Earlier this year, not long after I had booked tickets and a hotel in Manchester to take my daughter to see Miley Cyrus, I was browsing the web and saw a fantastic deal on the Holiday Inn hotel at Ellesmere Port. I am a bit of a shopper and had always fancied visiting Cheshire Oaks outlet village, and was aware of the fact the Holiday Inn was nearby. So purely on impulse I decided to extend our trip to the northwest by a day and booked a room for the bargain price of £35. ~~The Location~~ The hotel is located just off junction 9 of the M53 motorway and is clearly signposted once you leave the motorway. I had been nervous about finding it as I have never been in the area before but the signs kept me right. I must confess however that when I booked this I was under the impression the hotel was located right next to the outlet village - which isn't the case at all. It is actually a short drive of about five minutes on the motorway and you need to be aware of the fact that hotel is located on a canal with very little else around it. Certainly if you didn't have a car you would struggle to get to and from this hotel. ~~The Hotel~~ First impressions of the hotel were good. It sits on the canalbank and there are canal boots moored beside the building. Parking is free at this hotel and I was pleased to find a spot very close to the front door, as I had quite a heavy bag to take in with us. The hotel has a pool and gymnasium but we didn't try these facilities, lacking the kit needed to pay a visit. The reception isn't huge - basically you approach the reception desk as you arrive and the lifts are located to the left. On your right are some seats and a large hotel bar, and the hotel restaurant is located beyond the reception desk. Check-in was fast and friendly. The booking I had made was for the room only, but the receptionist allowed me to book breakfast at a reduced rate of £10 from the regular rate of £13.95. She also informed me that children eat free - and I was delighted to learn that my daughter, who is rapidly approaching her 13th birthday would qualify as she was still 12. I was then given my keycard and we took the lift to our room. ~~The Room~~ After two nights in the Travelodge, the room seemed like pure luxury. Admittedly it was quite small in comparison to the Travelodge room we had left but there were two big double beds in the room which had thick and extremely comfortable mattresses, and each bed had four pillows, with a choice between hard or soft. This was perfect for me as I like a hard pillow with a soft pillow on top! There was a desk with a comfy black leather executive style chair and a 32" flat screen TV which had all Freeview channels. There was a kettle with tea and coffee and a hairdryer was located just outside the bathroom door beside a full length mirror. Power comes on in the room once you place your key in the slot beside the door and goes off when you leave the room and take your key out. The bathroom was quite functional with shower over bath and there was a small bar of soap provided along with more towels than I could use in my stay, even assuming I had wanted to shower two or three times. There was hand soap and shampoo provided in dispensers beside the wash hand basin and on the wall beside the bath. When we arrived it was very cold and I put the heating on, which was controlled by an electronic panel on the wall. At first I thought it wasn't actually working but a quick call to reception established the fact it takes about 20 minutes to come on fully and by following the maxim that patience is a virtue, the room did begin to heat up within this time frame. Wifi and wired internet is available in rooms at an additional charge but I chose not to use these as I could use my phone as a modem with my laptop, although I did notice my phone signal was a bit weak in the room. The view was over the canal and out over towards Liverpool, and the oil refiniery at Stanlow clearly visible too. I don't mind industrial landscapes in the least coming from near Glasgow, but my daughter, who is clearly a bit soft, complained vocally about the "smell" in the town which I found a walk in the park compared to the slaughterhouse and meat processing factory I had to put up with near my house when I was a child. I hasten to add you can't smell anything remotely whiffy inside the hotel! Room service is available at the hotel but we chose to eat in the restaurant. I did peruse the room service menu and it seemed reasonable, with a £2.50 tray charge. The shower was excellent - hot water came on immediately and there was plenty of water pressure to help wake us up in the morning. The bath is a full sized tub too, which was nice after the short tub in the Travelodge. ~~The Restaurant~~ We decided to dine at the hotel restaurant that night and I took advantage of the £18.95 three course dinner. My daughter was given the child's menu which enabled her to eat free