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A Night at the Etap
Etap Hotel Birmingham Centre (Birmingham)
Member Name: loulou22
Etap Hotel Birmingham Centre (Birmingham)
Advantages: Cheap and cheerful
Disadvantages: the shower door
I first started using the Etap hotel in Birmingham about 4 years ago when my friend suggested we booked a hotel for a night out as it would work out cheaper than getting taxi's home and it would be more fun. I asked how it was possible that it would be cheaper and she pointed out that (at the time) it was only £28 for a room and our individual taxi's in opposite directions are usually around £20 each. So I agreed as it did sound like fun being able to have a drink while getting ready to go out instead of just meeting in town. My friend booked the hotel the first time we stayed but the second time I booked.
The booking process was fairly straight forward with regards to navigating my way around the website; www.etaphotel.com and finding the Birmingham City Centre Etap. Once found I selected the date we were planning our night out for and selected one room. I was then taken to the page to enter my card details to reserve the room. You must enter card details to make a reservation however you don't actually pay for your booking until you check in at the hotel reception. I entered all my details and clicked to continue, however I was greeted by a web page telling me that my card cannot be used to make online reservations. It didn't give a reason why but gave me a phone number I could call to make my reservation, so I phoned the number and spoke to a pleasant lady who took all of my details again and explained that it must just be a fault with the system and that my reservation was fine. I accepted this reason as I know things can and do go wrong and thanked her for her help. The next booking I made using the Etap website was for an Etap in Paris when we decided to take our random road trips to the next level. Again I followed the online booking system and this time everything went through fine. However since then I have again tried to book online with Etap Birmingham and it keeps telling me I cant use my card to book online. I have asked the question why? but no one seems capable of answering this or investigating why this happens so instead of even trying it is now my friends who make the reservations and I just turn up, its easier this way.
With regards to city centre shopping the hotel is located approximately a 10 minute walk away from the main shops including the Bullring and also the bars, clubs and theatre are all within around a 20 minute walk depending on your walking speed.
After making the reservation the next thing to do was find exactly where the hotel is. I live in Birmingham and I drive past this hotel every morning on my way to work, however for those of you who don't live here it is nice to know that the hotel is relatively easy to find. It is on the Bristol Road not far from a junction with a big Mc Donalds on it. If you are arriving by bus or train it is about a 10 - 15 minute walk from most of the city centre stops and New Street train station. If you are arriving by car from the M6 motorway you will need to leave at J6 and follow signs to the A38(M) Aston Expressway, follow this road through 3 tunnels and as you come out of the 3rd tunnel you will see the hotel to the right of you, however you are on a dual carriageway so you will need to continue to the traffic lights and take a left up to the roundabout and then come back on yourself and turn right at the traffic lights to be on the right side of the road. The not so simple part then is finding the hotel car park. From taking the right at the traffic lights you need to take the 2nd turning on the left into a side road, follow this up to the end and turn right then the car park is on the right about half way along this little side road.
The car park itself is very small for such a large hotel, the hotel has I think around 240 - 250 rooms, however the car park only has approximately 30 - 35 spaces depending on how well people park. Driving up to the barrier you are either told the car park is full, in which case you will need to awkwardly reverse out of the entrance and try to find a parking space somewhere on the side roads. If it isn't full then you will be issued a ticket and the barrier will lift. The car park isn't free even for hotel guests. Last time I stayed there which was the beginning of this year sometime it cost me £3 for 24 hours. This is relatively cheap when you consider city centre parking prices, however if you can and you don't have too much luggage then I would park on the side streets it is free and although the area looks a bit dodgy in parts it is safe, I have done it many times with no problems.
