Travelodge Liverpool Docks (Liverpool)
A couple of weeks ago I stayed at the Travelodge at Liverpool Docks with my partner. We love Liverpool but don't get up there very often so we decided to make a weekend of it and fit lots in. We booked Travelodge as it was quite late notice and most other hotels were over £100, including Premier Inn which is my favourite of the budget ... hotels. We found this one at £59.95 so were happy to give it a try for one night. After a very disappointing football match and result, we got in the car and headed to the hotel to check in so we could leave our bags and go out for dinner and drinks.
=== Our "welcome" ===
The hotel was easy enough to find as we knew it was at the bottom tip of the docks. We had our new sat-nav on and it took us right to the car park of the Travelodge which was at the Brunswick Business Park on the docks. The car park had plenty of room which is something that always worries me in big cities so we parked up and headed to reception. Unfortunately getting into reception was the hard part; the door was locked and we couldn't get in. We knocked on the door to try and get someone's attention, assuming that the receptionist had just popped round the corner and left her desk temporarily. Noone came so we rang the bell hoping that it would attract attention so that we could get out of the freezing cold. It had started to snow and we're just not used to the northern temperatures! We could clearly see that the phone on reception had been removed so we assumed that the receptionist had just popped away to deal with someone and was on her way back any second. Ten minutes passed of us pressing the bells, walking along to try and look through a window and knocking and shouting and we were about to go and sit in the car for a while until we saw some sign of life. Suddenly a side door opens and a cleaner walks out with bags of rubbish. Finally someone to speak to! She was really apologetic and told us that the receptionist hadn't turned up for work that morning and that no one had realised the door was locked. Anyway, we were finally let in and she managed to find her supervisor who was able to allocate us a room and key to get in. Unfortunately even this part was flawed as she forgot to tell us our room number, it wasn't written on the card, so we had to go back and get her to look it up for us!
=== Was the room any better? ===
We arrived at our room at the end of a corridor next to a big fire escape leading to the outside. I'm glad I wasn't there by myself! Now I know I booked a Travelodge which are not known for being the nicest of hotels and I wasn't expecting much, but this room was particularly dark and grim! It was small and very basic with just a bed, little side tables, a desk and a small flatscreen TV with freeview. It was nice to be able to stick E4 on while we were getting ready to go out! I had a quick look out of the window to see if we had a view of the docks but no such luck, we could only see the car park!
The en suite again was very small and far from the Premier Inn modern and clean bathroom, this one was horrible! It has obviously been cleaned but there were bits of black around the shower which looked like old mould and the sticker to say "hot water" had peeled off. I felt like pulling it off all the way! There was one hand towel and one bath towel between us and no bath mat which is a big no no in such a small space with a shower which is almost touching the floor! The sink, toilet, toilet roll supplies were all fine and functional but nothing impressive either.
The one big complaint I have about the room was that the electric radiator did not work. It had a clear on/off button that didn't work even though I checked the wires to make sure nothing was unplugged. Anyway, I wasn't worried because I always get warm in bed after about 5 minutes from the duvet Not in this bed! The duvet was so ridiculously thin - I can't even imagine that it was 1 tog! It might have been suitable for a summer night in Spain but not for winter in Liverpool! I had been out drinking and should have been out for the count within minutes but instead was awake the whole night putting more and more clothes on. I would have got up and complained but we had already been told there was no one on reception from 10.00 p.m. until 6.00 a.m.
=== The facilities ====
There were none. They didn't even serve a breakfast although after my stay I wouldn't have wanted it.
=== Overall ===
You might wonder why I didn't mention any of these things to the receptionist and even ask for a different room. Well, the reason is that I didn't see anyone working on reception the whole time I was at the hotel! I walked past at least six times on entering and leaving the building throughout our stay and did not encounter a single member of staff after the cleaner on arrival. I wanted to say something when I checked out around 10.30 a.m. but instead had to leave my keycard in a slot on the desk.
