The Rivenhall Hotel (Witham)
The Rivenhall Hotel Witham Essex A WEDDING INVITATION My godson's wedding was approaching. The wedding was to take place on a Monday afternoon at Braxted Park in Witham, Essex and the evening reception would also be held at this venue. Witham is around an hour's drive away from my home, depending on traffic. ... As my husband wanted to be able to have a drink at the wedding we decided that instead of booking a taxi there and back home, we might as well book some rooms at a nearby hotel. When we took costs into account it didn't seem as if it would be that much more expensive to pay for accommodation for one night and by doing this it would enable my husband to drive there on the day and we could return, also in our own car, the next day. My husband has been to many events when he can't drink alcohol, as he is being chauffeur, so this seemed like a nice idea; he would be able to enjoy the wine, champagne and beer along with the rest of us and not have to abstain on this occasion. Also, I think being out all day and evening, at an event such as a wedding, can be very tiring, especially if ones return home is at night and driving home will take about one hour. It's much better, if possible, to leave the driving until the next day so the driver is rested and free of any effects of alcohol.
As a godparent, I had been invited to the wedding ceremony which was to take place at one thirty in the afternoon. My son and his girlfriend had been invited to the evening reception but thought they too would like to book a room at a hotel so that they could travel both ways with us, rather than make their own way, by train, to the venue.
WHERE TO STAY?
I searched online for hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation in the area. As I knew we would still probably require about two taxi rides from hotel to venue and back when the wedding was over, I considered that the hotel we chose should be very close to Braxted Park so that the taxi rides didn't work out too expensive. After a read and a look at some photos (and, of course, also reading a few reviews) I thought that the Rivenhall Hotel would probably be the most suitable and my family agreed. I chose this hotel mainly because of these three reasons:
Proximity to venue
Facilities which included a swimming pool
BOOKING OUR ROOMS
I could have booked the rooms online but decided to instead use the telephone, as I wanted to enquire as to whether we could book in early. I had thought it would be nice to change into our wedding clothes in our hotel room rather than travel in them and have them creased. The trouble was the rooms were available from two o'clock p.m. and the wedding ceremony was due to begin earlier. I phoned the hotel reservations about two weeks before the wedding date and asked if there was any chance of securing our rooms early and I was told that the hotel would try to let us book into one room early but that I should phone a few days before our arrival to see if this could be done for certain.
I then booked three rooms-two doubles and a single. The doubles were £50 each and the single was £45. We decided to pay for room only and not to have breakfast; we could then spend the time instead having a swim before we had to check out and would find somewhere to eat on the journey home. And breakfast would have upped the room price to £75. This didn't seem worthwhile as we all thought it would be nicer to not rush just to have a nice swim before leaving the hotel. We agreed that an early lunch en route would be a better option for us.
My son rang the hotel a few days before we were due to arrive and was told that they could guarantee at least one room would be cleaned and made available early. We expected to arrive about midday.
OUR STAY AT THE RIVENHALL
The day of the wedding arrived and we found the hotel by following directions which my son had googled. The hotel was signposted when we were a few minutes away.
On approaching the hotel it looked attractive. This hotel was built on the grounds of what was once a large farmhouse and had been converted into a hotel in the 1960s. In the year 2005 Greenwoods Estates purchased it, refurbished and extended, adding facilities, making this an agreeable looking hotel.
We parked near to reception and went to ask if our room was ready. We were greeted by a polite and very friendly receptionist who said that they were able to give out the keys to all three rooms immediately. We had a short conversation with the receptionist who lived locally. She told us a little about the venue we were going to for the wedding.
Card details were taken and two signatures were needed to check in. The receptionist informed us that all facilities were available from the time of checking in until check out. I do think at this point we should have been told that the swimming pool wouldn't be available from 9.30 the next morning until midday because then we could have timed our next day's swim much better.
