Newest Review: ... the hospital part which wasnt converted!! The prices vary from around £30 for a single and a Superior £75. According to the website many o... more
A Paragon of few virtues
Paragon Hotel (Birmingham)
Member Name: scuba_angel
Paragon Hotel (Birmingham)
Advantages: lovely looking building
Disadvantages: dated decor, bad booking service
Something of a departure for me in many ways is this one, after the semi disasterous year I enjoyed last year this 12 months of 2008 was marked down as clearing debts and enjoying myself time - how to achieve both being somewhat of an impossible balancing act. But the debts cleared up faster than expected so in early May I turned my head to the new target - having fun, lots of it.
One of the forum sites I am a relatively active member of has pretty regular meet ups, and after deciding it was funtime the next was due to occur in Birmingham at some point during July, so in keeping with the fun but keeping out of debt ethos I went off to find some decent hotel bargains which werent going to cost me a fortune in beer tokens for a taxi.
The cheapest - and one of the most central I was advised - is the Paragon Hotel on Alcester St, one half of a converted Victorian Hospital, the other half being another more expensive hotel.
The room rate when searched online was for my purposes £40 - this rate being for a standard twin room. A single would cost £30, and a Superior twin £75. Knowing the room is going to be little more than a place to pass out the cheaper twin rate won out, so off to the online booking section I wobble (worth noting i was slightly tipsy so wobbling would be the best description). Filling in basic details as are required for a hotel booking including card details to pay a deposit, press confirm. Simple.
Only it wasnt, 24 hours later still lacking any sort of confirmation email I called them up, after apparently speaking to someone I virtually every dept finally a Reservations bod gets on the other end of the phone. No record of my booking, which is slightly concerning, how many other people have they failed to book with the same problem? Heyho, hand over the details again, only now my £40 room only booking can is slightly different for an extra £5 there is breakfast included. Probably wise thinks I, a night out boozing with webforumites and breakfast before the train home is bound to be most sensible.
So armed with my booking reference I head off to Brumopolis on Saturday morning around four weeks after making the booking.
Collecting my roomate for the evening we have a vodka or two before heading to the hotel to check in and get ready for the main event.
The exterior of the building is very impressive looking, and certainly makes it appear to be more than a budget hotel.
But at reception there is a problem, despite having called and made a booking over the phone, there is no record of my booking, my booking reference is coming up a blank also - something that seems to be a common issue.
So back to the can I have a room conversations then, as luck would have it a double room was avaliable which suited us just fine since this was not the roommate I originally expected. And at the £40, no breakfast rate. Handing over the card to pay for the room I had to wonder what on earth they'd done with the two other sets of card details I'd given them.
Once this is done, heading up to the second floor room, we are faced with narrow corridors, I would imagine just about wide enough for wheelchair access but not by much, and rather dated looking decor.
Once in the room, we find it is small, the walls are a chocolate brown colour and the curtains a 'muddy' green. A fixed desk has the brew kit and a random lamp which I couldnt for the life of me figure out how to turn off without unplugging it. The bed which is a standard double feels small, has a rather thin quilt and heavier blanket at the end. The outside wall has two long narrow windows in it, the walls are very thick which with the brown paint made the room feel even smaller than it was. The desk, and bedside tables are a wooden with a black finish.
The ensuite was pretty standard, white tiles, with a strange white rubbery floor tile, decent sized mirror over the white sink, the toilet looked ancient, the shower a typical small cubicle. All very clean if not luxurious. Towels were found under the hanging space and on a towel rack in the ensuite, ranging in size from postage stamp to bath sized, alongside the towels was an extra blanket.
The bed was for my taste alittle too firm but the male said it was too soft (an issue me thinks next time I take him out on the lash), though in general after a gut full of booze neither of us were that concerned.
Thankfully the room keys are an actual key rather than those keycards, and the key fob activates the electricity in the room so you cant lose it in the room and you are expected to drop it off at reception on the way out (but that then required remembering to pick it up again later so I didnt bother).
Space for hanging clothes and storing bags is next to the door, making the entry feel quite claustrophobic, particularly with the colour scheme.
The room we were in had a connecting door to the next room presumably for families to use.
Outside the hotel there is a 24 hour taxi rank, and certainly when coming and going there was always at least one taxi waiting at it so you dont need to get the staff to call you a car to get back in to the city. From the hotel the taxi fare was either £5 or £7 depending on the time of night which for a journey of little over 1.5 miles seems pretty average these days.
In general though for the price I paid, the annoyance of them
losing my booking was a fairly minor issue, after all, all I wanted from the place was a bed to pass out in and a bathroom to potentially throw up in. Both of which were present, clean and even findable when drunk (my navigation system is bad at the best of times drunk it is none existent).
According to the blub the hotel has a bar and restaurant, I found neither, though from the looks of things there was a wedding on when I arrived.
Summary: Decent budget hotel if you book days before you travel
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