Newest Review: ... served as a shower cubicle, although there was also a fold-out glass panel to add to this. The sink was a very high Belfast-style sink, i... more
Modern accommodation in an historic location
Holiday Inn Express (Winchester)
Member Name: melinda3536
Holiday Inn Express (Winchester)
Advantages: Very friendly staff, open plan, light
Disadvantages: Noisy air con
You are required to give your car registration number at check-in, if you have driven yourself to the hotel. The free car park is of a good size, and has a generous quantity of parking near to the entrance set aside for Blue Badge holders.
We had two rooms - my husband and I were in a double, and our daughters were next door in a twin room. They are teenagers and mature enough to be trusted by themselves now! Both rooms were quite compact, but well laid out, with the beds, a good-sized desk and comfy office chair, a flat -screen wall-mounted TV that doubled up as a computer for a charge of £16 (which I believe also included pay TV options), an iron and ironing board which were stored in the very narrow wardrobe, two bedside cabinets, and a small table that housed the tea, coffee and kettle tray. They also provided a folding case rack for packing and a long stool at the end of the bed. The bathroom was interestingly designed - the bath with shower at one end was partly behind a wall that served as a shower cubicle, although there was also a fold-out glass panel to add to this. The sink was a very high Belfast-style sink, in other words a free standing rectangular sink on a shelf, with little space either side to stand your toiletries in, but it did have a shelf beneath it for that use instead (a bit impractical as the towels hung in front of this too, and you could be at risk of leaving important things behind if they migrated too far to the back).
We had the extra demands on the space of having a wheelchair to manage as my husband uses one to get around, but we always manage with a standard room whether it be here, a Premier Inn or Travelodge. The adapted rooms tend not to be designed for married couples (or families, which was relevant when our kids were younger) so we prefer to do things this way! There was plenty of manoeuvring space in the main room despite all the paraphernalia that we dumped in it, so full marks to them for that. The rooms are air-conditioned, as even the ground floor windows are non-opening. The controls are easy to use, but even if you switch it off it can still be quite noisy as everyone else's are going on & off all the time and the noise seems to carry through the system through the night. This took a bit of getting used to, as did the lack of actual fresh air.
The bed itself and the pillows however were the main sticking point for us, as is often the case in hotels. Where with Premier Inn it's the great height of their new beds that's a problem, here it was the substance of the mattress, which I likened to a giant marshmallow, and Ian referred to as 'mud'. It's lovely once you've got to a comfortable position, but for my husband who has very limited mobility it was a bit of a trial moving around on it. We managed however with a bit of perseverance. Where the pillows were concerned, we couldn't actually feel much difference between the pillow marked firm and the one marked soft - the only controlling factor seemed to be that one wasn't enough, while two nearly broke your neck due to the extreme angle. A folded bath towel under a single pillow rectified this problem for me at any rate - something tried and tested over many hotel stays over the years!
We ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant on the lower ground floor every morning. It was a self-serve buffet, with almost everything that one could think of provided. Various fruit juices, cereals, pastries, cold meat, yogurts, fruit and of course cooked breakfast items with additional options available cooked to order, such as salmon. Tea and coffee were served at the table by the serving staff, with regular offers of top-ups.
There were several conference rooms, and we used about four of them I think during the few days that we were there. The largest also doubled up as a dedicated dinner room on the one evening that we all had a meal at the hotel together. This room was also used as a wedding venue on the Saturday while the conference continued in other rooms surrounding it. (There were 'bouncers' in the corridor asking us to be quiet when passing by!) According to the hotel website, this room has a capacity of 250. The other rooms varied from generous to decidedly cosy, it's hard to judge how many chairs could be accommodated for a more conventional meeting since they were filled with easels and tables and so forth, but one room could only really comfortably fit five in this context, while another had around seven or eight, and another more than ten.
In the public spaces, there were seating areas available in the foyer (from where bar food could also be ordered and consumed), with televisions also installed at either end of the space. This was also the case in the bar on the lower ground floor, which also had mini TVs on the bar taps, very useful since the Olympics were being televised at the time! As well as these main seating areas, there were chairs and the odd chaise longue dotted around in wider parts of the corridors, which came in handy if you were a bit weary and waiting for someone to get ready. One area that my eldest daughter and I particularly appreciated though was outside, opposite the hotel and over a stile - there was a butterfly meadow, which I think was more to do with the science centre, but was just right at the time that we were there to have a wander and watch out for the wildlife. Our youngest preferred to sit in the foyer lounge and do some writing while Dad was occupied with work,
Overall, it was a pleasant stay. We were made to feel very welcome by the staff, who were always polite, friendly, and ready to help if needed. It felt 'posh' compared to our usual accommodation of this sort, but at the same time, as I commented above, it wasn't completely without its discomforts. Still, being philosophical, it's impossible to cater for everyone's comfort since we are all different shapes with different requirements. If we're invited to stay again, we won't be refusing!
Summary: A bright new hotel outside the city
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