Newcastle House Hotel (Rothbury, Northumberland)
Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury, Northumberland I know that we have only just come back from a fabulous holiday but when I saw this bargain on KGB deals £59 for two nights for two people including breakfast up in Northumberland I couldn't resist getting it and booking it for over my husband's birthday. As we hadn't paid a lot ... and I had read that it was a pub I wasn't expecting five star accommodation but I was hoping it would be okay.
I confess I knew nothing about Rothbury before booking this but we had wanted to explore Northumberland and this seemed pretty close to Alnwick Castle where we wanted to go and also not so far from Lindisfarne either so a pretty near perfect location. Rothbury is a small town on the river Coquet and is a good base for walkers wanting to explore Coquetdale and the hills around.
The town is bigger than I had thought and I managed to find a post office ton post some things I needed to get off before we got home again and then we made our way to the hotel.
From the outside it looks like a pub and in fact once inside it also looks like a pub. Thankfully since the smoking ban we are no longer greeted with wall of smelly smoke when entering a pub but we were still a little concerned as to what the room would be like. The entrance is very dark with a burgundy patterned carpet that looked like it had been down a good few years. From the entrance you could go up the stairs or to the right into the restaurant and one bar or left into another bar area.
The lady who greeted us was very pleasant and efficient; she booked us in and then took us up the stairs and to the left through several fire doors and down a long corridor carpeted with a beige patterned carpet.
Our room was at the end and was a decent size but although the carpet looked new, plain neutral colour, all the furniture was polished pine and rather dated. We had a double and single bed, a huge pine wardrobe, a pine small desk and one small drawer unit being used for a bedside table and the other with a kettle and tea/coffee/hot chocolate and biscuits on a tray. The room was clean but it all just looked a bit tired. The double bed was a storage divan and the base was not covered with a valance which just looked un finished. Because the bedside table was between the single and the double bed it meant that the person on the right hand side of the bed had no reading light so I chose to read in the single bed as one of my pleasures is my read in bed before going to sleep.
The ensuite shower room was minute. The electric shower was okay but the cubicle was tiny so some people would struggle to fit in it. The toilet and basin were so close that you almost had to sit sideways as you banged your knees on the basin otherwise. A notice asked you not to put condoms, tampons and sanitary towels in the toilet but to use the bags provided and there were no bags in the holder on the wall. On the wall of the shower was a dispenser for shower gel and soap but both were empty and we were left a small bottle of conditioning shampoo. Luckily I had taken some extra shower gels from other hotels but I had thought soap would be provided so we just used shower gel to wash our hands. Another slightly unpleasant thing was that we only had cold water in the basin from both taps! This made it not very pleasant to wash your hands or face so the only hot water was from the shower. I don't mind that sort of thing in an eco tent but it shouldn't be the case in a hotel in the UK. Finally it was not only tiny and had no window but it had no extractor fan which meant it was not pleasant once someone had used the toilet!!
As I said the room was big and had two huge windows, one overlooking the street below and the other which was slightly clouded glass at the bottom for privacy and looked back over the rest of the pub. This did mean you had to draw the rather thin curtains when dressing otherwise you were on full view to the shoppers passing by. The windows were not double glazed and this we found meant that the two radiators struggled to make the room warm enough to sit in. I wrapped a blanket around me to read or use my laptop. There was also only one rather hard chair near the desk so it didn't encourage sitting and reading at all really.
The whole room just looked dated and put together with a lack of any finesse. The walls were painted white over anaglypta wall paper which I realise covers up a lot of cracks and things in old wall but this just looked like it had been decorated in the 70s. The bedding again was okay but not crisp and white linen, more like the polycotton stuff you might buy from Primark. The other slightly off putting thing was something I discovered after getting out of the single bed and that was that the duvet cover on the single bed was stained on the underside. There is no way I would use a stained duvet cover at home and I certainly do NOT expect it in a hotel. The cover was clean and smelled perfectly nice but it just looked really yukky.
