“ Haunch Lane, Lea Marston, Sutton Coldfield,Warwickshire,B76 0BY. Tel: (01675) 470468 „
The Lea Marsden Hotel is somewhere we decided to stay on a family short break last weekend. We want to take our 4 year old son away before the new baby arrived and as he is animal mad we decided to take him to Tywcross Zoo near to the hotel as a change from going to Chester Zoo as we often have done. I found a deal for a family stay on the Hotel's own website of a two night stay with breakfast for us all for £174 which I thought was a reasonable price to pay for a 4 star hotel for two nights.
Where is it
We travelled from York to the hotel which took just over two hours to do. The hotel was easy to find located just off the M42 at J9 and then travelling for about a further 2 miles to the hotel. The hotel car park is barrier operated but you need no codes to get in and out so how secure this is I don't know but we certainly had no problems during our stay there
We had pre booked our family room and check in was certainly nice and smooth the receptionist had all of our details ready and was pleasant and friendly throughout the check in process telling us where the various facilities were located as well as our room. The friendlessness of the staff during this process I found to be excellent and not only did she address my husband and I but also spoke to our son asking him about what he wanted to see and do on his holiday and this level of service I think showed a great first impression. She also took a swipe of our card details should we wish to place items on our room bill.
The room we had was located on the ground floor to the rear of the building. The room was well located for us as it was away from the conference and banqueting facilities so we knew we wouldn't be disturbed by the noise of a wedding party that was happening that evening. Our room was backing on to the hotels golf course so again was nice and quiet for us. The room was a lovely large size and contained a double bed and a single bed for our son and did not feel cramped or cluttered in anyway. The beds themselves were very comfortable and we were all able to get a good night's sleep which for me at 8 months pregnant is not always easy. The tea and coffee making facilities in the room worked a treat though the kettle was a bit noisy. The décor in the room has a modern feel to it with burgundy and cream colour schemes. However the modernisation didn't seem to extent to the bathroom which looked a bit like an 80's hotel room with peach moulded bathroom features. This I felt let the room down a bit as it appears that modernisation was only half done. However the great feature in the bathroom was the excellent shower this was a full on wake you up style power shower that certainly got us on nicely clean and awake in the mornings.
Leisure and gym facilities
The hotel is equipped with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna as well as a gym. For us it was the inclusion of the pool that was one of the key reasons we booked the hotel as we find it is often a nice way to end a day on holiday with a swim. The hotel only allows access to the pool for children at set times and if you are not going with children I would advise avoiding these times as it was a bit busy on the Saturday night with children so made swimming lengths a bit tricky. However on Sunday night we had the pool to ourselves which was a great treat. The access to these facilities is by the reception desk and you need to be buzzed though which wasn't an inconvenience for us. You sign in at the spa desk and can get your complimentary towels. These are full sized bath sheets which were lovely and fresh and more than adequate to cover my pregnancy bulge so should fit most people! The changing rooms are separate with no family changing so do decided who is having the children if you go down beforehand. There are lockers provided and these are nice and roomy and take a pound coin to lock that is returned. The facilities here are lovely and modern with powerful showers to help get you clean after a swim or a work out. There is also shower gel provided as well as hand cream and hair driers, these it does have to be said are not that powerful so it does take a while to dry your hair. The pool itself is a kidney shape with the Jacuzzi to the side there is no real shallow end. It was delightful, clean and the temperature is nice and warm. The pool is however highly chlorinated so if you get stingy eyes with chlorine make sure you do have a good set of goggles with you. My husband used the steam room and Jacuzzi and felt these were again nice and clean and more than adequate for a hotel size wise.
My husband is a bit of a gym freak and loves his work outs so one morning he went down to use the gym whilst our son and I slept soundly for a bit longer. He thought the gym for a hotel gym was fantastic with lots of modern equipment that was top of the range and compared very similarly to the gym equipment at his usual gym. He did have to sign a health declaration when going so do be aware of this.
