Advantages Clean, good price, all the basics
Disadvantages Does not go that extra mile
I don’t normally do this, but this time around I am going to try rating different elements of my stay. To keep it simple, I’ll use a five star scale. Hope this helps. Sorry about the pictures, they were a bit rushed so not very well taken.
I found this hotel randomly via Lastminute.com, when I realised I had nearly a week of annual leave left to take and did not want it to be wasted. The deal I got was 4 nights in a single room with breakfast, for £140. Wow, what a deal, I thought. It sounded good, but I did not really research it too well before I went through the checkout, as I was conscious that the deal might not last. Only a few days before I was due to leave, I discovered a couple of websites with predominantly negative, and not just a bit negative but poorly rating reviews of the hotel. My heart sank. It was too late to turn back, and I still wanted to have some sort of break, so with very low expectations, I went ahead with the trip.
Check In **
My check-in was brief. I did not even need the voucher I printed from my email confirmation, just to sign some papers and confirm my address details. I was offered a wake-up call and papers. I asked for a paper (not realising you had to pay for it, unlike in most hotels) – he said they had pretty much “anything”. The receptionist then told me my room was on level 2 and I could either take the stairs or the lift – pointing each out. However, he then went off into the office behind reception, not to remerge that day. Another couple came in and were seen to by another woman in reception. I called the lift, which had the old-fashioned style door that unlocks for you to manually open only once the lift has stopped at your floor and the inside door is fully open. It came but the door would not open. Then it left, so I called it again. It went straight past. I asked the receptionist. She told me, patronisingly enough, to press the call button. I said I had and tried again. Then she witnessed for herself the lift going straight past. Finally she murmured something about housekeeping taking linen down. Fine, I thought, it can’t be far, I’ll take the stairs. It was a bit of a struggle getting up the first flight with two big bags, and I decided to try the lift one more time. From the first floor, it was fine. I later realised the downstairs one was just a bit dodgy and got used to having to try to open it twice, but it was more the lack of willingness to help that somewhat worried me, especially after the reviews I’d read!
The receptionist also proved useless when it came to asking about the local area. The hotel had advertised - on posters etc. that staff were more than happy to help give us guidance on places to go etc. so I took them up on it. I asked about transport - getting to places like Matlock. The receptionist abruptly replied "I don't know what you're asking me for, I don't drive." All the funnier, as I replied "nor do I!" Well, instead she basically directed me to the tourist information centre, who were very helpful, but I didn't bother asking for anything else from them. She wasn't nasty or rude, but a bit blunt and unprofessional for my liking. I guess this may explain some of the things I was warned about...
There are generally alternative slopes wherever there are steps, or the mini lifts, although they appear to require supervision for use. Only exception I could find to this was that on my floor some of the bedrooms were split onto two half-floors and I could only find steps to these. There are other accessible rooms though, but I can only assume these are equally good. The passage ways are reasonably spacious, but the lift is a tad cramped and probably tricky to use for disabled persons.The Room **
I got into the room, and was instantly hit by a very strange smell - something I had been warned about from other reviews. It was unpleasant, but not unbearable, and after being in the room for about 5 minutes, it was not noticeable, although it had left me conscious enough of it to open the windows. Admittedly, the decor was not great; in fact I wondered if I had been put into a home by mistake, because it had that feel. Frankly, though, I could not see why this should matter. Yes, I am usually wowed by great looking rooms and enjoy my stay for it that much more, but not having that was not really so off-putting. Plus, for what I paid, what could I expect?
There was plenty of space for storage, inluding a wardrobe and large chest of drawers.There is a small hairdryer, but it is not very powerful and you have to hold the buttons down to keep it on. There's a trouser press and iron, but I did not need either. There's also a fan. There are tea and coffee facilities, and the teas given are various, include fruit/herbal teas and are also plentiful. The kettle takes ages to boil though, so you might not want the drink by the time it's done! I suggest put it on early. You can always keep the water as cool drinking water anyway!I was disappointed to find that there was no minibar/fridge facility, especially as the room got so hot this would have been ideal. I guess this is an extra luxury that would have bumped up the price, though.
The view from the window was terrible, I guess because I had a room in the middle of the building, but on the other hand I did not have to put up with traffic noise, and anyway I did not spend that long in there.
The one thing that did bother me was the creaking floorboards. They were pretty bad and made me self-conscious just walking around. Luckily I am not a light sleeper, or at least I have no trouble getting back to sleep if disturbed, but this could be a major problem for others because people wandering about at night can be heard really well, even if they are trying their best to keep quiet, which, let’s face it, most people do not.
The television had only the basic (actually 4) channels. The reception was poor, but I didn’t bother to complain as it was enough for the small number of times I wanted to watch it. For Sky, you would have to use the bar television – and in that case you’re watching whatever everyone else will watch.
