Sunday, 23 April 2017

Liza Inn, Bournemouth

1 West Cliff Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5ES 

Decent accommodation for a couple of nights and a good breakfast

This hotel is near the Bournemouth International Centre and a short stroll to the beach and shopping area of the town, so not a bad location overall. It is near enough to where you want to be during the day and night, but far enough away to be in a quiet area for sleeping. Even having a pub just up the road did not disturb us.

Checking in was easy and very quick - a simple guest card to complete and sign, and there is free onsite parking (although the layout means you could get blocked in).

As with most of the accommodation in Bournemouth, this is a big house converted into a hotel, and therefore the rooms are "adapted" to fit the space.

Our room was on the very top floor, and was really an attic room. Having the bed with one side up against the wall, and the bathroom squeezed into a small space under the sloping roof  was not ideal, and we are sure that there was more spacious accommodation in this hotel, but for a couple of nights it was manageable. It was clean, and didn't have weird smells. There was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, a hairdryer was provided and there was tea and coffee making facilities in the room. The bed was comfortable. You do need to make sure you bring toiletries as only a small bar of soap is provided in the bathroom.

On each floor, the area outside the rooms had an ironing board and iron - useful for sure, but the iron on our floor did not work! That's why I always bring the travel iron.

The hotel is not good if you have any mobility problems as you have to use the stairs - getting to the top floor would certainly be a challenge and we were quite pleased that we bought 2 small suitcases rather than one large (and heavier) one. If there is a lift we weren't aware if its existence!

There is a residents bar and each evening on our way out it seemed to be packed with a large group of lads that were staying at the hotel. We never got the chance to have a drink there though as by the time we got back to the hotel each night, it was closed up.

Breakfast was good. A choice from the menu and the food arrived quickly and it was piping hot too. This was all included in the room rate.

The staff here are really friendly. Welcoming when we first arrived and brilliant during breakfast.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

City Continental - Earls Court

11-13 Penywern Road, Kensington, SW5 9TT

Rating 1/5
Hot, tiny rooms, surly staff, awful breakfast

The fact that the address says "Kensington" yet the hotel is just a stones throw from Earls Court Underground station should be a warning of the hotel promoting it as something it is not!

We arrived a little early and had hoped we might be able to check in. The surly girl on reception mumbled (literally mumbled so we could hardly hear her) that 2pm was the only time we could check in. If you work on the front desk of a hotel, it is important that you smile, that you treat the guest as though they are the  only one staying there and that you do NOT act as though you hate every minute of your job.
A smile and a "I'm really sorry but the rooms won't be ready until 2 o'clock" would have been enough for us to go away happy and come back at the appointed time!

So we went away and when we got back, check in took an age! It was NOT helped by the girl still being so surly and STILL mumbling, as we had to ask her to repeat everything. There was a group of four people ahead of us and it took the receptionist forever and a day to complete their check-in.

Finally, armed with the key to our room we headed upstairs to the 4th floor (the lift only went to the third so we had to lug the case up 2 flights of stairs) and our fears were realised as it was an attic room.

Attic rooms are HOT! Hot air certainly does rise! It was late October, and even with the window open it was still sweltering.

The bathroom was a T-shape, with the sink at one end of the top T and the toilet at the other. There was literally space only for a tiny sink and the loo... no arm room at all. The hot water dribbled out of the tap, yet the cold was a torrent!

The bed was OK. At last a plus point!!!!

Breakfast the following morning was included in the price of the room and was set up in the basement. The place was packed and there was clearly more guests than seats in the room. We ended up sharing a table with other guests. Due to the number of guests, access to the breakfast items was a struggle, not helped by the layout which did not allow a natural "flow".

Not seeing what was actually on offer, I grabbed some cutlery and noticed there were no forks. I asked the girl who was clearing the table next to us if she could get some forks. What I got was a monosyllabic "no". No explanation, just a "no". I was not sure if she had understood my request so I asked again and she said "no" again. So I tried a 3rd time and said, "you mean you never have any forks"! Her response "no" and she walked off.

What was on offer was basically a continental style fayre, very similar to what you get in an Ibis - toast, croissants, prepacked cheese, yoghurt and tea, coffee and juice. Unless you want a fork to eat the fruit salad, then there is no need for forks! My bad!

The next day (after we checked out) we had breakfast elsewhere.

We had believed our room was small due to it being in the attic, but we met the party of four who had checked in before us who were on a lower floor and they were actually complaining how small their room was.

Small, independent hotels can sometimes be good bargains and quite comfortable, This one was not! Next time in London we will opt for a "chain" so we know what we can expect.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Travelodge - Reading Central

Oxthorn House, 60 Oxford Road, Reading RD1 7LT

Rating 3/5
OK for an overnight stay

We've never really been to Reading before, and we booked this for an overnight stay so we could see a gig nearby. The hotel choice was really down to location - the venue for the gig we were seeing was only a short walk away.