There is a spa which I had hoped to book a treatment for but I stupidly didn't pay attention to the " be advised to book" that it told me on the website so was unable to book a treatment as they were fully booked on the Sunday so my advice would be to book in advance if you fancy a treat.
The hotel has two areas where you can eat on an evening the Addelery restaurant and Hathaway's bar. We chose the Bar area as this was less formal and would be more relaxing with a 4 year old. It seemed a lot of people had the same idea and on the first night Saturday the bar was very busy which meant a delay in service. We had to wait about 30 minutes for our order to be delivered on the Saturday which compared to the 15 minutes on the Sunday evening was quite was quite marked. However the service in bar was again very friendly ensuring we had all we needed when delivering the food. You do have to order the food at the bar which does make it very similar to some of the major pub food chains however the quality of the food I think is markedly higher. On the first night we ordered from the Prix Fix menu for both my husband and I and this does represent good value at £13.95 for two courses. My dish of chicken with pasta was cooked a treat though I could of done with a bit more of the pasta. My husbands braised beef was lovely and tender and made me wish I had picked it too especially as the dauhpinouse potatoes were also lovely and moreish. The puddings we chose were cheese and biscuits and Eton Mess. The cheese whilst nice was a little disappointing in that I expected there to me a bit more local cheese with it rather than a standard stilton and cheddar and only one local cheese of sage derby. The Eton mess however was delicious and I can certainly say it is the best Eton mess I have ever had, it not only had whole strawberries in it but a strawberry sauce running though the cream and meringue mix that made it very sweet and fruity. My son ate both nights from the children's menu one night he had the spaghetti and meatballs and the next chicken strips and chips. Both of these were well cooked and seemed homemade rather than massed produced and the chicken strips were defiantly proper pieces of chicken rather than reformed chicken. On the second night we both choose a steak for our meal which was cooked to perfection for us both with nice side orders.
Breakfast is served in the Adderley restaurant we experienced two types of breakfast on the Sunday morning everything was buffet style but on the quiet Monday morning the cooked section of the breakfast was cooked to order rather than being served on the buffet. On both occasion the cold items including cereal, rolls, juice and the continental breakfast were served buffet style. You are seated by staff in the restaurant and offered hot drinks which are brought to the table. The selection of cereal is standard fare with the usual items such as flakes, rice cripses muesli etc. the fruit that is on offer I have to say was great and lovely and fresh and not tinned, there was a good choice of freshly sliced melons, pineapple pink and white grape fruit and some strawberries all of which was hugely popular with our son both mornings. The rolls included plain rolls and Danishes or again for the younger guests some small muffins. The section on the continental breakfast of the various soft cheeses and air dried meats certainly made me wish I wasn't pregnant and could eat them as they looked delicious. The cooked breakfast I feel is the area that let the breakfast down. Buffet style the fried eggs were rubbery, the bacon tough and not really appetising and the sausages seemed to be not of a good quality really they tasted of nothing really and didn't have any flavour at all. The morning of the cooked to order breakfast was better with beautifully cooked poached eggs but still hard bacon and tasteless sausages. I always think the breakfast in a hotel is one of the last chances to impress the guest and I feel the cooked breakfast here just fail to deliver the way they should for a hotel of this standard compared to how well cooked the evening meals are.
This was again handled well with a great friendly approach. They were more than happy to split part of our bills over two cards and checked that everything had been ok. The bill was nice and accurate and we didn't need to question any charges on it all.
The hotel does have a golf course, driving range and gold shop so golf fans may like a break here. The hotel also has conference and banqueting facilities which seemed to be well used during our stay.
The hotel can get cheap tickets for Drayton Manor and Tywcross Zoo which are close by. I was disappointed in this and this may be due to going out of main season but despite ringing to check they did have the tickets for the Zoo when it came to the day to buying them the staff couldn't find them. They were hugely apologetic for this, but it did mean we paid about £10 more for the zoo than we would have liked.
