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Hilton Hotel Blackpool
Member Name: Ayesha-`
Hilton Hotel Blackpool
Date: 18/09/08, updated on 18/09/08 (210 review reads)
Advantages: Fairly priced, seaview rooms, clean
Disadvantages: Not really up to 4 star standards, some poor service
I've just pasted this review from my Ciao reviews with some minor editing but will return again shortly to make more changes. Sorry to those of you that have already read this!!
I apologise for the length of this review, but I have purposely broken it down into sections so readers can choose which bits are most relevant to them. Not everyone will have dinner in a hotel or use the gym facilities, for example, so just read which bits you want to. You can also just skip to the conclusion for a sum-up! Big thank you to anyone who manages to read the whole thing!!
To begin with, as like most of you I was not exactly happy with what Miss Spoilt Brat Paris Hilton has been up to recently. I find her annoying and the idea that any of our money may have indirectly played even a miniscule part in maintaining her irritatingly extravagant lifestyle most certainly was not favourable. Anyway, for this, I would like to apologise to the general public.
My distaste for such annoying celebrities as Paris therefore made me quite annoyed when my sister booked this hotel. I held my tongue and went along with it, but I have to admit the deal she got was impressive - £75 for a twin room per night (we booked two rooms for two nights) and free dinner on the first night, which came with a two night booking. Note, I whinge quite a bit about dinner although it's free, but I'm not a complainer just want to be as particular as I can so people thinking of paying to eat there will have an idea of what to expect.
My dad drove us to this hotel. It is based on the north end of the Blackpool beach, not far from the main attractions (lousy as they may be) and being on the seafront, an obviously good position, both for its views and for being easy to find. On the first day, however, we found ourselves entering the wrong way, so dad dropped the rest of us off to get checked in - dumping us with all the suitcases and headed off to find the car park. Actually, once you know where it is, it is not so hard to get into. Heading northbound, we just missed that turning the first time. Anyway, we were at least dropped right by the door. Some members of staff were hanging around by the door and did not exactly offer any help - we were looking a bit overloaded as dad left his bags with us too - so this seemed a little cold. Still, I started wheeling up the ramp to the front door.
We were greeted by a posh reception with a large and comfortable lounge area nearby. I thought to head towards the sofas whilst my sister checked us in, but the process was much faster than it has been in other hotels we have stayed in, so I did not get this chance. Often we find check-ins are a headache, but on this occasion, as my defensive mother began detailing the special offers seeking confirmation that we would receive our free meal that evening, the receptionist politely replied that it was all sorted. We relaxed a little after this.
Both of our rooms were located on the fop floor, and from what I have seen pretty much all the rooms come with a sea-view. This would be owing to the unusual architectural design of the building. The building is at an angle to the seafront, with all windows sides zigzagged between walls, so as to face the sea at a slight angle. I think the product picture provided by Ciao gives you a good idea of how this works - my description failing to make sense. The wall in the lower left corner is roughly in parallel with the seafront, if that helps.
For a hotel of this size, I found that the rooms were slightly small but satisfactory for our needs. There was ample space to put our suitcases on, plenty of hanging space and roomy drawers. We had good lighting at all angles, including all the typically expected lights - lamps by the dressing mirror, beside light, bright lighting in the bathroom and a good main light. The heating did not come on, which could have been a terrible thing as the weather was not particularly warm at this time, but the blankets were warm enough and we did not exactly need to spend too much time inside during the daytime.
The beds were quite comfortable and my sensitive skin and skin conditions were not affected by the sheets used. We had two big pillows, each that were of good quality and gave us a good, relaxed night's sleep.
Two hairdryers were supplied in each room - one in the bathroom hooked onto the wall and one in the bedroom on the dressing table. I didn't notice the one in the room (Braun) which was a normal hairdryer and tried to use the lousy thing in the bathroom that is probably not even meant to be a hairdryer. In fact, maybe it is a nail dryer...hehe
There is a trouser press, although frankly I have never used one of these. I don't even iron my clothes. My mum reckons they are a good thing to have and make life easier. In the cupboard we found and did not use an ironing board.
There was a decent sized mirror and plenty of dressing space on the table, which has an armchair chair in front of it and one big lamp on top. There is also a coffee table, but this only has one chair so seems to have little use other than for draping clothes on. Finally there are two large bedside tables, one with the phone on and also bible in the drawer on one side.
The tea tray included some posh teas and coffees (mainly by Twinings). There was a cheap kettle. For snacks we were given a couple of packets of shortbread biscuits. We were given glasses on the tea tray, but no water bottles. Not willing to assume the tap water was safe, we boiled it first and waited for it to cool.
