“ The Coldra / Newport / NP18 2YG / Wales / Hotel Front Desk: 44-1633-412777 / Fax: 44-1633-413087. „
As we were going to spend our bank holiday weekend following Alice Cooper around the Celtic Manor golf course at the All Star Cup 2006 in Newport, South Wales, we needed to arrange for some accommodation nearby. After some debating about whether we should indeed stay in Newport or in Cardiff instead, we came across the Holiday Inn in Newport, which was described as being just opposite the venue. We were even more thrilled to hear that the prices were fairly reasonable and that the hotel allowed for late check-in,
As I am a worrier by nature, I called up the hotel several times the week before our arrival to ensure that our room would not be given away if we checked in after 11 pm. I was assured that they would keep it at least until 2 am in the morning, which left we relaxed and reassured that I would be resting my head on a nice pillow upon arrival.
The hotel is very easy to find, simply get off the M4 motorway at junction 24, follow directions to the B4237 and less than two minutes from exiting the motorway will you be able to see the large green Holiday Inn sign. It has a massive car park - and the setting look very peaceful and inviting - until I looked at some of the windows of the guestrooms from the outside and realised that this place certainly has not been renovated recently.
As we entered the hotel, an instant smell of smoke enveloped us, not too strong, yet present, coming clearly from the hotel bar, which is adjacent to the lobby and reception. An older gentleman, who was friendly and pleasant enough, helped us almost instantly. As he checked the computer I heard him mumbling, barely audible, "Two nights, smoking room". I was not sure if I heard him correctly so I said to him, "Two nights, non-smoking room." He looked up like a deer startled by headlights. "We have no more non-smoking rooms, I am afraid." And as an afterthought, "Only twin rooms."
This, for me, is a problem. I hate the smell of smoke and it is for that reason that you will rarely get me into a pub - once or twice a year at most. Whilst my other half shrugged his shoulders indicating that there was nothing we could do, I immediately started grumbling, "I called this hotel three times at least three times to ensure our non-smoking room would not be given away." Turning to my fiancé I said. "If it smells too bad, we will need to go for the twin room." The man tapped away on the computer and after a couple of minutes, provided me with a new room number. A non-smoking room - taken from another guest who had not checked in yet.
I thanked him profusely, and we started heading towards our room.
After all that hassle, I was looking forward to getting to bed - that was until we entered the room. What lay before us was little better than a student dorm. Set in pastel pinks and yellows, part of the wall had damp on it and required a serious paint job. One of the lamps hang crooked on the wall - giving it a distinct "Fawlty Towers" feel. The bed, far from looking inviting, was set very low, covered with a simple white sheet and two tiny pillows - which turned out to be simply filled with foam and not very comfortable. Equally uncomfortable was the super-soft and stone-aged mattress - lying down you could feel every single spring and every time you moved slightly, the entire bed would wobble.
There was a little tea and coffee point - offering instant tea, hot chocolate, coffee and a couple of biscuits, which of course I made use of. The kettle, however, was fairly antiquated and far from clean, leading to me having to wash the pot out thoroughly before even thinking about boiling water for a cup of tea.
The TV system was actually quite modern compared to the rest of the room- offering regular TV, a selection of movies and details about your bill and other useful information, e.g. area information. There was also high speed Internet access available, adding a touch of 21st century to the place.
The bathroom was relatively clean - but not very inviting. Every time you turned on the light, the fan would start up in a noisy and unpleasant way - and in fact the fan was so useless that guests are asked to close the bathroom door to avoid steam from escaping and setting off the fire alarm. The showerhead was also slightly annoying, affixed in such an inconvenient way that you had to remove it from the holster in order to wash, rather than being able to simply stand under the nozzle and relax. On the upside - the bathtub was rather large, making it even comfortable for a six-foot man to take a soak.
During the first night, I could not get comfortable at all - I was absolutely freezing and got less than four hours of sleep. I slept better during the second night, but that may have been due to pure exhaustion.