I would definitely recommend this hotel to families who want to visit some of the nearby attractions as the family rooms are a great size and all the staff from check-in to the restaurant to the pool were very helpful and friendly. The hotel is also close to the Birmingham NEC and I think would make a good location for visiting exhibits there as we noticed a few people who had been to Crufts staying at the hotel. I always think the best indication of a hotel recommendation is would you go again and we certainly would. The disappointments of the cooked section of the breakfasts, the tickets for the zoo and the modernisation not including the bathroom mean I am going to give it 4 stars.
Hotel contact details
Lea Marston Hotel
B76 0BY Tel: (01675) 470468
Fax: (01675) 470871
Last week I was required to take a trip to Birmingham for business purposes and the company I work for decided to book me into the 4 star Lea Marston hotel for a 3 night stay.
Located in the North east of Birmingham, 8 miles from the International Airport, the Lea Marston Hotel is one the of the leading independent hotels in the area and luckily for me was located about 5 minutes from the office where I was required to be for the next 3 days. It's about a 20 minute car journey from the airport, near Sutton Coldfield and is set on 54 acres of land. I flew down so a colleague of mine collected me from the airport and transported me to the hotel.
Unfortunately as I was there for business and did not have my own transport with me I was unable to explore the area or visit any local places of interest which includes the Bullring shopping centre located in Birmingham City centre, the Drayton manor theme park (although I think I'm getting a little old for theme parks), Tamworth castle and others.
***ARRIVING AT THE HOTEL***
The Hotel itself has secure car parking (although it didn't seem very secure to me) with barriers at both the entrance and exit. To enter the car park all you have to do is press the button and the barrier opens, it's not linked to reception or anything like that.
The hotel reception is not clearly marked out and as there is a couple of entrances into the hotel itself I was a little confused as to what entrance I needed to go in, but luckily I wasn't on my own and was directed to the correct door.
My first impression upon entering the reception area was 'ooooh this looks nice'. The reception staff were very helpful and friendly and they had me checked in, in no time at all. I was asked if I would be using the leisure facilities during my stay to which I replied "of course" and was shown exactly where to go should I require to use the gym or swimming pool.
***WHAT'S ON OFFER AT LEA MARSTON***
The Lea Marston hotel offers a variety of short breaks including; the family break, the romantic break, a Christmas break, Spa breaks and a murder mystery break or if you're just looking for accommodation while attending an event at the NEC the hotel can provide accommodation for that too. Complete with 88 en suite bedrooms which is inclusive of 5 suites.
***The Family break***
As previously indicated, the Lea Marston hotel is a 4 star hotel in the North East of Birmingham and offers family break packages in either 2 or 4 night stays. The 2 night stay costs £149.00 and the 4 night stay £279.00 for your accommodation, breakfast and complimentary use of the leisure club for up to 2 adults and 2 children under 12 and also offering the additional option to buy discounted tickets for the Drayton Manor Theme park so that the whole family can enjoy a day out together.
***The Romantic Break***
As with most hotel accommodation you're almost always guaranteed to get a romantic package so that you can whisk away that special someone and Lea Marston is no different, offering overnight accommodation, dinner, bed and breakfast, complimentary chocolates in the bedroom upon arrival and complimentary access to the leisure club. A romantic break package will cost 109.00 per couple per night.
***A Christmas Break***
The Lea Marston even offers a Christmas break for those families or couples looking to get away from it all during the festive season. Options are for 3 or 4 nights.
A 3 night stay is priced on the website as follows
per adult £329.00
per child £159.00 (5-12 years)
A 4 night stay is priced on the website as follows
Per adult £379.00
Per child £169.00 (5-12 years)
The Christmas break package includes all meals, entertainment, use of the leisure club, complimentary golf for those guest that enjoy a morning or indeed afternoon at the Tee. The adults staying at the hotel will receive a welcome gift in their room, and the younger guests (16 years and under) will find a present. On top of all this, guests can enjoy a special discount on all pre-booked beauty treatments.
A Christmas brochure is available for download directly from the website www.leamarstonhotel.co.uk/info/index.asppage=christmas_break_50, which details the menu that will be used and the entertainment that will be taking place over the festive period.