The TV had only a few channels, that seemed to be randomly selected and not all known to me.
The unusual feature was that beneath the telly there was a Playstation, however you do have to pay to use it, although I am not sure how this works. Personally, I don't see the point to this in a hotel room when you are on holiday so we did not use it, but I accept that maybe people using hotels for business may leave their families inside and they might appreciate the entertainment.
WiFi Internet access is available but we could not set it up, instead we bought time cards to use the downstairs computers, which for half an hour were at the excessive price of £5. We found the Internet to be fast and easy to use.
There are some spare electricity sockets in the room, which are handy for chargers, especially since so many people now carry mobile phones and laptops.
As in many hotel rooms, there were paintings on the walls. Mostly these were pretty landscapes, which I quite like, rather than paintings of people that seem to stare at you at all angles or nudes. Landscapes are much more tasteful for a bedroom.
I saw a leaflet offering beauty treatments etc. at the hotel, but put it back down when I saw £50 for bridal make-up and other similar prices. I think it is mainly there for special occasions or Paris-like women.
I found this to be clean and well-lit as well as reasonably spacious. We had a big mirror, with towels nicely folded on the side.
The shower was easy to use and I had no problems with temperature or power as I normally expect in hotels. The shower curtain was a bit small but if the cleaners don't mind mopping & the floor is not too slippery (it didn't seem to be) I suppose that is not a problem.
There were little bottles of shampoo, shower gel and more unusually, conditioner, which was very nice. The make was Crabtree & Evelyn & I must say they were very good quality - my hair felt lovely & soft after using them on just the first night.
We were given gowns, which were left in packets on our beds - I didn't use mine but it looked good, albeit a bit large for us.
The biggest problems were that the door kept opening by its own free will. This was scary & potentially very, very embarrassing! Another slight niggle is that the drain has to be pushed in the sink or the sink will just fill with dirty water, so we had to use our bare fingers in the water each time to push the drain to get rid of the water.
I have separated the two days for breakfast as they both seemed quite different.
We had a notice left in our rooms to say that due to the high volume of visitors this weekend breakfast hours would be extended so it was 7.30 - 11.00
Having agreed that by 9.00am it would be very busy at breakfast my sister asked whether we should therefore aim to have breakfast at about 8.00 - despite the fact she hates early mornings. Mum started moaning straight away so eventually it was agreed that we would go at 9.30. We turned up at 9.45. As expected it was busy & the queues were very long - probably at their peak.
We did not have the cooked breakfast on the first day because a simple glimpse was enough to put us off. All the trays of cooked food were placed close together - meats with vegetarian stuff in between, probably with people using the same prongs for different dishes & we could also see food toppling over into other dishes which is no good if you are vegetarian.
The cereals available were the usual - Rice Crispies, Coco pops, Corn flakes, the healthier Bran flakes, Muesli packets & Weetabix packets. There were plenty of jugs of milk which I guess was semi skimmed as it tasted normal to me & that's what I usually have. At the very moment I went to get some cereal a lady near me admitted to taking the last two bowls lol. I had to ask a waiter to bring more but it took ages.
In the meantime I took some dried apricots, raisons & banana pieces (very sugary) that were also at the table on my side plate & looked at the available breads & pastries. There was white & brown bread/toast. The poached eggs looked good & my sister said they had some more cooked than others but I didn't want to risk it as I am slightly allergic to raw egg.
There were mini croissants - I tried one, it was very crumbly, although there are jam, honey & marmalade jars available. There were some things that looked like Danish pastries but I didn't try them. Then there were the mini round waffles. They were like pancake batter (you could smell it from the entrance) & they tasted fantastic. There was some maple syrup, or if you prefer the honey was thicker. We had quite a few of these among us. They were extremely popular so all freshly made & warm.
There were also some fruits in syrups that looked nice & had good choice but I didn't try them.
Service was poor, although we were offered tea & coffee plus juice & they arrived soon enough, that was about as far as it went. The coffee was awful, not just strong but absolutely disgusting. The juice was that cheap stuff that comes in 4pint milk-style bottles & did not taste fresh nor good.
On the second day I tried the cooked breakfast as it seemed a bit better presented. I had mushrooms, baked beans & hash browns. All very tasty, hash browns a bit oily but not as greasy as some I've had
I also asked for a hard boiled egg. I cannot eat soft boiled as I seem to have a kind of allergic reaction to raw egg, so I specifically required hard boiled & the waitress repeated me. Ages later, someone brought me a soft boiled egg, which swiftly went to waste as nobody else wanted it.
