“ Address: 6 Southlands Road / York / Yorkshire / YO23 1NP / England / UK Telephone: 44 (0)1904 621010 „
I visited York city for 4 days during September 2009. The base for our stay was a B&B named Holmlea Guesthouse.
Why we chose it?
Before we started our trip we searched on the internet trying to find reasonably priced accommodation that ideally was close to the tourist areas of York. Most B&Bs and hotels we found charged at least £60 for a double room per night. However Holmlea was an exception. On their own website they advertised £45 for a double room with private bathroom, but not en-suite. Personally I'm not used to a room without an en-suite bathroom, so I hesitated to choose Holmlea. We searched again and found even if you were prepared to pay £60 we still couldn't get a room with en-suite bathroom. So we decided to take a chance with Holmlea.
We made our reservation by telephone, giving credit card details as a guarantee. A staff member told us that there would be no room available until 5pm. We were also given the code for the door entry system and told where we could find the door key.
It was not difficult to find and is located in a quiet road. Driving there just took 10 minutes after we reached the border of York from south. We were allocated a guest parking permit adjacent to Holmlea. For guests arriving by train it is approximately a 15-20 minute walk from York station. It is a ten minute walk to Clifford's Tower and York Castle Museum. There are pubs, restaurants and shops nearby. One pub called The Swan seemed particularly popular. My really enjoyed it because of the variety of real ales and ciders.
Although we were told to check in by 5pm at the earliest, we arrived at about 2pm. Fortunately we were allowed to enter our room on arrival.
Walking up the steep and narrow carpeted stairs we came to our first floor room. Because the price was so cheap I had no great expectations. However when I saw it I was still a little upset. It's the smallest double room I have ever seen, so small that only one person at a time could move.
It had two single beds that took up 2/3 of the space. In my opinion the single bed was smaller and harder than most standard single beds.
Our room was rather practical. It had just one small window, two chairs, one of which was partially inside a wall cupboard. There was a kettle for boiling water, two tins for tea bags and coffee, sugar, and two cups on a small table in a corner. A small washbasin was in the opposite corner. Hanging on the walls there were a few decorative paintings, and an empty frame. A small old style TV set was fixed on the wall at the end of our beds. The TV picture quality was poor.
Our private bathroom with toilet and shower was across the landing. No surprise it also was small. The electric shower was old and didn't work well either. The first two days it was ok, but by the last morning I couldn't get hot water, so I gave up. Incidentally the towel rack disappeared I had difficulties to find a place to put my towel.
On Holmlea website they said they serve continental breakfast. Each morning at 8.30am a tray was left outside our door. On it were 2 small croissants, yoghurts and juices plus three jam portions (all bought from Tesco).
When we checked out we were told they don't accept any plastic card. So we had to go out in the rain to find a cash point. We didn't mind paying cash, but if they had told us in advance it would have been more helpful.
Despite my earlier criticisms I would like to say the staff members were friendly. They provided our breakfast and cleaned the room on time. We didn't take a laptop but we were told free wireless internet access was available.
Considering the price I think Holmlea is an acceptable B&B particularly if you are the kind of tourists, who spend a lot of time outside and just need somewhere to sleep. In my opinion it's not a great B&B.
Summary: to stay or not to stay that is the question.
The brief: to find a reasonably priced (cheap) bed and breakfast close to the train station and within walking distance of the centre of York for one night only.
Not as easy as it sounds. York is a year round tourist destination and the cheapest rates often only apply if you are staying at least three nights. We were also looking at short notice and found that many of those that did not stipulate a three night stay were fully booked already. The York Tourist Information website came up with the Holmlea as a possibility and a visit to their own website showed an even cheaper rate of £45 for a double room without private bathroom.
We made our reservation by telephone, giving our credit card details as a guarantee. We were told that there would be nobody there until around five pm, after the school run, which was no problem to us as we could stop off for a drink on the way from the train station.
On the day of travel we received a phone call from the owner saying that they might be delayed and we were given the code for the door entry system and told where we could find the key to our room. How trusting!
The Holmlea is situated in a quiet residential area just a ten minute walk from both the train station and the city centre. There are also pubs, restaurants and shops nearby if you don't want to go into town. For guests arriving by car there is limited on street permit parking.