When booking, I was given the option to purchase breakfast at £9 per morning for two people, an option that I chose simply because I rightly suspected that there would not be much around otherwise. There is an option to order Continental or English breakfast as room service, but this comes in at a much higher price - I believe around £10 for Continental and £13.50 for English.
Breakfast is served as a buffet in the main restaurant of the hotel - usually during the hours of 6.30 a.m. and 10 a.m. While there is a decent amount of choice, the quality is beyond poor. There is fruit on display - but most of it has clearly come out of a tin, making healthy breakfast a near impossibility. Otherwise there is a selection of ham and cheese, yogurts, cereals, brown or white toast, pain au chocolat and croissants. For those who prefer warm food, there are sausages, bacon, eggs, black pudding and baked beans on display - most of it looking so unappealing that it made my stomach turn instantly.
You also have a choice of fruit juices and tea and coffee - although the service is very slow and we had to wait for a pot of tea to be delivered for 30 minutes on one of the days. The servers are also very slow to clear the tables after a meal.
*Lunch and dinner options*
For lunch and dinner you have the option to dine in the hotel restaurant or in the bar. Room service is also available - serving exclusively from the bar menu.
The restaurant menu was quite decent - offering a couple of appetizers, four or five mains and four or five desserts. The problem was that we could not get a table when we were starving. You might think that this indicates that this restaurant is rather popular, but as we arrived at 8 p.m. asking for a table for two, we were sent away and were told they did not have a table until 9 p.m. - even though half the restaurant was empty (and those tables never did fill up).
We therefore sat in the bar area, where we got tiny drinks of coke and pineapple juice (three sips in each glass) and ordered from the bar menu, which serves typical pub food: burgers, fish and chips, scampi and chips, baked potatoes and lasagna, to name a few. I had enough of unhealthy food after having spent the day at the golf course - but virtually the healthiest option was a baked potato with ham and melted Brie. My other half opted for the chicken burger.
The food was a real disappointment. My baked potato had obviously just been stuffed into the microwave - it was cold when it arrived. And the chicken burger turned out to be an unhealthy concoction of breaded chicken and a generous amount of cheese, which made my fiancé feel queasy for hours after he had finished the meal.
The vending machine on the lower level came in very handy - selling water and other drinks at decent prices and averting the need to drink tap water. There is also a mini-gym in the hotel, but we had no time or inclination to use it during our short stay.
One of the things that I had not caught onto (because I was not told) when we first checked in is that the Holiday Inn takes a £120 deposit as you check in. This is to ensure that you do not depart without checking out. You should therefore not be surprised when you are asked to settle your bill on departure. That is all fine by me, as they only took the agreed room rate, but I did feel like they should have explained why they were asking me to key in my pin number on arrival and then again on check-out.
Checkout was indeed very speedy - and there is an option for express checkout, which we did not make use of.
We paid £64 a night for our standard room. To be honest, this is overpriced for the quality of service and room that we received. A reasonable room rate would have been around the £45 mark.
We certainly would not stay here again unless we did not have any other option. The rooms simply felt too much like a student dorm and I am sure that other hotels would have offered better rooms at lower rates. We were "conned" into staying here by the promise of a three star hotel, but it is obvious that these stars have been awarded for other reasons than room standards and service. It is more likely to be due to its convenient location of the motorway, its free parking lot and the mini gym. While it would be unfair to say that the stay was nightmarish, it certainly did not make our weekend away feel like a vacation.
Hotel Front Desk: 44-1633-412777
Hotel Fax: 44-1633-413087
*Please note that the picture of the hotel is incorrect. It pictures the Holiday Inn Express rather than the Holiday Inn*
The Holiday Inn Newport is conveniently located just off J24 of the M4 motorway which is the Gateway to South Wales. Nestled in 14 acres of woodland 30 minutes from Bristol and 30 minutes from Cardiff the Holiday Inn Newport is the perfect base to discover what South Wales has to offer. Whether you fancy a round of Golf at The Celtic Manor resort home of the Ryder Cup in 2010, which is situated opposite the hotel, attending a Match, Game or concert at the Millennium stadium or take in the wonderful scenery of the Wye Valley.