Newest Review: ... used the hotel as being a stop off to get to somewhere else the next day I didnt really get to see any more facilities in the hotel. My... more
Holidaying at the Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn in general
Member Name: nickwock
Holiday Inn in general
Advantages: Lovely hotel, extra facilities, nice restaurant, linked with Legoland
Disadvantages: Geared more for business users, expensive wifi
What is the best thing you can do for a seven year old boy, who is completely obsessed with Lego? Take them to Legoland Windsor of course!
Well, after recommendations from friends and family, this is what we decided to do for our eldest, Oakley. Credit card at the ready, we were not expecting the trip to be cheap, but the official Legoland website had a treat in store, if we booked before the end of June, we could book a second day to the park free with an extra bonus of Oakley gaining park entry free for both days. Our two younger ones were under the age of two, so free anyway. This seemed like an amazing deal, the lowest price for a day trip would have cost £74.40 (10% off and a free ticket for Oakley) so we quickly booked - we had to, it was 31st June and the offer ran out at midnight!
After looking through the information about the available hotels on the website we finally decided upon the Holiday Inn Guildford, mainly for the following reasons:
The cost - £140 (2 adults, 1 child and 2 infants)
Kids eat free offer - one child eats free for each paying adult
Breakfast included - for all of us, not just the kids!
Childrens play area
Swimming pool - they also have a salon which sadly I couldn't take advantage of.
19 miles from Legoland - not close, but much better value than closer hotels.
It also helped that it had a four AA star rating and a four brick fun rating. If I'm completely honest, the photo put me off a little, there always seems to be a neon green light outside any Holiday Inn which gave me the impression of 'bright' (physcadelic) interiors, but the value factor won out.
By the time we arrived at the Inn, we had already travelled two hours to get to Legoland, spent seven busy hours at the park and took an hour and a half on the M25 getting to the hotel, so we were well over the 2pm checking in time. The route Google maps gave us said it was 26 miles not 19 as stated on the website, although we travelled even more as we got ever so slightly lost. I cannot lie, I was desperate to get in, unload the kids and put my feet up! Sensibly, I sent hubby in to check us in. Less than five minutes later he was back at the car (we had found an ideal parking space right outside reception), he had the room key/ card and some pirate themed activity packs for the boys.
Checkout is usually 12pm.
No neon green in sight! (Due to recent re-marketing an refurbishments) Reception is obviously the first port of call when entering the front doors. The adjoined open plan lobby is basically a seating area. The decor is both clean and modern feeling, but with a heavy expanse of darkish wood panelling and a dark -hide all marks - carpet. Being very open, you can see into the seperate bar area and the restaurant, the panelling is not at all overbearing or dingey, the rest of the walls are light and everything is well lit (including a large, gorgeous art deco ceiling light in the bar area). The whole feel is clean, non-fussy and elegant. Kind of a modern twist on a gentlemens club and not at all what I expected.
We took a right past reception, past the spa which smelt divine, down some stairs, around a corner, followed a corridor, took a left, around another corner .... I'm sure you get the idea. My addled brain was completely lost trying to get back to our starting point for tea, but the next day it didn't seem so confusing or as far. I did wonder if we (more so the kids) had been tucked away from all the business people, but apart from the trek (it took hubby three attempts to get all our posessions into our room) the location was fine. It was very quiet, we still had an opening window which I wasn't expecting as we had travelled downstairs and it was a fun game for the kids to try and remember our way back (very amusing with our cute display of inflatables when trying to find the pool).
Overall, the corridors were very tidy, no stale smells, not exciting decor, but still, hardwearing and very clean.
Not immensly large, the room consisted of a double pull out sofa bed, a king size bed, either side bedside cabinets, a large desk which was home to a large flat screen tv, there was a large round mirror on the wall behind the desk and a comfy cream tub chair in front of it. Instead of curtains we had wooden, sliding shutters which were fantastic at keeping the light out. The main bed was against a contrasting chocolate coloured wall with and made up with bright white linen and a navy blue runner. There was a choice of soft or firm pillows for each of us and they also had a navy 'runner' around them which needed to be removed prior to sleeping as it had the tag on telling you which pillow was which. My hubby chose one firm pillow, so I nicked his other one, so I had two soft pillows. And they were very soft & comfy! The bed was maybe a little bit bouncy, but this may have had more to do with the fact the children were sleeping an arms length away, so I was afraid to move incase I woke them up. Aside from that, I was very happy with the bed, it was exceptionally clean, comfortable & roomy. In fact, the sheets felt like new.
