The Travelodge Plymouth A foreword: denizens or supporters of the aforementioned City should look away now, or pretend I mean another Plymouth entirely. (There's probably at least a dozen in the USA if you look). Deeply depressing, soulless and unashamedly bland - and that's just the City. A less charming locale to site a Hotel I have yet to find, with the accommodation in question hidden inside a drab high rise block that shares space above street side restaurants with offices, overlooking a giant, unkempt roundabout, a short distance away from the low budget end of the main shopping area, and opposite a monolithic block of concrete joylessness that constitutes a dilapidated multi-storey car park. I had the misfortune to stay here enroute to Cornwall one summer, and upon navigating the insane one way system now common to all major urban centres, and having parked in the aforementioned car park as directed by the Travelodge website, I walked across to the tiny ground floor reception and presented my booking. I had expected a nicely coloured card or token to stick in my car window to show the car park attendant that I was a Travelodge customer and allowed to park my car overnight for a reduced rate as explained, but was rather underwhelmed by the offering of a sheet of A4 with a hastily printed jumble of words that seemed to imply the same, but using the words of a 12 year old. Perhaps I should have seen the sign (quite literally) as a warning. Yet, anticipating a drink in the pub that had taken over a disused bank across the road, followed by a meal at the least chain looking of the restaurants within a short amble of the hotel, followed by a good night's kip in a comfy bed, I waltzed merrily up to my room on the umpteenth floor. Smaller than the usual generous size (as to be expected in the converted hotels rather than the far superior custom built ones), my room was decidedly dated, having been furnished some 20 years ago, and showing considerable wear. The bathroom plastic was worn and yellowing, the kettle looked too good for a Pound shop, and the carpet had seen several thousand heavy pairs of feet too many. As it turned out - the beer was good and the meal more than acceptable, but details of those are for other reviews. My night's sleep was, however, less than stellar - the window, being in a high-rise was fitted with a lock to prevent me falling out of it (oh look, the door is over here, and above the sofa, how odd...), and opened a full 2 inches to allow ingress of a pitiful quantity of fresh air. So it was that I near broiled in the summer heat, a pointlessly small window opening my only source of ventilation, and I awoke less refreshed than I can remember being for some time. Overall - considering that this was as usual, a cheap room, £29 methinks or thereabouts, I should just be grateful and accept shortcomings. But enough of being feeble in a British way about things. I marched down to reception, and when asked how my stay was, told them exactly how unsatisfying it had been. Obviously the receptionist couldn't have cared less and was itching for me to leave so that she could return to reading her hastily stashed magazine that was barely hidden below the counter. I would hesitate to recommend this stay to anyone - there are plenty of hotels in Plymouth, and should you actually need to stay there then the chances are you'll find something better than the Travelodge.
The theory goes that the best beer you'll ever drink is the one you get when you are most thirsty, the best meal when you are most hungry, and the best hotel when you are most desperate to be home. I found myself on the weary end of a five hour, 270 mile drive. The objective being to attend a short but stressful meeting with a client. Alas it wasn't short. Alas it was stressful. With darkness falling I found myself on the edge of Plymouth wishing I was 270 miles away. So with a heavy heart and a light overnight case I started to follow the directions to the pre-booked hotel that the company had so thoughtfully arranged for me. Always an optimist I visualised the comfy room and the cool beer waiting for me. Just fifteen minutes later I was walking into the plush, four star lobby to claim what was rightfully mine. Sinking feeling. "I'm sorry sir I can't seem to find your reservation". ?Well look again? (grumpy business man starting to show through otherwise professional veneer). A few moments more and the hotel manager turned up to inform me that the company credit card used to reserve my room had ?been declined?. Funny in a twisted sort of way. "No problem", I announce, "because I have one made of plastic and not rubber!? "Sorry sir", they reply, "but we are now fully booked". I am advised to try a little further down the road where there are plenty of lesser hotels. The staff busy themselves with legitimate, fee paying customers. It's now got to the point in the evening when my stomach starts rumbling. Tired, hungry, completely lost up a one-way street, I pull up outside a lesser hotel a little further down the road. My company won?t book hotels like this one because they?re not part of a big chain. Still, it looked nice and friendly, probably my biggest need was for ?friendly? right then. The Riviera Hotel in Plymouth. I gingerly e nter the front door and, with a note of pleading in my voice, enquire after a room for the night. Relief! A room, a restaurant, and a bar. I felt the tears welling up but managed the check in process without embarrassment. In short I found this a really friendly, comfortable hotel which is well placed for seeing historic Plymouth. In long? The Riviera Hotel is a husband and wife run venture. Both are charming and friendly and have the knack of being there when needed without making you feel like you are under observation. The hotel itself has eleven rooms with the usual accoutrements (teas maid, TV, hairdryer, beds, cupboards - you get the idea) and has that recently redecorated feel to it. All rooms are non-smoking ? hurrah ? although the bar did have ash trays ? boo! There is a bar, a cosy restaurant, a bar, a lounge area, a bar, a staircase to go up and down with, and of course a nice bar. The architecture is Victorian and I?m sure Her Majesty would have been amused by the comfortable furnishings, especially in the bar. I had a wonderful meal there, freshly prepared and negotiated to be slightly off-menu (me a fussy eater ? you don?t know the half of it). Did I mention there was a bar. That was good too. After a pleasant evening chatting at the bar with my host and a deep, rejuvenating sleep I decided over breakfast to use MY TIME and spend some of Saturday morning doing the tourist bit before heading home. Plymouth is a great spot for a holiday visit. The Riviera is walk-able to lots of tourist sites. Take a look at the City Info Directory at www.plymouth.gov.uk which, although trying and failing to be all things to all people, provides lots of local information. The town is steeped in history. Something about the Pilgrim Fathers playing bowls with Sir Francis Drake before sailing off to Spain - or somewhere like that. Here are some useful bits of information? The Riviera Hotel 8 Elliot Street The Hoe Plymouth PL1 2PP Its off Citadel Road - watch out as this is a one way street. Phone +44 (0) 1752 667379 Fax +44 (0) 1752 667379 E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.rivieraplymouth.co.uk/ You may have guessed by now that I would go back there ? perhaps for a long weekend break and no nasty business meetings. You can?t make a hotel into a home but The Riviera does a good job trying.
