My husband is a keen gardener, plantsman and avid supporter of Kew Gardens, of which he is a Friend. He enjoys visiting Kew when he can but the journey from Canterbury is long and slow and he’s often said he wished he could make full use of his Friends’ ticket that allows entrance to the botanic gardens from 8.00am, two hours before other visitors are allowed in. So I decided to book a surprise hotel stay for us near Kew to celebrate a `special` birthday recently. However, Richmond was too expensive so I looked slightly further afield, somewhere that was still within easy walking distance of Kew Gardens.
I had a choice of two, either a Travelodge or a Premier Inn. Both of these are actually in Brentford but very close to the Thames and checking the distance on Google Maps it appeared to take 25 minutes to walk to Kew’s Elizabeth Gate at Kew Green from the Premier Inn and as the room only price was £84 for two nights, that’s where I booked. I could have paid as little as £79 but due to Covid I wanted a degree of flexibility and the £84 Semi-Flex option allowed me to amend the booking up to 1 pm on arrival day and offered a full refund if I needed to cancel at least 3 days before arrival. Our journey was by train, from Canterbury East station and then a change to a slightly faster train from Faversham to London Victoria. (Since the introduction of the High Speed service in Kent all other trains take longer to get to London. As the high speed trains end up at St Pancras, depending on final destination, the extra travelling time across London cancels out any benefit gained and the cost of train tickets is much higher.) At Victoria we walked a short distance to the platforms for trains that stopped at Clapham Junction – there seemed to be one every couple of minutes – and in no time we were there. What a place! I’ve never set foot there before and was amazed at the number of platforms and connections available. We connected easily with our next train and the whole journey to Kew Bridge from Victoria took us 35 minutes and the walk to the hotel approx. 15 minutes.
The exterior of the Premier Inn looked a bit scruffy and dirty but that was probably because it’s alongside Brentford High Street. `Due to Covid` we could not sign in until 4 pm but we could have waited in the bar, where the male receptionist was also carrying out barman’s duties. Instead we decided to leave our small case locked away and go for a walk instead and I’m so glad we did. The area along the Thames Path was fascinating but I’ll write about that area of Brentford in a separate review. We had a good look round and decided where we’d go for evening meals and actually reserved a table for the following night in an Italian restaurant. When we returned to our hotel we quickly and easily booked in and found our room, on the 1st floor. I thought the floors of the stairs and lifts could have been kept a bit cleaner; it seemed that they were too short-staffed to worry about these areas. However, the room was clean, if a little tired looking and in need of redecoration, but the bathroom was sparkling clean. We discovered there were only towels for one person but I went back to reception to get another bath towel and later had to ask for more milks, teabags and coffee sachets, as there were only two of each. There was air conditioning but we were still very hot on the first night and unable to open the windows because our room was on the noisy main road, so a room at the back would be preferable.
We had only booked to have breakfast on the last day as we wanted to get out early the first morning and didn’t want to risk being delayed, so we stopped at the MacDonalds a couple of minutes along our route for breakfast. My husband had booked a slot for Kew (necessary then, but not now for Friends) and when doing so found out that Elizabeth Gate does not open until 10.00 am, the nearest early entrance was Brentford Gate which is by Kew Gardens car park adjacent to the Thames Path, so that took us slightly longer. However, once in we enjoyed the solitude for a while but soon discovered that the glasshouses (apart from the Alpine House) didn’t open until 10.00 am so our head start over other ticket holders was rather lost, although we managed to walk round the Waterlily House with only three others. We were also disappointed at what we thought were rather Draconian Covid measures that excluded visitors from vast areas of the glasshouses, meaning my husband was unable to see Australasian and South African plants in the Temperate House. We parted company after lunch so he could do his own thing and I wandered off, convinced I knew Kew well, got lost and ended up walking miles! Nevertheless, we had a good, if tiring, day.
Our cooked breakfast on our final morning at Premier Inn was fine, although obviously it was table service, which makes life a bit more difficult, does one order everything at the beginning or keep having to call waiting staff back for extra items and top-ups? Would I go to that Premier Inn again? Probably; the staff were very helpful and friendly and the proximity to Kew, Syon Park and several interesting looking museums certainly makes it a good location. There is a car park with limited spaces on a first-come-first-served basis but we would always go by train, so if going to Kew Gardens again I might be tempted to try the Travelodge as it is nearer to Kew Bridge station and to Kew Bridge for walking over to the botanic gardens. I did not take any photos of the hotel as there are plenty on the website; the only ones I’ve included in this review were taken of the hotel from the other side of The Thames (although only a tiny bit of the building is visible).
“For photos and further information about the hotel”:https://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/home.html