I don’t often give bad reviews, but sometimes they just ask for it.
Had my second and hopefully final stay at CitizenM hotel in Glasgow last night. The location is good and that’s the only reason I stayed a second time.
Irritation on check in: credit card had been declined and therefore the booking was not pre paid; fine you might think, sort your affairs out. However, the booking had been made by one of the largest companies in the UK and placed through one of the largest booking agents in Europe, not really likely that the card had bounced is it?
Fortunately my office was still open and it was sorted easily, good job I wasn’t a late arrival. CitizenM staff, whilst perfectly chatty (more about this later) were quite clear that this was out of their control and they could do nothing… Not even alert or query the details with the agent apparently, I was offered use of a phone, which is I suppose, something.
Part of the trendiness of this hotel is that you check yourself in, I don’t know why they persist with this artifice as hardly anyone seems to know what they are doing and staff need to hang about correcting errors and sorting queries, a conventional check in would be much less hassle for all concerned. During the check in you get options like breakfast (if not already included) and late check out; as with all options you need to be careful what you select, or don’t deselect. Smoking, however, is banned, with a potential £150 fine – THIS IS MADE VERY CLEAR.
The bedrooms: so here we have it, a pod hotel. The rooms are small but functional, and OK for one night – I wouldn’t want to stay any longer.
Big downside for me is the lack of opening windows, the air conditioning is good and fairly quiet, but I always wake up with a headache and blocked sinuses, opening windows are much preferred. The shower is good and steam extraction is good too – it would need to be in such a confined space.
Most of the room functions (lighting, blinds, temperature and tv) are controlled from a remote control unit, which can be rather troublesome to navigate and can randomly plunge you in to a disco inferno (the glass shower pod can be made any colour you wish, or indeed pulsate various colours) – when all you really wanted was BBC2.
One of the selling points of the hotel is that they remember your settings from the last visit, and you walk back in to how you left it; frankly I was hoping for a fresh start, having abandoned all hope of gaining the upper hand over the lighting system last time. At one point I had been forced to hold a video conference in what must have seemed like a scene from Flash Dance to the other participants.
The bed is good, but as it can only be accessed from one side is better for one occupant. There is a safe box, but its quite small – won’t hold a laptop. No tea and coffee making facilities; a feature I have grown to cherish whilst travelling.
Breakfast: you get this in the bar area. The verb ‘get’ is appropriate. Many hotels have buffets for breakfast, but here its quite chaotic, with bits all over the show, some ‘bits’ included, some not. Some guests (citizens) have breakfast included, some not; you can see how it might get confusing…
Once you have got your food components you have to find a seat, and frankly many of the seats are just not suitable… because its a bar, not a restaurant…
I’m not sure who would enjoy eating like this; maybe teenagers who are used to grazing from the fridge, or perhaps refugees. The final aspect of breakfast that is completely unforgivable is plastic cutlery, probably used in case frustrated citizens run amok and injure someone.
Departure: again, you are expected to do this yourself whilst the chatty staff check that all is well with your life etc.
‘Well no actually, its not. It says here that my bill is £157.20’.
‘That’s OK sir, its pre paid’.
‘Indeed it its, I sorted that myself only last night, but the agreed rate was £69 …’
‘Oh, I see …’
Seems I had someone else’s bill. Bloody hell, someone has paid £157? Apparently it can be as much as £159, which leads me to another problem with these trendy set ups; despite the small rooms and the youth hostel approach to service, they are often poor value. There is some serious competition in Glasgow at that top end price.
In summary: good location, rooms small but reasonably full of features, and good beds. The staff are friendly and it does feel genuine rather than forced, but the pervading atmosphere is style over substance.
The biggest annoyance is the unrelenting quest to be trendy, especially annoying when its instead of being good. An example of this is the ground floor room, it’s labelled something like ‘members only’, I have no idea if this means guests or staff; from the street it looks like some sort of pre school activity centre. Whatever it is, it didn’t seem to get much use while I was there – confusion reigns?
Final irritation: the place is littered with slogans: CitizenM says: Drink, CitizenM says: Eat, CitizenM says: Meet… Oh do fuck off, I don’t want to be a ‘citizen’ in your nightmare world of trendy tosh, I’m going back to proper hotels.
PS: if any of the above leaves you in doubt as to the offer you can checkout the website here, they leave a stuffed toy in the rooms – which you can buy on line, for 95 Euro… bargain!