After finding a parking space and meeting my friend we enter the hotel reception to check in. The reception area is a reasonable size with seating areas and computers for the internet, however you do have to pay to use these. There is Wifi available but again this is at a cost. To the left of the reception is an area with more seating and some tables for people who book breakfast with their room. The reception is always kept clean and has a pleasant smell. Usually we arrive around 3 or 4pm however we were told that we can check in from 12 noon. When we arrive there is usually a small queue at the desk but the staff are pretty efficient so we're not usually waiting too long. All the times we have stayed there we have found the reception staff to be pleasant and helpful. When you arrive at the desk you can either give them a print out of your reservation if you booked online, or if you booked by phone they can find you by your name. Once they have found your reservation they will ask you if you want to add breakfast to your booking, at around £7 we always say no as we favour walking into the city for a KFC instead! The person who made the booking will then be asked to fill in a form with name and address details, once this is done you will be given either one or two key cards and told which room number you are staying in. The key card also activates the lift. Finding your room is very easy. The numbers starting in 1 are 1st floor, 2 are 2nd and so on. After taking the lift to your relevant floor you will see the room numbers clearly signed with arrows to guide you along. Once you have located your room you need to swipe your key card in the door, a little green light will then flash and you can open the door.
Upon entering the room you will have a door to the one side which has a toilet in it, just beyond this there is a small sink and next to this a shower. A double bed takes up the majority of the room and above this there is a single bunk bed. In the corner there is a table and a TV above this and in the other corner there is a hanging area. There is a window in-between the table and the hanging area. The window has a blind that rolls up and down and the window itself can be opened but is on a safety catch so not very far. There are heating controls in every room though so you can keep the room as warm or cool as you like. The rooms we have stayed in have all had the same layout and are a good size. We have had 3 of us staying in a room on many an occasion and sometimes we have had 2 rooms between 6 of us and all got ready in the same room... admittedly this was more cramped but still possible.
On our return to the hotel after our night out I have a vague memory of a security guard on the door asking what room we were staying in and the name it was booked in and then crossing us off on a list. I presume this is for both security reasons and also to stop people sneaking more than 3 people into a room. Staggering back to our room didn't take long which highlights how easy it is to find your way around we enter the room and literally get changed and fall into bed. I have slept on both the double bed and the single bunk and surprisingly they are both really comfy and I have always had a decent nights sleep there.
The cleanliness of the rooms I have always found to be of a high standard, including all the bedding, the shower, sink and toilet. Even the floor always appears clean. The only grumble I have about the rooms is that they never leave a spare toilet roll even if it is obvious the old one is running low, but a quick trip down to reception and they will gladly give you a spare.
The shower in the room is concealed by a translucent door which has a hole in an inconvenient place to open and close it. As we are all friends who stay here we have a strict code of staying the other side of the room when we shower and also we usually hang a towel over the shower door just to be sure. The shower itself is easy to use, the temperature is easy to adjust and the shower heads are also always clean and have a nice water flow, not too strong but not too weak either.
Check out from the hotel is by 12 noon. You can pay a fee for a late check out if you wish. The check in procedure is simple, simply leave your room and return your keys to the reception and leave the hotel.
There is a car park pay machine by the exit door to the car park, simply put your ticket in the machine followed by your money and then your ticket will be returned to you. Then simply drive to the exit barrier, insert your ticket, the barrier will lift and you will have completed your Etap experience.
My overall opinion of the Etap hotel in Birmingham city centre is a good one. I have never had any problems with regards to cleanliness or comfort. I have always found the staff polite and helpful. I have just been on the website to check the current prices as I haven't stayed since the beginning of the year and they are actually advertising at rooms from £28 per room per night, however on my way to work this morning the board outside the hotel said rooms from £35, so your guess is as good as mine on this one!
I would recommend staying at the Etap in Birmingham city centre, the prices are reasonable and you will receive a good service. I have heard comments before now about people being rowdy in the corridors in the early hours, however I have not experienced this, I have always known the corridors to be quiet and I'm certain if there were any disturbances then the security staff they have would be quick to respond.
Thanks for reading :)
Summary: Great for a night out and cheaper than a taxi home
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