This hotel is located in the centre of Reading, near Broad Street, with the shopping centres on the doorstep. So if you want to shop whilst you are in town, you are sorted.

The surrounding area is quite run down. The hotel itself does not have a bar or breakfast area (you can pre-order breakfast boxes with continental type breakfast in them) so other than your room, there is no where to relax. There are plenty of places to eat nearby, so you won't starve.

The room itself was typical of a Travelodge........ although the chair was a bit of a better standard than the usual plastic one you normally see in the room. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put the mirror on the side of the cupboard space, was an idiot. Unless you leaned totally to your left, whilst leaning over the table area, you couldn't use it!

Plug sockets are not great in any Travelodge and the number and location of the ones in this room were typical of every other Travelodge we have slept in... however, the lighting was good.

This hotel has the new style bed, which we have to admit is extremely comfortable.

The view from the window was of a side street.

There is no parking on site at the hotel, but the nearby Q-Park does the job. And at only £10 for 24 hours (using the discount voucher from the hotel) it is quite reasonable.

In all the hotel was fairly quiet, but the chatter of the housekeeping staff and rat-a-tat on the doors in the corridor outside was a tad annoying in the morning

Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Bridge Hotel, Greenford, Middlesex

Rating 5/5
Great overnight stay

Located on a busy roundabout, this Young's hotel next to the A40 in Greenford,  is a prime location and you could be forgiven for thinking it will be noisy being so close to a main thoroughfare. We have stayed here a few times and never had our sleep interrupted. It is surprisingly quiet.

Arriving a few hours before official check-in (as we were planning to be out and about until late evening), we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to "check in" in that we had our room allocated and were able to register our car with reception........ all we had to do was pick up our key from reception when we returned later that evening. Very simple, very quick. No hassles.

The bar closed at midnight, and at last orders, we were offered the chance to buy more drinks before they shut the bar if we wanted them and stay in the bar to drink them after closing - no chucking out time.

The staff were very friendly and they acknowledge you if they passed you around the hotel. They also had knowledge of the local area so were able to give us tips about the local public transport and advised us not to walk through the underpass that runs under the neighbouring roundabout late at night.

There are 3 floors - no sure if there is a lift, as we took the stairs to our allocated room on the second floor. The room we had was very spacious and similar to the size of room we have had on previous stays, so this is probably the norm. The beds: huge with a mattress that just envelopes you and make you want to stay snuggled under the duvet forever! Extremely comfortable and luxurious. There were plenty of power points and good lighting too. The desk drawer had a hairdryer.

The bathroom was well equipped (although we did not have any soap) and maybe we were lucky on this stay, or maybe it is common throughout the hotel, but the towels were still quite new, which meant they were really fluffy, white and clean.

Our rate included breakfast. Served until a reasonable time over the weekend (until 10am), the breakfast room had obviously been busy in the run up to the time we entered. There were a few tables with discarded plates and cups where people had vacated the space, but we did find a free table. Breakfast is the usual fayre....... cereals, fruit juice and hot items cooked to order. The staff were happy to take bespoke orders. The only gripe? The baked beans were quite cold. Tea was served in a pot.

Chucking out time is 11am, which given that breakfast finished by 10am was fine for us.

Will we stay there again? Sure we will

Friday, 16 September 2016

Premier Inn, Court Road, Lewes, Sussex

Rating 5/5
Clean and new is good

It was only three weeks since this Premier Inn opened, so it is still bright, clean, everything working and staff that are enthusiastic. The layout is a typical Premier Inn, with the big comfortable bed, plenty of power points in the room and purple decor throughout. Security doors means that you can only reach the rooms with your card key and with their no quibble good night guarantee, you are sorted. Not that we feel you would have an issue with noise (from outside anyhow), because although the location is dead central with the High Street just a short stroll away, it is tucked away and away from passing noise.

Check-in is via a self service machine but was trouble free and there was a staff member on hand to help if it was needed.

Breakfast is chargeable, but is an all you can eat type of affair. Quorn Veggie sausages are cooked to order, although to be honest, they could have done with a few more minutes cooking time.

Although they have a Thyme restaurant, there is not a bar area. So if you want a drink at the bar before turning in for the night you are out of luck!

The only thing that would make us hesitate in coming back is the parking. There is no information on their website (maybe because they are so new?). The hotel does not have its own car park, and the council run one behind the hotel is limited to maximum 2 hour stay. This 2 hours restriction is during the chargeable time (between 9am and 6pm), so as long as you arrive after 6pm and leave by 11am the next day, that's fine. For a longer stay, you would have to find alternative parking and that is not easy in Lewes as on street parking is expensive (when you find it) and other car parks are a short trek away, which may not be convenient when dragging suitcases.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Hunters Hall, Kingscote, Tetbury, GL8 8XZ

Rating 0/5
Avoid at all costs.

