The Holiday Inn
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Me and my boyfriend wanted to spend a weekend in Portsmouth so needed a hotel to stay at on the Saturday night. We looked at a few B & B's how-ever after reading a few of the reviews (not good reviews); we decided that we would spend a bit more money on a decent room so booked a room with the Holiday Inn. This particular hotel is a short walk from restaurants and shops at Gunwharf Quays and minutes away from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. To get to main town in Portsmouth and Southsea you may need to take a taxi, how-ever this is a 5 minute taxi ride so won't cost much in terms of money. There are plenty of things to do in and around this area and we were going to make the most of the weekend and do as much as we could whilst we were down there. This how-ever may not be that easy seeing as we decided to visit Portsmouth during Valentines weekend which may make it busier than it normally is. We planned to do various things whilst we were don't there such as visit Jongleurs the comedy club, go up the Spinnaker tower and also visit the Blue Reef Aquarium.
Booking the Room
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I went to the Holiday Inn website to book the room, not realising that I wasn't booking a room at the Holiday Inn which is located in Gunwharf Quays. How-ever we decided that this wasn't a problem anyway as if we have booked a room in Gunwharf Quays itself it may have been noisier due to the bars and nightlife in this area. We booked one room which contained a double bed and as this was on a Saturday night it was slightly more expensive that what it would be in the week. This cost us a total of £87.00 which excludes VAT. There are a number of different rooms available including single, twin and double beds. When booking it also states that you cannot cancel this reservation and if you do they will still charge you the full amount for the room. It gave us some information on the website such as what the room contains and what extra things are available in the hotel such as a Gym, Spa and Swimming Pool. It also gave us the check in times and other information we may need to know. Once we had booked this I got sent an e-mail confirming the booking with my reservation number on in case I needed to call them to query anything. I would print this e-mail off with me and take it to the hotel when booking it, just in case of any problems. The money for the hotel may not go out of your account straight away but will be taken out at least 1 day before arriving at the hotel. The money actually came out of my account 2 days before we were due to stay at the hotel.
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We could check into our room at 2pm, so we decided to park in Gunwharf Quays and do a bit of shopping before-hand. After leaving Gunwharf Quays we drove straight to the hotel so we could park, check in and freshen up before heading out again later for a nice meal, a show at the Jongleurs comedy club and a few drinks. There is plenty of parking at the Hotel and we were able to park without any problems. We arrived at the hotel approximately 1:40pm and we were able to check in then. The lady at reception was very pleasant and helpful and checked is in and gave us our room keys. We weren't given any details about usage of swimming pool or the gym. We didn't want to use these facilities anyway; how-ever I thought we would have been given some information about it in case we had wanted to use it. We were asked if we wanted to pay an extra £10.00 each to have breakfast in the morning, how-ever we didn't want to so we kindly rejected this offer. We were never informed of our checking out time from the lady at the reception which I was a little surprised at. Luckily I knew that our checking out time was 12noon.
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Our room was located on the 5th floor. There were 2 lifts available which were very clean inside and big enough to fit a few people and their luggage. As we found our room and opened the door it looked very clean and very bright. The bathroom was located on the left hand side as we walked in and there was a large window on the far wall which was big so let in lots of light. There was a wardrobe on the right hand side and there was also a kettle, cups and tea/coffee making facilities. There was a large dresser on it which stood a large flat screen TV and a mirror. There was a chair here as well so you could easily sit there and work or use your laptop. The bed was on the left and was well made with crisp clean covers and bed sheets. We had 2 pillows each 1 of which were firm and another which was soft. It actually had tags on to state this and it also stated that you could change the pillows if you didn't find them comfortable. There was a bedside table each side of the bed and a light on the wall either side. On one side was a telephone and notepad that you could use to ring room service. Over by the window there was a round table and another chair. The room was very bright due to the natural colours that were used in the room such as white bed sheets/covers along with white net curtains and blue curtains over these. Next to the TV was a piece of paper which gave you a little information about room service. On the wall was a glass shelf which had a menu in for the bar which was located downstairs next to the reception. The room was really clean and tidy and there were no traces of rubbish or dust anywhere. The bathroom was extremely clean and looked very modern and nice. There were plenty of towels provided along with some soap bars and some shampoo/body wash. I couldn't fault the bathroom at all as it was so clean.
The room had heating/air conditioning which you could control using the panel on the wall. This was brilliant as we could put the heating on so it was warm for when we got back. We did use room service once to ask for an iron and ironing board and they delivered this to our room within a few minutes. There is a small hairdryer available which we found in one of the drawers along with a leaflet on their laundry/dry cleaning service. The drawer could have done with a bit of a hoover as it had a few hairs in here along with a few other bits in the drawer. The shower was easy to use and was nice and powerful and warmed up lovely. There is a rubber bath mat provided to avoid you slipping whilst in the shower. I found the bed quite comfortable and I didn't have any issues with sleeping in it, even though I sometimes suffer from back problems. My boyfriend also found the bed comfortable too. (He slept a lot longer than me!).
