Balmore Guest House (Edinburgh)
Balmore Guest House, Edinburgh I stayed in this lovely guest house near Edinburgh Castle back in March with my girlfriend, soon to be fiancé and now wife. We paid 45 pounds per night for a two night stay in an en-suite double room with breakfast included. As always, I used booking.com to make a ... reservation.
Balmore Guest house is perhaps a ten minute walk from Edinburgh's Royal Mile. The only downside was that it wasn't near to any train or bus routes (okay, had I been alone I would have hauled my suitcase the kilometre or so to the airport bus stop, but my wife isn't so hardy) so we had to take a taxi. It cost 14 pounds to and from the airport, although this might vary a little depending on traffic conditions. The journey took perhaps twenty minutes.
For the Royal Mile, though, the main tourist thoroughfare in Edinburgh, it is very well located. Five minutes brought us in sight of the towering bluff with Edinburgh Castle on its top, and ten minutes had us on the Royal Mile itself. Obviously the Royal Mile is the tourist centre, but there were plenty of banks, shops and restaurants within a couple of hundred metres of the hotel.
The Guest House
A converted terraced house in a row of other terraced houses converted into guest houses, and run by a very friendly Iranian ex-pat, Balmore Guest House was very homey and pretty inside, with a wide entrance/lobby with nice carpets and decoration. The breakfast room opened out at its back, while stairs led up to the rooms on the left.
We stayed in a double en-suite. The room was very big and spacious, with a comfortable bed, a big TV and a desk with a couple of chairs. It was a lot more than I'd expected. The bathroom was in a little room that appeared to have been separately built in the corner of the original room, and was clean and well presented. I couldn't really fault the room at all. The old style décor made it very much resemble a bedroom in a private house, though obviously one a lot bigger than I've ever stayed in before.
Our inclusive breakfast, taken in a summer-house annex at the back of the guest house, was very impressive. You chose from several different cooked breakfasts (submitted on a form the night before) but the rest - cereal, toast, fruit, tea, coffee, etc - was buffet-style. The only downside was that we couldn't quite see Edinburgh Castle from the window, however the staff were very friendly (offering us extra toast, etc.) and the room was clean, bright and airy.
Only one - there wasn't a night porter on duty and you couldn't check in after 9pm without prior arrangement by ringing a special telephone number. Our flight arrived later than expected, so I called from the airport and a member of staff was there to let us in, but at about 10pm another group of tourists turned up and couldn't get in. They were ringing on the door for a long time and clearly didn't have the after hours number. Eventually I went downstairs and passed it through the door to them (I felt really bad leaving them outside, especially as it was a bit chilly, but I really didn't feel it was my responsibility to be letting in the hotel's guests, plus, if something had happened it would have been my fault) and after another twenty minutes or so the same member of staff turned up to let them in. Once you had checked in of course, you were given a door key but I felt it really would be a good idea to have a live-in member of staff.
Despite the issue above, I would definitely stay here again. It was highly rated and didn't disappoint. Recommended - just make sure you arrange with the hotel if you're going to be arriving late at night!
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Seavista Bed and Breakfast (Newquay, Cornwall)
This summer in our not so wonderfully sunny month of July my boyfriend and I went to Cornwall for a weekend. It was our first time away with each other and we did not want to break the bank with where we stayed because we are still hoping to go abroad somewhere in September. ...
How I came across Seavista Bed & Breakfast...
I searched on google for two nights in Mawgan Porth in Cornwall for hotels, none of which were in our price range. I then started looking at bed & breakfasts and Seavista popped up in my search. I was instantly very impressed with the modern, and well-presented website that they had.