Croissants today were not as crumbly, but I only had one as I was really after something else...
Waffles with chocolate sauce today - I had four - they went really fast so each time they are replaced you have less than a minute to get them!
Toast with butter - again hard to get hold of the toast as it is done in batches & they take a long time to do, but they were all good - I only saw white bread but there may be brown batches that I did not see.
Today I decided to have tea as I did not like the coffee at all. It was much better. The orange juice was different & came 'with bits' , which I hate. I guess it was probably at least better quality juice.
Apart from the egg incident, the service was much better today - I think we had all different staff - certainly were some new faces.
Dinner in the restaurant
We had to book our dinner in advance when we checked in & it was only available at 8.30pm. We only arrived at the hotel at 7.00pm that day anyway so this was fair. The restaurant closes at 9.00pm but we stayed until about 10.00pm then left when they started putting out breakfast settings like jam etc.!
It was a buffet style dinner, & I'm not sure if this is typical but certainly not a good idea in my opinion for a restaurant of its kind - especially with so many waiters 'looking busy' - the area looked messy & the queues were very long.
Starters were salad or soup (either lentil or vegetable) - my soup portion was much smaller than the others - also the soups were spilt all around sides of the bowl so good thing there was a plate underneath the bowl. Presentation does not really bother me but it does show how enthusiastic the staff are. We had to ask for bread rolls which the waiter reluctantly brought - they looked like they'd been taken off someone else's plate as the people on the next table got a fresh full basket offered without even asking, yet ours had only five small rolls left in it & plenty of crumbs. My sister's bread knife seemed to be covered in rust but the rest of the cutlery was ok so we just took the starter knife to butter bread. I do find it quite off-putting when waiters put out dodgy cutlery & either do not notice or do not care that the cutlery is dirty. Nobody else seemed as bothered as me so I let this one go. The breads tasted ok, mine was wholemeal & I ate it, although I normally hate wholemeal. You get pieces of butter cut up on plate on the table, but they are no less hard to spread lol.
The main meal was a carvery, which does not suit our family, & we were told by a waiter & one chef that there was no vegetarian option, only cod. Funny, I know a lot of vegetarians that would not regard cod as an option! However, as we are not actually vegetarian completely, mum & I immediately asked for that thinking that was all there was, but when my sister asked the lady serving the actual buffet, who seemed quite nice, she said they also had a vegetable casserole & tortillas filled with vegetables & baked. My sister had this & I tasted it, it was very nice. Dad, on the other hand, had steak, but it was mostly fat which was disappointing for him; still he seemed happy enough. The cod was full of butter & far too rich; we had to ask them to drain off some of the excess fat as it was about 3/4mm deep covering the plate. It was very nice but I couldn't help being put off by so much butter, even if that is how it is meant to be eaten.
Because we wanted more choice, dad & I went & took salads from the 'cold starters' - I wasn't sure if we were allowed to but since it was late it would probably have been chucked anyway if we didn't. There was a huge variety, including waldorf salad with walnut oil rather than pieces that was quite tasty, a pasta salad, rice salads that I didn't try, lettuces, mixed bean salad with feta cheese that was really nice, cold meats - obviously I did not have, fruits (melon), & I also saw but didn't fancy grated carrot & orange pieces - weird combo but must be nice as I used to make carrot & orange soup & that's nice plus healthy. So basically they had foods from all over, if the main course seemed too English.
There were, of course, also accompaniments like mixed vegetables - sugarsnap peas, turnip sticks, carrot sticks & green beans; there were also some crispy & very oily roast potatoes, cauliflower (no thanks!) & some dodgy looking boiled celery (eww). So there was a fair mix of healthy & indulgent options & as it is a buffet, you are free to choose either but you do need to have a bit of self discipline that can be hard to do when you are there.
There was a huge choice of puddings - tartlets - cheesecake like, with berries & cream in, a gateau, a chocolate type cake with pecan nuts on top, custard, cream, sauces in big jugs - including rich dark chocolate sauce which went well with all the puddings. The ones we tried were delicious but very heavy & rich so certainly left me feeling a little sick after. There was also fruit salad but we ate too many vegetables to care to look & besides we were on holiday - that's my excuse anyway! There is a table were you can make yourself teas & coffees for after your meal. There are flasks of hot water & milk plus after dinner chocolates like in restaurants - just dark chocolate with a subtle mint flavour. Having tried one, we took a few of those.