If you wanted a bath there was one for guest down the corridor but somehow the thought of taking all my stuff down the corridor to have a bath put me off. There was also a shared toilet down the corridor. I have a feeling that some of the rooms may not have been ensuite. Again both these looked like they could do with a makeover.
This was served in the restaurant and the tables were set for the number of people staying in the hotel. The juice (orange only) was in a jug on a table with a jug of milk, a bowl full of mini butters, some large jars of jam and spoon with small dishes into which you were meant to put what marmalade or jam you wanted. Bread in plastic wrappers and a toaster as well as three packs of cereal in the boxes they come in. Coffee in a machine was on a window sill behind a trolley full of all the cutlery and condiments used for laying the tables which made it not at all obvious and quite hard to get to. Tea was freshly made for you in the kitchen. Next to this small table of breakfast stuff was the server which was used as storage and all this gave the impression that you were eating somewhere temporary, a bit like a building site or how we ate when our kitchen was out of action when we were having a new kitchen installed.
The male chef cooked breakfast the first morning and the female chef the second. She was much more chatty and I believe the owner/manager and she informed me that they had recently acquired the place so hopefully they will start to make a few improvements. Many things could be sorted without spending a lot of money but to make it really nice it would need a major makeover which may not be worth it if they don't get that many guests.
Anyway we were offered anything from a full English breakfast to any type of eggs or kippers. I stupidly asked for a kipper the first morning and it was hard work and repeated on me for the rest of the day. On the second day I asked for bacon only and made a bacon butty with some toast. My husband enjoyed his full English both mornings. I would have preferred fruit and yoghurt with nicely presented toast and things to spread on it. The food was well cooked although I was not impressed with the kipper as parts seemed to be cold and I only had a couple of mouthfuls.
We ate in the pub/hotel restaurant on the first night and we hadn't booked, it was packed but luckily they fitted us in. They hadn't said it was necessary to book or asked if we wanted to eat there that night which could have been a bit annoying if we had not been able to get a table.
The menu was varied and reasonable prices. Most starters were around £4/5 and the mains were around £10 to £14 at the most. My husband chose the battered fish and chips and was very happy with his choice while I had the cod with creamy wine and pea sauce which came with mash and a bowl of freshly cooked vegetables. I enjoyed the meal it was tasty and I found no bones in my fish. I decided I'd like a dessert and chose two scoops of Movenpic ice cream which was about £3. The meal with two beers and two spritzers came to £37 which we thought was a good price for what we had.
The service was friendly, efficient and we had no complaints about the meal at all. Obviously the pub had a good reputation for meals within the town as it was so full on a Monday night.
I read that wifi was available but in our room I could not get on at all so I would have had to sit down in the pub area to get onto the wifi which isn't quite what I had hoped but I guess I could have accessed it had I wanted to.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
Well, no. If you could get the same rate as we paid which was £59 for two nights for both of us then I think that was okay. Would I pay the full rate? Not a chance. When you can get bargains with the chain hotels which offer a decent standard of accommodation I think I would prefer a days inn, Holiday Inn or even the one Lenny Henry advertises to staying in a cold somewhat dated room with stained sheets and no soap.
Sorry but I do think attention to detail was lacking and some things like the stained duvet cover and the way breakfast was laid out showed a complete lack of any thought for the way a guest might view things. Cereal should be in fresh looking sealed jars not tatty looking cereal packets and toast should be freshly made and presented in a basket or bread put in a basket near the toaster not in the plastic bread bag!!
Rooms need to be warm enough for guests to sit in without wearing blankets. The radiators came on at about 5pm and went off overnight which is fair enough but the room was cold again when we got up and it was not mid winter so heaven knows what it would be like when it is really cold outside.
