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Great location but...
Norfolk Royale Hotel (Bournemouth)
Member Name: basboy138
Norfolk Royale Hotel (Bournemouth)
Advantages: Superb location
Disadvantages: Not recommended if you actually want to sleep!
This week, I had what I thought would be the privilege of staying at the Norfolk Royale Hotel in Bournemouth. I was on a course with my work, and this was the hotel they had chosen for me to stay at, all paid for so I didn't have to pay a penny. I started writing this review while I was at the hotel, so everything you have here is first hand information while it is fresh in my mind. The hotel is rated by the RAC as a 4 star hotel, and so I was expecting something quite luxurious. However, this is what I found.
The Norfolk Royale is right in the town centre, approximately 2 minutes walk away from the shops, and under ten minutes to the beach. The railway station is not too far either, and it is only 10 minutes drive from Bournemouth International Airport too. To access by car, the hotel is about 1 minute from the A338 Wessex Way. Traffic at rush hour can be very unpredictable, so it is best to avoid any rush hour period. Arriving during any sunny weekend will add another hour to your journey too!
Parking is good for hotel guests. To check in, there is a pull-in area at the front of the hotel. You can then check in before moving your car into the car park. This pull-in area can be extremely busy though, so be prepared to wait your turn to check in. It is also quite a tight turn into this area, so if you drive a large car, you may need to have more than one attempt!
Following the check in, you move your car around to the rear of the hotel, and into an underground car park, which is reserved exclusively for hotel guests. This is quite a good parking area, and although it has a reputation for having tight parking spaces, I didn't find it to be any different to any normal multi-storey town centre car park. To enter the car park, you input a four digit code into a reader, and drive through. Just one tip - don't do what I did and try to follow another car in. The gates will close on you, and they do not stop if your car is in the way! Your car could be damaged quite easily. Make sure you enter your code before you enter, so that the gates stay open for long enough to get you through.
From the car park, there are steps up to the hotel itself. The route is poorly signed, and there is no disabled access. I expected better from a hotel of this standard.
THE ENTRANCE AREA AND RECEPTION
I was very impressed with the tidiness of the reception. There is information available about the local area including free maps and guides. The décor is in an art-nouveau style, which looks a little dated, but it in very good condition. In this area, there is a bar which serves most drinks, although at hotel prices. If you want to drink, I suggest going to the Moon in the Square, about 2 minutes down the hill, and you will get the drinks for under half the price.
There is also a concierge desk, although the whole time I stayed, there was nobody at the desk. They were too busy on reception. I could have just tried at the wrong time, and I'm sure if you used this service, somebody would be along to help very quickly.
From the reception area, there are lifts signed to all floors, and there is also a large staircase leading up the centre of the hotel. As I was staying on the first floor and didn't have much luggage, I used the stairs. The doors at the top of the stairs open and close in both directions, so it is easy to take luggage through.
As I entered my room, my initial reaction was that it was quite large, and then the heat hit me. The radiator was stuck on full power, and I couldn't turn it down at all. To counteract it, I tried to open a window. Out of 3 windows in the room, only one moved, and that only just enough to stick your little finger through it. I was not particularly impressed by this.
The room had a large queen sized bed, a mini-bar, trouser press, tea and coffee making facilites, and telephone. There was a large antique style wardrobe in the room too, and overall I was impressed with the quality of everything in the room. It was just so hot! But, then I tried to draw the curtains, and the pulley system didn't work, so they stayed open all night long. Fortunately, nobody overlooked my room!
Next, as I walked around the room, I realised that the floorboards were very squeaky. I didn't see this was a problem as it wouldn't disturb me when I was asleep. At least, that's what I thought! During the night, every time anybody walked in the corridor outside the room, the boards squeaked and woke me up. Also, and this is worse still, the boards on the room above me also squeaked, and the people above were, I think, walking around all night! They were probably having trouble with the heat like I was. Finally, having dosed all night, I heard a clatter of trays. It was about 5am and the kitchen staff were getting ready for breakfast in the restaurant, and their preparation room was directly below me. The soundproofing in the rooms was non-existent and they might as well have been throwing trays across my room!
The bathroom was great. Really good actually. It was spacious, airy, had a bath with a shower over it, and all the usual facilities. I was really impressed with that - so much so that without the squeaky floorboards, I was tempted to sleep in there… but I didn't.
With the problems in my room, you would have thought I would have complained. Well, I did! The response I got was, "Well it is an old hotel sir. The rooms on the third floor are newly renovated, and don't have these problems". I asked to be moved to a room on the third floor to be told they were all booked, so I would have to stay where I was. I wasn't in the mood for arguments, so just put up with it. I really wasn't impressed with the attitude of the staff.
The second day, I overheard something at reception which also disturbed me. Another guest had a problem with his room, and asked to be moved. The person behind the counter turned round to his colleague and said, "We've got another one who wants to be moved. It isn't going to be a good day". Now, fair enough to think this, but to say it with a guest there, and without any acknowledgement of the problem , was not at all professional. Plus… how many of us actually wanted to move rooms? Were there any good rooms?
This for me was the highlight of the hotel. The restaurant was spacious and airy, and the food was just glorious. There was a good choice of food, and a three course meal was just £25 per person. This isn't too bad for the standard of food. The staff in the restaurant were kind, courteous, and helpful at all times. If only the rest of the hotel could be like this!
Guests of the hotel have access to a gym which is close to the hotel, and is free to use. There is also a Jacuzzi in the hotel which is very popular, but guess what…. It was out of order. By the look of it, it had been out of order for quite some time! The sauna however was fantastic, and many of the guests were using it when I was there. It was almost like they were looking for somewhere else to be other than their rooms and the reception area. Personally though, I didn't feel much of a difference in temperature between the sauna and my room! The humidity was obviously different though.
Overall, I would not recommend this hotel as a place to stay. The location might be fantastic, but you want to have an enjoyable stay. I have to stay here again later this week with work, but will be asking for a different hotel in future. The restaurant is worth eating in though, in case you are unfortunate enough to stay. The staff in reception need training by the restaurant staff too. For a four star hotel, I was extremely disappointed and there is no way in a million years I would pay the top rate of £150 per room per night!!
Thanks for reading my review.
Summary: Norfolk Royale Hotel in Bournemouth - good location but incredibly noisy!
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