“ Junction 15, M40, Stratford Road, Warwick, Warwickshire. Tel: +44 (0)1926 499 555 Fax: +44 (0)1926 410 020. Local attractions include Warwick Castle and Cadbury World. It's also only 7 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's home-town). „
At least once a year, my partner's ex-university friends and their other halves and children all get together for a bevy or two. The group is spread all around the country from Essex to Leeds, and we have found Warwick to be a convenient spot for us all to meet. We book a package of one night, evening meal and breakfast at the weekend and look forward to a good time. Therefore this review is based upon two visits in two years for a family gathering at the weekend - 22 adults and 11 children (help!). ** LOCATION ** The 4 star Hilton Warwick is situated right by Junction 15 of the M40, so even I managed to find it easily and it is convenient for most areas of the country by motorway. It is a 15 minute walk into Warwick along a country road, so taking a car is advisable. It is 20 miles from Birmingham International airport, 20 miles from the NEC, 7 miles from Stratford upon Avon and 1.5 miles from Warwick station. Local attractions include Warwick Castle, Stratford upon Avon, Cadbury World and the Heritage Motor Centre. There is a car park around the hotel that has an entry and exit barrier, but it is free if you are staying at the hotel. Wherever you are in the hotel, if the windows are open you can hear the motorway traffic, so it is not a quiet country hotel. However, there are loads of rabbits in the grass surrounding the hotel, so it does have its fair share of wildlife. ** RECEPTION ** The building initially looks like a very large bungalow, with a revolving door setting into motion when it senses your presence. You enter into what looks like a long corridor with the bar/restaurant on your left and the reception on your right. Checking in was simplicity itself, although there was quite a queue. We gave the receptionist our credit card to swipe, filled in a simple registration card, and were given our pass key and directions to the room. We were offered a wake-up call and a newspaper. As you walk towards your room, there are
lots of lit cabinets selling various tourist items and jewellery, which I'm not too sure about, as it looks a bit tacky. There are a number of chairs and sofas arranged around the nearby bar, but no chairs actually near the reception area. Being a modern building, there is no atmosphere, apart from giving the impression of a functional area. The receptionists I came into contact with were all exceptionally helpful and friendly, dealing with difficult adults and children alike. Checking out was also simple, although there was one flaw in their quick check out system. They printed an invoice up to 2:00 a.m. which was placed under your door, so that you could just leave the pass key and signed invoice and avoid queues in the morning. However, to exit the car park without paying you need a token, so we ended up queuing for that anyway. ** ACCOMMODATION ** The hotel has a total of 181 bedrooms on 3 floors. Lifts are available for people who require them, but the rooms can be quite a distance if you get one towards the back of the building. We had booked a double room, which was average sized - you could walk around the bed with ease. There were individual bed lights, tea and coffee making facilities, a comfy double bed, iron, built in wardrobe, desk, telephone, trouser press, two hairdryers and a colour TV with pay per view films and keyboard (I presume for internet access, but I didn't try). The en-suite bathroom included a fully tiled bath with a shower and the usual free soap, shampoo and shower gel (which I didn't pinch!). The netted window opened out onto the car park and had a safety catch to ensure it could not be fully opened for someone to climb in, as we were on the ground floor. All in all a very pleasant room, with ample furnishings, well decorated, clean and well maintained. Family rooms consist of a double bed, a single bed and a pull out bed. Last time we came, one of our friends had a problem with not bein
g offered the children's menu so paid for an adult's meal. When they complained they were offered an upgrade to an executive room the next time they stayed, so took advantage of this offer this time. This appeared to be very similar to the family rooms, but with bathrobes included. ** FACILITIES ** Most Hilton Nationals have a Livingwell health club situated inside the hotel. The Hilton Warwick is no exception and includes a very small heated swimming pool and gym. There is also a sauna and steam room available. Towels and toiletries are provided and you can even buy swimwear and goggles if you have forgotten yours. Most of the children in our group used the pool, making it a waste of time for adults wishing to actually swim, certainly I avoided it like the plague. There are some meeting rooms, which are heavily used during the week, and I found one conference room, which last time we were there was hosting some snooker tournament. If you have children in your party, they are offered an activity pack. There are two different packs for different ages. The younger one consists of a sports-type water bottle, some crayons and a colouring/quiz book, with the older one substituting the book with a filofax type folder. A very nice touch, which the children really appreciated. ** FOOD AND DRINK ** The bar stocks most popular drinks, including my favourite Smirnoff Ice. They are reasonably expensive, but not quite London prices. You can sit around the many tables, but we found it a bit difficult being such a big group as it is (understandably) laid out for smaller groups. The service is incredibly slow, I have rarely seen anything like it. Mind you we were ordering 33 drinks at a time I suppose! Bar snacks are also available, such as chips, sandwiches etc. Again these are expensive, a small flapjack being an incredible £1.95 (but I couldn't resist). I loved the restaurant as the food was excellent. As we had pre-booked, they had