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Premier Inn Newcastle Metro Centre (Gateshead)
I usually travel to the North East of England with my daughter at least once a year - she is a huge fan of the Metro Centre for shopping. Even though the journey from Scotland isn't particularly long, we usually stay a couple of nights and make a break of things. This year I planned a trip for the second week of the Easter ... break and found a good rate at the Premier Inn property located close to the shopping centre - good enough for me to book as soon as I saw it.
The Premier Inn Newcastle Metro Centre is located on the Derwent Haugh Road in Gateshead - like so many Premier Inn properties located on the fringes of cities it is erroneously named and should really be Premier Inn Gateshead if you ask me.
The hotel is very easy to find as it's located just off the A1 road, making it perfect for those travelling to the area by car. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of public transport around here.
The car park is large and we had no problem finding a space close to the hotel entrance.
~~Check In and First Impressions~~
Rooms are available for check in from 2.00 pm. We arrived around 4.00 pm and were greeted by a friendly receptionist who took some personal details from us including the car registration number, took payment for breakfast for us and explained the policies Premier Inn have. We were given a key to our room which was located on the ground floor.
The lobby area is small but there are some seats available along with a vending machine selling snacks and drinks.
My first impressions were therefore very good - the receptionist was very good at her job and made us feel very welcome at the hotel.
I had booked a family room for this stay as when I booked there was a possibility my sister would be coming too but she decided not to bother. To be honest however a family room was ideal for us as it gave us a second bed and meant my daughter and didn't have to to share the double bed.
Entry to the room is via a traditional key which has a large key ring with a holder which has the room number clearly marked. If you are going out for the day it's best to leave the key at reception as there is then no danger of you losing it.
The room itself wasn't particularly large but it was perfectly adequate for a two night stay. Like all Premier Inn rooms there was the obligatory purple runner on the bed and a painting on the wall which also made use of their signature colour.
The bathroom is located on the right hand side of the door when you enter the room and directly ahead on the left is the open wardrobe/storage section Premier Inns seem to use as a matter of course now.
On one side of this was tea/coffee making facilities and a bin, with the middle section housing the "wardrobe" with eight wooden hangers. There was a shelf above this which stored a spare pillow and spare towels were located in the wardrobe section. On the other side the TV was located on the top shelf with several spare shelves underneath.
The TV was an LCD but it wasn't widescreen. This didn't particularly bother me but the screen was pretty small - it seemed around 19" to me. You get the full selection of Freeview channels and the picture quality was fine.
The room also housed a desk and chair but the first thing my daughter said when she sat down was "that chair is wobbly" - and when I inspected it I realised it was the back which was loose. As a result we didn't bother to sit on it!
The beds were made up on arrival which is something I appreciate after numerous stays in family rooms at Travelodges where I am expected to make up the second bed. The double bed was very comfortable but there were only two pillows on it. The single bed only had one. I gave the spare pillow to my daughter and just used the two pillows myself on the double bed but it would have been nice to have more than one spare pillow in the room.
The beds were, as ever, extremely comfortable. I do find the beds in Premier Inns to be elevated a little more than my bed at home but it's not a problem to get into it and I suspect this is the case to house the second bed which is usually stored underneath when not in use. Neither of us had any problems sleeping on the beds and if I am honest I had hoped for this. In my experience only Sheraton hotels have comfier beds than Premier Inn.
The room wasn't particularly bright with the main light situated close to the wardrobe area, leaving ceiling spotlights and one LED lamp to illuminate the main part of the room. Lastly, there was an electric heater in the corner of the room which was utilised via a thermostatic control on the wall.
The bathroom is small but functional, housing a bath with shower over. There is a shower curtain around the bath and a towel rail at the other end of the bath.
There is both shampoo and hand soap available in the bathroom in wall mounted dispensers.
I had only been in the room about half an hour when I went to the toilet only to discover it stubbornly refused to flush. I wasn't too concerned about this first time I flushed but by the fourth attempt I realised there was definitely a problem so I headed off to reception for some help.