We were informed that a further car park was available which was nearer to our rooms although, in fact, everything seemed to be conveniently placed.
Some rooms are located in the main part of the hotel near to reception. I would expect these are the superior rooms. Other rooms are spread around the grounds and can be accessed by walking through corridors or around blocks. It appeared that rooms were all close enough to the hotels facilities and too much walking wasn't necessary.
We first checked that our daughter's single room was suitable. I was expecting it to be smaller having read some reviews but it seemed perfectly adequate for a one night stay, or even longer.
Both double rooms were good in my opinion. Our room consisted of:
A carpeted room, which contained a double bed, which was certainly comfortable enough; I slept well enough in it. The neutral coloured bed linen was pleasant too.
The window looked out onto the Hi Life centre housing the hotel's swimming pool and other health facilities, including a small gymnasium. As well as being curtained, the window had net curtains for extra privacy.
A comfortable chair was supplied.
The dressing table was equipped with a mirror and one wall had a good full length mirror attached to it.
The room had a double radiator, two bedside cabinets, a chest of drawers, dressing table, wardrobe and a further set of drawers. I thought the amount of storage space was very good, although for a one night stay we didn't need it.
As well as lighting for the bedroom and bathroom there was also two wall lamps over the bed and there were two more lamps placed on the wall over the dressing table. One lamp needed a new bulb.
In the wardrobe there were extra towels and a warm bedspread.
On the dressing table there was a flat screen Freeview television and a telephone. We used both. We used the television for news on the rioting which our country was facing at the time.
On the chest of drawers was a large tray housing a kettle, and sachets of a few assorted tea bags, coffee, sugar and milk and two cookies.
The bathroom was clean and pleasant with toilet, basin with surround, bath with an over bath shower and a shower curtains. I found the shower curtain large enough to keep the water inside the bath. A definite plus, in my opinion.
There was a radiator (which we didn't need at this time of year) towel rails, white towels and toiletries, which included two small pleasant smelling small tablets of soap, a small bottle of shampoo and one of shower gel. Tissues were also supplied and an adequate supply of toilet tissue.
The rooms weren't luxurious but I found them to be clean and well enough equipped. They were comfortable. Although we only stayed for one night I think the hotel was good enough to stay in for a few nights. The only quibble I have with the room is the shower, which I thought was rather pathetic, with very low pressure; indeed, rinsing conditioner out of my hair the following morning took a lot longer than usual due to the tiny dribble of water which was released from the shower head.
When we first arrived in our room (on the day of the wedding) we had time to quickly freshen up and changed into our wedding clothes. I then discovered that my maxi dress was caught in the buckle of my shoe and so my husband went to reception where, fortunately, staff supplied him with a small travel set of cottons and threads. A quick repair and rearranging of my posh hat and we then drove off to the nearby Braxted Hall.
Whilst we were gone my son and his girlfriend went for a swim (towels supplied) in the hotel pool and also availed themselves of the use of the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. They felt that they got their money's worth! Later they readied themselves for the evening (putting on their glad rags) in their room as they enjoyed the luxury picnic that they had brought with them. Picnic set supplied by yours truly!
Later, when there was a slight lull in the wedding celebrations, my husband and I returned to the hotel as we had planned to leave the car there. My husband phoned through to reception from our room and asked that they arrange a taxi to take us back to the wedding venue, which they did.
When the wedding was over we arrived back at The Rivenhall at about one in the morning. The hotel grounds, reception and the bar area was lit up and looked welcoming. I don't know if the bar was open (I certainly didn't want a drink other than a hot chocolate) but it looked as if it was, although it being a week night/morning it was, and not surprisingly, quiet.
We both slept well and even my husband's snoring didn't keep me awake for long. The bed was comfortable as I have already said. I actually thought the hotel was very quiet and I wasn't disturbed.