Mawgan Porth is a really quaint area between Newquay and Padstow (more or less smack bang in the middle of the two). It has its own gorgeous beach which is situated in a valley. It has a couple of nice places to eat and some beach type shops. It has a pitch and put and many caravan and holiday home sites. Due to having been to Mawgan Porth before I knew it was a nice area so that was why it was where we started looking for places to stay. I am a massive fan of Padstow so I definitely wanted a day trip there and I did not want to be somewhere like Newquay which is not so quaint and serene (it is a little more manic) full of what are in my opinion quite tacky shops and arcades etc.
The Seavista Website - http://www.seavista.co.uk/
The background of the website is in a pale turquoise and blue which I have to say in my opinion are very tranquil colours that made me think of the sea. There are six different headings on the websites for details about Seavista:
The first heading is for who to contact (where you contact them by email or it provides a telephone number). I loved that the couple running the B&B had provided a really nice friendly photograph of themselves which instantly gave a welcoming feel to the website.
Heading 2 gave a description of the type of rooms that are available in the B&B i.e. family rooms and double rooms. Under this heading it also gave the name of the interior designer of the rooms and some photographs which looked really shabby chic (with gorgeous bedding and decorative ornaments).
Heading 3 gave lots of local information on where to eat out e.g. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant.
Heading 4 described things to do e.g. the Eden Project, scenic coastal walks etc.
Heading 5 described the surfing opportunities in the area.
The last heading showed the prices (this I particularly liked because quite a lot of the websites I looked on did not show prices and sometimes it is just easier to know whether it is completely out of your price range or not without having to speak to somebody on the phone).
So I Rang Seavista...
I gave Seavista a ring only a week prior to when we wanted to go away - I thought it was probably going to be fully booked but to our amazement the lady said she had a room free. So I told her I'd speak to my boyfriend about it and after 20 minutes I rang her back and paid the deposit. The lady sounded so lovely on the phone which was of course another good sign.
When We Arrived...
It was quite easy to find, it was at the top of the valley only a few minutes from the beach. It was down a narrow turn off from the main road and as we got there were several spaces outside to park in which belonged to Seavista (I had checked this out prior since I knew we needed a car parking space). From the outside Seavista is not the most attractive place and it is obvious that it was a house before which has been converted into a B&B. However, this did not bothered me or my boyfriend, we were interested in the inside of the place.
Just as we were getting out belonging out of the car to check in we spotted the guy whose photograph was on the website so we knew he ran the place. He asked us if we needed help unloading our stuff (but since we were only there for two nights we only had average size overnight bags so we were perfectly capable of carrying them ourselves).
He escorted us into the property which as we walked around the building to the front door was situated in the most perfect spot overlooking the beach. It was the most picturesque view. It had a small garden area and some benches in which to sit (a couple were currently sitting there with a drink). I instantly thought this place is going to be nice.
As we made it into the front desk to the reception we were taken through two nice sized lounge areas where he told us we were welcome to watch tv in and then through the breakfast area. The breakfast area consisted of around 8 tables which were really quaint with their gorgeous matching coloured table sheets and crockery. The owner showed us the 'honesty bar' which was basically just a fridge with a price list above it where we could take whatever drinks and put up a note on the notice board with whatever drink it was and then they'd add the price at the end to our bill. He also said we could put our own drinks in the fridge but only on the top shelf so as not to combine their drinks for sale and our drinks.
We were given our key and shown to our room. Our room was up some stairs along a dark and narrow corridor and at the end. Each door had a really sweet sign on saying 'gone to the beach' which I thought was a really nice touch.
We had some trouble opening our door to the room, or perhaps I should say that I did not have the strength to turn the key but my boyfriend could open it. I would have been worried if he couldn't have opened it.
Then as we opened the door the room was fresh and airy but it was a lot smaller than I had been expecting it to be. It was a double ensuite room with a sea view. I recognised the decor from the website photographs however, I did also notice that the decor was more shabby than chic... it needed a little TLC. I can imagine it looked gorgeous when it was first done but it now needed a little renovating or it may have been a recent renovation with the interior designer but they may have bought cheap materials and decor which obviously had not boded well since it had been done. We had a pink TV which at first I thought was cute but as we spent another day there I worked out that I hated the TV (you could tell it was a cheap almost candy pink TV perhaps one you might buy in the kids section in the Argos catalogue... I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the Argos catalogue but perhaps an adult double room could have looked a little more adult.