I realise that Travelodge is a budget hotel but over the years I have been pleased with the standards and have been happy to stay in the hotels. I am not someone who would normally complain, but the second I walked away from Travelodge Liverpool Docks I knew I had to write this review as a warning as the whole episode was a complete disaster. I am really annoyed that I paid £58.45 for such an unsatisfactory stay. I have actually sent a letter to the branch and to Head Office so I'll update this review if I hear anything back!
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Hotel Victoria (Newquay, Cornwall)
When I think Newquay I think teenagers drinking and surfing in the summer. It sounds my idea of hell so I've never been and never wished to visit. However, my partner and I are always saying that we haven't seen enough of the UK and I've always wanted to visit Cornwall having never done so before. Last year I subscribed to the Groupon ... alerts for the South West and finally saw a fantastic offer for a hotel which we snapped up immediately!
=== The deal ===
The offer was a two night stay at the Hotel Victoria in Newquay with breakfast both mornings and a massage for two people for just £99. I assumed it was a mistake and actually meant per person until I read further into the offer and read the terms and conditions. Before actually making the purchase and wasting the money I decided to call the hotel directly and ask for details about when we could stay and their availability. It turned out to be a good plan because they only had one weekend still available. The voucher was valid in October and November 2011 so we made our booking for the first weekend in November and booked a day off work and travelled down on a Friday for a weekend stay. We were presented on arrival with the opportunity to upgrade to a sea front room with access to the terrace for £40 extra which we decided to do as the weather was glorious sunshine (although quite cold!).
=== On arrival ===
Parking was easy although we were surprised to find that when we walked into the hotel that we had to pay £5 for parking during out stay! Luckily we were in great moods so paid it happily and took the voucher out to display in the car. The reception was quite small but very cosy in warm red colours and a large Christmas tree! I'm one of the people who buys a tree as soon as they are available in the garden centre so I loved this in early November! We were greeted by the young receptionist, Ruby, whose name I still remember three months later because she was so helpful and friendly! We were given our room key and she explained where and when breakfast would be served, where the pool and gym were and gave us information about bars and restaurants in the area.
=== The room ===
We definitely made the right decision in the upgrade to the sea view, balcony room. As we walked into the huge room the first thing we noticed was how bright it was which was the benefit of the big sliding doors which led to the huge shared terrace overlooking the sea front. The view was spectacular; the beach in Newquay is actually stunning when there are no drunken teenagers ruining it. The room itself was quite dated but a great size for two people to be very comfortable and with lots of space to spread out. All the necessary wardrobe and drawer space for a longer stay although for two nights we didn't unpack much. The bed was comfortable and really quite big! I slept well both nights and was impressed with the cosy duvet as that's very important to me! The bathroom again was spacious and light with no problems whatsoever. The hotel issued the usual small soaps, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner which were decent enough but not quite good enough to take home!
=== The facilities ===
The hotel pool was great and I loved the setting; it looked like it was in an old barn with the wooden panels along the roof and walls. There were windows right the way around which made it light and bright during the daytime and cosy in the evening which was made even better by the wooden interior. The pool was heated to a nice temperature and even though it was small, there were very few people using it so that was quite nice. The pool was shaped like a kidney rather than the traditional rectangle which makes me feel like I have to swim lengths! This was more like a holiday pool. There were a number of wooden benches and plastic tables and chairs around the pool area which added to the holiday feel. In one of the corners of the room was the Jacuzzi; my favourite part of the hotel! It was gorgeous and warm, exactly what you want an expect from a Jacuzzi. There was also a sauna and steam room which were nice. I wouldn't normally use them as I find it weird when lots of people sit in close proximity sweating but with no one else around it was quite nice!
The gym was basic but functional. I didn't use it during the two days we were there, but the other half went twice, because he "needed something to do while I was taking ages getting changed"!
=== Restaurants and dining ===
We only made it down to breakfast one of the two days which was a shame considering both were included. We were both really impressed with the selection of food which included a full English with nice crispy bacon, well cooked sausages and eggs as you like them. There was also a selection of cereals, fruits, jams and marmalades and pastries. The waiting staff were really nice and friendly and couldn't do enough to help. Breakfast is served in the hotel's restaurant La Rochelle which opens in the evening for dinner.
