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Brum's hotels are dire - especially the Astoria
Hotels in Birmingham in general
Member Name: Bel Ludovic
Hotels in Birmingham in general
Date: 18/03/02, updated on 18/03/02 (220 review reads)
Advantages: convenient location
Disadvantages: expensive, appalling decor, smelly
Birmingham's increasingly impressive city centre is now visited by thousands of people from all over the world - here on business rather then pleasure, mainly. But the good impression left by places like the Mailbox and Brindleyplace is offset by the poor standard of accommodation in the city. Birmingham's hotels and B&Bs are pretty dire, and a night in one of them undoes all the good work. What must people think, etc. I've stayed in the Comfort Inn on Station Street - pretty shabby. I've stayed in the Lyby Guesthouse in Bearwood - and that was pretty awful, too.
But the worst was the elegant-looking Astoria Hotel on the Hagley Road, which offered very poor value for money. Myself and a business partner stayed in room 16 last Saturday night. We hated it immediately and couldn’t leave quickly enough on Sunday morning. With some modifications this could be a decent hotel. They may even *want* it to be a decent hotel, although my instinct tells me that if they did, the causes for complaint wouldn’t exist to begin with.
Let’s begin with the driveway. I’ve driven along better stretches of road in remote parts of Albania. The potholed disintegrating driveway looks unattractive, and is made for tripping over or plunging your feet into unseen puddles. Not a great first impression. When I saw the reception and corridors, optimism failed to return. The place had clearly last been decorated in the 1970s. A lethargic, musty atmosphere pervaded everything. The reception desk was filled with out-of-date What’s On magazines. The corridor leading to our room smelled, and our room itself was small, cramped and reeked of stale tobacco – a smell we couldn’t get rid of, despite opening windows and doors constantly.
Decoratively the room did not exactly scream 21st Century Britain. A herd of goats with diarrhoea could have had a merry time vomiting about the place and the room would not have loo
ked and smelled any worse. The pillow was as thick as a postage stamp, and I decided against using the one in the cupboard when I saw the dirty pillow case (hair etc) it came in. Tiny TV stuck in a corner. Some tea bags and associated what-not flung into a resealable plastic tub - not exactly resonating with appeal.
Have any of this hotel's owners ever stayed in a hotel before? Do they know anything about what makes a hotel an attractive place to stay, a place that can help make either a business trip or weekend break better? On this evidence, no. Their convenient Hagley Road location has made them complacent – still stuck in an age when all British hotels were this bad and renowned for it – about thirty years ago, when the hotel was presumably last decorated. Comparing these facilities to the Ibis in the Arcadian or the Wetherlodge on Bennetts Hill which offer rooms for under £40 at weekends puts yours to shame. This room was not in any way shape or form worth £55 – a complete and utter rip-off.
Breakfast: Dirty cup. Only one sausage, which tasted foul. Pots of instant coffee. Glum looking people wanting to be somewhere else. A hotel is supposed to be somewhere you look forward to returning at night and leave reluctantly the following morning. Us, we couldn’t wait to leave. We were out of there by 9am, and ended up in the city centre where nothing was open.
This hotel is a disgrace and an embarrassment to Birmingham; small wonder people have such a bad impression of the city, if this is their abiding memory of it. I imagine many hoteliers who hear such sentiments nonchalantly shrug and think, “Well, we’ve been going [however many] years and have had no other complaints.” I would ask, does that denote that there is nothing to complain about, or that the British do not like to kick up a fuss? Hmmm, I wonder…
I’ve stayed in a lot better, for a lot less. Avoid the Astoria. A
nd if anyone knows of a decent place to stay while in Brum - and not the Hotel Du Vin, too expensive - I'm all ears.
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