On the first morning I was very disappointed. Everything I fancied seemed to have been absent. The only sign of a continental breakfast was a sorry slice of cheese on a plate. There were no pasties, very little cereal and the fruit looked lonely. I was offered cooked breakfast but didn’t fancy it so had toast instead. I had cereal and juice then rushed off, hoping the next day would be better. Thankfully, the next day I came earlier and found that actually the spread was not so bad if you catch it in time. They had mini croissants and ‘pain au chocolat’s – no muffins, mind. I was offered cooked breakfast and went for porridge and toast again. Apparently there is a vegetarian cooked, but to be honest I’m just not into that stuff any more and it’s usually far too greasy for me. The choice of juices was good, although the fruits still left much to be desired. The food was all good and the porridge was particularly tasty. The hot drinks offered were tea and coffee. I always had coffee, but I did ask for hot water with it as I prefer mine weak, and this was fine. The portions of cooked foods looked generous, but as I did not eat any, I'm just going by my nosing and can't say how good it was. As there was little choice of cereal and those there were not very well laid out, I can't highly rate breakfast.
I hadn’t planned on eating any of my evening meals in the hotel, in fact I had a very awkward moment where I’d asked reception about any good restaurants nearby and her reply started with an offended “apart from out restaurant?”. The hotel restaurant is called “Steaks ‘n’ Stuff”, not really the best name for a restaurant in the first place. After finding that everything in town was closed and I was too tired to travel out, I decided one evening to just try it out.
Leisure centre ****
I was glad I’d come prepared because there are no private changing cubicles!! Also, the showers are all open-plan. I wouldn’t fancy changing in the loos, although they do look clean enough, but I guess that’s an option for those who’d rather not bare all or cower behind a towel!
As you are given a locker key, you are allocated a locker number, and often enough your locker will be next to someone who is already in there changing! There are a few lockers, but I suppose it is easier to take a key from the same shelf or something. There’s not really enough room to comfortably change. There seemed to be a floor wiping device sitting neglected on the floor most days, but I can confirm that it is used. The changing room showers are nice and warm, but there never seemed to be enough soap so bring your own!
The pool is a good size and has a proper deep end – not to suggest I’d recommend jumping in. It is set in very nice surroundings with tropical-type plants and the Jacuzzi bubbling away in the corner. With big windows and nice décor, it was pleasant as could be in winter. There are also some sunbeds, which are comfortable but would take more effort than I cared to use to adjust.
Whilst I was there, I spent most of my time relaxing, therefore did not use the Gym. To be honest with all the uphill walking I did, I think that I would have ended up with an injury if I did. The Gym never looked busy, was surrounded by mirrors and always had music telly on quite loud. There was a variety of machines, but as I did not try them I'm afraid I can hardly comment.
WiFi and Bar **
The WiFi is free, but I am still evaluating it as if it were paid for by us, because I took this into account when booking the hotel, where I could potentially have decided to take a cheaper hotel or one with other features then used Internet cafes. So I still expect it to be good. The convenience of nearby Internet access is valuable today. At this hotel, the access is only really available in one room, at the bar of the hotel. The bar are was crowded most evenings, funnily enough with other people like me being all nerdy with our laptops out (plus those watching the cricket/footie on the telly)! There are sockets down there, but you might have to share when it is busy. The connection, once in the bar area, is good. But the Internet is fairly slow, and being in such a public area you lack the privacy. I'd have to admit someone else was watching something on YouTube (no, you would NOT watch rude stuff in public), and I was peering over his shoulder at times, in spite of his headphones. Also as I was on my own down there, I felt conscious of the others. Most people were very friendly, but there was this one really weird bloke who kept staring at me until I couldn't stand it and got up and left. I've been stalked before, it's not nice and it is certainly not worth standing your ground just for the sake of checking your emails! So really, it's not a proper WiFi service, but it is there just in case you need to use it.
Considering I was expecting this to be a nightmare stay, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be alright. Frankly, if you go on holiday to look at carpets and ceilings, and sniff hotel rooms, you won't be impressed. Refurbishment may be going at snail-pace, and the decor is quite outdated in some areas. But despite creaky floorboards and some mild unprofessionalism, I think the place is not bad, far more comfortable than some places I've seen and not unfriendly. For the price, which was fairly low, I felt that I got a really good deal, but I was disappointed in the extra things I tend to enjoy, like a decent telly and Internet, and a more professional service.
For short trips, particularly for business purposes and when you are in the company of people who know the area, this is a very good, budget hotel, but for longer holidays or lone trips like mine, it is merely acceptable. I don't regret staying here, but I've learnt of a few things I will look out for in future, particularly to read more reviews!
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