The hotel was attached to Buzio's Bar and Grill, a sports pub with big screens showing Sky Sports, lots of pool tables, big sofas and cheap drinks. It was a great place to spend the evening relaxing after dinner.
=== The massage ===
We were encouraged to book our free massage at the time of making our initial reservation as the beauty clinic can get very busy at weekends. None of the times worked very well for us if we wanted to spend time exploring the area and also wanted our appointments at the same time so we booked for Sunday morning at 10.30 a.m. just before we were due to leave. Unfortunately one of the beauticians hadn't turned up so they were behind schedule. Luckily the receptionist was able to arrange a late check out for us so we could stay in our room a bit longer so the wait was no inconvenient. It actually took a whole hour until they called to say they were ready for us and the receptionists and beauticians were very apologetic.
The beauty therapists were very nice and invited us into a lovely room with two beds set up in the middle. We were told to undress and lie on our fronts while they left the room. The colour scheme was black and white which looked really classy and soothing and the music in the background was quiet and relaxing. The therapists asked whether we would prefer a more relaxing aromatherapy massage or a Swedish massage to get the knots out! We bo5th went for the aromatherapy massage which turned out to be a great choice as it was lovely and I think I fell asleep towards the end of it! The massage itself lasted just under an hour which I thought was excellent considering it was part of such a great deal. We both came out very relaxed and satisfied! It's just a shame I didn't think about the fact we would have to drive home afterwards! We took a break, ate some lunch, drank some water and luckily it didn't affect the driving!
=== The area ===
The hotel is in the centre of Newquay close to bars, restaurants and shops. The best thing about the location however has to be that it is set high up on a cliff overlooking the seafront and the view are just stunning. On the first evening we wanted to stay local for dinner and were advised on reception that as hotel guests we were eligible for 10% off at Senor Dicks, the local Mexican. We decided to give the restaurant a try and were delighted with the great service and wonderful food, however it was absolutely dead which must have been to do with the fact it was November.
The reason we were happy with Newquay as the location, as well as the great deal we got, was that it was close to some of the other areas of Cornwall that we wanted to visit. It is around 30-40 minutes drive from St Ives which is stunning and you can also get to Penzance and Lands End within the hour.
=== Conclusion ===
Our break at the Hotel Victoria was fantastic, especially for the price we paid. To get two nights' bed and breakfast for that price is great anyway but for the additional massage and the facilities at the hotel made it a really special weekend away. While I wouldn't make an effort to go back to Newquay, if the same deal came up again I would snap it up and use it as a base to visit other parts of Cornwall.
I would recommend the hotel fully, especially if you can find it at a good price. I imagine it's horrendous in the middle of summer but in winter it was wonderful and quiet and made our Cornwall trip so much fun! 4 out of 5 stars!
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The Moorland Hotel (Plymouth, Devon)
The Moorland Hotel (a 3 Star) really has named their hotel the correct name. It is in quite a remote moorland area full of sheep and ponies. It is very picturesque. My boyfriend and I chose The Moorland Hotel to stay in due to a groupon offer for £22.00 for both of us to stay for one night. It was a brilliant offer; however, ... it did not include breakfast or dinner so that is where the expense came in. The offer was to promote the refurbishment of the hotel.
We left our house on the Sunday afternoon and the drive to The Moorland Hotel was very pleasant, we typed in the postcode into our satnav because as I said it is in a very remote area that you could not just find using signs.
When we saw the building it looked quite distressed and tired from the road side but as we turned left into the driveway and into the car park the front of the hotel looked quite nice. The first thing I noticed was a stables there and areas for horses which I did not realise they catered for. You can bring your own horse and keep it in a stable overnight which is great for anybody wanting different areas to ride there horse in. There were signs up asking residents not to feed the horses, which is always wise I guess.
Outside the hotel was a decking area with benches for drinking from the bar outside which looked very nice. The views from the decking area look out over Dartmoor.