***A Spa Break***
Imagine you and your girlfriends indulging in some well deserved pampering perhaps for a birthday or even a hen party or maybe you just want to get away and treat yourself, then you can enjoy one of the spa break's at the Lea Marston hotel. The Lea Marston hotel has a couple of spa break packages available and include;
***The spa Sunday Package***
Now let's be honest. How many of us would be able to take a trip into Birmingham for a 1 night stay on a Sunday, unless of course you live there, I know I certainly wouldn't, as I live too far away, however, guests can enjoy the following Spa package on Sunday's only for a mere £80.00 per person (beware, this price is based on 2 people sharing so don't plan on going by yourself if you want to take advantage of the price) inclusive of;
* Mini Facial
* Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage
* Use of the leisure club
* Dinner in Hathaways
* Luxury overnight accommodation on Sunday night
* Full English Breakfast
***The Mini Pamper Stay***
Or alternatively guests can take advantage of the mini Pamper stay for £110.00 per person per night which is valid on any night of the week and includes;
* Mini Facial
* Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage
* The opportunity to relax in the Health spa
* 2 course dinner
* Overnight accommodation
* Full English Breakfast
***The murder mystery weekend***
I don't know about you but I enjoy watching a good old murder mystery on the TV so I think I would really enjoy a fun packed weekend right in the thick of it attempting to solve the crime that's taken place in the very hotel you're staying at. Not exactly a unique idea as there are loads of other hotels that offer this sort of package, but unique or not, it's still a good option for those who enjoy the suspense and intrigue of a good old murder mystery. Prices per person per night are £89.00 which includes your accommodation, a three course dinner, full English breakfast, use of the leisure club and a full murder programme provided by murder weekends of Solihull.
Of course, as I was in Birmingham for business purposes none of the above packages applied to my stay. My stay was a basic bed and breakfast, and as I was the only female visiting Birmingham out of about 10 of my colleagues also staying in the hotel I wasn't required to share a room, and had a lovely big double room all to myself.
I didn't arrive in Birmingham until early evening so I entered my room in darkness and at first couldn't figure out how to turn the lights on not a good start , I was tired, grumpy and didn't really want to be in Birmingham to be honest, and I'd just walked through what seemed to be a maze of never ending corridors to find the room I'd been allocated. I eventually found the light switch and the room was illuminated by two bedside lights and a couple of wall lights - very cosy I thought.
The first thing I saw was one huge window right in front of me looking out onto a makeshift courtyard, with a coffee table and a couple of chairs situated in front of it. Then my eyes were drawn to the huge king size bed that I was going to be sleeping in all on my own, which looked very inviting, I couldn't wait to get into bed. The furniture was what looked to be oak effect and I had a wardrobe a chest of drawers and a blanket box complete with a television for entertainment.
I unpacked my clothes and made use of the hanging and drawer space and came across an ironing board and iron and there was also a refreshments tray by the door to the room complete with kettle, cafitierre, tea, a large pack of fresh coffee, milk, sugar and some complimentary biscuits. How unusual I thought not to have hot chocolate in amongst the hot drink selection, as not everyone likes tea and coffee.
The room was decorated in a very modern fashion, with a combination of creams and chocolates. With lovely picture panels above the bed, I found it very homely in an away from home sort of way. There was a full length mirror on the wall and some smaller mirrors situated above the drawer / dresser for easy make up application and outfit viewing outside of the bathroom.
My bedroom was complete with an en-suite bathroom which I have to admit, compared with the bedroom decor, was quite dated, peach in colour, and reminded me of a bathroom suite I would find in my Grans house, but there were clean towels, an over bath shower, bathtub, toilet, sink, and complimentary toiletries, and was as functional as any other bathroom I had used.
On first appearances the bed and the bedroom appeared to be very comfortable, until of course I slipped under the sheets with my cup of tea and my complimentary biscuits. I found that the mattress appeared to be split in two right down the middle. I was so disappointed as I was looking forward to a very comfortable night's sleep, but found myself tossing and turning all night long, always finding myself right on the crease. To top it off, every time my neighbours used the bathroom I heard the noise of flushing and pipes through the walls.