I'm never keen on self service because people touch the food, spill it everywhere and make a mess, use same utensils for different food - unhygienic and not nice if you have dietary needs. The 'waiters' - of which there seemed to be about 20 for some reason - did not seem particularly keen to help or nice, which put me off a bit, although they did come back once to check if we got our non-meat meals ok.
When visiting the leisure centre, you must sign in and out - I guess because I it is also used by public and probably for safety reasons. The reception area, where you sign in and pick up towels is smart and overlooks the small swimming pool. There are some tables and chairs for people to relax there. I was not impressed however, to find vending machines filled with unhealthy food that would tempt people who have just been working out to put all those calories back on!
Changing rooms (Ladies, anyway)
Quite a small changing room, although to be fair the whole leisure centre is very small.
In fact there was only one small cubicle with a curtain. There are plenty of lockers considering the size! You need to use a £1 coin for the locker, which you get back. They are typically tall & thin, which, to me makes them awkward for storage.
There is a swimsuit cooler that takes 5-10 seconds & removes water from your swimming costume & I thought is quite nice to have in leisure centres.
You can only pick up towels in the main reception area, there are none in the changing rooms so make sure you take one in - I forgot this when I went swimming & had to ask someone to get me one
There are two showers, which were very nice with conditioning shampoo & shower gels by Crabtree
Although I was not planning on showering after the swim until I got back to the room, we were short of time & I was already impressed with the condition of the showers, so I happily used them. The sinks also had very nice hand wash & hand lotion.
There was one toilet but on the first day it was filthy & it smelt awful throughout changing room thanks to some disgusting woman that pooed all over the bowl & left it like that - I felt sick for an hour after seeing that & was nearly put off returning the next day - loos must not be checked often enough though
We went twice to the gym & on both days it was empty. I quickly get bored so it was nice to be able to hop from one machine to the next. Also, it is very small with a few different machines crammed in including cycling, rowing machines & treadmills. It would be a nightmare to share with more than 7 or 8 people. The machines have the usual options for exercising & are fairly easy to use if you have used a gym before, with some basic instructions stuck on them in case you are not sure. A couple of cycling machines we couldn't get to work on the first night.
There was also an abs exercise thing (not electric but no idea what it is called) with instructions that were clear, one water cooler, mirrors all around that made me self-conscious in spite of the lack of people, glass screens so everyone can see in which means there was not really a lack of people but rather an external audience, which made me a bit nervous because I'm a bit on the fat side & also rubbish at exercising any longer than 20 minutes! The gym has its own towels so no need to bring one in, but there were only a few left on the table so you might need to check.
The pool goes to 1.2 m depth on deep end & it was quite small & busy so hard to properly swim lengths so not really for the serious swimmer - more for just messing about. There are lots of signs saying no jumping, diving etc. but clearly they were not enforced as some kids were, even in the shallow end, jumping in despite the presence of staff who just ignored them. There are also signs in changing rooms reminding you to shower before using the pool, but I doubt staff would notice if you did not.
The water was reasonable in temperature but seemed to have far too much chlorine. It got to a point where my eyes were actually starting to burn & I had to get out. I suspect it did affect my skin a little but I can't say for certain as I have skin problems anyway. Most people seemed to be alright in the water so I imagine it was not a harmful amount, but enough to make it uncomfortable.
There are some benches around the pool to put towels on.
Sauna & Steam room
On the second day I tried the steam room. It was not as hot as others I have used, which for me is a good thing because I find it a bit too painful on my eyes, but for some it may not be sufficient. I suppose you can always request that they check it. The steam room fits about 4/5 average sized people quite comfortably. I also gave the sauna a go. It is an old style sauna where you can increase the temperature by pouring water onto the coal. I never really understood how these things work. There is a button to request more water. The sauna seats 3 or 4 people & is a little bit more cramped than the steam room. Personally I would probably not want to go in if there were people I didn't know using it already as it would be awkwardly close!
Checkout is at midday, which I think is a fair time, leaving you plenty of time to relax at breakfast (I hate having to rush) & we even had the chance to go back to the gym before we ate because of the extended breakfast times.
At the price we paid, this hotel was a bargain. I would not recommend having dinner in the restaurant if the standards of service we received are anything to go by. Don't expect much from the Leisure centre. The rooms are fairly good, comfortable & there is nothing I can think of that can be altered. Breakfast was the best thing for me. As a 3-star hotel, this one lives up to expectations, but I really think it has the potential to do a whole lot better for itself.
I recommend it as a budget hotel.
Summary: A reasonable hotel with good offers, if you are on a budget.
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