HI LIFE FITNESS CENTRE
Once we had had a cup of tea and morning ablutions we all went for a swim. This is one complaint that I have, as mentioned earlier, when we arrived at the pool we were told that a parent and baby class was soon to take place and we wouldn't be able to use the pool. I was cross as, if we had been informed about this on enquiring about the pool when checking in, we would have arrived earlier for our swim but, as we had only been told that we could use all facilities until our departure; that towels were supplied for the fitness suite and all we would need would be one pound for a locker. Oh well, we made the best of it and had a very quick dip in the small but delightfully warm pool before trying out the steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi. I thought these were all good. I found toilets, changing rooms and facilities generally in the fitness centre as well as in the hotel to be clean and inviting. The showers in this facility were much better than those in our hotel rooms, although I only used them, for the sake of hygiene, before entering the Jacuzzi from the steam room.
There was a gym in this area.
Although the changing rooms were up some stairs and then down again to reach the poolside, I noticed disabled signs around, so feel that to use the pool one could bypass the few stairs.
The small pool was very easily accessed with wide, shallow steps fitted with secure handrails.
The hotel has a very attractive looking restaurant called The Wildberry. I can really only give information about this restaurant as we didn't use it but we did have a look in and it looked very tastefully arranged. I will tell what I know in case readers are interested in booking a hotel with a decent restaurant. I noticed that the daily specials were announced on a board outside the restaurant, near to the hotel's reception. Here is an example of what is on offer:
Sunday Lunch-3 courses for £14.95
The restaurant is open every day to residents and also to non -residents where a la carte is available or offers can be chosen such as 'specials' where prices for one course start at £8.50, two courses £12.50 and all three courses, if you're feeling really hungry, can be purchased for the price of, £14.95.
There are vegetarian options but I thought when looking at the menu that for the main course the choice for non-meat eaters was too limited. If I was staying at this hotel and needed a meal then I'm sure I would have found something to suit but as the vegetarian selection wasn't that extensive it wouldn't draw me in if I lived in the area and was choosing a place to dine.
Back to the hotel room, I showered and then packed up our belongings and we all vacated our rooms at about 11.30 a.m.
Check out at reception was speedy and efficient. We hadn't accumulated any extra charges.
OTHER FACILITIES AVAILABLE
The Rivenhall Hotel has conference facilities which can hold events for up to 150people.
I was informed by a relative that she had attended work based courses at this hotel several times in the past and had been impressed.
The Rivenhall Hotel is one of the areas wedding venues and must be well equipped for this judging by what I've seen of it.
These events can be catered for (according to the hotel website):
* Last Minute Events (within the next 4 weeks)
* Christening or Naming Ceremonies
* Funeral Receptions
* School Proms & Summer Balls
* Masonic Nights
* Hen Parties
* School Reunions
* Family Reunions
* Children's Parties
In my opinion this hotel is in a very desirable spot as it is easily accessed from Essex and surrounding counties such as the neighbouring county of Suffolk and London. It is off of the A12road and is an easy journey from London and its borders with Essex.
The Rivenhall Hotel is close to the m25 motorway and is only a short drive away to Stansted airport.
We arrived here, as already explained, by road but some members of our family travelled to this area of Essex, from north London, travelling either by bus or underground to Liverpool Street station in London and then it was only a short overground train journey to reach here.
The Rivenhall Hotel
T: +44 (0)1376 516969
F: +44 (0)1376 513674
Manni Paurmashko - Hotel Manager
T: +44 (0)1376 516969
As far as I'm concerned this is a good hotel to use for a short stay and it had more good points than bad. I had read several varying reviews and so when taking these into account was pleasantly surprised with the hotel overall. For the purpose that we stayed here-wanting decent clean accommodation with a few facilities, mainly with my son and his partner in mind, we feel the hotel exceeded our expectations. True, I didn't expect too much but, really, apart from not being told that the pool was being used privately and the shower being below par, everything else was good. I would recommend this hotel. I think it was worth the price paid.