I woke the next morning feeling un-refreshed and even grumpier than I was the night before. Anyway enough about the bedroom let's move on to the leisure club.
***The Leisure club***
The Lea Marston hotel comes complete with its own leisure club called the Pinnacle Health club which is open to hotel guests and members. As I was staying at the hotel I thought I might as well take advantage of the facilities which include;
* A deck level indoor heated swimming pool
* A Spa Pool
* Steam room
* Tennis court
* Golf Course
* Beauty treatments.
I go jogging in the mornings when I'm at home but decided to take advantage of the indoor heated swimming pool while staying at the hotel. The leisure club opens at 6:30 in the morning so I set the alarm for 6:10 and headed on down for opening. You have to take a towel with you from your hotel room as they are not supplied in the leisure club and you also have to pay a pound for the locker you use which is refundable at the end of your session.
The pool was empty and I had a leisurely 30 minute swim. It's not a huge swimming pool, only 20 meters but as it was empty it was easy for me to swim wherever I wanted. I had my shower in the changing rooms rather than using the bathroom in my bedroom both to save time and because I don't particularly like over bath showers.
Breakfast is served in buffet style, in the stylish, elegant and contemporary Adderley Restaurant, where you can choose from cereals, hot selection for full English, fruit and continental breakfast options along with a selection of fruit juices. One of the things I found different in this hotel was the fact that you had to make your own toast. Most other hotels provide you with a toast rack if requested with your breakfast along with your tea / coffee, but in the Lea Marston it really is a case of eat as much as you like and get your own. The waiting staff offer you tea or coffee and then pretty much leave you to your own devices. I had a nice big cooked breakfast after my morning swim to prepare me for the day ahead and was very pleased with both the food and the service, although I did feel a little uncomfortable dining alone. My colleagues weren't arriving until the Tuesday so I had spent Monday evening and Tuesday morning on my own.
I'm pleased to say that my room was cleaned every day, and my refreshments tray re-stocked but my towels were not changed at all during my 3 night stay. The rest of the hotel seemed to be of an acceptable cleanliness standard, so not really any complaints there.
Guests have the option of the both the Adderley Restaurant or Hathaways Bistro for their evening meals. I can't really say too much about the Adderley Restaurant or it's evening meals other than my breakfasting experience as I chose to dine in Hathaways Bistro along with my colleagues for my evening meals.
***Hathaways Bistro Bar***
Hathaways reminded me very much of a sports bar, with TV's situated around the room showing various sports channels so you don't have to miss the big game if you're away from home.
The dinner menu in Hathaways is available from 6pm to 9-30pm and offers a selection of Bistro style food from sirloin and ribeye steak, beer battered haddock, salmon or pasta options and is modestly priced.
I didn't find that the menu offered up too much in terms of selection, the choice was modest and there weren't too many options on the menu that really appealed to me. Again you can download the menu directly from the website
www.leamarstonhotel.co.uk/warwickshire/hathawaysrestaurant.asp, if you want to find out more.
Ordering at Hathaways reminded me a lot of eating out at a Brewers Fayre, there is no table service as such, you merely take a note of your table number and order your food and drinks at the bar. You can add your food and drinks onto your room or choose to pay for it using a credit / debit card or cash. Again I couldn't fault the service, but found the food was mediocre and there was no wow factor for me. Perhaps had I made the choice to dine in the Adderley restaurant I may have been more impressed with the menu.
At the end of my stay I was checked out just as quickly as I was checked in and received the same friendly service with a smile. My 3 night stay including bed and breakfast and dinner for 2 nights came to a sum total of £285.00, which given my experience I did not feel was good value for money. Had the bedroom been more comfortable and not as noisy I think this would have been a reasonable price.
I spent a total of 3 nights at the Lea Marston hotel and have come to the conclusion that it's decidedly average. It's certainly not the worst hotel I've ever stayed in but it's not the best either. Located in the middle of nowhere which without your own transport isn't very convenient and although the service was excellent, the food was good, the bedroom wasn't very comfortable, and the leisure facilities were nothing spectacular.