“ Tasteful 3-star hotel in Newcastle. part of Peel Hotels Group. „
I arrived at the 3* Caledonian Hotel via the back door so to speak, as I had located the free parking and went for the nearest door. I am writing this review before my first night's sleep on the basis that I will update it as my stay goes on. It is however a review of my visit and therefore I will not be able to (afford) to make use of all of the facilities on offer to review them in detail.
The hotel was built in 1870 and has been 'extensively' refurbished over the last 5 years.
My stay had been booked via the Peel Hotels website, a chain of hotels of which the Caledonian is one of. My booking was extremely easy and hassle free. After selecting my hotel and the dates, I was given several room options to choose from and book.
My stay is costing me £110 for two nights for a standard double room with en-suite but without breakfast.
The hotel sits on Osborne Road in the Jesmond area of Newcastle. I drove past the hotel unable to locate the parking, but having turned around I could see that the hotel and parking was signposted from the main road and then again indicating that these facilities were around the back.
There are approximately 35 spaces at The Caledonian Hotel, though I could only see about 15. This is described in the literature as "ample parking", though for 91 rooms that may be questionable. Thankfully when I arrived at 3pm there was indeed ample parking and finding a space was not a problem. The car-park is overlooked by CCTV but all visitors park at their own risk and the hotel will not accept responsibility for any damage caused whilst any vehicle is parked.
The back door is just a few small flat steps away and this opens into the foyer/reception area. The front of the hotel has a very grand looking entrance from the road, but the rear door is nothing special.
The reception area is host to a stair case with wide flat stairs, fully carpeted in a pattern which isn't so good on the eyes when walking up them. The bar/restaurant is situated directly ahead of the reception desk and a menu stand is located for visitors to the foyer to browse.
The whole of this area is carpeted, making the entire space feel warm and inviting.
Relaxing music played softly in the background as the receptionist checked me in. I was asked to pay the outstanding balance on my room upfront, and anything else you buy I.e. room service, is billed on check out. The lady at reception gave me a key card and a car pass as well as my receipt. The car pass swiftly went into my vehicle.
Now I understand the reasons behind a car pass, however, I'm not keen on having my surname on full display in my vehicle, which this pass has. It also has the room number written on it. The receptionist gave me no further details. I had to ask where I would find my room to which I was told it was on the first floor and I could use the stairs or choose to use the lift.
The key card worked like magic on the door to my room and the door closed behind me without slamming. My room is spacious and airy, though had evidently just been cleaned judging by the smell of cleaning products. I had no idea prior to my arrival what time check in was, so I was impressed the room was ready, as in experience most check-ins are around 4pm. Check out is 12pm.
The room itself has a double bed, made with 4 pillows, a duvet and an additional throw on it, whilst there are more blankets in the cupboard. Tea and coffee making facilities are available with two cups and saucers, two glasses and enough tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar and milk pots available to cater for two people. The television has terrestrial channels, whilst Sky Sports and music channels are available in the Billabong bar downstairs.
Beside each side of the bed is a side table each with three drawers. Whilst above the bed are two lights, each with a light switch in the bedside tables or by the front door.
There is a long dresser which also had three drawers; this is where the TV and facilities are sat.
The room has an additional cupboard, which stores a heater, ironing board, press and iron which I never take advantage of when away from home, but is handy to have if you need to make yourself presentable.
Two chairs, a large mirror with lights both side and an information rack make up the rest of the furniture. The room has a gas radiator as well as an electric heater on separate sides of the room. On entering the room it initially felt nice and warm, but after I had settled I could feel the chill. I attempted to turn on the radiator but it remained stone cold. I am assuming they come on, on a timer, rather than by user request, that said the one in the bathroom is working. However the electric heater works fine if you don't want the fan to run. I accidently pressed the fan button first assuming it was the 'on' button and it made a horrendous noise. So I used just heat and no fan which has warmed the room nicely.
The en-suite is huge. A family sized bathroom with bath, shower, toilet and basin.
There are also enough towels for two, both hand size and bath size available on a towel rail. Hotels seem to have phased out samples of shampoo and soap, in favour of larger squeezable bottles which are fixed to the walls. I understand this is a money saving exercise but also means that the guest can use as much as they choose without running out.
The hand soap in the bathroom is Dove hand cream and was a nice surprise. There is plenty of space to manoeuvre in the bathroom, unlike some which offer a shower cubicle almost on top of the toilet.
The shower itself is good and heats up instantly, everytime. The pressure was just right, but no power shower. The bath however, is a different story. I attempted to run a bath last night and as the taps are so close to the wall, they only turned a quarter of the way. As a result the water pressure was limited. Within minutes the water was barely flowing, forcing me to abandon the idea of a relaxing bath. This probably wouldn't be an issue if you had small kids with little water, but for an adult it would take hours to run.