The bed was a good size but it meant that there was not a lot of space around the bed. There were two bedside tables and a wardrobe. The drawers underneath the wardrobe could have done with a good clean so I did not put my underwear in the drawers I kept it in my overnight bag.
The ensuite had a shower, toilet and sink; it reminded me of a ferry's cabin bathroom... extremely small and compact, but at least it was a clean shower-room.
On one of the bedside tables was a kettle, cup and saucers and some teabags, coffee and those miniature milk cartons as well as some biscuits. The biscuits were yummy (custard creams), we needed more of the miniature milks which we got downstairs. However, the mugs needed to be chucked or cleaned excessively, they had a bit of a dark rim around the bottom of them making them look like they had barely been washed.
So there were some issues with cleanliness when I really scrutinised things. However, the view from the bedroom was just magnificent so it almost did not matter that certain things were not perfect.
We only met the lady who was seen on the website photograph on our last day when we were checking out. That was because she had just had a baby so she was extremely busy so kept herself to herself which I don't blame her. It seemed that either her or her husband's parents were helping out with the running of the B&B especially in the morning with breakfast.
Breakfast was lovely. There was a choice of a full English breakfast or a smoothie. At first this puzzled me because I thought well a smoothie is a drink not a breakfast but it did fill me up as toast was also brought to the table as well as tea or coffee. There was also fruit juices and cereal to choose from which were self-serve at the back of the breakfast room.
It was less than a five minute walk to the beach and to the few shops and restaurants in Mawgan Porth so the location was fab. We wished there was a pavement to walk down or a coastal route (it was quite a steep hill to walk down on quite a busy road).
How welcoming was the B&B? = 10/10
How clean was the place? = 7/10
How comfortable were the rooms? = 7/10 (it loses marks for how small the room was - the bed was very comfortable)
Noise surrounding us = 6/10 - in the morning it was relatively noisy - we could hear people down at breakfast, and there was a dog at the B&B that barked occasionally in the afternoons. We could also hear the people in the room next door to us if they were coming in and out of their room. (I am hoping they did not hear me and my boyfriend arguing! Don't worry it was only a small quarrel that lasted no more than five minutes!)
How was breakfast? = 9/10 - I loved that they provided the healthy option of the smoothie which was extremely filling and my boyfriend loved the full English breakfast
How was the location of the B&B in Mawgan Porth? = 9/10
How were the views? = 10/10
Overall my rating comes to 8/10. Not bad at all in my opinion. Unfortunately the weather was not superb the whole weekend, we had one very hot day and one day of rain which limited what we had to do in Mawgan Porth.
We ate in a Bistro in Mawgan Porth which served superb food! I would definitely eat there again!
So how much did this Mini Break set us back?
It was £35.00 per person per night so it was £140.00 altogether... not too bad at all.
Children under 2 years old are free of charge provided they do not require breakfast.
3-11 year olds are 50% off which I thought was pretty good value.
They also have value double rooms which are £30 per night and they provide a babysitting service for £6.00 per hour.
When I phoned to book our room I had to pay a deposit over the phone which was £30.00 per person which I did not mind doing. After I had spoken to the lady on the phone I received a confirmation email which stated:
Lovely to speak to you earlier, just a quick email to confirm your booking for a double room for the 22nd and 23rd of July.
A deposit of £60 has been paid.
We look forward to seeing you.
Which was a very warm and welcoming email I thought.
Other Information for Seavista...
Due to Seavista being a B&B check in was after 4pm however, we got there at 2pm and our room was ready for us and check out was by 10am.
If you cancel the booking you do not get your deposit back which is expected I think.
Would I Stay at Seavista again?