The receptionist was very sympathetic and said she would get someone who worked in the attached restaurant to come through and take a look at it. Within a few minutes he arrived and he took a look at the toilet only for it to flush normally on first attempt. I was a little bemused but was just relieved it was flushing again.
This relief didn't last long - later on that evening the same problem became apparent and this time the water came up so high in the bowl I feared it was going to spill over onto the floor. Once again I headed to reception only this time to encounter a different receptionist.
This one checked a book at the desk and mentioned the blockage to a colleague who said the toilet had been blocked in the room the night before. I was a bit irked to learn this - when I had made my initial complaint about the toilet there had been rooms free at the hotel should we need to move but now, at nearly 9.00 pm, the hotel was full.
I suggested perhaps the toilet needed to be plunged so within a few minutes the same male member of staff who had come earlier appeared and this time spent a bit more time inspecting the toilet. He realised there was something blocking the toilet and this following some prodding about with a toilet brush removed a black plastic cap from the toilet which was the cause of the toilet blockage.
I have to say I was surprised that this hadn't been checked out when the first complaint about the toilet was made the day before I arrived and while I was happy the situation was resolved I was annoyed that this hadn't been investigated properly when I first informed front desk of the blockage.
To the hotel's credit they offered to refund the cost of breakfast to me - which seemed fair as I didn't expect them to invoke their famous "Good Night Guarantee" which refunds you the cost of your stay in the event of major problems in your room over something which had been resolved satisfactorily and hadn't caused me enormous inconvenience. I agreed to this and was just relieved the toilet was finally back in service.
Our room was located at the gable end of the property and as a result it was quite cool. The electric heater was positioned under the window of the room and I have to say it wasn't particularly efficient. It was easy to control using the thermostat on the wall but it seemed to have a timer which would override any information I inputted leaving me a couple of times wondering why the room was so cold.
The window was secondary glazed, with the net curtain positioned between both layers of glazing and on the first morning when I slid the window open so I could move the curtain to see what the weather was like I was immediately hit by a freezing draught. I couldn't see how you could open the external window to make the room cooler in summer however leading me to think Premier Inn may want to look again at the windows in this property.
The room was spotlessly clean throughout or stay and we were impressed by this. Another thing I really liked was the fact Premier Inn give you bath sheets. Too many hotels still give out tiny little bath towels and it was lovely to have a shower and not have to jump about around the heater trying to dry myself, instead being able to wrap a large fluffy towel around me to dry off.
We experienced no noise at the hotel at all although I do suspect that at weekends this may not be the case.
Wifi is available in the room and in a new move Premier Inn give you 30 minutes a day free. Having used it and liked it in comparison to using my phone as a modem, I decided to buy 24 hours access for £3. I think this is a fair price to charge for wifi in a hotel and wish more hotels would do this rather than charge a minimum of £10 for just 24 hours access.
The hotel is located next to a Taybarns restaurant. These restaurants are buffet style "all you can eat" establishments.
Breakfast is the typical Premier Inn affair with hot food available at the buffet including bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and a new addition - hash browns. I was a little disappointed with the bacon and sausages - they seem to have cut back a little on the quality of these products from my last stay at a Premier Inn.
Also available is breads, cakes, cereals, yoghurt and a selection of fruit juices, coffee and tea. It costs £8.25 per person for breakfast although under 16s eat free if accompanied by an adult (maximum of 2 children per adult).
We had dinner at the restaurant on our first night and it was a fair to middling experience. There is a vast array of food on offer at Taybarns - and I have actually reviewed this as a stand-alone restaurant in the past - but briefly there is an area with salads, a grill area, a so-called "Chip Shop" and a small carvery area along with small areas offering Chinese, Indian and Italian food. In theory there should be something for everyone but as I have learned over the years it can be hard to perfect the art of a good buffet and it seems to be an art we Brits have yet to master.