Attention to detail
The room was clean and fresh when I walked in, and I have no complaints regarding it's cleanliness. I even had a hotel inspector moment and ran my fingers across the tops of the pictures for dust, and found none! It caters for everybody, with free Wi-fi, a bible for those who choose to use it, information on the hotel and local area as well as enough storage to move in.
The only complaints I have are attention to detail. The light bulbs in the wall lamps were of different kinds. Above the bed I had 1 candle bulb and 1 round bulb offering different levels of lighting which for me was fine as I sat between the two with my computer or book, but for a couple this may not be too helpful if each are reading.
The television is an old style portable shape with basic channels, excluding Channel 5 which seemed to phase in and out of effectiveness. The remote control is missing the 'menu' button, whilst others are void of any description. Also if you press the wrong button the volume jumps or the signal deteriorates. Most people wouldn't use the TV much when away, but I travelled the length of the country for a football match on my own and 4 channels to entertain me all evening could be a struggle, especially with the amount of rubbish on television nowadays. I informed the receptionist that I could only get 4 channels and she said that not all rooms have Freeview - (this isn't what their website says) and when I queried that I had lost signal on the channels I did have and whether that meant that I would have to make use of none she agreed. I thankfully took my laptop and can review and rate instead :)
In the bathroom there is the facility to have a hairdryer. However, in my room the hairdryer part had been broken off and there was only a box with a small part of hose attached to the wall. I didn't notice this until I went looking for a hairdryer in the drawers, which I duly found as a replacement.
The decoration is fine in this standard room with a warm red feature wall complimenting the other cream walls. However, the cream walls have scuff marks and/or dents in them which with just a bit of attention could also be forgotten. Also the sealer around the bath is dated and appears to have been painted on with no consideration for the tiles.
When I initially wrote this I had currently been sat in my room for 3 hours and it appeared to be extremely noisy. I am located at the back of the building, which is the quieter area, due to the popular bar and weekend nightlife on Osborne Road. However, the person above me sounds like an elephant which appears to like running around and the number of slamming doors I have heard so far is a little concerning. Like in most hotels you can hear the water from rooms around, when a toilet is flushed and its filling up.
During the night I was awoken by a group of lads about 2.30am who took great pleasure in drunkenly waking everyone up. Despite that I realised I am staying under the stairs and rather than have a noisy family above me, Infact have creaky steps. Thus, without moving rooms I am not going to resolve the noise issue.
During the night I couldn't really hear the nightlife, which I suppose is an advantage of having a room at the back of the building. I could however hear that initially relaxing music played in the foyer and when I woke this morning it was still clear as day. Not so relaxing afterall.
I left my earplugs behind.
Noise aside, my bed was extremely comfortable and I slept really well in it. I suffer with back problems and whilst the mattress is standard my back had no complaints this morning when I woke up.
The hotel offers all guests 50% discount on the Pinetree Health and Fitness Spa which promotes classes, spa features, a gym massage, hair studio, crèche etc etc. However, this is not located on site, whilst still in Jesmond, not being familiar with the area I wouldn't have a clue where to find it.
The Billabong bar appears to thrive with student clientele, has plenty of seating and offers food as well as drink. The menu is reasonably priced with pub food suiting most tastes. There is a menu in my room which is handy and there is also one in the corridor up the stairs so you can't fail to miss what's on offer. A main course is on average £9.50, whilst wraps, sandwiches, pies, potatoes, burgers and sides are also available. I'm impressed with their Sunday offer of a traditional roast with all the trimmings for £9.50 (not so impressed) or 2 for £12.50 (very impressed). They also serve brunch on weekends for those unable to raise their heads early in the morning for their fry up.
All food is buy one get the cheapest one free Monday to Friday 12pm - 5pm which is a bargain.
The hotel staff boast an excellent service in their literature, with wake up calls, taxi's being booked, room service, newspaper delivery, messages, mail service and whilst they don't have a laundry room they do re-direct you to a local service.
I would put this hotel at 4 stars. (up from my initial rating when I first got here) For the price I have paid its a bargain and very good value for money. It also has excellent links to the city centre with the Metro being close by and taxi's which wait outside. It was for the price and location near the city centre that I booked the room and those needs have been catered for. The staff have met all my needs, even getting me a fork on request so I could eat my (bought from Tesco) dinner in my room. They did this without question. They also gave me good directions to the Metro - the only thing they couldn't give me was a Toon win on my 650 mile round trip.