As we walked into the lobby area we saw a small windy staircase and a reception in front of us. There was also a door to the right of us where we could peer through a windowed door to see what was going on in the kitchen. To the left of us was a bar area which looked very cosy and a dining area and a miniature lounge area to watch television in where drinks could also be taken.
As we approached the reception we could not see anybody, we stood there for a few more minutes and then I rang the bell. After about 10 minutes somebody appeared and gave us our room key and told us which floor we were on. She also took my card details to keep on record in case we wanted to charge anything to it like our food. I hoped this was not the start of a bad experience in the hotel. My expectations require somebody to be on reception constantly if it is a relatively busy hotel. However, my boyfriend thinks that I get wound up too easily by things like that so I left it and did not say anything.
So we walked up two flights of stairs which looked like they could have done with a bit of a refurbishment, it was obvious to us that the whole hotel had not been lucky enough to be refurbished, just parts of it.
Our Bedroom and Bathroom
After opening a very heavy door into the hallway of the floor we were on, I found our room and had a tiny bit of trouble opening the door as did my boyfriend but we finally managed to open it with some brute force! Then as I walked into the room the bathroom was on the first door on the left which looked nicely refurbished with a modern sink and finish. The bathroom had a nice sized shower/bath, with a glass pane to prevent water from splashing out as opposed to those dingy shower curtains often found in hotels which tend to grow mould. The bathroom also had an adequate number of shelves, however there were no units in which to put my cosmetics bag on which was a little bit difficult I had to keep putting the toilet seat down to open up my cosmetics bag. I did have a bath which was lovely, it was a good size and the water was hot (which is always a plus!)
Then after looking in the bathroom I heard my boyfriend say 'how many of us are sleeping here?' and I followed him into the bedroom to see that there was a double bed, a single bed and bunk beds. It must have been a family room and clearly we were just a couple and we had booked a double room. But this was not a problem, it was just rather weird being in such a large room with lots of beds. My boyfriend knew if we had an argument that he would be sleeping in a separate bed (lucky for him we did not).
In the bedroom was one wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a tall mirror, two bedside tables with lamps (the one on my side of the bed seemed to be faulty - it was on one minute and off the next). There was also a fridge which had a tray on top of it with a kettle, cups and saucers, and a selection of teas and coffees, with milk, sugar and my favourite caramelised biscuits in individual wrappers.
On our beds were nicely folded towels with a wrapped soap and a lime and lemongrass shower gel on (I like small touches like this).
There was also a desk with a small mirror on the wall and a nice sized plasma television on the wall in front of our beds. We did have a small hitch with the television it seemed to freeze on a channel and we could not change channel. We rang down to reception who told us to turn the television off for a while and then try putting it on again. The receptionist said that another bedroom was having the same problem. And 10 minutes later it was working again.
The decor in the bedroom could have been slightly updated which made me think that only the bathroom had been refurbished and not the bedroom. Additionally a room opposite us was clearly in the middle of a refurbishment from us walking past seeing people working on ladders in there. Luckily we heard no noise from the currently refurbished room though. This made me think that if our bedroom had not been refurbished that it was wrong of them to put us in a room that had not been yet when the groupon offer was to show customers how they had refurbished the hotel.
Apparently according to the website the room should have an ironing board, iron and hair dryer which I do not remember seeing in the bedroom. I did look through some of the drawers and in the wardrobe too. So I think the bedroom we stayed in was missing these items (it was a good job we did not need them).
Dogs and Cats
Guests of the hotel are also allowed to bring dogs and cats to stay in their bedroom. My little westie would be fine in there but I would be worried that he would bark if we were watching television and I wonder if in a strange place he would be ok if we left him to have dinner and breakfast. However, allowing guests to bring dogs and cats did make me think that I would not be happy to stay in a room if previous guests had had dogs in the bedroom, especially if the guests allowed their dogs or cats to sleep on their bed or if the dog/cat had an accident in the room. Overall I think dogs and cats should not be allowed in the hotel. Additionally we had a dog in the room next door to us, we heard nothing from the dog the evening we stayed however, at about half past 8 when the guests left their room for breakfast the dog started barking constantly. Luckily we were not having a lie in or else I would have been a little annoyed. But still it was not very peaceful getting ready in the room with the dog constantly barking.