rearranged the seating so that we were on one long table. The area was large, bright and well decorated. They provided high chairs for the babies and toddlers. The children all ordered from a special menu with the usual pasta and chips type foods and children under 5 got their meal free. The rest of us had a choice of soup or help yourself salad for a starter. The main course was an eat as much as you like carvery with a wide choice of meats, potatoes and vegetables. I had lamb steaks, which were succulent and tasty. The pudding was an array of cold desserts such as gateaux and cheesecake, and I can highly recommend the lemon cheesecake. We stayed in the restaurant until we were kicked out at about midnight so that they could lay the tables for breakfast. The children basically took over the whole restaurant area, despite there being other guests there. A few times the waitress rescued a kid just as he was about to do something silly and brought him back to his mother. The staff showed infinite patience as the kids rushed around playing and couldn't remember who had ordered what. The children were rolling around the floor and jumping up and down the steps, but the staff were very careful when they were carrying food not to trip over them or accidentally hurt them. Breakfast was glorious. Again, eat as much as you like buffet style, it included a selection of fruits, fruit juices and cereals for those pretending to be healthy. For the majority there were all manner of hot delights - sausages, bacon, black pudding, hash browns, tomatoes, beans, egg, mushrooms and endless toast. For my third course (!) I also had a choice of muffins and Danish pastries. Tea and coffee is constantly available. ** THE COST ** We paid £138 for a double room, breakfast and evening meal. The prices quoted on the internet are £54 per person per night with a £54 single supplement Monday to Thursday reducing to £20 Friday to Sunday. It is worth investi
gating special weekend deals for this hotel, as it is full of business people during the week, so they try and get people in for weekends by offering deals. ** HOW TO BOOK ** The address is: Hilton Warwick Stratford Road Warwick Tel: 01926 499555 Fax: 01926 410020 You can book on-line at: www.hilton.com/hotels/WARHNHN ** SERVICE ** It is worth mentioning a few examples of the excellent service we received here. The children often went and asked the receptionists for a lot of things, like for another water bottle, their lost toys and a football game they had seen earlier. The staff were superb, being very helpful and patient with the multiple queries. I left my handbag in the bar when I went for the meal (too many Smirnoff Ices I'm afraid). The staff had put it behind reception for me and after questioning me about its contents, handed it over. There were many incidents during the meal that could have got the staff wound up, all involving the noisy and naughty children, but they handled it wonderfully and the children and parents were left feeling satisfied. ** THE VERDICT ** If I had come to the hotel for a quiet romantic weekend, I would have been sorely disappointed by the children running riot. However, from the point of view of the parents in the group, they had a marvellous time and we will probably be going back for a third time next year. The staff were outstanding with the children. The rooms were good and the food was plentiful and superb. Although not cheap, I believe you got what you paid for in this instance. Therefore this hotel comes highly recommended, unless you are on your honeymoon, in which case, avoid, avoid, avoid!
The Hilton at Warwick is under the Hilton National banner, their lower level of hotel, usually pretty much on a par with Forte Post house or Marriott hotels. The biggest draw for this hotel is its’ location. It is just on the M40 Warwick junction, making it almost impossible to get lost on your way here. It also makes a great base for further travelling. You can walk into Warwick, but I would only advise this on a fine day, in full daylight as there is not a pavement all the way. The hotel is popular with business users, there is often a selection of training courses, conferences and sales meetings going on. The rest of the weekday visitors tend to be American tourists on their way to tick the Castle and Stratford off their vacation laundry list. Weekends are quieter and you can get some good short break prices. The hotel does have a gym and pool, provided by ‘Living Well’. Unfortunately the gym is tiny with just five or six pieces of equipment crammed into a small space. The pool is big enough to get wet in, but not spacious enough for a swim. You can opt instead just to have a sauna, or work up a sweat in the steam room. The breakfast is Stakis style, with a hot buffet offering full English and Scottish ranges, including black pudding and haggis. Pastries, cereal and fruit are available for those of a more delicate constitution. You can get a breakfast on room service, but expect to pay extra for a hot meal. The food is standard Hilton stuff, with room service options including burger or chicken and chips, or steak dinners. The restaurant has recently undergone an overhaul and now boasts the ‘Britisserie’. This is rather like a British themed bistro. Portions are hearty and the food itself is good, but the service tends to be slow and distracted. Bar meals are provided by Hiltons answer to Starbucks, but sadly it is rather a feeble answer. Rooms are large enough with
plenty of space to work. Movie channels are pay per view, but you do get sports and news channels in room. The Hilton has tried to pull its’ socks up over the last year because a Holiday Inn Express has opened on the opposite side of the road. As this motel charges just half of the Hiltons rack rate, I must admit it is my first choice. The rooms are a little smaller, there is no room service and breakfast is nothing to write home about, but I can cope with that at the price. The Hilton is OK if you are planning on staying in the hotel rather than exploring, but for my own hard earned cash I’d go to the Holiday Inn, and leave the Hilton to the expense account crew.