Our stay at the Copthorne Plymouth marked the low point of our holiday touring the South of England, and was probably the worst hotel I have ever stayed at. The hotel is located on Armada Way, rather out of the way of most attractions and a fair walk from the Hoe. It is quite close to the shops, but Plymouth does give you the impression of being past its best, and the Copthorne reflects this in the extreme. We found the hotel, and when we checked in we were struck straight away that it wasn't what we had expected. It is marketed as a 4 star hotel, but from the small reception area with no redeeming features, it did not give us the impression of this. We found our room, and my heart sank. It was not only tiny, but the furnishings looked like they had not been changed for 30 years. I sat miserable for a few minutes, wondering what to do, before I called to complain. I also wanted to ask why we were not able to use the minibar which had been removed. The reception clerk said they only had minibars in the upgraded rooms, and when I said I was not happy with the room in general, after some negotiations the Manager came to our room to take us to a Superior Room. Although my memory of our original room is rather blurred, as we spent so little time there, I took photographs of our 'Upgraded' room for posterity. We were somewhat relieved to see it was an improvement, but still would be considered a poor substitute for a Travelodge!! One word springs to mind - Seventies. If we had been told this hotel had a Seventies theme, we may not have been shocked. As it was masquerading as a Luxury property, the rooms and general decorations would have been laughable if we hadn't been so disappointed. Our room though large, was a strange L shape, with a tiny wardrobe and chest of drawers with white formica doors and brown handles at the far end. I swear these came from MFI (a cheap flat pack furniture company) in about 1975. I reme mber having something similar when I was a child!! We also had a minibar unit in a fake mottled teak effect and also a dining table in a teak colour and pink dralon covered dining chairs - I have no idea why. An armchair in peach coloured dralon added to the effect. Our bed was contained within a fitted light mock wood effect bed head with lamps attached, the like of which I have not seen for years. The carpet was a cheap looking turquoise patterned affair, the bed covers were in an unpleasant shiny pink fabric and the curtains round the huge windows on this monstrous building were in a nauseating pink pattern with nearly matching valance. No dressing table existed, but there was a shelf below a mirror by the side of the bed. The bathroom was terrible, with old fashioned yellowy cream fixtures and a corner bath, which I am sure the hotel thought very luxurious about 25 years ago!! We had intended to dine at the hotel on one evening of our stay, but again the descriptions of the bar and restaurant were blatantly misleading. The 'cocktail bar' where we hoped to sip a martini, was like a bar from a seaside boarding house, the like of which I hoped I would never have to see again. The tiny marble effect bar and a mirrored column stood at one end, with shiny plastic covered sofas and chairs dotted around on the dark geometric patterned carpet that would have been more at home at Heathrow Terminal 3. As they seemed to have run out of these classy furniture items (!!) a few tables and chairs had been brought in - I recognised them as the same that graced our bedroom. The dining room, which we saw in its full glory the following morning, consisted of a filthy beige carpet, light tables and chairs, that looked a bit like cane furniture on first impressions. A pub attached to a Lodge hotel would have had more class. The service at breakfast was terrible, we had to queue outside waiting for a table, then half the cutlery was missing. The c hoice of items was poor and the toast machine was a veritable fire hazard!! I can't stress enough how bad this hotel was. If it was a three star property you would think it was pretty disappointing. There are various Lodge properties in or near Plymouth, and if you find yourself having to stay here (which I wouldn't recommend) then save yourself £40 a night and book a Travelodge instead. There are no good things to say about the Copthorne. It is way past needing renovations and is in a time warp, both in relation to the service and in particular the rooms and restaurants