and we were both delighted with our food. We both started with soup - my child's choice being tomato, while I had carrot and coriander, which was lovely. The soup was served with small wheaten rolls and butter. For the main course my daughter had sausages chips and peas whilst I opted for lamb served in an exquisite mint gravy with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables. I was really impressed with this course I must say. For dessert my daughter had chocolate cake, which is a big favourite of hers, whilst I had profiteroles - and we were both pleased with our choices. You can opt for one course or two course meals in the restaurant too and the view out over the canal is lovely. In the morning we returned for an early breakfast and I really appreciated how breakfast started at 6.30 am. Food is served buffet style but there is a waitress on hand to bring tea or coffee and she helpfully asked me if I wanted a fried egg. I am very fussy about how I like my fried egg so I said yes, but could I please have it cooked hard and I was delighted to be brought over a perfectly cooked (in my eyes!) fried egg. Bacon, sausages - both meat and vegetarian, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and hash browns were available on the small buffet, and there was a good selection of juices, fruit, cereal, breads and cakes. The toaster was a revelation - one of those constantly moving ones that actually managed to toast both sides of the bread! I was really impressed with both breakfast and dinner in the restaurant and the service we received from staff during both meals. ~~Overall~~ I really enjoyed our short stay at this Holiday Inn, and for the price I paid I really got a bargain. Even at double it would represent excellent value for money such were the levels of comfort in the room and the attentive but friendly service we got from all members of staff. The only downside I can think of is the hotel is located a little off the beaten track so you do need to have a car to head elsewhere if you don't fancy dining in the restaurant but this is a minor quibble really. So if you are looking for a hotel which is useful for Cheshire Oaks or Chester, or just as a break on a long drive, I can heartily recommend this one - the quality of the rooms and the friendliness of the staff really made it a pleasure to stay here.
Holiday Inn Ellesmere Port/Cheshire Oaks is situated in the Wirral in the North East of England. It is relatively modern, and was renovated in 2002. The hotel is on three floors which are accessible via a lift. [This may sound obvious, but I once stayed in a hotel on only two floors and they'd not bothered with a lift: with two children in a buggy, it was not easy to get upstairs!] There are 83 rooms. The one in which we stayed was perfectly clean and well furnished. We stayed as a family and so the sofa was opened out into an addition bed for the children. This cut down on the space available within the room, but there was plenty to move around in. The room had a kettle and tea and coffee facilities; there was no minibar. There is a TV, which doubles as an interactive hotel information service. The room had internet access which was charged at a rate of £5.00 for 24 hours [I didn't take a laptop, so can't comment on how easy or efficient this service was.] The bathroom was a generous size, and included a shower in the bath. The facilities include a [smallish] pool and sauna, and a gym. What the website doesn't mention, though, is that the leisure facilities [hotel speak for a pool!!] are actually in a separate building to the main hotel. It is obviously much less convenient to have to walk through the rain to go for a swim. I've not seen this in any other hotel I've stayed in. We ate in the hotel on one evening. There was a large wedding party that night and not many of the guests weren't at the wedding. This meant that the usual restaurant was nice a quiet; unfortunately it also meant that we only new staff with one waitress who seemed to know what was going on. This wasn't a massive problem, but it did mean that service was a little slow. This Holiday Inn has a "kids eat free" offer, which helps to reduce the cost of eating in as this can be expensive otherwise. Two adults and two children had two courses each [plus drinks] for £32. Breakfast took the usual buffet form where you can choose from fruits, cereals and the traditional eggs, bacon, sausages etc. it was possible to order extras such as poached eggs and porridge, though no pancakes [my sons' favourites]. The breakfast was perfectly acceptable, though I usually feel the similar offer in a Hilton Hotel is a bit better. The hotel is just off the M53, one junction along from the exit for the Blue Planet, Cheshire Oaks and Chester Zoo. Chester itself is 7 miles away, so the hotel is very convenient for visiting those attractions. We payed £75 for a room per night, including breakfast.