“ Address: Bath Road / Bournemouth / Dorset BH1 2EW / England „
If it came down to location The Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth has the location to die for, part of the prestigious De Vere group the Royal Bath is situated on Bournemouth's sea front, just a few yards from the beach, pier, park and Oceanarium. This grand looking hotel offers a fair bit of promise externally as it dominates a large portion of the sea front.
Our arrival was different to say the least, as we stepped in the door we were greeted by a selection of guests who were incredibly overdressed leading me to believe initially I was far too common to be gracing the hotel with my rather dowdy presence. A double take of the rather grand looking double staircase pretty much re-iterated that fact. Luckily enough human nature quickly showed me I was very much in the right place, the reception desk was manned by four staff one of which was busy trying to authorise an impending guests debit card, while the other three were engaged in conversation with a man. "I'm not f**king going in there, they are at it" stated the man rather excitedly, it quickly became apparent that he was a maintenance man. The use of the F word allowed me to relax, I was obviously with my own kind, while I can behave myself the F word is becoming a real favourite with me, when the cluster broke up and we were finally served I was tempted to say "Hi do you have a f**king reservation under the name Hawken!" but the girl who served us seemed so lovely I thought I'd better behave myself.
Despite the sudden downward spiral this young lady soon picked things up, professional was not the word. She asked me if I'd had a good day, offered to book a table for me, and recommended an alternate place for me to eat as she prepared my key card. I again started to feel a little out of place as the receptionist told me how great the stairs looked for photography in an evening dress, evening dress I thought more like jeans and a shirt.
Having been directed to the room, mine being room 131 the top of the stairs creates a little confusion. Logic tells you that if you write a sign giving direction to a room it would be good if it was straightforward. On two adjacent walls you have signs pointing you in the opposite direction, this probably needs some explanation. Say there were two rooms one was 131 and one was 132, now if one was to the left the other to the right to me it would make sense to say 131 to the left 132 to the right. What you actually see is 132 written on the left wall pointing to the right and vice versa. So initially I thought I was going right when I should have been going left. I appreciate that this is a small issue, but its incredibly disorientating.
The room was interesting, a bit like a trip back to the 1970's; that nasty melamine furniture with ridged facing (apologies if you have this in your room), a TV cabinet you needed a couple of A-Levels to understand, and a huge double bed that was actually two single bases with a 6 foot mattress chucked precariously on top. It all looked just a little bit wrong. On the plus side the room was huge, with an amazing bay window sadly facing onto the street, and a couple of fireside chairs and a table should you not want to sit on the bed. Other features included a good sized desk, mini bar (sadly empty but ca be filled on request) and a pointless desk cum table come..... Butchers slab!?!?!?! Okay I'm being over critical, forget the dated look this is a pretty nice room, the bed was incredibly comfortable, the room was warm, and most importantly it was quick and easy to get to from the entrance.
The biggest surprise came when I explored the bathroom; the bathroom was bigger than some of the hotel rooms I have stayed in. Divided by minor partitions the bath/shower, sink, and toilet were all in separate sections. While there was no privacy as such it created the impression, and most importantly with its Victorian wood carved dividers made the bathroom the most inviting aspect of the room. The bath was oversized so if you enjoy bathing in company you'd be more than happily catered for.
My big criticism of the room comes from the De Vere's website which promised both Wifi access and an in room playstation. Unable to receive Internet access via my dongle (mobile broadband) I found myself without Internet access for my stay, there was not even a wired Internet option like a lot of hotels have. I could happily live without a playstation, but if I had company that had been expecting it like one of my kids, it could undoubtedly lead to disappointment.
Breakfast is available either separately or as part of an all inclusive option on your tariff. Breakfast is one of the big plusses for my stay, because it's a buffet style that invites an all you can eat mentality. They say breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day so I over indulged on my mini-croissants and a full English breakfast, several glasses of orange and toast.
Checkout was quick and painless.
The Royal Bath Hotel is a four star hotel, it has a spectacular looking pool (which I never used), two restaurants and a clothing store, the bar area is enormous. Outside you have a magnificent looking garden that overlooks the sea. The hotel has 131 rooms in three different room types standard, executive, and suite. Room prices vary from season to season, from night to night.
Now I know I have seen critical however it's worth pointing out the following, I paid £140 for a night in a room right in the heart of Bournemouth, on a Saturday night. My £140 included breakfast, although I could have had room only for £120. I should have been in a standard room but I suspect that low turn out or overbooking in the standard room type option may have got me upgraded to an executive. Two months ago I paid nearly £80 to stay in a bug ridden Travelodge on the outskirts of Brentwood with no inclusive food. I think my £140 was incredibly well spent, I had a good comfortable room, excellent location, a bath that's was just amazing, and a great breakfast.
The De Vere charges a premium price and delivers a good service, while budget hotels like Travelodge offer more often than not substandard rooms and a price that's always above the advertised rate.
