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Ibis Hotel - A Chip on the Old Carpet
Hotel Ibis (Carlisle)
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Hotel Ibis (Carlisle)
Advantages: Close to shops and train station
Disadvantages: Uninterested staff; in a noisy location for weekend stays; no extra pillows
My requirements were simple: I wanted somewhere fairly close to the train station and within easy walking distance of the shops and restaurants in the city centre. I also didn't want to spend too much money. Our en suite double in the Ibis cost just £34.00 for the night (without breakfast).
It had been many years since I had been to Carlisle itself so I was not aware that Botchergate is the nightlife hub of the city; in fact, there are gates at either end of Botchergate which are pulled across early on Saturday evening to create a safe pedestrian zone. Of course, we didn't realise this until we made our way from the train station to the hotel. (If only I'd gone back to that review at the time of booking!) Now, although there are lots of bars and pubs on this stretch of street, there is also a good smattering of decent restaurants so it's not all bad news (of course if you like loud bars then it's not bad news at all).
The Ibis Carlisle is a fairly new building that is typical of new build Ibis hotels nationwide. It is such a shame to see this when the city in general is filled with stunning buildings, many of them desperate for a new lease of life (I guess the problems inherent in converting such important elderly properties make it very difficult, or impossible, for budget hotel chains to consider taking on).
The public areas look like any other Ibis and as I have in recent years reviewed Ibis hotels in Sheffield and Leeds, I won't dwell too much on the subject here. On the ground floor there was a restaurant/bar which was empty every time we went past, except for one couple eating breakfast on Sunday morning. As is our usual habit we ate all our meals, including breakfast, outside the hotel. We were informed, however, that breakfast is available from 4.00am until 12 noon; a hot buffet is available between 6.00and 10.00 and a continental buffet only is provided at other times.
Our room was on the second floor. The first thing we noticed when exiting the lift on our floor was the overpowering smell of bleach/chlorine which made the place smell like the changing area of a swimming pool; it was not pleasant.
We could have been stepping into any Ibis hotel room in the country but that, of course, is what Ibis want. The room was not large but it was fine for a night or two. There's no wardrobe but there is a clothes hanging area built into the corner of the room. A working area is built in underneath the window. In Ibis rooms there is only ever one chair, but there's also an upholstered built in seat against the wall beside the bed.
In other Ibis rooms we've had a hair drier and extra pillows but none were provided here. There was a kettle and small number of coffee sachets and tea bags, but less than we've come to expect. In the bathroom a tiny bar of soap was provided and there was hair and body shampoo in a wall mounted dispenser inside the walk in shower. There were two smallish bath towels, but no hand towels were provided.
I always find the showers pretty good in Ibis hotels which makes me want to stay in longer but, while the pressure is good and there's always non-stop hot water, the design of the shower cubicle is such that it's hard not to soak the entire floor of the pod. This one was slightly better than most and I managed to have a shower without totally drenching the bathmat.
Usually hotels like this have devices attached to the windows so that you can only partially open them. In our room in Carlisle, however, this device was broken and the window could be opened fully; this could be an issue for people traveling with children. So warm was our room during the night that we would have been happy to open the window, if only it had been a bit quieter outside. Our room was at the back of the building and overlooked a small pedestrian courtyard where there was a Walkabout Inn and a pseudo-Irish pub. The noise carried on until the early hours, at which point the shouting transferred to the floor above ours and carried on until after four am. When we had returned to the hotel we noticed that there was a floor walker for night time security, which seems to be the case these days in Ibis hotels in city centre locations but I don't think his presence did much to make people behave themselves.
The next morning when we left our room we found the carpet around the lift strewn with chips and other scraps of food, the floor of the lift and around the door of the lift in the reception area was the same. When we approached the desk, a male member of staff took the key cards and ask "Checking out? Thanks very much". Saracastic to a fault I couldn't help saying "Well, since you ask... No, we didn't have a good night's sleep. There was lots of noise outside and then noise on the floor above us."
"Did you phone reception to complain? We might have been able to give you another room."
"Well, no because it was four in the morning and we didn't want the additional hassle of getting dressed, packing our stuff and moving".
"Sorry, but there's nothing we can do about the pubs."
"You could mention on the website that the hotel is situated in a party area and could be noisy at weekends. Other hotels do that."
"The manager has been told that before".
At this point, sleep deprived and hungry, I couldn't be bothered to keep arguing my point and retreated to the nearby Wetherspoons where breakfasts are better value for money and the surroundings are a lot cleaner. By 9.00 o'clock in the morning, I don't think it's too much to expect that the mess from the night before would be cleaned up. Even if there wasn't a cleaner on the premises, there were enough hotel staff to quickly tidy the lift and the reception area. I also expect some enquiry about my stay and whether I was happy.
Would I recommend this hotel to others? I would recommend it for stays on weekdays but not for stays on Fridays or Saturdays unless you are intending to stay out into the early hours yourself. It's not a brilliant hotel, and I've stayed in much better Ibis hotels than this.
If my rating of three stars seems overly reasonable I should stress that this is based on what I think the hotel would be like during the week. If it's like this every weekend, I'd have to award only two stars.
All rooms have wi-fi that must be paid for. There is satellite television with limited channels but for a charge of £9.99 the media package gives you internet access and more channels and films.
The hotel does not have its own car park; there are pay carparks close by.
Of the 102 rooms, five are accessible for guests with reduced/limited mobility
Summary: Possibly for week nights but NOT for weekends
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