticket verses Chiltern … How much do you value 40 minutes in the evening?
As I said, the train was a bit late – no more than 5 minutes by the time the it had hit High Wycombe. After this point – the driver drove like a man possessed all the way to Marylebone – with the train making it there on time.
Heading to the barrier
I ambled my way off the train and through the ticket barrier. The next stop was to top off my Oyster Card. A quick beep, and it was a hop down the tube to Baker Street (yes, I could had walked the distance… but no…), then across the platform to the Jubilee Line all the way through the city, the south bank, until it popped up at the surface at Canning Town.
Tube rushing into the station
Up the stairs and over to the DLR platform, and finally to Prince Regent (don’t get off at Customs House for ExCeL – you’d be walking for a fair bit). Remembering to touch out, it was then a case of down the stairs and well, aLoft stood out quite easily…
Belive it or not – I can actually shoot a hotel in the daylight.
aLoft Hotel, ExCeL West
After working my way in through the back entrance (going to the front would had been a longer hike), I headed to reception.
Now, I’m used to comparatively sombre and non-hip hotels. Well aLoft lived up to its “Hip” attitude that it promotes so much. And reception looks nice enough, with a bar area, little shop, and check-in. I checked in and informed reception of a package that was due to arrive the next day (there was a pre-trip accident… thankfully a company offered to help).
And the area does look hip, and seemly busy with people wandering in and out of the place. My priority was to get some rest before the 4:30 start that was to hit me.
Going up to the 6th floor, I was greeted with more “hipness”
Heading to the room, the door was an electronic RFID style lock – ie wave it at the door, it unlocks.
The room itself wasn’t massive per say, but was adequately sized
TV, work desk and sofa-thing.
The room itself was not a bad size for London, and it was fresh and up to date with an easy enough to control thermostat. The TV system was easy enough to use (especially since the new series of Red Dwarf had just started and I wanted to catch up with that)
Moving onto the bed – it was comfortable and was of a reasonable firmness – which was the core priority of the night. The bed was more than large enough for me, without feeling lost in it.
The desk had some useful connectivity – inculding wall mounted USB sockets, VGA, component video.
Media port, network connectivity and Keyboard Remote
Although if I was semi-local or a visitor, I’d think twice about using the telephone at the hotel…
Hotel charges for telephone – note the cost of mobile charges, national charges, freephone charges and… well.. any telephone charge. To be honest, you could head a phone shop, buy a phone with credit for £20 and still come out on tops after a few days for using the telephone – or use Skype.
WiFi was provided free through the hotel. It was semi-protected, requiring a room number, surname and firstname to unlock it. WiFi speed was acceptable, and the download speed seemed quite acceptable.
Lets move onto the bathroom/shower area. The ameinites were provided by Bliss, and were of good quality, with a large sink and shower.
Bliss bar and body lotion
Shower products – note the Premier Inn style big tanks of shampoo/showergel
But alas, it is slightly disappointing – now I know we live in an eco-age but, aLoft is meant to be a high end-ish boutique hotel brand to mirror its W Hotel component… but bulk shampoo and shower gel doesn’t strike me as premium at all really.
Tea and coffee was provided as well as two bottles of water – again, all welcome (especially the water – its the little things when you’re running around)
Going back down in daylight, and you can see how they have laid out the bar
After a restful nights sleep it was time to wake up as all the alarms were kicking off. By 5am, I was downstairs and in a cab to London City Airport – just over the water from the hotel.
Overall: It’s a nice enough hotel, with plenty of features for the modern traveller who needs to be connected, and it scores well on these things. However, I still have trouble getting my mind off the big dispensers of shampoo and shower gel – it does cheapen the experience a tiny bit. Still, it’s a good hotel for the location near ExCeL and London City Airport
Next Morning time at LCY – Inspecting runway lights – Runway Inspections – from a nice piece of tarmacked concrete to an active runway…
Disclosure: London City Airport kindly supplied a hotel room at aLoft ExCeL to me to assist in this visit. Some details and factual information has been provided by London City Airport Corporate Communications Department.
All opinions expressed within this trip are my own, represent my own personal thoughts and my observations during the visit.