“ Address: 50 Avondale Road North / Southport / Merseyside PR9 0NE / England / Tel: 01704 546 807 „
Yes, the name intrigued me too, having been a huge fan of the late, great Michael Bentine, one of the founder Goons, star of the hilarious "It's a Square World" (ahhh, memories...) and the only Peruvian comedian from Watford. However, as far as I can ascertain, the hotel has no connection with him.
As you will by now have gathered, we make regular visits to Southport, where my mother-in-law lives, now alone, in an apartment near the world-famous Lord Street. Her apartment really only has accommodation for a single visitor and when we visit it's my daughter who stays with her whilst we find ourselves somewhere else.
Over the years the search has gone on for a decent guest house at a reasonable price; unfortunately the two don't often seem to go together. Once again, in preparation for yet another trip up the M40/M6, I Googled for somewhere to stay. Amongst the choices was The Bentine Hotel on North Avondale Road, a guest house I had tried to book before but which had been unable to accommodate us on that occasion. This time we were lucky.
The hotel is located a bit further away than the others we had previously used: it's not far from the Municipal Golf Course and about an eight minute walk from Lord Street. So, not too far from where we wanted to be but not a distance you would want to do in the rain!
The picture of the hotel, on its own website, looked to be what I expected; we lived in Southport for around 15 years so I am familiar with its grand old double fronted houses, many of which have been turned into guest houses and apartments, they being far too expensive to maintain as private houses these days.
The indication of rates of £24 or £28 pp/pn for a standard or an en suite room sounded about my sort of price. The website also indicates that free Wi-Fi is provided as well as free parking although, with the wide roads that Southport has everywhere except in the very centre, even if you couldn't park on the front driveway you would have no problems parking on the road outside.
I booked by email and received a confirmation email advising that a further would follow; it never did though! I'm not sure what had happened there; maybe just a slip-up. However, at least we knew we had a room. When we arrived we received a very friendly welcome but they seemed confused and asked if we had booked! We confirmed we had and had had confirmation from them. As it happened, they weren't full so, no problem anyway. We were staying two nights - Thursday and Friday.
The room to which we were allocated was on the first floor, facing the top of the stairs, on the right; I can't remember the number. It is a typical converted bedroom, with an en suite fitted into the corner. The room is more than big enough for this to still leave adequate space around the bed. It has a small, old style TV on a wall bracket, just by the entrance and below that a chest of drawers with tea and coffee making facilities provided.
Next to this is a pair of wardrobes with a small dressing table unit fitted between. The only problem here was that the light over the dressing table didn't work because it couldn't be plugged in, being too far from the socket! Not only that but there was no socket for a hair-dryer either; we had to ask for an extension lead! Other than that, there were no complaints about the room. It seemed clean, warm, tastefully decorated and in a good state of maintenance.
The en suite was also clean and well decorated but the shower cabinet arrangement was definitely odd. The door opened onto the narrow gap between it and the wall rather than towards the rest of the room. This was essentially wasted space as you couldn't stand there and dry yourself; you had to move out into the rest of the space to do so! The other issue was that there were definitely nowhere near enough pegs of hooks on the wall but then in that it's no different to most hotel rooms, I find. Why proprietors don't seem to realise that guests bring things like wash bags with them and want to hang them up, I can't imagine.
I don't want to sound unduly critical. These are all relatively minor issues. The room as whole was comfortable and warm, the bed likewise. We did get a good night's sleep and awoke refreshed.
My wife did use the Wi-Fi facility from our room and it worked well once we had discovered that the security key was written on tiny slips of paper in a bowl on the table in the entrance hall rather than written down in the hotel information book in the room! The connection seemed reliable and adequately fast.
The TV, being an old one, didn't have built-in Freeview but a separate set-top converter box instead. There was no hand control for the TV itself, only one for the Freeview box so it meant having to get out of bed to switch the whole thing off!
Breakfast in the morning was served in one of the main front-facing rooms; the one across the reception hall is a guests' lounge. Breakfast consisted of a help-yourself buffet for fruit juices and cereals whilst a full cooked breakfast (included in the price), toast and tea or coffee are also available to be ordered. We found the breakfast whole acceptable and entirely satisfying.
Would we stay again? Without doubt. All of the issues I have mentioned are relatively minor niggles and inconveniences but nothing that would turn us off from booking with The Bentine again, and we probably will. We did mention many of these issues to them and it will be interesting to see if they take them on-board, assuming we get the same room again. Not all of the rooms have en suite facilities, however, and so guests in these rooms have to use a communal bathroom, something I thought had died out in most hotels these days. This would not be acceptable to us.
The hotel was relatively empty when we arrived: it was beyond the end of the normal summer season. However, there did appear to be many more guests at breakfast on the day we were due to leave so it does appear that this is a hotel which is popular, at least at weekends.
We enjoyed our stay at The Bentine Hotel and consider it to offer great value for money. We look forward to a return visit the next time we are in Southport.