Newest Review: ... any of the reviews on the place!) carefully enough I'm sure they would have known about it. It's only a small thing, but it IS irritating ... more
Barcelo Buxton Palace Hotel - We had a right royal time!
Palace Hotel (Buxton)
Member Name: Teteenlair
Palace Hotel (Buxton)
Advantages: Lovely hotel, good value, great location
Disadvantages: They could easily scrap the annoying parking charge
This year, it was my 'turn' to organise a Valentine treat after my fella whisked me off to Rome last year to get frostbite. We had recently started getting into walking each weekend and had heard that the Peak District is beautiful, so that's where I decided to look.
Superbreak is one of my favourite websites for finding cheap hotels and that's where I found our little package for the Buxton Palace. I paid £159 in total for two nights B&B and dinner on the first night - that's £40 per person per night which is a pretty good deal even for a Holiday Inn or something similar, and this looked like quite a posh hotel.
Of course, once I'd made the booking I went on lots of travel and hotel review sites and scared myself that I'd made a terrible mistake - all I saw were gripes about the shabbiness of the rooms and the awful food. I did note however that since many of those reviews had been written, the 'Paramount' Buxton Palace has been taken over by the Barcelo group, whom I've stayed with before, so I held onto the hope that some improvements would have been made.
We arrived at the hotel at around 3.30pm on Valentine's Day after driving down from the North and spending the day at the Heights of Abraham. The hotel is really easy to find as it's right next to the train station so you can just follow the rail signs once you arrive in Buxton. You cannot miss the hotel itself - it is a huge imposing Victorian building set on a bit of a hill and it looked beautiful with a dusting of snow as we pulled into the car park. (NB. I don't know what the picture above is, but it doesn't appear to be the Buxton Palace Hotel, not as I remember it anyway!)
According to the website the hotel has 350 parking spaces, so there must be some overflow car park at the back somewhere because at the car park at the front of the hotel was very small and had resulted in some imaginative parking by guests! Nevertheless we did find a space with no problems. One of the major things I've noticed in other reviews of this hotel is the fact that they charge residents an extra £3.50 per day for parking. Most people complained that they were not made aware of this beforehand, but if they read their booking documents and the website (or indeed any of the reviews on the place!) carefully enough I'm sure they would have known about it. It's only a small thing, but it IS irritating to be charged extra to park your car when you're already paying to stay there, and I think that even if they could not abolish it altogether, the hotel could maybe increase the room price by £3.50 per night without anyone noticing. It was just a bit reminiscent of booking a 'bargain' flight, only to find you have to pay for all the extras on top.
Ok, so now I've got the bad bit out of the way ... We did feel very grand I have to say walking up the stone steps towards the hotel. We entered the lobby through a rather geriatric revolving door that may pose problems for people with a lot of luggage, but our first impression did not disappoint - we walked into a large atrium with marble columns and a sweeping staircase with an enormous chandelier, and it didn't look at all shabby or dated.
Valentine's is obviously a busy time so we waited in line to check in, and when our turn came the lady on the desk was very friendly and efficient and advised us to book in for our meal straight away if we wanted to eat at a decent time, so we did. We ascended to the second floor in a rather slow and small lift, and found that we were in a newer 'annex' on the back of the building. The Buxton Palace has 118 bedrooms and four 'suites' and I guess you have to pay more for one of the rooms on the front of the hotel with the big windows looking out over Buxton. We had a smallish window overlooking the roof of another part of the hotel, but things like that don't bother us, especially in February when there are only about three hours of daylight anyway!
Our room was fairly small, but had high ceilings and enough room to manoeuvre for the two of us and was very luxurious indeed. The bed was large and high and really comfy and squashy and I have to say there was again no sign of the datedness I had come to expect - the carpets, curtains and bedding all looked brand new and were good quality so the hotel has obviously been undergoing some renovation in recent years. Furniture-wise, as well as the bed, there was a desk/dressing table, wardrobe, chair and Cable TV, and plenty of good-quality tea and coffee making facilities.
The en-suite bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom, and although not quite as plush as the bedroom, it was still nice with a good strong shower (although I noticed this was a little bit more unpredictable on the Monday morning, possibly as more people were showering at the same time across the hotel) and complimentary toiletries. A hairdryer was provided but if you have any length or thickness to your hair at all I'd strongly advise you to take your own as it seriously took me about 15 minutes longer than normal to dry my hair and if there hadn't been snow on the ground outside I would have given up altogether!
As we went downstairs for our romantic Valentines dinner I was again apprehensive after the reviews I had read. There is a small bar just off the reception area leading to the Dovedale restaurant and this is where we were greeted by another friendly member of staff and taken to our table. The restaurant is beautiful - tastefully decorated, again with very high ceilings and chandeliers and real flower arrangements on the tables. There was a set menu (starter, main and dessert) which was included in the price of our booking, but we did have the option of choosing other dishes or extras for a supplementary pound or two (payable afterwards or added to the final bill), and this was clearly marked on the menu and didn't cause any confusion. We were happy enough with the set menu though and chose soup, Beef and Vegetable Wellington, and some really charming/cheesy (delete as appropriate, I'll go with charming!) profiterole swans for after. All of it was delicious and we really enjoyed it.
I can't remember exactly how much we paid for drinks and although it wasn't cheap we did get change for a tenner for two so it can't have been THAT bad! As well as tables around the bar, there were comfy sofas in little nooks and crannies around the reception area which were nice to sit in. There was more of a 'traditional' pub type bar which we stumbled upon at the back of the building, but we found this to be closed most of the time.
The buffet breakfast was served in the same room the next day and we were again welcomed and seated, by the same lady actually (ugh, I remember working split shifts in a hotel!), and she took our order for drinks. I was pleasantly surprised by the wide selection available for breakfast - as well as the usual fried breakfast goodies, guests could also help themselves to fruit juice, cereal, muesli, fresh fruit, pastries and muffins. There was also one of those awful toasting machines which just seemed to be the toaster equivalent of the Burning Jaws of Hell - no matter how I twiddled the knobs I just ended up with a charred lump of carbon. Free newspapers were available from reception.
A wide selection of snacks and meals was also available from room service.
Unfortunately our walking weekend in the Peaks was scuppered by the inclement foggy weather, so instead we ended up having drives out then coming back to the hotel to take full advantage of the facilities. The Buxton Palace has a 15m pool, which is a good length for a decent swim but not far enough that you're working VERY hard, you are on holiday after all! It can get crowded quite easily though. There is also a small gym and a free weights room, neither of which we used because we hadn't brought suitable attire. What we DID use however, were the sauna and steam room. Again, these were both quite small, seating no more than about six people at a squash, but did we come home feeling relaxed and refreshed!! Towels were available for free hire, all you had to do was sign in and give your room number. The changing rooms were again quite plush and luxurious, in-keeping with the rest of the hotel. The showers were powerful and complimentary toiletries were available, and there were dressing tables with large mirrors and much more powerful hairdryers than the rooms. There were also plenty of large lockers which take a £1 coin.
A full range of beauty services such as manicures, pedicures, facials and massages was also available at an extra cost.
Don't listen to older reviews slating the Buxton Palace, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. I can imagine there are more luxurious hotels around but for our purposes and the price I paid I can't fault it. The only thing stopping it getting five stars is that niggly parking charge and the rubbish hairdryer.
More information can be found at: http://www.barcelo-hotels.co.uk/hotels/ northern-england/barcelo-buxton-palace-hotel/
Summary: A very enjoyable weekend, with a touch of luxury
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