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One of Blackpool's best? NO WAY!
Norbreck Castle Hotel (Blackpool)
Member Name: SusanLesley
Norbreck Castle Hotel (Blackpool)
Advantages: We only had to stay one night!
Disadvantages: The smell, dodgy electrics, staff attitude.
This review was originally written and published on Ciao in 2003 just after our visit to the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool and I had forgotten all about it until I read a more recent review over there and realised that this hotel doesn't appear to have improved since our visit!
First of all I will tell you a bit about the place.
It is situated on the seafront at the far northern end of the promenade at Blackpool, so it is well out of town, which is great if you like to be away from the noise and commercialisation that is Blackpool.
The hotel was built in the 60's or 70's, I can't exactly remember when but I do remember seeing it being built when I visited Blackpool with my parents for our holidays when I was a child.
As the name suggests it is built to look a bit like a castle with battlements on the top of the roof, although the outside looks very tatty and dated these days.
The hotel has 363 en suite bedrooms and 19 conference / banqueting suites. It also boasts a leisure centre with gym, steam room, spa, dance studio and beauty treatment rooms and a 36-seat cinema.
The rates are currently from £40 per person, per night for bed and breakfast based on two people sharing a room for a minimum of two nights.
Anyway that gives you a feel for what you might expect from the Norbreck Castle, now for the reality!
Dave and I won a night's stay here a couple of years ago as part of our prize from the Pleasure Beach to be amongst the first to ride Valhalla on its opening day. We had already booked a couple of nights at our favourite hotel The Imperial and this prize just happened to be the preceding night - how co-incidental can you get?
We thought that we were extending our luxury break by an extra night at no extra cost; however the truth of the matter was to prove somewhat different.
When we arrived I was surprised to see how dirty and scruffy the outside of the hotel looked, but I knew that it was one Blackpool's premier hotels so I figured maybe they were due to refurbish the outside soon.
Check in was chaotic with the member of staff who dealt with us taking ages to find the booking even though it was part of a large group of prizewinners.
We were given our key and directions to our room.
To get to our room we had to cross the lounge bar, which was spacious and well decorated with plenty of seating and a small dance floor. This was better; obviously the inside of the hotel was better looked after than the outside.
Then we turned into the corridor leading to our room and the smell hit us! It was vile. It smelled to me as though the cleaners had put their mops away still dirty and wet and the smell was permeating the whole corridor and it was strong too, not just a little whiff!
The corridor was dimly lit and, despite the smell of drying mops, was actually quite dirty. Never mind maybe it was bad day; surely our room would be better.
Well, that was a short-lived hope! The room to be fair was clean, but nothing special considering the reputation of the hotel. The paper was peeling off the walls in places and there were cigarette burns on the bed linen. Never mind, at least we have a lovely en suite bathroom.
Wrong again! As a room it was just OK, nothing special but the worst bit of the room was the exposed wires hanging from the ceiling! In a bathroom for heaven's sake! Now, even I know that water and electricity don't mix! We were both very careful not to splash any water when we used that
bathroom I can tell you.
Oh well, it was only for one night, it was free and the at least the food would be something special! OK so I give people the benefit of the doubt a bit too much - that's how I am!
Yes, you guessed it the meals were a real eye opener.
We went into the dining room for our evening meal expecting nicely laid individual tables, but what we found reminded me of the old style Butlin's layout, with long tables in rows down the room. On closer inspection there was a gap of about two inches between our table and the next, adjoining table but hardly laid out to afford any privacy whilst eating. It was clearly a case of sticking as many tables as possible in as small a space.
The menu was basic, the food was ok, but I expected something a bit special from a so-called top class hotel.
We stayed in the lounge bar during the evening and had a drink or two whilst watching the cabaret, which to be fair was very good.
We had a reasonable night's sleep, a very careful shower (due to the dodgy electrics) and then off to breakfast, surely it would be better than dinner last night?
I will digress for a minute to say that a buffet breakfast in The Imperial Hotel just down the road is a triumph! There is everything you could wish for and as much of it as you want, so we were expecting pretty much the same of the buffet here at The Norbreck. How silly!
The choice was fairly basic for a top hotel, a couple of fruit juices (not the 6 we get at The Imperial), just a few different cereals, grapefruit and a selection of hot food. Now the hot buffet was where the Norbreck really excelled! I am talking tongue in cheek you understand!
There was the usual bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, etc., but it was 'served' by a waiter rather than being a 'help yourself' set up.
I enjoy a cooked breakfast when I am on holiday and I usually eat reasonably well but not to the point of being greedy, but this waiter left me feeling as though I had asked for more food than the rest of the guests put together! I just wanted a sausage, a rasher of bacon, an egg, a tomato and a piece of fried bread - sounds reasonable? I thought so, but the waiter had a real attitude problem and had to be virtually begged to hand over the food!
I have to admit I did get quite upset about this as I was made to feel as though I was being unreasonable in my request.
The next bit of our stay at the Norbreck was the best of all - the check out! Not because it was particularly efficient, perish the thought, but because we could get out of the place never to return. The experience was made even sweeter by knowing that we were off to the Imperial for two nights of REAL luxury!
I did write to the manager and tell him about all the problems which we had encountered during our stay but he just sent us a brochure for all their other hotels and offered us a small discount off their high rates if we would like to book a further stay.
Needless to say we decided not to risk another of their hotels thanks!
As I say this review is based on a stay in the hotel in 2003 but having read recent reviews I have no reason to believe that the hotel has improved at all since then.
Summary: Never again!
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