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Wyboston Lakes Hotel (St Neots)
We booked through superbreaks.com so booking wasn't through Wyboston so I can't comment on that. However we booked through superbreaks and all the information was correct and passed on, it was dealt with well on our arrival I felt because we just told them our names and it wasn't obvious that it was through a deal. I have to say ... that on arrival I was slightly disappointed as the reception and car parks are at the back of the hotel and it doesn't look like a hotel! It looks more like a warehouse or offices!!! However on stepping through the door into reception suddenly you're in a sparkling very well presented looking reception area. It has lounge chairs for waiting if you need (which we didn't).
We were given our key and show where to go for our room, we had an executive suite double room, in actual fact it had a double and a single bed which was a bit odd! We asked them about this as we'd gone away without the kids and it sort of felt weird having an empty bed next to us but they said that this was often the case and that they'd move the beds together the next night as we were staying for two nights.
The room was nice, I wouldn't say it was particularly modernly furnished although it was well presented with lots of cushions on the bed. The hair dryer was very dated! It had an ironing board and iron, a safe, wardrobe space and drawers, table and chairs and a nice flat screen tv. The en-suite was nice but not the best I've ever seen the tiles had maybe seen slightly better days but it wasn't grubby or dirty. The shower was very good and the towels, soap and hand/body lotion were presented nicely. There was tea, coffee and hot chocolate with biscuits in the room.
We could not find the bath robes which they had said on their information, although at the end of the stay we found one folded up in a bottom drawer!
I just felt the en-suite could've done with a bit of an update, the bath had anti slip stickers on the bottom because it was difficult to get in and out without slipping!
I have to say that the noise carries from upstairs! Unfortunately every movement could be heard downstairs - we were on the ground level so I would request an upstairs room. I have actually noticed that their website says sound insulation! It certainly is not! We could hear people in the corridor and upstairs.
The Waterfront restaurant I couldn't fault! The food was absolutely amazing but for the cheapest main being £15 I would expect so. However it was beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. I really felt like I was in a fine restaurant and opposed to the car park side of the hotel the view from the restaurant was lovely, it overlooks the lakes with fountains, there is outside seating from the bar area and you can see the golf course to the left.
The starters and deserts started at around £4.95 each. The service was excellent we weren't kept waiting at all. We ordered a bottle of wine which was brought with a cooling bucket.
Our stay had been booked with full English Breakfast, we noticed that there was a full English for approx £12.00 or a continental for approx £8. We were seated straightaway, it's a buffet help yourself breakfast and the usual toast (with plenty of spreads ie marmite), cereals, fruit, yoghurts, orange juice, croissants (although a bit well done I have to say!). Then for the full English; bacon, sausages, mushrooms, scrambled egg, fried egg, toast, tomatoes, hashbrowns and beans. There was plenty available, it was hot and well presented.
There is a large bar area with a large TV at one end, there are lounge chairs all around. The bar is well stocked and has plenty of space to order drinks, there is a door onto a terrace where you can take your drink outside and watch the fountains on the lake.
The hotel itself is clean and well kept, if you are staying in the hotel you are able to use the Harper leisure facilities which includes a swimming pool, jacuzi, sauna etc. There are plenty of conference rooms of various sizes. There is also a golf course attached - being as we're not into golf I can't comment on that I'm afraid - but people looked like they were enjoying themselves!!
Like I say we booked through a deal so the cost was a lot cheaper, their standard double room starts from £59 per night, plus Breakfast and meals as I've stated above. Ours was an executive room and that starts at £74 per night. The weekend is cheaper than the weekday. There are a lot of golfing deals and specials if you look at the website.
1. Pretty Lakeside views
2. Excellent food
3. Friendly staff
4. Comfortable rooms
5. Free access to Leisure stuff like pool, Sauna etc.
Reasons Why not!
