Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Grand common spaces, but slighty less impressive rooms
With its sculpted ceilings, grand archways, giant marble columns, intricate mosaic tiling and looming crystal chandeliers, Hotel Russell is ornately styled and packed with beautiful Victorian features.
The grand decor is certainly not subtle: The tri-colored marble in the lobby and patterned carpet on the stairs may feel a bit overwhelming to some. And though the hotel's blend of traditional and modern styles is mostly successful, the strange pop music playing during our visit seemed ill-suited to the setting.
The modern glass reception desk is tucked neatly to the side of the lobby, and its dark wood surface helps it to blend in with the more classic surroundings. The glass motif is repeated in some bedrooms, where oak and patterned glass headboards stand out as a unique feature. Overall, though, the rooms are decidedly less impressive than the common spaces.
A two-minute walk from Russell Square tube station, in the heart of Bloomsbury
The local neighborhood of Bloomsbury, which stretches from Euston Road at its north border to Holborn at its southern border, is most famed for its strong literary heritage: The Bloomsbury Group, active throughout the 20th century, was an intellectuals’ collective that included notable members such as Virginia Woolf, and together promoted modern attitudes toward feminism, pacifism, the nature of consciousness, and sexuality. Other notable residents of the area included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Bob Marley, and William Butler Yeats. Bloomsbury also houses a lovely array of garden squares, as well as the simultaneously fantastic and odious British Museum, where you can view centuries’ worth of relics from all over the globe -- collected primarily as a result of British colonialism.
Stroll through the area now, and you will notice a vague mixture of academics, doctors, tourists, and businessmen -- a direct consequence of the central location, and the presence of nearby hospitals and esteemed academic institutions such as the London School of Economics. Bloomsbury also conveniently borders Covent Garden and Soho on the south, the West End shopping district on the west, great dining options in Clerkenwell on the east, and national and international rail connections via King’s Cross on the north.
Rooms blend modern and traditional style
Rooms have Victorian features such as bay windows, crown moldings and chandeliers. The plush white bedding and sleek wood furniture, however, feel decidedely contemporary.
Numerous meeting rooms, but little else
Modern European cuisine and a stately bar
The 373-room Hotel Russell is massive by London standards, and its grand Victorian architecture complements the hotel's scale. Rooms blend contemporary style with period detail, but don't quite live up to the expectation set by the common spaces; some are tiny and have old tube TVs. The hotel appeals mostly to couples and business travelers, with its historic character and numerous event spaces, and the location in central Bloomsbury is excellent. But it's also worth considering the nearby, and comparably priced, Ambassadors Bloomsbury.