A Crowning Stay
Crowne Plaza (Birmingham NEC)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Crowne Plaza (Birmingham NEC)
Advantages: Nice hotel, good food and service
Disadvantages: Not centrally located
We drove up and the hotel has its own parking. If you are attending a function in the hotel parking is free, otherwise I gather it is up to £10 per day. Some of my friends came by train. You disembark at Birmingham International and can either get a taxi from here or walk (approx 10 mins) to the hotel from there. The hotel is situated by a lake so on a nice day it could be a pleasant walk (although there appeared to be a lot of dog poo when I walked it to pop into Birmingham by train). Also, I am not sure it is lit at night. Birmingham International airport is also a short taxi hop away so for transport links, this hotel is very well served. They also have a courtesy bus in operation.
The hotel is purpose built and is nothing special, although I did like the big, light and airy lobby. Check in was straight forward and we were directed to the lifts and our room. Our room was located at the front and was nice and quiet. Some friends who had a room towards the back heard planes from the airport. The room had two good sized single beds with bedside tables and individual lamps. There was a good sized flat screen TV with remote control, fridge (it seemed locked - I wasn't worried), a dressing table with mirror and hairdryer underneath. In the 'corridor' as you first go in is your hanging space (proper hangers, not the ones without hooks that you have to jiggle about with to get off), trouser press, safe, and bag rest. The wardrobe door has a full length mirror on it, which opens out and can be viewed whilst standing in the room. Extra bedding is in here too. The bathroom has a bath with overhead shower, sink and WC with plenty of shelves and rails for your stuff. There are tea and coffee making facilities in the room too, plus complimentary bottles of water, nice hotel branded soaps and shower gels etc, a shoe buffer and shower cap. For me the best freebie was the 'This Works' Sleep box containing a pillow spray and a 'breathe in' roll on. A fabulous product!
Check in is from 2pm, but I noted that those that arrived the next day found their rooms available form 11am, so an earlier check in is possible at off-peak times. Check out is a 12 noon which is very civilised.
As this is a business hotel, there are not a lot of facilities here, although I understand there is a fitness centre, and a friend of mine enjoyed a sauna here. I gather there is a business centre here also. The hotel has wi-fi but it is not free. I don't remember the exact prices but when I checked, I wasn't even remotely tempted to pay it.
The hotel has a lovely airy bar-lounge-dining area on the ground floor we spent much of our time. It was modern, neutral toned, with lots of couches, and chairs. Drinks prices were at the expensive end of reasonable if a tad odd. I think a glass of vodka & coke was £4.67. Service behind the bar was friendly and efficient and even on NYE I didn't have to wait long to be served. On the first night we ate here from a set meal and I can say their chips are divine - chunky and golden. On NYE we had a buffet set up which would be different from usual, but the food was well cooked and well presented. However the usual menu in the lift looked appetising and a sample menu can be viewed online.
Breakfast was buffet style and served in the basement. Only one of the three lifts goes down to the basement - if able you can get out on the Ground Floor and walk down the stairs across the lobby. On our first morning it was quiet but I arrived at peak time on New Year's morning. Hot drinks - tea, coffee, hot chocolate are brought to your table on request, the rest is self-service. There are three juices: orange, apple and cranberry plus assorted breads which could be toasted and cereals. On the first morning I had a lovely fresh fruit salad - grapes, melon, pineapple, orange segments, apple etc, also yoghurt and fresh muesli if you wish. You could have a continental style cold meat and cheese selection, but the real winner was the Full English cooked brekkie. Again self service, but hot and fresh, with new stuff coming out regularly. Some of my friends were thrilled with the presence of black pudding. I don't eat meat but I enjoyed the grilled tomatoes, tasty mushrooms, baked beans and hash browns with a fried egg (although it was pot-luck if you got a runny yolk or not). Naturally plenty of sausages and bacon for those so inclined and you could go up as often as you like. It goes without saying that the breakfast area is clean and well looked after.
If you are attending functions here invariably you be in one of the function/meeting rooms of which there are several on the lower ground. We had a quiz in one and the room was a good size with sound equipment so the speaker can use a microphone with a small bar outside and complimentary hot drinks. As we had the hotel to ourselves for the main NYE event they transformed the ground floor bar/lounge area but I imagine they don't do that at any other time.
This is a four star hotel and I certainly felt that the standard of the hotel lived up to that rating, and the service was excellent at all times. If you are looking to stay in comfort in the area to attend a concert or an event at the NEC then I think this is a good hotel to choose.
Summary: A lovely hotel by the NEC