I certainly would but I do not think I would go back to Mawgan Porth again because on the day it rained we really were stuck for things to do so we stayed in the B&B which was not too much fun.
I have never stayed in a B&B before so I was pleasantly surprised; I would certainly opt for a B&B in the future over a hotel in order to save money.
Seavista I give you 4 out of 5 stars!!
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The Rambler Inn (Edale, Derbyshire)
Edale is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore the Dark Peak region of the Peak District, and it is the starting point of the Pennine Way. There are one or two campsites and guest houses, but the only place offering accommodation as well as lunches and evening meals is the Rambler Inn. If you are travelling by train it is ... convenient as it is located about two minutes' walk from the station. It is, however, a little further from Edale village where there is a shop with a Post Office and the Pennine Way begins. There is a car park at the inn.
My son had stayed at the Rambler Inn a few months before, and he and I planned a two-night stay for the end of August. I had spent many happy holidays in the Peak District as a child and longed for another sight of it. I had a look at the Rambler Inn's Website and found that they had just one twin room as well as several doubles. Luckily the twin room was available for the dates we wanted; booking was straightforward online. The cost of the room was £80 per night, and I had to pay a deposit of £40 by either credit or debit card at the time of booking. It wasn't long before I received an email confirming the reservation and giving all the necessary details.
Things were fairly quiet in the pub area when we arrived at about 3.45pm. Check-in couldn't have been simpler. A young girl at the bar took my name and the dates of our booking, then found our key which had a boot-shaped wooden keyring - too big to lose! She took us up to the first floor and showed us into our room, told us to ask for anything we needed and left us to it. I was delighted to find that there was a beautiful view of the hills from the double window.
The room was a decent size and was decorated in dark red and pale yellow. The wardrobe was an open one with deep shelves to one side. The bedside tables also had open shelves. There was a desk with drawers upon which was a tray with a kettle, glasses, cups and saucers, a bottle of water and a small basket containing sachets of coffee, tea, sugar and sweetener. The little containers of milk were inside the mugs. I'm always glad to find decaffeinated coffee, but the tea was limited to ordinary Tetley teabags. As well as the mirror above the desk there was a full-length one to the left. A small flat-screen television was installed rather high up in one corner of the room. We didn't use it as my son had his iPhone and iPad, and the Rambler offers free wifi.
There was no bath and the shower room was quite small; it didn't help that the door opened inwards! The hot tap over the washbasin was a bit dodgy so I avoided using it. To the left of the basin was a bottle of handwash fixed to the wall. The shower was on the right, and while my son was able to reach the handwash from the shower it was that bit too far for me. Luckily I had brought a small bar of soap with me. The shower was certainly a good one. A hand towel and a bath towel were provided for each of us as well as one bath mat, and there was a towel rail next to the toilet. It would have been useful to have a shelf, as it was difficult to find anywhere to put bits and pieces while having a shower.
After a walk we came back to the Rambler Inn at around 7pm for our evening meal. Other than the Old Nag's Head, it is the only place in Edale that serves dinner so it can be quite busy. The Rambler has quite a varied menu as well as several specials listed on a blackboard. My son had warned me that portions were very generous, so we didn't order a starter. He chose steak and ale pie served with chips, carrots and peas (£9.95) and I decided on butternut squash and spinach lasagne served with garlic ciabatta and a salad garnish (£8.95). The only apple juice was fizzy, so we had orange and pineapple; these were small but it didn't matter as we were going to have hot drinks in our room later. We didn't have to wait too long before our food was served. Both of us enjoyed what we had ordered; my son was surprised that I polished off all the lasagne as well as about half the ciabatta. In my defence I explained that the lasagne, served in an oven dish, was very saucy and perhaps not quite as filling as it looked. The salad garnish was better than I expected, with diced peppers and thin slices of onion as well as lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Neither of us had room for dessert.
