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Great at what it does - But Don't Holiday In Ashford, for Gawd's sake!
Holiday Inn (Ashford Central)
Member Name: andymcf
Holiday Inn (Ashford Central)
Date: 06/07/04, updated on 06/07/04 (69 review reads)
Advantages: Location - if you're using the Eurostar
Disadvantages: Location - if you aren't using the Eurostar!
This review will possibly suffer from the usual DooYoo capitalisation problem. I've never managed to get my head around this - despite kind offers of help! I do hope that you enjoy the content, nevertheless!
Regular readers - and I love you all to bits - will no doubt once again raise their eyebrows Heavenwards in supplication one more time when they read that I've just stayed in a hotel in Ashford, Kent. This time, however successfully I have managed to root out an undesirable holiday location - and, believe me, it is - there was method in my madness. It may be a convenient conference location, but there are certainly better centres from which to explore Kent, the "Garden of England". Try Canterbury, for example. It's where I live and it's less than 20 miles from Ashford. So why, exactly, did I do it?
Baby Josh and I decided that Amanda needed a weekend away (?Mothering Sunday? was looming) and we arranged a short break in Brussels. The best way to get to Brussels from the South East of the UK is by Eurostar, without a shadow of doubt, and if you live in Kent then Ashford International Station is the station of choice. There are some superb hotels in Ashford ? and by that, I?d highlight the ?Eastwell Manor? ? and there are also some very good ones. We chose the Holiday Inn Ashford Central on this occasion ? it was good value and suited the purpose more than adequately. Most importantly, it was less than a ten minute drive from the Ashford International railway station ? very important when an early departure on the Eurostar is combined with preparing the infamous 2 ½ year old baby Josh for the journey. It also helped us to relax the might before the voyage.
OK ? so, having explained away the reason for staying in this cultural backwater, let me run you through what was actually a very pleasant experience.
I booked the stay on-line through the Holiday Inn website ? or Six Continents, earning ?Priorit
y Club? points in the process. Standard rooms were available for £49. The hotel has 103 rooms, including 8 ?Executive? rooms and for a reasonable £57 I got one of these. Not a bad price for an upgrade, I thought.
We arrived in the early evening and parked in the free car park. The hotel is a modern, low-level (2 floors) building and is welcoming whilst being neither unattractive nor architecturally inspiring. A well-lit pagoda-style porch leads to the reception area.
The reception desk is on the right as you enter the cosy lobby and the staff were efficient and very friendly, correctly confirming our reservation and assigning us to room 202. In most British hotels, I would have hit button 2 on the lift / elevator. In this case, we would have ended up in the rafters ? except that there was, in fact, no lift. Disabled guests shouldn?t worry, since there are plenty of ground floor rooms. We, however, trundled up the stairs to our room, passing a table full of complementary newspapers, and loads of rather quaint prints by a local artist (each for sale at £59) on our way.
Our key card gained us access to the room and, although fairly compact, we were very happy. Clean, white decoration, comfortable double bed with plain white duvet. Sofa and footrest, minibar and (small) workspace, telephone with data port were all there, together with an interactive TV. Fairly small, but fairly smart, too, and perfectly adequate for our needs. The bathroom was impeccably clean and came supplied with great Neutrogena products. My only complaint, to be honest, was that the water pressure was unreliable. And very unreliable, at that!
We were very happy. However, it?s only fair that Josh has somewhere to sleep and we?d requested a cot (or crib) for him. I have to say that this was not in the room and we had to re-request it. It was delivered whilst we were out, but not assembled. This sort of engineering challenge isn?t exactly beyond me, but it?s not
exactly fantastic customer service, especially when no bedding is provided either. Bless him, he made do with a spare pillow and blanket from the wardrobe but, for a supposedly child-friendly hotel, this didn?t earn that many Brownie points. All in all, however, a more than adequate hotel room for the price ? and I didn?t mention the curtains! There weren?t any! Much better ? a sort of Japanese-style sliding wooden shutter in beech effect that created a total blackout. Combined with a really comfortable bed, this made for a great night?s sleep once Josh had finished playing with it!
We ate out, missing out on the 3 courses for £15 deal ? extremely good value, but the restaurant looked good and room service was available at a reasonable price.
Staying at a hotel without reviewing the bar would be totally out of character, so I forced myself downstairs ? as ever, in the name of research! Comfortable and reasonably priced, the staff were friendly and the ambience was OK. I?m not a fan of televisions in bars, but they had one and I found myself drawn between straining to hear the selected TV programme and the moans of the locals drinking in the bar who were keen to download their criticisms of the place. Personally, I didn?t think it was that bad ? and if it were, why did they obviously keep returning? Keep the place in context and you?ve actually got a decent place to stay that ?does exactly what it says on the tin?. It?s not the Ritz, and it doesn?t pretend to be. Nor is it a Youth Hostel.
This hotel is an un-pretentious and comfortable lodging in a location, which aims to serve particular needs. I think it reacts more than adequately to its intended market. We enjoyed our stay, had a great night?s sleep and were able to catch our train to Brussels in the morning, relaxed, refreshed and unhassled. That is what this hotel is about.
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