The boys slept on the sofa bed which was ready made when we entered, again with spotless white bedding. There was plenty of room for both of them and still a couple of feet of walking space between their bed and ours. The sofa was situated right next to the window which could be opened quite widely so we didn't feel it was safe enough to keep the window open all night which was a shame as it had been a hot day. I'm not sure how much air could get past those floor to ceiling shutters anyway!
We took our own travel cot for Ruby, as advised by the hotel staff, they said it would probably be smaller than theirs. It tucked well into a space at the end of our bed, next to the desk and there was ample space to walk past en-route to the bathroom without disturbing her.
All in all, there was room enough to move around, but for extended stays the lack of space would annoy me!
There was an array of shelving to the left as soon as you entered the room, the majority of which was clothes hanging space. There were also some horizontal shelving, a simply stocked mini bar which we were too afraid to touch and a chest height shelf housed a kettle, cups, spoons and selection of teas and coffees, UHT milk and sugars/ sweeteners, I appreciated the fact that it was all tucked safely away from the kids. Underneath was a trouser press and opposite that was a full length mirror
As expected, the bathroom was fairly small, but very tidy in white tiles and again, very clean. The sink area was well lit and the mirror and sink was large enough for two of us to use at a time. There was a few sample sized complimentary toiletries, soap, shampoo and shower gel I believe. We had taken our own though, so they went unused. The shower was over the bath, very powerful and easy to use, we all had lovely showers! Towels were supplied on a towel warmer (not switched on thankfully) which were very clean and fairly soft, though only hand and bath sized -no massive bath sheets, but that's usually standard and again, I'd brought our own.
Knowing the kids would wake early, we were looking forward to going for a swim.
There were only a couple of people in when we got there and there was a narrow lane roped off which a lady was using. A few minutes later another gentleman approached us and explained that that narrow lane was for families and the rest of the pool was for lane swimming. At first I thought he may have been being a bit rude, but when we got in the lane there was indeed a sign on the wall. Luckily, we were the only family there so we had enough room.
The pool is 15 metres long and there was also a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room available free of charge to guests.
The changing rooms had about four or five cubicles or wooden benches with hooks above. There were showers, some hair dryers and a swimsuit extractor, which I made use of, it spun all the water out in seconds, meaning we didn't have to pack wet clothes, there was also an area to place used hotel towels.
The pool was open from 6:30am until 10:00pm, although it was adults only from 7pm. This was on a Friday, I think the times are different on the weekend.
==Spirit Health & Fitness Centre==
Aswell as the pool, they also offer an air conditioned gym, a dance studio and various beauty treatments, all at extra costs. The centre is accessible from inside the hotel. We didn't have time to try any of these facilities, but I can say that it smelt divine, I assume from essentail oils and the fragrance wafted down the corridors!
We visited the restaurant for our evening meal at about 7:45pm. The entrance is narrowed, with one of those maitre'd reservation stands, so we waited to be seated. There were only about four tables taken and the manager quickly seated us and brought two high chairs over without us asking and then left to get our drinks. We left about an hour later and it was nearly fully seated by then. The whole area is very open plan, and although the seating area itself wasn't that large, it felt airy & bright. There were large windows & french doors opening onto a patio area with more seating. Inside the tables are white, square and a little on the small side, the chairs are plain looking, maybe a little retro, with moulded seats and metal legs. Not luxurious, but not uncomfortable either. There seemed to be quite a few staff around, but none were standing around idle and quite a few stopped to talk to the children which I thought was really nice.
We had spied a menu in our room but had not had time to look at it. I heard my hubby grumble that the sausage & mash cost £13.50, but that ends my knowledge of the actual menu. Within minutes a waitress had come to explain that we could order from said menu or for £16.50, eat as much as we liked from the two course buffet. The children could eat free, but only from the buffet. She encouraged us to go and have a look at what was on offer and we enthusiastically chose this option, which is why we took no more notice of the menu choices!
There were some seperate choices for the kids, I remember seing meatballs and some pasta in tomato sauce, beans, chicken nuggets and fishfingers. My boys chose the fishfingers, but oakley also had some food from the main buffet.