Generally the food was mediocre with nothing standing out as being particularly good but to be fair there wasn't much that was particularly awful either. The dessert section was probably the best thing with a decent selection of cakes including carrot cake, chocolate fudge cake and apple pie, along with profiteroles. The only thing I couldn't bring myself to try was the ice cream as it came from one of those "softee" style machines and in my experience doesn't stay frozen for much longer than a minute after dispensing.
Dinner cost us £7.99 each with drinks on top. Soft drinks came in at around £2.50 each but this includes free refills.
The restaurant is family friendly but in light of the fact there are so many alternative dining options within a short drive of the hotel I would suggest if you want something a little more sophisticated take the car out in search of it.
There is a bar area close to the entrance of the restaurant which seemed fairly busy but we didn't use it during our stay.
My daughter and I enjoyed our stay at this Premier Inn and certainly if we are in the area again we will definitely consider staying here.
We paid £39 per night for our stay which I thought was an excellent price for the level of comfort in the room.
The staff we encountered were helpful and friendly and while I still feel the blocked toilet problem could have been handled better when I made my initial complaint, the fact it was resolved to my satisfaction in the end and the apologetic and sincere reaction from the staff was appreciated. The hotel's willingness to accept my inconvenience and compensate me via the free breakfasts was a very nice touch too.
The dining option is something I suspect you will either love or hate. Certainly if you prefer your dinner cooked to order, Taybarns won't be for you but I suspect if you are travelling with kids you will find that they at least will love it.
What makes this worth considering is the close location to the main road and the Metro Centre, the staff who make you feel valued as a customer and the thing that I always love in a Premier Inn - those comfy beds.
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Gracellie Hotel (Shanklin, Isle of Wight)
We visited the Isle of Wight back at the end of October 2011. We were planning a weekend away with The Suns Hotels for £5 deal and we just fancied going to the Isle of Wight so we chose from the hotels on offer and this one looked the nicest and in the best location for us so we went for this one. ==Where is The ... Gracellie?==
The Gracellie is on Hope Road in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. Shanklin is one of the larger towns on the island and there are some shops there, many hotels and pubs, and a beach.
==Arriving at the hotel==
The hotel was easy to find as we used our sat nav but if you don't have a sat nav it would probably be best to look up the hotel on Google Maps or something first because Shanklin is quite big and therefore you could struggle to find it.
When we arrived the hotel looked like a nice place to stay. The exterior of the hotel looked nice, it was white and looked like it had been recently painted. There is a large area at the front of the hotel for parking, there were no marked bays or signs telling you how or where to park but as it was empty when we arrived we parked how we thought would be best.
Entering the hotel you go straight into a reception area which I preferred as often when visiting hotels you have to walk through the bar with your bags and I always feel a bit self conscious.
The man who greeted us was very polite and friendly. He was the owner of the hotel and he was keen to chat to us about where we had travelled from and what our plans were etc. He told us that he had only just reopened the hotel and was 'testing the waters' before the Christmas rush.
I always feel a bit embarrassed if I have booked a room at a reduced rate (I don't know why! They made the offer!) But the owner was extremely welcoming and treated us as though we had paid full rate.
He showed us to our rooms which were upstairs. We went with my sister and her partner and they had put us in rooms opposite which was nice as I like to go in and bug them if my partner is asleep or in the shower etc!
The rooms were very nice and I couldn't quite believe we'd paid a fiver each! The two rooms we had were ever so slightly different, our room had a nice, modern en suite whilst my sisters had a larger area where the toilet was separate but next to the shower room. Both of the bathrooms were lovely, they had very modern fittings and they were finished to a high standard. They were also spotlessly clean which was a huge relief to me as I do suffer from OCD and I get very upset if I go somewhere and it is dirty!
The rooms both had a double bed, a flat screen tv, a desk, a chair, two bedside tables, a chest of drawers and a hanging rail. As we were only staying one night we didn't bother to unpack but the hotel room was very nice, the carpet was soft and clean and the bedding was crisp and white and in perfect condition.
