“ Address: Kings Road / Brighton / East Sussex / BN1 1NR / England „
As part of a hen weekend package we were upgraded to the apparently 4 star Old Ship Hotel in Brighton which is Brighton's oldest hotel. I hadn't heard anything about it prior to hearing we would be staying here but having asked a few friends who'd visited Brighton quite often I didn't hear anything positive - those who had stayed there said it was pretty shabby and those who hadn't stayed said it looked pretty shabby just from the outside. Not a good start but as if was part of the hen weekend package and because we'd been upgraded for free from a 3 star hotel to the Old Ship Hotel I had to assume it couldn't be all bad - maybe it had been refurbished since my friends had seen it/stayed there.
There are apparently 50 car parking spaces for use by hotel guests which you have to pay about £15 a day and £5 overnight to use these. There are about 154 rooms in the hotel, you can check in from 2pm onwards and check out time is 11am.
We arrived after a 90 minute journey from London and checked into our rooms excitedly - anticipating the fun we planned to have for the weekend ahead. I found the receptionist to be less than friendly as soon as we said we were there for a hen weekend package - she did not smile once but just asked if we wanted rooms on the same floor and next to each other. When we say that would be nice, she then organised that for us, which I felt was strange seeing as our details had already been sent through well in advance with our names saying we were then for a hen weekend - why would they have put us on separate floors in the first place? We asked if we could have a late checkout on the Sunday and we were advised the latest checkout we could have was 12 midday.
As soon as we walked into our twin room I tried not to wince at the horrid yellow patterned wallpaper which seemed to have stains and other marks on it as well as the lack of lighting - we had checked in at around 9pm so it was dark outside and the room seemed very dull in the lack lustre colour scheme of the room. The carpet looked really old and I didn't even want to walk around barefoot as I doubted that it would be very clean!
Walking into the bathroom I was pleased to note that it looked very clean. The tiling around the sink area was very clean, almost sparkling and looked fairly new but the door of the bathroom had paint scuffs and even strips of paint seem to have peeled off. The pedal bin on the floor by the sink was already open but this was probably because the pedal bit was actually broken and the metal handle was sticking out - when the room was cleaned the following day the maid shut the bin and I had to bend down on the floor to open the bin rather than risking a rusty bit of metal giving me a short sharp shock! Considering it was a twin room for two nights they had only supplied one toilet roll and one soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Apart from the average sized soap the toiletry items were very small and we wondered how many times we would have to ask for replacements for those as well as extra toilet roll - the latter not seeming to be of very good quality either - definitely not even to Andrex standard (which is the minimum quality I expect in any hotel)!
The bed was comfortable looking but on trying it seemed quite hard - not a problem - hard is supposed to be good for you anyway (the bed was actually fairly comfortable to lie on but I didn't actually get much sleep - which wasn't down to the bed but other factors I'll mention further down). There were two good sized pillows on each bed as well as a big chunky cushion each too. There were two armchairs as well as a chair at the dressing table which also had very poor lighting. The hairdrier was in the drawer here which you had to use from there as it was plugged directly into a wall socket through the back of the drawer which we couldn't see.
The TV was on a table which had 2 drawers and two pull out drawers - these didn't really look very clean inside so we didn't even use these. A built in wardrobe was very handy to hang up our formal dresses for the following evening and there were sufficient hangers and space for our use. Tea and coffee sachets were provided along with a couple of biscuits. My friend is a tea and coffee drinker so she was content with these supplies and there were ample sachets of sugar and small milk portions.
We had to open the windows as the room smelt very musty - maybe it had something to do with how old the place is but it was not a pleasant smell! I was quite shocked when I saw how dirty the window sill was and the state of the wallpaper behind the curtains was really not acceptable.
As we explored Brighton that evening we did not use the restaurant in the evening so can't really advise on the quality of the food. I must admit that the breakfast was of excellent standard. Breakfast was included in the price of our stay but I noted from the menu on the tables that it's advertised as £12.95 for full English breakfast and it really is a good spread laid on each morning. I was particularly impressed with the very friendly hostess who showed us to our table on both Saturday and Sunday morning. She was very bubbly and friendly and couldn't do enough to make sure we had everything we needed. There was a good selection of fruit juices and even ice cold water, croissants and various other types of bakery items, sliced fruits, every cereal I could think of was available, then you had brown and white bread and a toaster, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, bacon and sausage - fully stocked and not once did I see people having to wait for additional supplies - the kitchen seemed to be a well oiled machine running very smoothly.