The mattress was not the most comfortable I have ever slept on, but it was good enough. This is obviously a quiet place to stay once visitors to the pub have left. I don't think many other people were staying at the Rambler that first night, and I certainly wasn't disturbed by any noise.
Breakfast is served between 8am and 10am. We went down quite early and there was just one other person there. Several varieties of cereal are displayed and we both had some. There was a jug of orange juice on our table and we ordered a pot of tea as well. The Rambler does offer a full English breakfast, but my son just ordered toast and I asked for scrambled egg on toast. It was very good and I couldn't quite finish it.
After a walk we had lunch at a cafe in Edale village and came back to the Rambler Inn for a drink in the garden in front of the inn. Although the sun wasn't shining it was a pleasant place to have a rest and still admire the view. After a while we went walking again and returned at about 7.30pm for dinner. I decided on a glass of red wine; my son went to the bar to order and they tried to persuade him to buy a whole bottle of wine for £20! I declined, and enjoyed the glassful. I was determined to try a dessert so I decided just to have soup rather than a main course. Soup of the day was tomato, served with a granary roll and butter. It was a good thick soup, like a home-made one. My son had a veggie burger with chips and vegetables, which he enjoyed. I have to confess to pinching a few of his chips to dip in my soup. For dessert I chose apple crumble with custard, and my son decided that while in Derbyshire Bakewell tart was the thing to have, so he ordered it with cream. Once again we found we had made good choices; the crumble had good, well-cooked pieces of apple in it, and the custard was served separately in a large jug. There was a jug of cream with the Bakewell tart too - far more than was needed.
Up to our room we went, and we weren't late going to bed after all the walking we had done. Soon after midnight, however, we were both awake again and boiling hot. We discovered that the heating was on full blast, so we had to turn it down and open a window. Despite the disturbed night I still woke early and was delighted by the view from the window; there was a clear blue sky and a mist rolling across the fields nearby.
Breakfast on the second morning was in a larger room as there were a few more guests. Again we both had cereal; my son had two kinds but I had just the one followed by toast and jam. We ordered coffee this time to have after the orange juice. Good coffee it was too, and I don't often say that.
Check-out has to be made by 11am but we were catching an early train and stopping on the way to take a look at Ladybower Reservoir. Our check-out process was as straightforward as the check-in since we had paid for our evening meals and drinks already so just had to pay the balance on the room. We were accompanied to the door and wished a pleasant visit to Ladybower. When I arrived home I found an email from the Rambler Inn thanking us for staying there.
On the whole I was very happy with my stay at the Rambler. The staff were all friendly and welcoming and the standard of comfort was what I would expect from a country inn mainly used by walkers and hikers. Perhaps my main issue is one of cleanliness; you could tell, for example, that the milk jug at breakfast had had custard in it the night before. After the first night our rubbish bin was emptied and cushions put back on the bed, but cups and saucers had not been washed. The hospitality tray could have done with a good clean, and the corners of the shower room needed a bit of attention. I don't expect this kind of place to be the lap of luxury, but one or two improvements could be made.
I would recommend the Rambler Inn and I would definitely consider staying there again. It is particularly well situated for walking in the Dark Peak region, whether in the direction of the Pennine Way and Grinds Brook or the other side of the valley to Mam Tor and through to Castleton. Even if you are just driving through, the food is very good and it's worth stopping for lunch, dinner or a cask ale. As they say on the sign outside, the Rambler Inn welcomes families, dogs and even muddy boots. What more can you ask for?
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3 Star Hotel National
Address: North End
Buckhurst Hill IG9 5QY
Address: New Street / Hotel National / Killarney
Address: Mulberry Green
Old Harlow CM17 0ET
Address: Market Street
Lancaster / LA1 1HP
Address: Lower Stephen's Street
Address: Lower Rathmines Road
Address: Lower Rathmines Road
Address: Kenmare Place
Co. Kerry / Eire
Address: Kendal Road
Windemere LA23 3EL
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