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Hotel Reviews

Hotel Reviews

Royal Albion Hotel

35 Old Steine Road (next to Brighton Pier)
Brighton, UK

17-19 October 2000

The venue search booking agent assured me that it was a four star hotel, newly renovated, conveniently located. I still couldn't help asking,"What about the Thistle?" She said that all hotels on the beach front were fully booked. "Is it quiet?" None of the hotels in town are quiet. I should have consulted a map of Brighton then. But I couldn't find one on the Internet that was detailed enough. So I decided to give it a try. After all, ninety pounds a night including all taxes and English breakfast was cheaper than the other hotels I had stayed recently.

The train from London to Brighton was fast until Haywards Heath. From there on, it trickled to one stop every fifteen minutes. There was a long queue of taxis outside the station. Obviously, during the off-peak season, taxi drivers had nowhere else to go. We bypassed what seemed like a huge Taj Mahal-like castle. It was the famous Brighton Pavillion which was built by a king. The driver did not elaborate.

The Royal Albion was a big white house right by the famous Brighton Pier. It was more than one hundred years old, if not the oldest hotel in this seaside resort. After a fire which scorched the roof took down an entire east side of the building, it was shut down for complete renovation. The fire was apparently caused by an apprentice cook who forgot about his burnt sausage. The reception was spacious but minimally furnished, like the rest of the hotel. One lift served all five floors sprawled in non-symmetrical directions.

My room half-faced the turbulent sea. For that I was glad. However, the secondary glazing did not stop the sound of the whistling wind all night. The next evening, the old radiator acted up. It groaned like a pressure cooker on heat. I had to get up every few minutes to tend to it. Finally I called the front desk. A timid lad came to my rescue at two in the morning, only to suggest that I move to another room, noisier than the one I was in. So I decided to suffer in what seemed now more like a two star hotel. When I checked out, the receptionist didn't even acknowledge my problem. Another disgruntled guest told me the next morning at breakfast that he was woken up at midnight by the sound of someone trying to get into his room. The porter had used his keys to open the room claimed by another guest. "Didn't he have the brains to check the registry?"

For all the grandeur of new wallpaper and carpeting, history and tradition, the Royal Albion just doesn't cut its four star rating. It reminds me of another hotel - The Warwick in Houston - which also tried hard but didn't cut it. Massive investment is required to ensure every single room is consistently fault-free.

Reader reaction:

You may like to note that it hasn't got any better since your visit in October 2000