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We visited the bar area for a drink whilst we were staying at the hotel. They have a small selection of bottled beers and soft drinks and they also have beers and lagers on tap as well. They do a range of soft drinks including Coke, Cranberry & Orange Juice and other soft drinks. The drinks are rather pricey in here and so is the food. Although they don't have a huge range of food available they do have some light/snack choices and also main meals such as burgers and lasagne. It cost approximately £11.75 for a burger with chips which I thought was quite pricey so we actually decided to visit the local area and have something to eat in a local pub instead. The bar area is very nice and very modern looking and is kept very clean and tidy. There is a large mirror in this area which makes the area look slightly bigger than it is. The staff member who served us seemed pleasant but also seemed as though she was in a rush and had lots to do as she just popped my change on the side of the bar dumped on the receipt rather than handing it to me and saying Thanks You. She then rushed off to do something else. I was a little surprised at this as although it wasn't that bad service I was expecting it to be a little better than this. This was the only time we visited the bar area.
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There are a number of facilities to use in the hotels such as Business Services which includes Copying, E-mail/Internet, Printer, Secretarial Services and more. You can also use the Health & Fitness Centre which includes a gym, indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and solarium. Wireless Data Connection is available for an initial charge of £16.00. The hotel can also arrange sailing, golf and personal training for you. They also have a dry cleaning service and safety deposit box at the front desk. The staff at reception can help you if you have any other requests or queries whilst staying here.
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I can't fault the room in anyway as everything was perfect and the room was extremely clean and very tidy. The bathroom was absolutely perfect with no trace of dirt or even a hair in sight. The bed was comfortable and the night's stay here was very nice and pleasant. The bar area was very nice and is very modern looking with comfortable chairs and nice sized tables. They offer a good range of drinks and food; how-ever I do think the items on the menu are very pricey which is why we didn't eat here. The staff here seems very pleasant and they looked very smart and well dressed. The only downside to the hotel was the lady on reception not informing us on the pool/gym facilities and the check-out time. I think this is quite an important thing to mention when checking in at the hotel even though we weren't intending on using these facilities I still think it should be mentioned anyway. The hotel was close to Gunwharf Quays and the main town in Southsea so we didn't have to pay much for taxi fares to and from these places Saturday night. I would definitely stay here again and would also recommend it to others.
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Holiday Inn, Pembroke Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2TA
Tel: 0871 423 4896
(review also on ciao)
Having suffered a number of fairly basic (and disappointing) Travelodge stays over the last couple of years, I decided to give that other big chain - Holiday Inn - a try.
The Holiday Inn, Southsea (not to be confused with the Holiday Inn Express, also in Portsmouth!) is very easy to get to. Located around a mile from Portsmouth & Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour Stations, you can easily get to it from pretty much anywhere in the country using public transport. The road system also seems very good, and I would imagine it is easy enough to find if you arrive by car.
Whatever you are visiting Portsmouth for, the Holiday Inn, Southsea is well-placed. Less than 5 minutes' walk from the seafront and Southsea Castle (built by Henry VIII) it is ideal for walks and some sightseeing. The historic Maritime Area (home to HMS Victory and the Mary Rose) is an easy walk of about a mile along the pleasant and historic seafront. Alternatively, if you are using Portsmouth as a stopping off point on the way across to the Isle of Wight, then both the hovercraft and ferry ports are less than five minutes' drive - ideal if you have an early morning ferry to catch.
It has to be said, first impressions are not that great. The hotel is a rather anonymous looking multi-storey concrete building that looks like pretty much any other chain hotel. It's not an eyesore, just somewhat non-descript and generic. Nor is this confined to the outside. The bland, generic glass-fronted entrance leads into a bland, generic Reception area, kitted out in the usual inoffensive, and yes, bland and generic blue carpet.
Check-in is available from 2pm, which is fairly standard, whilst the checkout time is 12 noon, which is always nice since you don't have to be up at the crack of dawn to empty your room. The check-in process was also pretty speedy and efficient, although the welcome wasn't the most effusive I've ever had! There were the usual details to check on a computer and pointless form to fill in, but it was relatively painless and only took a couple of minutes.
Going up to my room was as reliable bland as first impressions suggested. A VERY small lift took me up to the relevant floor reasonably quickly, although I did find with the lift that it got rather uncomfortable if more than about four people got in at any one time. The stairs (which I normally use in preference to lifts) were also rather hidden away and badly signed - I only found them after I'd used the lift a few times. Still, at least the lift was free of the usual awful muzak!
Entering the room led to rather more favourable impressions than had been build up to date. True, there was a slightly shabby looking brown carpet, which didn't do a great deal for the overall lightness of the room, but the room itself was surprisingly large and well-furnished.