1. Says rooms sound insulated but not
2. A little bit unclean (not loads just not perfect!)
3. The entrance doesn't look posh
Overall I would say we had a lovely weekend, the staff were friendly and it was classier than a premier or travel lodge obviously! But it wasn't a 4 or 5 star - obviously because it's a 3 star rating. So I guess the rating is given for the reasons I've said. The restaurant is definitely a must and somewhere to go for an excellent meal.
3 stars of 5 the reason for this is really the massive lie about sound insulation because we were looking forward to a quiet romantic weekend and yes it was lovely and pretty from the restaurant side, the food was amazing but the noise in the evening spoilt it. If it had not said it was sound insulated then I wouldn't have bothered about the noise!
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Holiday Inn Express (Winchester)
Winchester Holiday Inn WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO STAY HERE? We recently spent three nights down in Winchester for a wedding and stayed at the nearby Holiday Inn on Telegraph Way next door to the INTECH Science Centre and Planetarium. We felt that we would like to see a bit of the local area and have a look around so we booked ... three nights.
The first day we called in at my sister's in Oxford then drove straight to Winchester to have a wander around before driving out to find the hotel at about 4.30pm. The hotel is very new and only opened in the spring of 2010 and so was not on our sat nav but fortunately I had the postcode and we found it pretty easily. As we got closer there were brown signs that directed us there too.
The brochure for the hotel begins 'Welcome to the UK's first new generation Holiday Inn hote' It is in a fantastic location as it is just over 2 miles from Winchester and very close to both junctions 9 and 10 of the M3 motorway. It made a perfect base for exploring both Winchester city and some of the surrounding countryside too. The hotel is away from the road and we heard absolutely no traffic noise at all while we were there.
We arrived at the same time as several other guests and parked in the more than ample car park. Interestingly there were several European number plates so obviously this is a popular place to stay before getting on the ferry at Southampton.
CHECKING IN AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The hotel is very modern and sleek looking from outside. The reception area and floor at that level was large light and fresh looking and huge. There were lots of chairs and tables for people to sit and chat or just sit and wait. Reception was efficient and I was welcomed as a Priority Club member and I had quite a few questions about the other two rooms I had booked for the next two nights. One was for my step daughter, partner and baby and we needed a travel cot and this room had to be next door to ours. The other room was for my daughter, partner and step son who was bunking in with them so I had to check all this was as I had booked and the girl went through it all and it was all okay. Once all that was sorted she gave me my room card and pointed us in the right direction for the lift.
Reception was at ground level and then there was a lower level with rooms and a restaurant and bar and then we were on level 3 which appeared to actually be one floor up!! The carpets were a fairly modern non offensive stripy brown and green. And there were plenty of fire doors which we had to negotiate with our case and other bits we seemed to have acquired.
There are a total of 141 rooms which seems an odd number but still. They vary from one executive suite, executive rooms (I did ask and they have a fridge I was informed), rooms that were Accessible and all are air conditioned. They are happy to add an extra folding bed or travel cot at no extra cost unless you want breakfast for the extra adult then that is £10 extra. There were a few inter connecting rooms but unfortunately they were not available for us on the Saturday night when we were going to be coming back from the wedding with little granddaughter while the young ones stayed on later.
The room was not huge but was light and airy. It had the one double bed, a decent sized desk and one chair swivel and one arm chair. The TV was flat screen and fixed to the wall with a keyboard under it so that you could access the internet through the TV. There was another unit with a shelf underneath which had coffee, tea and a kettle. A very small wardrobe held an iron, board and a hairdryer too. The bedside unit on one side had three small drawers but none on the other side. There was ample storage for a night or two but not for much longer really.
We had two firm pillows and two soft ones but we could have asked for any pillow we desired from allergenic soft to hard feather and all in between. The bed was comfortable but just a double so not huge. I noticed that there were executive rooms next to ours and asked what was in them and apparently they got a fridge so I'm glad I hadn't paid extra for that.
