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The Pain Au Chocolat Palace
Hotels in Coventry
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Hotels in Coventry
Date: 24/03/04, updated on 24/03/04 (68 review reads)
Advantages: Nice peaceful location, Pastries around the clock, That restaurant manger!
Disadvantages: Noisy rooms, A "no shorts in the hotel" room, but also no changind rooms at the gym
The rooms, of which there are 200, are all en suite and spread out along long winding corridors over 3 floors. Strangely, thought, the lifts do not serve all floors, one doing ground to 1st, and a different one doing 1st to 3rd. Realising this when we were on our way up, we chose to climb the winding staircase to the next floor, rather than hunt around for the other lift. The corridors really do twist and turn here and there, more than any other hotel I've stayed in, but there are a few signs (not enough in my opinion) and the room numbers follow in a semi-predictable order, so we eventually found our rooms.
Inside the first thing I noticed was a large sign reminding us to lock our doors whenever we left the room - making this the first hotel with non-automatic locking doors I've stayed in in western Europe for years. The room itself was large and rectangular, with a smaller rectangular bathroom taking up one corner. The usual suspects were provided (bed, desk, chair, wardrobe, iron) with a few nice extras - free mineral water as well as tea and coffee, free internet access, chocolate chip cookies on the hospitality tray. All rooms have double beds, tho
ugh most of these are only ever occupied by one person at once given the clientele of this hotel (conference guests and administrators).
The bathroom was spacious and clean, with a large, high bath that I found hard to step out off after a shower since, following a recent trampolining mishap, I am currently sporting a hand so bruised it is black on one side and a lovely green colour on the other. Otherwise the bathroom was nice, and came with heated towel rails though these housed only one large and one small towel, and no extras were to be found anywhere in the room. The toiletries were posh 'uns - from the Gilcherst and Soames Spa Therapy range - and a nice mixture of shampoo, shower gel and body lotion bottles were provided, along with an "essentials kit" of cotton wool balls and buds, plus a tiny nail file.
The room was warm, and though only one window opened, I was able to cool it down thanks to the fan that was waiting for me on the desk. Given that I went in March, I imagine this would be an essential item during summer. The view from the windows was nice - of rolling grass plains and a large, calm lake - showing me just how different university campuses can be. A TV completed the room, though it had poor reception of channels 3 and 5, and no sky or cable ones to make up for it. There was a good selection of lighting, from strong overhead lights to dimmer mood lighting to bright over bed reading lights. The rooms were not very soundproof - I could here the girl next door splashing in the bath around midnight - and many people commented over breakfast the following morning that when their neighbours fiddled with the locks of their own doors, it felt like theirs were being opened. I too felt it was the first UK hotel where I wished I'd brought my door alarm - something that I had to get after an alarming trip to a supposedly posh hotel in Slovakia a few years back. Little knocks and rustles kept me awake for a while, which is
not the kind of night you want before an intense day of graduate assessment.
Inside the hotel is a gym which I braved during my stay. It is a tiny room, with one treadmill, one stepper, one rower and two bikes, but half the equipment was of a high standard, making up for the other bits that seemed to have been there for decades. Guests can use the university sports facilities for free, but these were across campus, and I didn't feel I had time to walk. If you had a car with you, a climbing wall, swimming pool and fully equipped gym were available, along with squash and tennis courts, and football pitches.
The restaurant, located on the ground floor, serves 3 meals a day to delegates if they need them. We were booked in for dinner, all 500 of us, and we were seated and served efficiently. A special mention has to go to the restaurant manager that day, who, on being told my an alarmed waitress that I was not eating, came over personally to find out why, and what he could do about it. I explained the story, fussy eater, minute selection of fancy food on the set menu, blah, blah, blah, and he then assured me they had every food imaginable in the kitchen and the chefs would cook me whatever I wanted. I agreed that some pasta might be nice, and he reappeared a moment later to offer me a selection of shapes and sauce options Once more I explained that I don't do sauce, and that I hoped this would not upset the chefs since some have been offended in the past by my refusing to try their food. He then replied that the chefs were paid to cook whatever he told them, and that plain pasta would be on its way with the rest of the groups' food. Sure enough it turned up, and was delicious. He popped back several times to make sure everything was ok, and to ask it I was staying all week, and also what I would like for breakfast. He was an outstanding member of staff who offered a level of service I would never expect, and have never had outside of my re
gular, local restaurants before.
Breakfast in the morning was a buffet affair, where I was happy with the "normal" selection. A cooked breakfast (nice but cold was the verdict from those who had it), selection of cereals, large fruit salad bar, rolls and croissants were all available, along with tea, coffee, and two types of fruit juice. Not the most extensive breakfast buffet I have ever tried, but certainly adequate. Lunch was again a buffet style meal, but we did not get to try it, being provided instead with packed lunches to take away.
The conference facilities were good - room after room of tables, chairs, plug sockets (in my "office" we had 12 laptops and 12 printers all needing to be plugged in), flipcharts and so on. Each one was clearly labelled, so although we were sharing with several other conference teams, we never got muddled. Every floor had a coffee room, with hot and cold drinks (fresh fruit juice and chilled mineral water) and plenty of snacks - baskets of mini packets of biscuits, and tray after tray of pasties, muffins and donuts. Needless to say we never needed to be told twice that we should maybe think about taking a break.
Scarman house is a nice conference venue, and one of the better ones I have been to in recent years. It's expensive as they all are, but since companies pay or at least wangle subsidised rates, that doesn't really affect us. The hotel is 4 miles from Coventry station, and two trips showed me that in usual daytime traffic this is a confirmed £7.40 trip. Busses also link the campus with the station and town areas. The nearest airport is Birmingham, which is 20 minutes from campus. Free car parking is available on site, and driving directions can be found in pre-conference delegate packs, or on the website. Note the Warwick University is miles and miles from Warwick - Coventry is by far the nearest city.
Prices start at £158.00 per person, full board including s
nacks and conference rooms and equipment. More information on the hotel, and what prices include can be found at:
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