We had had a few drinks in the bar the night before - drinks for 6 of us cost £25 and as we had a mixture of wine and spirits with mixers, I couldn't work out what cost how much but it averaged out at just over £4 a drink (we ordered singles and regular glasses of wine as opposed to doubles and large glasses). I found the service in the bar to be acceptable but again, like reception it was not particularly friendly and even though we were on a hen night we were not at all rowdy like many others that were staying there.
Talking of rowdy, this brings me onto my next gripe. This hotel has absolutely no concept of sound-proofing. On Friday night I barely had ANY sleep which left me quite exhausted for the Saturday when we had lots of activities planned. ALL night people were walking past our rooms on the way back to theirs and had absolutely no consideration for the fact that people were trying to sleep. You could clearly hear every single drunken word that people were speaking as they walked past our rooms - and we had gone up to bed at around midnight and made sure to not make noise as we knew other people would be asleep. No such consideration for what seemed like every other guest who went to bed later than us. I remember looking at the TV clock every time I was woken up and it seemed to be every 15 minutes from 1am to 5am - and then you had the noise from outside the hotel. There was a bottle bank or something like that across the road - people seem to recycle at the strangest times of the day and night in Brighton as we heard bottles being thrown into the recycling unit from the early hours of the morning. Oh and I mustn't forget to mention that really irritating doors that the rooms have. The Barcelo chain or this particular branch of the hotel has obviously never heard of easy-closing hinges for doors. Every single hotel door slammed shut so much so that after I noticed it the 2nd time I made sure to pull the door to myself and make sure it didn't slam. No other guest in the rooms on our floor seemed to have the same consideration as it was a case of hearing doors slam all night as well as all the chatter and shouting of noisy guests returning to their rooms.
At around 8am I gave up thinking about sleep and went down to breakfast in quite a foul mood but the cheery hostess that I mentioned earlier actually cheered me up no end and thankfully restored me to a good frame of mind, so much so that I went out for a stroll along the seafront which was directly in front of the hotel. It was a windy and fairly cool morning so I didn't stay out for long but it was nice being able to just step out of the hotel with the seafront across the road.
Having spent a fantastic day away from the hotel and having come back to change before embarking on our planned evening out to restaurant, bars and a club, we returned at about 1.30am and we had the same problem, not so much with the other guests making noise this time but the noise from the street outside, again the bottles! I remember getting out of bed to shut the window and tried to sleep even though this made the room horridly stuffy and then found it made no difference closing the windows as they providing no sound-proofing from the street noise whatsoever.
We worked out that we were charged approximately £120 per night per room - which these rooms are certainly not worth. I've stayed in hotels half of that price and had a much better night's sleep and not felt the wallpaper was going to fall off the walls at any time. It really did not seem to be worth of its 4 star rating - I'm not sure how they managed to earn that. Doing a quick rate check on their website I found that a Friday and Saturday night twin or double room with breakfast included would cost £328 which is absolutely extortionate as far as my experience goes.
I thought I'd quote this from their website to show how they actually define their own rooms: "Retaining the charm and character of the hotel, our Standard double rooms are traditional in style with modern furnishings. Decorated in vibrant colours to reflect the nautical location, the rooms are light and airy and include quality features such as wireless internet access, satelite television, complimentary refreshment trays, iron & iron board. The classic white ensuite with traditional fittings is the perfect place to unwind and relax using the complimentary toiletries."
Well maybe the website marketers view the hotel with rose tinted glasses - the picture I took of the outside of the hotel looks very shabby compared to their picture of their hotel on the website - obviously they've airbrushed out all of the cracks and DIRT!
All in all, I will never return to this hotel until I know for sure that they have sound proofed the rooms and brought itself into the 21st century, even the 20th century would be nice. The good things I could list about the hotel would be the breakfast and the service during that particular meal and the really good shower - it had 10 different temperature settings and quite a few speed settings - just the thing one needs after sleepless nights and erm a sore head from a bit too drinking from the nights before!
I would add that the reception staff were somewhat friendlier when we checked out and we were allowed to keep our bags with the concierge for 3 hours until our minibus arrived to bring us back to London.
I would say overall that the standard of service was average because even though the bar and reception staff were less than lukewarm towards us, the service by staff in the breakfast room was excellent. I not happy to recommend this place to anyone unless they can survive with NO sleep all night or are extremely deep sleepers and definitely not good for families as even children wouldn't be able to sleep through that noise!
The hotels website is located at: http://www.barcelo-hotels.co.uk/hotels/southern-england/barcelo-brighton-ol d-ship-hotel/
Contact details for the hotel are:
31-38 Kings Road, Brighton or call 01455 898580 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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