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Prelude To A Carpet Burn
Jury's Inn (Newcastle)
Member Name: plipplop
Jury's Inn (Newcastle)
Advantages: Reasonable accommodation at reasonable prices and good location
Disadvantages: No luxuries, like
Over recent years, there has been a massive decline in the amount of business travel I undertake. Even so, I now find myself in roughly the same places each month and this means that I continue to maintain a portfolio of favourite hotels, selected on the basis of service, quality and value for money. Don't get me wrong, if budget were no issue, then my list would be rather different, but as things currently stand I'm not normally looking to spend more than £100 for a room outside of London, if I can help it
Jury's Inn in Newcastle is easily the best hotel in the city that consistently matches my budget. Situated on the western fringe of the city centre, the hotel is easily accessible from the city's road system and is also very convenient for the train station. There's nothing worse than travelling hundreds of miles to a destination, only to have to fart around with taxis at the other end, but Jury's is about 5-10 minutes' walking distance from the station, and easy to spot too. In terms of nightlife, the hotel is bang in the middle of the city's gay village, with a selection of pubs and clubs within staggering distance, but is also pretty well placed for the rest of the city's attractions, including bars, shops and theatres.
The hotel does not have its own designated car parking, but for discounted rates, you can use the multi-storey car park next door. The hotel itself is located between two busy main roads, but somehow manages to feel rather like an oasis in the middle of things, and as you approach the main entrance from the front courtyard, you feel quite detached from the bustle of the city centre. The approach now features a number of coffee shops and bars and could almost be described as al fresco, were it not for the constant stream of taxis and cars going past.
As a reasonably new building, it's good to see that space has been maximised in the entrance area, and as you come into the hotel you can't fail to be impressed by the vast modern reception area that greets you. Even at peak times, with hordes of business travellers all turning up at once, there is a real feeling of space, and there is always a good stream of receptionists to greet you and check you in. Checking in is always a straightforward process, particularly if you are a frequent visitor and all your personal details have been recorded previously. A couple of minutes' administration and you'll be brandishing your room key in anticipation of a good night's sleep (or whatever else it is that you have in mind.)
The interior décor of the hotel is fairly easy on the eye, with a modern coating of warm, Mediterranean colours to welcome you. Although the building is fairly new some of the stairways have managed to make themselves look rather old and at times, you could be forgiven for thinking that the building has been re-fitted. The hotel is arranged across seven floors with a high number of rooms, but the layout of the building is such that they're all very easy to find. Room keys are of the plastic, credit card type and once you get into your room, you'll also need the card to activate the electricity in the room.
The rooms are of a good standard, with simple, modern décor and fittings and fairly generous dimensions to boot. All rooms come with a double bed, television and telephone, with a small table and a built-in desk upon which you can get on with some work. A slight irritation for me is that there is no phone point next to the desk, which means that I generally have to set up my laptop on a side table or even on the bed. High-speed Internet access is available in the rooms, but you have to borrow a cable from reception and pay charges to take advantage of the service (Wireless internet is only available in the bar and reception area but it is free). The televisions are slightly larger than your average portable set, but only feature the basic terrestrial stations and a couple of uninteresting satellite stations. The beds are comfortable enough, with blankets and sheets rather than quilts. The rooms are all air-conditioned (an essential pre-requisite for me) and have the usual gadgets such as kettle, hair dryer and trouser press. I suppose the appeal for me is that the rooms are clean and new and you don't feel as though you're the 8000th person to sleep in the bed.
The bathrooms have a certain "Butlins" feel to them, but they're quite adequate. The baths are rather shallow, but still suitable for a soak, and whilst the showers aren't the most powerful I've ever used, they are easy to use - something a frequent traveller would never take for granted. The bathrooms are always well-sized (translates as you can sit on the toilet without closing the door) and you also get proper bath towels (Travel Inn, please take note.) Notably, the standard of cleanliness throughout is consistently excellent - these rooms are always very clean.
To keep costs down, the hotel has opted not to offer room service. This doesn't sit well with the lazy part of my nature, but in all honesty is really the way it should be. A recent visit to London incurred a cost of £7 just for a bowl of chips and a glass of orange juice brought to my room, so these days I tend to avoid such things. You can order food from the restaurant to eat in your room, but you have to go and collect it from downstairs and to be fair, the restaurant prices aren't cheap, so you'll probably find yourself eating out.
The main restaurant is a fairly innocuous affair, with a combination of tables and a couple of long bars, complete with alarmingly high stools. The menu doesn't particularly specialise in one thing, opting instead to offer a range of favourite dishes. Dinner for two with drinks is likely to set you back around £30-£35, and whilst the food isn't bad, you can find better for much less simply by venturing out into the city. More often than not, lone business travellers use the restaurant and I've yet to eat in there and find the place particularly busy. The lack of atmosphere would put most people off, but if you're feeling lazy then it's not too bad. Breakfast is also served in the restaurant and tends to be more popular, with the usual hot and cold buffet. The hotel also has a small bar on the ground floor, which tends to be open into the early hours, albeit mainly for the benefit of the deluge of business travellers. It seems to be a popular "stopping-off" place to me, but there's a big screen for the footie and a jolly atmosphere most of the time.
Service in the hotel tends to be good, with the staff opting for the more formal approach to their guests. The receptionists are courteous and efficient and some of the table staff members in the restaurant are very sweet. The barmen are a "canny" bunch as well, sharing the odd joke or two and mocking my affinity for girlie drinks at every opportunity. Once again, more regular visitors will probably feel a touch more familiarity but I've never really had cause to complain.
Pricewise, I used to get a good corporate rate of £68 during the week, which sits well in comparison to Travel Inns or your average Travelodge. Standard prices start at around £80 (what I generally pay now) and availability is largely very good. The standard of accommodation is better than the usual motels and considering that the hotel is in the city centre, the price seems very competitive to me. A room in the Holiday Inn or Thistle will cost you quite a lot more, without really offering you that much more as standard. Check out www.jurys.co.uk for regular special offers, particularly at weekends, or some of the last minute web sites for midweek deals. Weekends are hen and stag infested though, so be warned.
Whilst there is nothing about Jury's to get me (or anyone else) really excited, the overall package offers good value for money. Certainly, there is nothing much better in the city centre for the same budget. Jury's is certainly not the place for pampering or luxury, but for comfortable, affordable accommodation, this is definitely my Newcastle recommendation.
Summary: A decent, averagely priced Newcastle city centre hotel
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