First impressions are good; the exterior is well looked after and though it is small the front garden is attractive. We were able to get inside without a problem and found our room on the top floor. The stairs are quite narrow and a few of the rooms are directly on the corridor, while others have are situated away from the stairs so you won't have the noise from other guests as they come and go. An ironing board and iron were usefully located on one of the landings.
There were two bedrooms on our floor and a bathroom with toilet and shower on the same floor. The floor below us had its own bathroom too. Inside the room was a washbasin. I'm a bit confused as to how many rooms and what facilities the guest house actually has. There are either seven or eight rooms - we were in Room Seven but I am not sure whether the one next to it was six or eight. The website says the guest house can accommodate up to sixteen people but also says that there are triple/family rooms. All rooms are at least doubles so I would have thought they could accommodate more than sixteen. Anyway, moving on...
There are two bedrooms on the ground floor which the website says have wide access for the partially disabled though the corridor barely looked wide enough for a wheelchair -though I stand corrected if wheelchair access is possible. On the wall on the ground floor corridor are lots of leaflets for local attractions. As we found out the next morning the office is also on this floor. I don't think I'd like one of the bedrooms on this floor as it would be impossible to have a restful lie-in with people checking out and so on.
In a rather bizarre and unnerving incident, someone in the front ground floor bedroom screamed as we came back in the early hours, maybe alarmed as the door entry buzzer sounded as we pressed 'enter' - it was quite loud though I suspect we were more terrified than the screamer.
Our room was a pleasant bright and comfortable double. It was small but for one night it was fine. There was a lovely comfortable bed, a small wardrobe space and a chest of drawers on which was a kettle, plates and mugs and plenty of tea bags, coffee and cartons of yucky UHT milk. There was a small television set that, in spite of the monstrous aerial, was barely watchable because the picture was so poor. But then I only switched it on for the purposes of the review...
The room had been cleverly decorated and furnished to make the most of its size and the decorative elements were simple yet gave a nice touch. Alas the curtains did not cover the entire window and so the sun came streaming in early in the morning.
Across the landing the bathroom was quite large and spotlessly clean. There was plenty of hot water though the water pressure for the shower was quite poor. Now, either I was doing something wrong or the bathroom lock doesn't work. I didn't find this out until we arrived back in the early hours - the same time that I learned that the light didn't work either. Going to the loo in a strange house, in the dark of night after a skinful isn't that easy - especially when you're hoping that other guests don't want to use the bathroom too.
The Holmlea advertises a 'continental breakfast'; it was not until we were about to go out for the evening that we learned that it's served to your room between 8.30 am and 9.30 am. The notice said that it would be served nearer 9.30 am unless you request it to be nearer 8.30 - so not much flexibility there. Obviously not the place to stay if you are off to an early morning meeting or have to leave early to travel - unless you don't mind missing breakfast. We hoped breakfast would be served close to 8.30 as we were catching a train at 10.00am and needed to walk to the station; it was left outside the door at around 8.45am and it was only the rustling of cellophane that alerted us to this.
Our breakfast tray consisted of a croissant, a yoghurt (Amy Amy would like it then) and a carton of juice each. There was no butter for the croissant but there were plastic tubs of three different jams. To be honest I felt quit sick because it was all too sweet for me but I ate it because I was ravenous.
On checkout we finally encountered the owner, a friendly and chirpy young man who enquired about our evening out and checked us out quickly. The owners do not live on the premises but can be contacted by pressing a button on the door entry phone presumably connected to their phones. There is also a board downstairs on which a notice informs you to jot down any requests, pin the paper to the board and they will do their best to help. Check in is after five in the afternoon or anytime before noon. If you arrive after ten a.m. but before noon you can't get into your room but you can leave luggage. Guests should check out before ten a.m.
Holmlea is a pleasant and convenient accommodation option in a useful location for people who don't mind walking into the city centre (though there are buses that stop nearby). I think its best for people who will be out most of the time because the rooms are small and there are no communal areas such as a television lounge or bar. Although they claim to have family rooms I think they'd be too small for people with young children and I think people staying with children might prefer a dedicated dining room to eat in.
I would consider using this bed and breakfast again in the future but I would really prefer somewhere with a little more public space and perhaps somewhere with the owners on site at night.
Price quoted is a "Spring special" available until 30th June, Sun - Thurs
6 Southlands Road
Tel : +44 (0)1904 621010 or Mobile +44 (0)7971 048814
The website says that free wireless internet is also available