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The Surprise of London Views without London Prices.

I’m visiting a conference in Essex where the organisers have, in referring delegates to the local corporate hotels, omitted to mention the Royal Hotel in Purfleet which presents itself as a delightful surprise in this part of urban Essex, some 25 minutes by train from the City of London.

It’s a surprise which is generated by its hard working and friendly staff who make you feel welcome the moment you step through the front door: they book you in quickly, organise a taxi for the next morning rapidly and serve a late night meal cheerfully without the usual sense of jobsworth that you often find in the corporates. The surprise is topped off with a glorious view of the River Thames and the City. These are indeed London views but without exorbitant London prices.

However, surprises always come with side effects. In the cold light of the morning, the Royal’s side effects took some of the shine off the night before. The decorative finish of the rooms leaves a lot to be desired in as much my room was decoratively completely unfinished; and a lack of wifi, overlong bedroom curtains, a mattress which feels like it had been liberated from a nearby skip and sticky, unwashed dining tables all gave an impression of a hotel that’s been thrown together at the cheapest possible price.

Whilst the staff continue to be cheerfully and authentically polite and friendly, you get the impression of them struggling against some long term under-investment on the premises. The Royal may well have non-London prices, but at the moment it also suffers from non-London based quality issues.

With a bit more tender loving care, the Royal could live up to its name and surprise everyone, including forgetful conference organisers.