Dinner in the Hotel's Steakhouse
We were booked in for 7.30pm so we went to have a drink at 7.15pm in the bar which was very pleasant, the couches were very comfortable and it was a nice small, intimate area in the bar. There were some regulars in the bar and some guests of the hotel.
We were given the menus in the bar for the steakhouse and they took our order in the bar. They asked us to go through to the restaurant when our meal was ready and was close to coming to the restaurant.
The menu had a nice selection on it with starters like a thai style soup with crusty bread for £3.95 and a seafood risotto for £4.50. Mains included a range of steaks at different sizes, which was great that I could have a 6oz steak at £6.50 and my boyfriend could have the larger 12oz steak at £10.50. The steaks came with a choice of potatoes, peas and a choice of sauce. The desserts were lovely, I had sticky toffee pudding which I was told had just been made so had just come out of the oven, and my boyfriend had apple pie with clotted cream, desserts were priced at £4.50 each. There was also the choice of ice creams and sorbets.
Overall the menu and the food in the restaurant was of an excellent standard and I really enjoyed it, the decor in the restaurant was nice with comfortable black leather chairs and a lovely flower on the table. It did have a nice feel to it. It was quite a large eating area which could host weddings and it has its own toilets. It does feel quite separate from the hotel although it is within the hotel.
Our Nights Stay
Well I can say that it was probably the most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept in and so would my boyfriend. The springs were almost sticking out of the mattress and I was not comfortable sleeping at all, I was constantly tossing and turning. Additionally the pillows were very uneven and bumpy. For that reason it would make me not want to stay in this hotel again. I know this sounds extreme but it was the most awful night's sleep and I like my sleep!
Additionally in the morning as well as the dog barking in the bedroom next door there was a delivery of produce for the restaurant which was right outside out bedroom, it was very loud and that would also have woken me up if I was not up already.
This cost £7.95 per person for a full English breakfast which I thought was a bit steep so we found breakfast nearby in Tavistock which was that for both of us. However, they do also provide a continental breakfast at slightly less.
Things to pay for the next morning before we left
For £22.00 for both my boyfriend and I for the night it was great however, the restaurant bill came to just over £40 which was a shock to both of us... that was clearly how they were making their money for the groupon offer. Additionally they wrote my main course on the receipt wrongly charging us for a larger steak than what I had which I pointed out to the lady so she reduced the receipt cost which we paid in cash.
I saw some children in the hotel but there were definitely more couples than families with children there.
The normal rates for a double room are £55.00 which I would not stay there for. A single room costs £34.00 per night.
For a special night they do have a king sized room with a Jacuzzi for £85.00 for the night.
It was such a shame that there were a few large let downs. However, if the restaurant and bar were local to me I would certainly eat and drink there again because it was lovely.
The Hotel Contact Details
http://www.moorlandhotel.com (the website is very well presented and modern).
Telephone number: 01752 839228
Address: The Moorland Hotel, Wotter, Shaugh Prior, Plymouth, Devon, PL7 5HP
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3 Stars Hotel National
Address: 144 North Street / Hotel National / Brighton / BN1 1RE / East Sussex
Address: Park Hill Road / Hotel National / Torquay / TQ1 2DG / Devon
Address: Oxthorn House / Hotel National / 60 Oxford Road / Reading RG1 7LT / Berkshire
Address: Forest Road / Hotel National /Horsham RH12 4TB / West Sussex
Address: Ford / Hotel National / Nr Chippenham SN14 8RP / Wiltshire
Address: 27-29 High Street / Hotel National / Arundel / West Sussex / BN18 9AG
Address: Paragon Business Park / Hotel National / Herriot Way /Wakefield WF1 2UJ
Address: Tollerton Road / Hotel National / Huby / York YO61 1JB / Tel: 01347 825 400
Address: Cumberland Place / Hotel National / Southampton SO15 2WY / Tel: 02380 343 343
Mill Farm / Hotel National / Kenton / Exeter Devon EX6 8JR / Tel: 01392 832471
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