You could also pay extra for movies and satellite TV. There was a special package of this combined with wifi for 24 hours for £14.99 which I think was quite expensive.
The bathroom was small and very modern. The sink was a square Belfast type sink with single mixer tap. There was a shelf underneath for storage which was handy as there was very little either side of the sink. The shower was good and powerful and was over a very small bath. Two lovely large white fluffy towels were over the bath and two further smaller towels were by the basin. Toiletries provided were minimal, shampoo, tiny soap and bath gel not exciting but adequate for a night or two.
They advertise free wifi but you get 30 minutes free then you have to pay £3.99 for two hours or £9.99 for 24 hours. You are given an access code should you want to take up the offer.
On the first night we went down to the bar and enjoyed a couple of drinks at the bar. The restaurant looked very nice, black and silver modern decor and the prices were pretty standard. We hadn't realised there was a restaurant at the hotel and had bought some sandwiches in Winchester so I can't say what the dinner menu was like.
The bar and restaurant were on the floor below the reception which also seemed to be on ground level so I am not sure how they achieved that. The bar opened out onto a patio area with lovely table and chairs to sit and lookout over a garden area. It was a lovely summer evening and we enjoyed sitting out with our drinks for an hour or so, just as we were leaving we noticed that people were arriving for dinner and the restaurant was filling up and looked to be fairly busy.
Breakfast was included in our room rate. This was served between 6.30 and 9.30 am from Monday to Friday and from 7.30 to 10.30 on Saturday and Sunday. You had to wait to be seated and give your room number then you were shown to your table and offered tea or coffee which was served at the table. The rest of breakfast was buffet service. Mini boxes of cereal, yogurt, fresh fruits, fruit juices, salami and cheeses were on offer as well as a full cooked selection of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon tomatoes and hash browns etc. There were also pastries and white and brown sliced bread which you could put through one of those strange conveyor belt toasters that do very little to the bread except take it for a ride around. I didn't bother as there was a huge queue of people waiting to watch the bread go for a ride and so I just enjoyed the cheese! Unlike the American breakfasts this was served on china plates with metal cutlery and glass glasses. The food somehow tasted more real too.
There was no indoor pool or gym but there are a number of meeting rooms available. These vary in size and can seat from 2 to 50 people. While we were staying there were a number of meetings, one was the 'Driver Awareness' course and they all looked thrilled to be attending that one.
The hotel is fully licensed for civil wedding ceremonies and although it isn't an historic picturesque setting there are many worse places to get married.
The restaurants as well as the bar and lounge were all on the floor below reception as the hotel is built on a small hill. You come into reception on the ground floor and the floor below is also on the ground floor at the back! The outside dining terrace was really lovely in the sunshine on our first evening.
My husband was impressed as the beer taps had mini TV screens on them so you could watch sports while waiting for your beer at the bar.
I liked the really light and open feel about the public areas opf the hotel. On our floor was a large open seating area that over looked the reception level which had a huge area with comfortable seats in small groups so you could sit and meet friends or wait for other people or just enjoy a coffee or tea and the newspaper.
Everywhere was decorated in muted colours with interesting artwork around. I particularly liked a couple of very tall chairs that were either side of a long table just near the lifts, they wouldn't do in our house as we have really low ceilings but I was very taken with them.
We were more than happy with our stay as it gave us a convenient and comfortable base for exploring the area and was just five minutes away from the wedding venue in Itchen Abbas as well so perfect really. We also had three rooms next to each other so we could help out with granddaughter while our step daughter was doing her bridesmaid duties.
We found this a really nice modern hotel with lovely light airy rooms and public areas. The staff were all very helpful and pleasant and so no complaints at all really. I believe we booked in advance and paid about£180 for three nights for our room and the other two paid £120 each for their rooms for two nights and £10 extra for breakfasts for the extra adult in one of the rooms. I think we got good value for that price and would certainly stay there again if we came down that way.
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3 Star Hotel National
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