Z Hotel



Is "affordable luxury" just another way of saying "no frills"?I pondered this when crossing London's busy City Road late at night in search of a pack of the tissues not provided in my room at the Z Shoreditch. Yet this was a room billed as coming equipped with toiletries - for which read "one bog-standard little tube of shower gel-cum-shampoo".

Expectations are high of any new hotel in the capital's hippest neighbourhood, thanks to the bar set high by class acts like the Ace, Hoxton and Zetter. But the Z's point of difference is a room rate so low - rooms start at an unheard-of £49 - your student son or daughter could afford to check in if they missed the last train after a night's clubbing.

Mind you, for that price, you won't get a window - Z, which has other hotels in London, Liverpool and Glasgow - has made its name by selling inside rooms, an idea pioneered by ocean liners, as well as conventional ones with daylight. But designers have done well converting an old office building into rooms which would offer real style, if only they had a smidge more furniture.

I had a big picture window, but my double bed was pushed right up against it into the corner of a room which cried out for a rug to soften the hard wooden floor. Furniture was limited to a handsome bedside console, a wall-hung clothes rack and a stand for the huge 48-inch multi-channel TV. The only way to take advantage of the free WiFi in my room was to climb on to the high bed with my laptop.

On the plus side, the bed was comfortable, the sheets crisp as promised, and the ensuite wet room had huge fluffy towels which would put many five-star hotels to shame.

Breakfast served in the jolly street-level café was far better than expected of a budget hotel, with smoked salmon, fresh fruit, good cheese and artisanal bread among the buffet offerings. Staff are cheery and helpful.

While City Road is on the scruffiest edge of Shoreditch, proximity to Old Street Tube is a big draw - as is having the latest branch of Peruvian restaurant Ceviche round the corner.

There is even complimentary wine and cheese in the afternoons, eating up the budget for the missing in-room luxuries most mature travellers would prefer.

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