Newest Review: ... bar of soap). Luckily we'd noticed a maid cart on the corridor as we arrived so I darted out to ask for an additional towel. I was very imp... more
A Core Hotel
Etap Hotel Birmingham Centre (Birmingham)
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Etap Hotel Birmingham Centre (Birmingham)
Advantages: Triple rooms, decent breakfast
Disadvantages: Odd shower set up, cramped rather than cosy
There are, as you would expect, a lot of hotels in Birmingham . Since we wanted a room for 3 adults, that narrowed the selection somewhat, as did budget since we were staying Saturday and Sunday nights, and the former seems automatically to equate to hiked prices. We ended up at the Etap, a brand I regularly drive past in Manchester but one I've never stayed in as it met both criteria - with triple rooms available for reasonable prices.
I booked directly with the hotel and received an email confirmation along with all sorts of James Bond style instructions regarding check in and obtaining keys and having to get an access code from the machine outside the hotel unless I was arriving within a specific 2 hour period. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when we arrived at noon to find the reception open and a boring, normal check in process. We got a key card and directions to our room, but no information about breakfast timing or anything so we thought maybe we'd find that upstairs.
I'm not sure what I had expected, but our room was definitely on the compact side and had a touch of cruise-liner to it in the way the space was used. The first thing we noticed was that they had indeed turned a normal space for 2 into accommodation for 3 by going up rather than out. We had a double bed (just a double, mind, nothing nice like a Queen or glorious King) and above it was a single bunk which was accessible from a ladder at one side, a little too high to climb into without it, but you could probably tumble over the side and onto the bed without hurting yourself too much. All the beds came with sheet and duvet bedding, though only the main bed was made up. We'd booked it as a triple (and standard doubles are also available) but they clearly hadn't paid any attention to this as we were only provided with 2 towels (and one measly bar of soap). Luckily we'd noticed a maid cart on the corridor as we arrived so I darted out to ask for an additional towel. I was very impressed with the service of the (Brummie) chambermaid as she immediately stopped what she was doing and went to fetch me not one but 3 more towels. It sounds like a lot, but between three of us we had one each, threw down one as a bath mat, and had one for hand drying by the sink so that took care of all of them. The next day the room was made up, towels removed and only 2 fresh ones left. Sigh.
There wasn't really anywhere to sit in the room which is more inconvenient when there are 3 of you. We had a mini desk with one stool but no other chairs, so it was a case of picnicking on the bed or on the floor. Storage was also limited to 5 coat-hangers on an exposed rail with no drawers or wardrobe. When there are multiple people in a room, things can look messy quickly so this didn't help matters. The double bed had bedside shelves (you couldn't call them tables) which jutted out just enough to hold a book and a bottle of water. The bunk bed had nothing but was against the wall and had a wrap around edge so you could sleep with stuff next to you.
The room had interesting lighting including an illuminated waist-high bar that was independent from the main lights and could be switched on from the over-bed controls. Both beds had bedside (technically bed-over) lights with their own switches, and the double bed had these at both sides. There was a TV too which glowed an alluring red dot all night, but only got switched on for X Factor results and then gave a fuzzy performance...unless that was just the contestants.
The oddest part of the room was the bathroom, or lack thereof. Instead of a separate room, we had 3 individual bits, a sink just across from the double bed, a shower cubicle and a toilet in what can only be described as a cupboard. In some ways it was helpful because one person could brush teeth while another showered, for example, but it also meant a total lack of privacy not least because the shower had an opaque-but-still-see-through door to it. There were certainly some design quirks that stood out: the shower was powerful but there was no where to hang your towel meaning you pretty much had to step back into the main room naked, or faff around opening the door a smidge and pawing blindly for your towel. The toilet was declared higher than a normal loo (my mother is a connoisseur of these things, rarely willing to pass a ladies' room without paying a visit) and the door made it a little claustrophobic, especially when it was hard to open again from the inside.
The hotel describes the room as having a "modern, relaxing design". Overall I would say it couldn't really be described as comfortable when fully occupied but it was fine for a few nights as we didn't plan on spending much time there aside from for sleeping. The rest of the hotel was the same - practical but not a place to linger. Facilities were limited to a few chairs in reception and some computer stations, and an odd service-station styled café/shop which doubled as the breakfast area.
We had booked breakfast in advance but it seemed you could also pay on the day. Signs in the lift and in the vestibules indicated the timings and had a very specific display of what we could expect so we went down wondering whether we really would get Nutella and were not disappointed. The breakfast was spread out along the side of the reception desk and was a decent spread for the money, with things being regularly restocked. Hot food was limited to toast but there were also croissants and baguettes (a bit on the large size for breakfast, so we split one), jam AND marmalade AND honey AND Nutella (plus rather frozen butter that needed wafting over the toaster to make it spreadable), different types of cheeses, fruit, cereals and chocolate and blueberry muffins (plastic wrapped so perfect for keeping for later). The orange juice was a bit nectar-like, while they'd run out of the apple, and the coffee was basic, but all in all it was perfectly acceptable and we found different things to eat each day.
The hotel is on a main road but our room overlooked the car park and the back and was quiet enough even though we were right next to the lift as well. The temperature was more of a problem as the window had a safety catch on so couldn't be opened properly (though on the plus side it did have a nice blackout blind). There was air con which was definitely needed, even in Birmingham in November, as we discovered to our peril the first night. Small room + lots of people = heating up fast.
We were back and forth between here and the NIA, New St station and the Christmas markets, and we could walk to all easily though it wasn't an especially attractive location. A sign outside promised a Spar a few minutes up the road but we didn't find this though there was an old-man pub and some delightful exterior corridor council flats.
I didn't know much about Etaps before but would now put them on the list near Premier Inns or the more modern Travelodges. It's not a luxury brand that you'd choose from a special treat trip (or a dirty weekend) but the accommodation is clean and well maintained, the location at least for this one is convenient and the price appropriate for what you get.
We paid £46.95 for Saturday night, and £28.95 for the Sunday, room only for 3 people.
You pay separately for the extras: breakfast is just under £4 a head, while wifi can be bought on an hour or daily bundle.
Etap is part of the Accor group: www.accorhotels.com
Tel :0121 622 7575
1 Great Colmore Street
Summary: A functional hotel near the centre
More reviews in the field of Hotel National
- Comfy in the City
- Best place for ribs
- Falcon's Rest
- A 4-star only if they give a rating for the longest cobwebs
- Messing about on the water
- Parking was quite a walk
- Stay in Dorset on the Isle of Wight
- North Star Hotel Good value for Dublin shopping and shows at the O2
- No way is this a Blackpool hotel?!
- Stay where Nelson's ships were built.
- Travelodge (Penrith)
- Quality Hotel (Paddington)
- Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel
- Travelodge (Glasgow Central)
- Travelodge (Manchester Central Arena)
- Spa Hotel (Lancashire)
- Mercure Hull Royal Hotel (Kingston Upon Hull)
- Quality Hotel and Suites (Cardiff)
- Quality Hotel (Chester)
- Quality Hotel (Hampstead)