Address: Blackwell Grange
Darlington DL3 8QH „
The hotel is located just outside of Darlington City Centre. Because I am completely useless with directions I depended entirely on my Sat Nav and it took me around 10 minutes in medium traffic to reach the hotel from leaving the A1. I was travelling from the North and came off the A1 at junction 59. If travelling from the South it is recommended that you come off the A1 at junction 57.
The hotel is 1 mile away from Darlington train station. One of my colleagues paid £4 for a taxi from the station.
The hotel is around 6 miles away from Durham Tees Valley airport.
Despite being close to Darlington City Centre the hotel does feel quite secluded due to surrounding greenery and golf course. Driving up to the hotel from the entrance there is a long driveway through a green wooded area. To add to the "country" feel I had a near miss with a suicidal pheasant!
The hotel has quite a traditional country club feel when you pull up to the hotel. There are car parking spaces at the front of the hotel with space for about 20 cars. There is a further car par around the side of the hotel.
Check in was reasonably easy and there were three staff members on the reception desk which meant that you do not have to wait for a long time to check in.
The public areas of the hotel have a traditional feel. Open fires, exposed beams on the ceilings. Despite the traditional feel these areas are in good condition and kept clean.
The room I stayed in was extremely clean and the general condition of the room was excellent, it looked like it had just been decorated. The décor was quite traditional yet with a modern take on this. The room had a very large double bed. A seating area at the side of the bed with two chairs and a table. At the bottom of the bed is a large work desk with mirror and plug sockets. The room also has a hairdryer. There was also a large wardrobe by the door where bags could be stored and coats hung up with plenty of coat hangers. The room was a great size and even with another person in the room there would be enough space to store two lots of bags and still be able to move around the room with plenty of space and not feel like you are tripping over each other. My only gripe was that none of the mirrors were full length mirrors which I always like in a hotel room. The room had tea and coffee making facilities, (and three packs of biscuits). The hotel had access to Wifi for a fee, and an LCD tv.
The bathroom was also a good size. The bathroom was modern and extremely clean. The bathroom has a shower and a bath as the shower is over the bath rather than it being within a separate cubicle. The hotel bathrooms are what you would expect from a typical hotel araprt from the fact that in every bathroom there is an actual rubber duck placed on the side of the bath!
As much as I liked the room I did have some criticisms. I was in a room at the end of the corridor so there was no one really walking past my room but I did find that I did get a lot of noise from the corridors, doors slamming etc. The people in the rooms around me were all colleagues and therefore went to bed the same time as me. When I was getting ready to go down for dinner and the next morning for breakfast I could hear people who were staying about 7 rooms up talking in the corridors and this echoing. The people in question are not particularly loud, but if there had been people who were noisy everyone staying on the floor would have known about it.
I also noticed that during the night the shower kept randomly spurting water out of it for lasting about 5 seconds each time it did this. One of my colleagues who was staying in the room next door also had this problem.
Apparently I was in one of the "good" rooms and was located on the third floor. It seems all of the men in the group were given the old tatty rooms and kept away from the women on the ground floor of the hotel (thank you Blackwell Grange staff they obviously know how annoying the blokes in our team are!). The inconsistency in the standard of accommodation did lead to some disgruntled members in the group who found their stay less enjoyable.
The bar area was reasonable large and all 30 members of the group were accommodated easily in addition to another 4 separate groups of people.
The bar prices were actually very good. For 1 large glass of wine, two double vodka lime and lemonades and a pint of lager this came to £13.25. After 11pm all drinks must be charged to the room so make sure that you take your credit/ debit card with you or have a card registered to your room when you check into the hotel if you plan on late night drinks.
The hotel has a heated pool, spa pool and sauna. It also has a gym. I did not use the pools and sauna but did use the gym. The gym opens at 7am and closes at 10pm. It is a reasonable size for a hotel gym and there is three of each machine.
The hotel also has an 18 hole golf course.
In total I ate four times in the Havelock restaurant. Two lunches, one evening meal and a breakfast. My only criticism was that there was not enough water on the table for a large group, about a quarter of the group could have a glass of water from what was on the table. When asking for some more water we waited 20 minutes
With being in a group of 30, there were two tables allocated to the group rather than being on one table.
Breakfast was satisfactory however I did not feel that there was much choice other than full English which was a self service buffet. The Full English was nice but did take ages to restock when certain items had run out. I would allocate at least 30 minutes for breakfast if you are on a tight schedule.
On both days I dined in the restaurant for lunch this also was very nice both tasting and a good quality of food. There was also a selection of salads on both days for starters and a main dish of mushroom stroganoff or fish in a sauce one day and lasagne or a vegetarian pasta dish the next day. This was self service and was put on especially for the group however the lunch menu was very similar if you were dining in the restaurant which would be served to your table. A starter was £5 per dish and a main meal was £11.
The evening meal was fantastic. The group of 30 all ate at the same time. Due to the size of the group we pre ordered but only whilst waiting in the bar area which was only 30 minutes from sitting down in the restaurant. The starters came within 10 minutes of sitting down and the next course followed about 10 minutes after we had finished the starter. I had garlic mushrooms to start, salmon in a hollandaise sauce (served with roasted vegetables) and a strawberry cheese cake for dessert. The menu had a choice of 6 dishes for each course however I found that this was more than enough choice. Starters were priced around £4-7, main meals £9-17 and dessert around £5. For the quality of the food I think that this was very good value.
~~Conference/ Function Rooms~~
The purpose of my stay at the Blackwell Grange Hotel was for a two day work training event which was held in one of the conference rooms. The room was a split level in which there was an open area with tables and LCD screen for the training to be delivered on. On the upper level there was a seating area in which the group could use for smaller discussions and activities and also as an area to sit in for when we had tea and coffee breaks.
The room was a pleasant temperature which could be easily controlled and reasonably large. There were 30 people in the room however we did not feel at all cramped in. On the tables there was water and also cordial which I have never had as a table refreshment at similar venues but I quite liked. Also a bowl of boiled sweets. At every break we had (every two hours) the table refreshments were restocked which meant the water did not go warm and was drinkable all day.
~~Would I stay there again~~
In short, yes! Despite this being a business stay I would be more than happy to stay here if I was paying using my own money. . Providing I stayed in the standard of accommodation that I was given and not a room in which the male members of the group were given. The hotel will be playing host to more training events so I expect to be staying here again.... Fingers crossed that I get a "good" room.