My Review of the Principal Hotel, York

As I wrote recently, IHG is running a very tempting 50% off sale at the moment, and I took this chance to book a trip to York, staying at the Principal hotel.

Principal Hotels was acquired by IHG a while ago, and many of them have already been converted to a Kimpton or InterContinental. The York hotel is the only one that is still bearing the “Principal” name, to the best of my knowledge.

The hotel is right next to the railway station, so convenient for those who arrive by train. Ideally I’d prefer to stay in the inner town though, and given that many new hotels have opened in the last couple of years plenty of choices are available.

The building itself is very impressive.

There is also an outdoor bar in the hotel garden. Staying guests enjoy 10% off by showing their room key.

The lobby and restaurant look very elegant too, and so are the stairs. Judging by its public areas, this hotel is among the poshest ones I’ve ever seen in the UK and Europe.

However, this hotel is only ranked 33rd out of 47 hotels in York on TripAdvisor. This sounds very bad for a five star hotel. And you’ll notice the first few pages are flooded with one and two star reviews…

And why’s that? I don’t even know where to start. The service, for instance, is a TOTAL DISASTER. The front desk gentleman that I dealt with couldn’t be any more indifferent or lacking in enthusiasm. I had a feeling that he didn’t want to be here at all.

I arrived at 1pm and was told room wouldn’t be available before 3pm. I came back at 3 (which is the standard check-in time) and he told me the same. I insisted that he call the housekeeping and you know what? Multiple rooms were ready at this point. I don’t understand why I have to do their job to get my room.

There was no mention of my Spire status or any benefits at all. I had to ask for the drink’s voucher and he asked if I wanted the points. I asked again and he finally gave me the vouchers. I said “Sorry but this is something you should have offered in the first place” and no response.

I asked about late check-out and got a blatant “No”, not even “No sorry”. I was shocked and wondered if I was really in a five-star hotel.

To be fair, all other staff I interacted with are okay, although nothing exceptional and definitely not up to the standard of Kimpton Edinburgh.

I booked a King Superior room and got the same. I wasn’t expecting any upgrade though, as no better room was available even at the time of my booking.

Size-wise the room is okay, especially as I know how small their standard room is. However the decor is very basic with little character.

The red telephone reminds me of Kimpton Edinburgh. I had a conversation with their staff and they didn’t know what the hotel will convert into, but I’m guessing Kimpton possibly? Although there obviously is still a lot of work to do.

The bathroom is probably the best part, very modern and spacious, with rainfall shower installed.

The thing is, it’s 30 degrees at York and most guest rooms feature NO AC. All they are offering is a small fan, which does very little help.

The room is south facing, and I have a feeling that reflection from the railway station’s roof makes the heat even worse. The room is definitely a lot hotter than outside, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.

I don’t have much more to add. In general, both the service and guest room are very underwhelming, and I wouldn’t recommend staying here until the conversion is finished (by which time all rooms should have AC installed), whether it’s Kimpton or another brand.

That said, the hotel building itself and the public space are worth a visit. You could book an afternoon tea or spend some time at the restaurant bar if interested.

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