Hunters Hall is in the middle of nowhere. Without a car you have no hope in being able to get to and from this Old English Inn.

Quintessentially English, it is an old 16th century coaching inn, converted into a pub with accommodation in the neighbouring block, so it does have a certain charm. Our accommodation, room 1, on the ground floor was a typical oldy worldy hotel room with bulky heavy wood furniture, old style taps in the bathroom and a magnificent wooden beam across the ceiling above the bed. So far, so good. The bed was extremely comfortable, the shower does the job, the lighting was good, there is loads of free parking and you get free wi-fi too.

However, the stay was marred somewhat by a few factors which would, despite its olde charm, would never entice us back.

On the first night, the toilet stopped working, but which (and credit to the hotel), was fixed as soon as we informed them the following morning.

Arriving back from a long day out on day 2, where the weather was sultry and humid, we found the bins had not been emptied and the damp towels we had left on the bathroom floor to indicate “please change” had just been hung up on the towel rail….. and they were still wet! When we informed the hotel the next morning, the lady on reception informed us we should have left them on the floor and they would have been changed!!!! Doh! When we got back later that day, we did have fresh towels.

Breakfast was a disappointment. Hot food is cooked to order and on the first morning of our stay, the Dutch couple on a table near to us had waited for an extraordinarily long time to the point they had to ask what was happening.  There was only one lady attending to all of the guests so maybe they were short staffed…and she was trying to stagger orders I suppose not to overwhelm the kitchen. It was a while before our food order was even taken by which time the tea and coffee we had been given were cold. Our veggie breakfasts were lukewarm at best and in particular the baked beans had hardly been shown the pan!
The veggie sausage did not resemble a sausage shape and indeed, looked more like a dog turd and the toast was still bread - it must have been scared of the toaster! The lady on her own on the table next to us hardly ate anything on her plate. Maybe this should have been a warning to us.... and a good hotel would actually have discreetly asked this lady if there was anything wrong with the food for it to be left uneaten!

Breakfast on the second morning was a comedy of errors. 15 minutes after ordering the veggie breakfast again, out comes a plate with veggie sausage and scrambled egg. I ask, what happened to the rest of it (meaning the hash browns, tomato, baked beans etc as per the menu) and the girl looked like a rabbit in headlights as though she had never seen what was on the plate or even thought, "hmmm that doesn't look right"!!!!!!! Back to the kitchen.

Minty's mess, soggy cold sausage and "baked on" baked beans
A while later, out comes the plates again, with all of the previously missing items, however, it was with the same scrambled egg and veggie sausage which by now are quite hard, with that re-heated "crust" to them. I couldn't even cut into the sausage! The Beeb had given up by this time, but the waitress took my plate back to the kitchen, to get fresh sausages.

Literally 3 minutes later the plate comes back out, with new veggie sausages but which were a complete mush and stone cold, which is not surprising as even Minty knows you can't cook sausages in  3 minutes!!!! The other bits of the breakfast had that reheated film, and the baked beans in particular had that crusted outline where they had been "baked" onto the plate through reheating!. The scrambled egg was still from that initial offering, so this had been through 2 reheats and was decidedly rubbery by this point!

Minty gave up at that point and it was left uneaten. If you can't get it right on the 3rd attempt, there is no hope!
Childish, we know, but this is what The Beeb thought of his sausage!
For breakfast on the third (and our last) morning, we just had cereal. At that point we also noticed loads of slug trails across the carpet in the breakfast room. GROSS!

The hotel bar... don't get us started on the hotel bar! There are absolutely no set times  and last orders could be called any time after 10.30. It is really pot luck. Each night we asked what time they were serving until so we could time our return from nights out for a last pint at the bar, and each time we got a shrug of the shoulders and were told "I don't know".
One night there were 4 people in the bar including us and when we asked for another Peroni at 11.10 we were told by the barman that he had rung last orders a while back. Now, we were sitting at the table that was next to the bar and the big bell that is rung for "time". You would think we would hear it wouldn't you? At the very least, the bar man could have just mentioned he was going to close the bar and did we want to get  a last order in - there were just four of us in there after all!!!!! We would strongly suggest they have set bar times and stick to that!

The board outside the Inn, has a message telling you that the owners (we can't remember their names now) welcome you. Given this establishment has only 13 bedrooms, it would not be too much of a hardship for this couple to make themselves known, and introduce themselves to their guests in person. It doesn't take much to wander through the bar/restaurant to say "Hi, we are "so and so", how are you enjoying your stay with us?.........."

As a final point, the website states "Food served 11am – 10pm every day". Not that we had dinner there (after the breakfast experience, but we did hear other guests being told the kitchen was not open until after 6pm!