Review of Barry House Bed & Breakfast (or “A Plus Size Traveler's Experience with Historic London's Notoriously Small Toilets")
When planning a trip to London for three people (my brother, my husband Ty, and me), it was important to find a budget-friendly accommodation with a great location. A family room that could accommodate three adults and a full English breakfast were also at the top of my must-have list. This meant scouring the internet for weeks researching budget B&Bs and comparing reviews to see which one would be the best value.
The first thing I discovered was that there are a lot of budget B&Bs near King's Cross Station, and although that seemed like a convenient location, it wasn’t convenient for hauling our luggage from Heathrow on the Tube, especially considering this was going to be our first experience on a metro system of any kind. Don’t get me wrong, the Tube is the cheapest way to travel, but if you haven’t traveled much and it’s your first time in London, a more direct connection to your hotel is in order.
That’s when I discovered the Barry House.
Location, Location, Location!
Barry House Hyde Park is located between (you guessed it!) Hyde Park and Paddington station. The great thing about staying at a hotel near Paddington station is the Heathrow Connect. This is a train service from the airport to Paddington. You also have the Heathrow Express, which is a direct, non-stop train (whereas Heathrow Connect has stops along the way, so it takes a little longer), but the Express is also more expensive. We opted for the Connect, and it was a pleasant way to acclimate ourselves to London’s public transportation system. It wasn’t crowded at all, so there was plenty of space for our luggage and for us to stretch out and catch our breath after an exhausting overnight flight.
From Paddington station, the Barry House B&B is about a 3-minute walk past restaurants, pubs, and convenience stores. It’s a great neighborhood because you have plenty of options for takeaway if you’re hoping to wind down with a meal in your room (or spend an afternoon writing a paper for grad school with the curry takeaway your husband brought you), but it’s also far enough down the street so it’s quiet. We frequented one shop in particular every day for supplies (mainly bottled water and delicious Cadbury Dairy Milk bars – oh, how I miss you!), which is a must in London since you probably won’t want to drink the tap water. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but when you’re used to cold well water, it’s probably not going to be your cup of English tea.
Historic Property = Small, Cozy Spaces
Barry House is located in a historic townhouse that’s part of a row of similar B&Bs and hotels.
I loved the historic charm, so the fact that the rooms were small didn’t bother me. I was aware of this fact when booking, so if you’re looking for more spacious accommodations, you may want to skip the historic properties.
The family room we had actually wasn’t that cramped. It featured a double bed and a twin bed with a wardrobe and a long desk. They also provide a tea service (electrical kettle and cups) and a hair dryer, though we didn’t use either.
My only complaint about the room was the mattress Ty and I were sleeping on. At least on my side, I could feel the springs, and it was much harder than any mattress I’m used to. Ty described it as sleeping directly on the springs, which isn’t far off. It ended up not even mattering since we were all exhausted at the end of every day and I fell asleep easily, but it would still be nice if they updated the mattresses in that particular room (other reviewers have raved about the soft mattresses, so it must depend on what room you get).
[ *** EDIT: Bobby, the manager of Barry House, kindly reached out to me after reading this review. He has confirmed that they do change the mattresses regularly, and the one in that room is due to be changed. So more points for amazing, friendly customer service, folks! :) ]
Although the room was a good size for a historic budget B&B, it can start to feel overcrowded when you have three people’s luggage scattered about and you have to shift things around just to get into the wardrobe. We’re a close family, though, so we managed.
Let’s Talk About That Bathroom
The bathrooms (oh, excuse me, toilets) at Barry House are very nice and modern, but they are small – especially when you’re in a larger body.
I’m not overly tall at 5’8”, but I had to be mindful when sitting down on the loo so I wouldn’t knock my knees on the wall in front of me. After the first day, though, I think we all got used to the smaller space and going to the toilet wasn’t that big of a deal. The showers, on the other hand . . .
These are some really nice walk-in showers with handheld showerheads, but the glass door didn’t open very far, so there’s only a small amount of space for squeezing into the shower. Even an average-sized person might have issues with the tiny opening. It was clear from the way our shower door had come away from the bottom track that someone else had been too big to fit and yanked on the door a little too hard. This actually worked in our favor, since it gave the door a little more wiggle room to maneuver through. I’m a big girl, and my brother is even bigger, but we somehow managed. Once you’re in the shower, it’s quite nice – it just takes some getting used to.
If you go into it with the attitude that this is historic London and there’s only so much space these properties have to work with, you’ll be fine.
Best. Breakfast. Ever.
I’ve already said that having a full English breakfast was at the top of the list when choosing a hotel, and Barry House did not disappoint!
The breakfast room is downstairs below street level, and the wonderful staff bring you coffee or tea and toast with various jams, and then ask if you’d like the full breakfast. The full breakfast comes with an egg, thick bacon, sausage link, and baked beans. Ty often had just scrambled eggs and bacon, and they’re happy to accommodate.
I should mention that this is a family-run establishment, so the manager Bobby (who we checked in with) was helping serve breakfast that first morning along with an older couple who, we assume, are Bobby’s parents. Another young lady frequently served us, and this might have been the housekeeper, so you see the same people every morning and it feels very homey because of it. That’s a big plus for me.
The food was also delicious, by the way. I miss it too.
So, How Many Stars?
It’s difficult for me to objectively rate this one because my reaction to “inconvenient” things like the size of the bathroom or the hard mattress isn’t going to be the same as that of someone else. People used to modern, spacious, more expensive accommodations would probably give Barry House 2 or 3 stars. It is a 3-star B&B, after all. If I were taking into consideration the things that could have been changed, like the mattress, I’d give this place 4 stars.
I loved my experience at Barry House, though, and I know you’re not going to get everything exactly the way you want it, especially not if you’re determined to stay in a historic London neighborhood. From Bobby’s warm welcome and helpful advice on navigating London to the amazing breakfast and the stellar location, we couldn’t have done any better, and I’d give it a 5-star review.