On the main buffet, (I'm writing this from memory so may have missed a couple of things out) there were little steak pies in a shortcrust pastry, pork loin in gravy, chicken on skewers, some lovely fillets of white fish, roasters and some mixed vegetables. I tried the fish, chicken, roasters and veg, all of it was lovely, piping hot but not dried out. My hubby had all that, plus a pie and a piece of pork! He liked it all, but loved the pie, I think he would have had another if he could have fitted it in. I, however, had left room for pudding and shared a very rich slice of chocolate mousse gateaux. Delicious! There was also black forest gateaux. Ian assured me there was also fruit salad on offer. Must have missed that.
Breakfast was included in our stay and again, followed the buffet style. There were a range of fruit juices and those little boxes of cereals with jugs of fresh milk, toast could be cooked on one of those large rotating grills but the bread needed two visits for medium coverage which was time consuming. There was also croissants and a selection of mini danish pastries which were so fresh and warm, they tasted like they may have been baked on site. I also remember more fruit salad and a tray of thinly sliced meats and cheese.
The main breakfast was a full english, bacon, eggs (scrambled & fried), beans, mushrooms, black pudding, sausages (cumberlands I think), hash browns and tomatoes. Breakfast was a bit busier and I had to wait a while for them to refil the bacon, but again, all food was top quality and piping hot. They would also cook poached eggs or porridge fresh if you asked. Coffee and tea was brought around the tables and poured for you, this would be my only criticsm, I was desperate for a nice coffee, but they kept missing us and it took ages for us to grab the attention of a staff member. By the time they brought some over I had finished my meal. It was still lovely coffee though.
For both meals, there was a range of bread rolls and condiments to help yourselves to.
Apart from the coffee issue, I have absolutely no complaints about our dining experience. The food was delicious, we certainly ate enough to get value for money and the staff were attentive, friendly and efficient.
They also offer a Sunday carvery, Monday night is curry night & 24 hour room service for snack & light bites.
We found this dissapointing. It consisted of a couple of little tables and chairs in a corridor en route to the rooms. There were some pictures to colour and some crayons and some board games. It would have been nicer if there was a litte room allocated, as young children could run off in any direction. Also, when my hubby took the boys up to play as I got Ruby off to sleep, someone came and took the games away.
Another problem I had was with sterilising Ruby's bottles. I have a microwaveable steam steriliser and when we booked we had to phone them to check about the cot we also enquired about being able to use the steriliser, they told us the restaurant had a microwave. When we got to the hotel, I explained again and as I feared, the microwave was industrial strength and I wouldn't know how long to put it on for. The staff offered me a jug of boiling water to soak the teats in, although in hindsight we did have a kettle in our room so I should have used that! Ruby will be one at the end of August, so I wasn't overly worried, but this could be of some concern to parents of tiny babies, I advise taking an electric steriliser if possible.
==T.V. & WiFi==
We didn't have much time for watching t.v, but it looked like all the freeview channels were available. There were also adverts for kids films, Oakley says they were Up and Toy Story 3, but when Ian enquired he was told the cost was £6 per film. Internet is available in all rooms and access charges started from £15 for dial up and £16 for high speed and wireless, I assume those charges are per day but this wasn't clear from the leaflet we read.
I'm just giving the last few directions as our Google Maps was a little confusing, especially as the last point was 'get off at the exit' - which exit? There were quite a few!
Leave the M25 at junction 10 and join the A3. Follow the signs for Guildford and look for the exit sign 'Research Park'. Then take the third exit off the first roundabout and the second exit off the second roundabout. (You will probably have seen the hotel by then).
Yes. It may have been a very short stay, but it was definitely a comfortable and pleasant one. We didn't use all the facilities on offer but it's nice to know they are available. Checking in and out was easy and quick, an added bonus with three children. The food was lovely and the staff were excellent.
The only improvement I would make is to the play area, although many hotels don't even offer what they had here
Although, when we visit Legoland again, I would probably look for a hotel closer to the park as it's tiring travelling too far again at the end of the day. It's only 25 miles away from Gatwick and Heathrow and the nearest trainstation in Guildford is only 1.5 miles away so I can see why it's such a popular place for business travellers. This is also why it's only usually available to Legoland customers towards the end of the week.
I've given it 4 stars, but would like it to be 4.5.
Summary: Hotel chain