The view from our room was of the garden which was undergoing renovation at the time so I don't want to really include that in my review as I don't think its fair to mark the hotel down because there was some waste lying around - I imagine it will be finished by now and will look lovely as does the rest of the hotel.
The hotel provided tea, coffee and hot chocolate making facilities and shampoo and shower gel. The cups and spoons were sparkling and the kettle was also nice and clean inside.
The hotel has a bar and an on site restaurant. We didn't visit the restaurant because we were heading out for the evening and decided to grab something whilst out but there is a menu available to view on their website and I believe the restaurant is open to non residents too. Prices range from £4.50 to £5.25 for a starter, £8.50 to £16.50 for a main and desserts from £2.50 to £4.95.
It is worth noting that we had breakfast in the restaurant area the following morning and it is absolutely gorgeous in there, finished to an extremely high standard.
We visited the bar later on in the evening and as we were the only guests at the hotel we had it to ourselves! Drinks were a reasonable price and the girl behind the bar was very friendly and polite. We had a few games of pool and darts and then retired to bed.
The hotel also has an outdoor swimming pool but as we went in October I cannot comment on this!
==How did I sleep?==
I am a terrible sleeper. Some nights I'm lucky to get two hours and I often wake up 5 or 6 times a night. Therefore when I stay away from home I tend to not sleep well because I am not in familiar surroundings.
At The Gracellie I slept extremely well. The bed was comfortable and cosy and it was very quiet. The curtains were thick so therefore blocked the light out and when I awoke the following morning I felt fully rested as did my partner. My sisters partner had a stinking cold so he was up in the night but of no fault of the hotel!
Breakfast was an additional £5 per person to us because of course we only paid £5 each to stay there. When we went down for breakfast we were greeted by a lady who I think was the owners wife but now I cant remember! However, the lady was extremely friendly, going out of her way to make us comfortable.
We had cereal and she bought us toast with preserves. She then asked if we would like cooked breakfast too. I was going to decline as I had had cereal and toast but she twisted my arm telling me I could have anything I liked! I chose just a poached egg and some beans and a hash brown. The men ordered everything on the menu and my sister ordered something similar to me I think.
The breakfast came out looking absolutely delicious. It tasted delicious too! She bought more toast with the breakfast and she was very friendly. Once we had finished she asked if we would like anything else and we felt like we were truly valued there.
Checking out we needed to pay for our breakfast and return our keys. The husband and wife were both there to bid us farewell and they were very grateful for our custom and were keen to chat about our lives aswell as their hotel.
They were an absolutely lovely couple and it felt more as though we were staying with relatives than in a hotel as they were so attentive and friendly and they were often seen around the hotel rather than being hidden away in an office.
The Gracellie Hotel and Restaurant
25 - 27 Hope Road
Isle of Wight PO37 6ED
Telephone: 01983 863243
This was a lovely hotel which was finished to a high standard. I cannot remember exactly what the room rates were usually but I remember thinking I would definitely book with them again as it was affordable and very clean and welcoming. I have a feeling the rate for a double room was around £70 or £75 but please don't take my word on it because I'm not entirely sure.
Next time we fancy a jaunt over to the Isle of Wight I will probably book this hotel straight away. For the room rate you get a lot for your money and the owners are very welcoming and friendly. Breakfast was fab too so I imagine the restaurant is also worth a visit!
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3 Stars Hotel National
Address: Maingate Team Valley / Hotel National / Kings Way North / Gateshead NE11 0NU
The Rosebery Hotel / Hotel National / 2 Rosebery Crescent / Jesmond / Newcastle NE2 1ET.
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Hotel National / Hotel in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Address: 92 Southampton Row / Hotel National / London WC1B 4BH
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Hotel National / Manor hotel between Chipping Campden and Shipston-on-Stour in the Cotswolds.
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