A hotel celebrating all things London Underground has pulled into the capital, putting a rather civilised spin on the phrase 'night tube'. The Ibis Styles Gloucester Road has re-opened following an extensive refurbishment that has re-invented the hotel as a wall-to-wall tribute to the Tube.
In the 84 rooms, orange headboards and cushions are remarkably reminiscent of the retro fabric used for Tube seats – although thankfully without those questionable stains. Pillows are printed with travelcards and there are even huge 'Mind the Gap' signs stamped on the carpet either side of the beds. Meanwhile, bathrooms are now called 'Water Loos' – because there is always room for a pun.
The colour scheme throughout the hotel matches Harry Beck’s iconic tube map design and gives the hotel a feeling of familiarity. Bright stripes representing the District and Piccadilly lines run through the corridors and you’ll find vintage posters at every turn – one of the best being the print of an elephant scaling a castle, a nod to that rather famous Bakerloo line station. Moody black and white photos of various Tube stations line the lobby walls to ensure it's all not too twee.
Tuck into breakfast in the 'Tunnel' dining room, which has been decorated with blue and white ceramic subway tiles and a large ‘Southbound’ sign. In the lobby area, snacks and drinks are served at a buffet-cart style bar, an element the real Tube is – probably wisely – lacking.
There is no end to the playful Tube-based details and guests are told to look out for tiny logos and inventive uses of station names, some of which aren’t always obvious on first glance.
While it might be a touch more expensive than a tap of your Oyster Card, the budget hotel offers competitive rates, starting from around £100 per night. And unlike being on the Underground, guests have access to unlimited free super-fast Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
For a taste of the real thing, Gloucester Road Tube is just around the corner from the hotel and is one of the capital's most charming stations. As part of the 'Art on the Underground' initiative, a disused platform is currently hosting a giant installation from artist Heather Phillipson. The striking piece includes two four-metre-high 3D eggs and a huge automated whisk, which should distract from the inevitable District line delays.