Bournemouth is one of my favourite destinations on the South coast. It takes me back to happy memories of summer holidays here as a child. In my younger days we would rent a house from a friend each year along with a beach chalet and we would make our way down to this seaside destination in the first two weeks of the summer holiday every year for the first thirteen years of my life.
As I got a little older, I realised that in fact I had not visited this much loved child hood place for over a decade and decided that it was time to return. This time I had my own family with me and stayed in Bournemouth itself rather than its suburb of Boscombe. The final thing to decide on was of course, where to stay?
As a little girl on these summer visits I have on many occasions looked on enviously at the large Grand white building which is of course The Royal Bath hotel. It stands so elegantly next to the sea and dominates the approach to the pier area from the road. The outside of the building emits and aura of grand luxury and I often dreamt of just setting foot inside. With this in mind and with my first return to this treasure trove of childhood memories this is where we would be staying. We booked a family room for two nights online for a total of £250 including breakfast and off we went with buckets and spades in tow.
*Arrival & check in*
We arrived at the hotel to find that we had to pay £15 per night to park our car in the hotel garage car park. Of course, this was not a very good start to our stay to say the least as this had not previously been mentioned. Our hotel stay for £250 had jumped to £280 in a matter of seconds!
We entered the hotel and headed directly towards the reception area where we were greeted by a friendly receptionist whom after speaking to the manager we managed to haggle away our parking charge! We were given our room key and off we went to find our room. First impressions of the hotel were improving. Although we had a rocky start with the surprise parking charge, they had managed to resurrect themselves. The hotel from what we had seen so far was good. The décor and furnishings looked elegant and appeared to fit in with the atmosphere of the hotel with its fine sweeping staircases and fine furniture.
As we had booked the family room, we did expect the room to be of a good size and it did not disappoint. To our delight we had also been upgraded to one of the sea view rooms. This was absolutely delightful and the view was stunning especially as we had chosen to visit over the few sunny days of the summer!
As promised, the room had play station facilities for the children which was a Godsend to us after two busy days and gave us the added bonus of an hours relaxation whilst the children played on this. The furniture was of a good standard, there were high backed chairs, table, dressing table and a wardrobe in our room. We had the expected extras such as mini bar and air conditioning, television, and complimentary water. The beds were a good size and very comfortable with an ample amount of pillows. The bathroom was a good size too and had a good range of complimentary toiletries for us to use.
The downside to the room was that compared to the other De Vere chain hotels which I have visited, I found the décor to be slightly dated and did not seem to be up to the standard of their other hotels.
Breakfast is served in the light and airy garden room and offers a wide time span so can suit the early bird or those who wish to have a lie in. We found the breakfast buffet to have a good variety of foods with a hot and cold selection. The breakfast was self serve and offered hot food in the style of the traditional English breakfast, toast cereals, pastries, yoghurts and fruit. The breakfast buffet was of very high quality and the breakfast staff were very friendly and helpful.
There were two bar areas in the hotel. The lounge was the area that we used the most and was a very nice and calm environment. We enjoyed afternoon tea in here on the afternoon of arrival which was a selection of sandwiches, scones and tea. It was a relatively formal experience but still relaxed at the same time and compared to a café, this afternoon tea was relatively pricey, however, in a hotel environment it did seem to be relatively well priced and was very enjoyable indeed.
The other bar area specialized in different kinds of Whiskey and was more of a bar environment that the lounge. We much preferred the lounge as we found that it was a more relaxed and informal area with the children.
The hotel has its own restaurant named 'Oscars' and its own bistro. Although the menu looked very tempting with many choices of fish to suit its seaside location we chose not to dine here. The restaurant looked very elegant with its wood paneling and chandeliers, however it appeared to be an area that I would prefer to dine in without the children.
Along with the above leisure areas, the hotel boasts its own spa, gym and swimming pool. Sadly as our stay was very short and the weather was good, we did not get to try any of these facilities, however the spa treatments did look very tempting. If we had of stayed at the hotel during the colder months then I am sure that we would have taken advantage of the indoor heated pool with its Jacuzzi and the steam room, however with the summer sun, it seemed to much of a shame to neglect the beautiful beach.
Although we had a very nice stay here, I did find the standards to be below the usual De Vere standards. The hotel was elegant though dated and looked in need of a re decoration and some areas needed a touch of tender loving care. Although the facilities on offer were also equal to other hotels in the chain, again, these facilities still did not feel as though they compared in quality. The advantage point to the Royal Bath is by fa
r its location, this cannot be beaten.
Bearing in mind, the dated décor and the surprise parking fee, I am sad to say that this does drop my rating of the hotel. I found the rate that we paid of £250 for two nights with breakfast was about right. I certainly would not have been happy if I had been expected to pay the hotels standard charge.
Will I return again?
It depends on the offer and the price although sadly I wouldn't rush to book another stay.