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London: Hotel caters to troops seeing city

LONDON — Discounts for American troops in England can be difficult to scrounge up outside a U.S. military base, especially in the country’s largest city, where prices are prone to skyrocket.

But there is some relief to those who stay at the Victory Services Club in central London. Designed for British troops, the military-friendly hotel complex also caters to U.S. forces.

The club has more than 220 rooms, offering singles, twins, doubles and family rooms. A single room costs as low as 28 pounds a night.

“We’re a dedicated military hotel,” said Paul Kennedy, the club’s front of house manager.

Just a quick stroll from Oxford Street, one of London’s premier shopping areas, the club is in prime real estate for visitors to the city. Other London attractions, such as museums, theaters, sports venues and nightlife spots are also minutes from the club via the nearby Underground station Marble Arch.

But don’t expect a deluxe room. When I stayed in a twin room recently, the accommodation was lackluster with a tiny TV and cheap furniture. On the other hand, it was clean, roomy enough for two and in a location close to many of London’s hot spots. And its price — compared to nearby hotels — was not too shabby.

To help sharpen its appearance, the club plans some remodeling early next year in its Old Club House section, where the inexpensive single rooms are located.

The renovations will transform the club’s traditional “mess-style” single rooms, which offer bathrooms down the hall, to an “en suite” setup, Kennedy said.

More comfortable double and twin en suite bedrooms can be found in the hotel’s Memorial Wing. These rooms were refurbished 10 years ago but are still basic, economy lodging.

“It’s not the Ritz,” Kennedy admitted. “But for a hotel at the top of Oxford Street, it’s pretty reasonable.”

He’s right about the price. Some nearby hotel rooms cost twice as much as the club. The club’s Web site is also advertising discounted room deals for the holidays.

Active-duty U.S. military servicemembers are allowed to book rooms at the club and to join its membership (20 pounds a year), which includes newsletters, discounted banquet room hire and unlimited access to club facilities.

Department of Defense employees cannot become members but can reserve rooms at a slightly higher price — usually an extra three or four pounds, according to a reservations clerk at the club.


Comparing the hotels ...

How the Victory Services Club stacks up to other Marble Arch hotels. All prices are in British pounds:

Victory Services Club
Single room: 28-43.50
Double/Twin room: 57-88
Family room: 99-111
Breakfast is 6.50 per person or 3.25 for  children younger than 12.

Edward Lear Hotel
Single: 41.50-55
Double: 59.50-81.50
Family: 89.50-97.50
All rooms include breakfast.

Lincoln House Hotel
Single: 75
Double/Twin: 89-115
Family: 149
Breakfast is 3.50 per person and is free for children younger than 15.

Best Western Mostyn Hotel
Single: 145
Double/Twin: 185
Family: 195
Breakfast is 10 per person.

London Marriot Hotel Marble Arch
Single: None
Double/Twin: 140-239
Premier King room: 196-279
Breakfast is 16.95 per person.

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To book a room at the Victory Services Club, go to www.vsc.co.uk, or call 02076 168335/02077 234474. The Union Jack Club, located near London’s Waterloo train station, also offers budget accommodation for active-duty U.S. military and DOD employees with ID cards. For more information, go to www.ujclub.co.uk.

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