Immediately to the right as you entered was a small room containing the bath, shower and toilet. Straight away, that gave the Holiday Inn an extra point, since I hate rooms which only have a shower. Whilst the bathroom was fairly basic, it was a reasonable enough size, although the tiled floor did get rather slippery if you spilt water on it. The bath also seemed only to be about three quarters of the usual size, so no cosy double baths if that's what you're planning!
The main room had a surprising amount of furniture and was far better furnished than some of my recent Travelodge experiences. Furniture included a desk with a TV, a comfortable chair for the desk, a small round occasional table, an armchair, two small cabinets, a small wardrobe space and, of course, a double bed. That sounds like it should make the room very cramped, but in fact, the room was actually quite spacious. The only real problem I experienced was when sitting at the desk, since the clearance space between the chair and the bed was very small, making getting in and out of the chair slightly tricky. This chair was also rather uncomfortable after a while, so I tended not to use it, preferring to sit on my bed instead.
My room was also very pleasant and airy with a nice view overlooking some green spaces and, in the distance, the sea. The large (and openable) window made the room very light and airy and not too hot. Since the hotel was set back from the road, it was also pretty quiet... although that changed at night when some of the local youths appeared to be using the road along the seafront as a racing track, filling the night air was filled with screeching tyres and loud music.
Unlike Travelodge, Holiday Inn still provides those nice little freebies: a small bottle of shampoo and bubble bath in the bathroom; coffee and tea supplies ,replenished each day and so on. I know these are only little things and are already factored into your bill, but what can I say: I'm easily bought!
Internet access is available within the hotel, although of course, you have to pay extra for this and it's not cheap. The pricing structure was rather baffling and seemed to involve a payment for initial access (extra if you choose wireless) and then another payment for the actual access. As far as I could tell, it would cost around £25 to get internet access for a fairly limited time, which is about 4 times more than I pay for an entire month at home. Needless to say I didn't bother trying to get online!
As ever with hotels, food and drink prices were ridiculously high, and the food was nothing special,. Soft drinks were about standard - a pint of lime and lemonade cost me £2.70, which is not too bad; however a colleague had to pay £9.50 for a double gin and tonic, and wine was around £6 a glass. The food was similarly ridiculously priced. Most starters or light snacks were around the £7 mark, with main courses typically costing around £15. Neither the quality nor the quantity of the food justified this. Indeed, on the only night I dined in the hotel, the food was rather disappointing. Both my starter and my main course (soup and beef stroganoff) were far too salty for my taste and I really struggled to finish them.
Other plus points included a pleasant room in which the conference (a relatively small affair) was held. The only downside to this room was that the air conditioning was rather temperamental - when it was switched on, the room became freezing cold after around 30 minutes; switching it off meant you were in danger of boiling to death! IT support was also a bit lacking, as our organisers experienced problems with the data projector and the hotel staff seemed unable to resolve it (although, in fairness, this was on a Sunday, so perhaps support is better on more traditional work days.)
The hotel also has a swimming pool, which is available to all guests at the hotel for no extra charge. I didn't use this myself, so can't comment on it directly, but colleagues who did were certainly happy with the facilities it provided.
In terms of the overall price for my stay, I'm not absolutely sure how the costs worked out. I was attending a conference, so it was a package deal for the hotel, meals, entertainment and conference. The total cost for the conference for a two night stay with breakfast and lunch on both days, plus an evening meal on the first night was £300. As a general guide, the prices quoted on the Holiday Inn website for standard visitors are around £100 per room, per night. Whilst this might sound quite expensive, at least for once you get some pretty decent facilities. I've certainly stayed in some hotels which have cost as much as this and been far inferior.
Overall, the Holiday Inn Southsea provided a pleasant and central place to stay in the city. First impressions might not be that great, but look past that and it definitely offers a better option than the Travelodges I have stayed in recently. If I can persuade my employer, Holiday Inn will definitely be my chain of choice from now on!
© Copyright SWSt 2010
Location: minutes from Southsea Hoverport and Clarence Pier, within close proximity of University of Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays / Location: minutes from Southsea Hoverport and Clarence Pier, within close proximity of University of Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays / Number and type of rooms: 166 air-conditioned rooms featuring LCD televisions. Satellite programming and video-game consoles are provided for your entertainment, while wireless Internet access (surcharge) keeps you connected. Private bathrooms with shower/tub combinations feature complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include desks and coffee/tea makers, as well as direct-dial phones with voice mail / Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities: Take advantage of recreational opportunities offered, including a health club, an indoor pool, and a spa tub / Dining: Grab a bite to eat at the hotel's restaurant, which features a bar, or stay in and take advantage of 24-hour room service. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge. Hot/cold buffet breakfasts are served daily in the restaurant for a fee / Business, Other Amenities: computer station, audiovisual equipment, and secretarial services. Event facilities at this hotel consist of a conference center, conference/meeting rooms, and small meeting rooms.