“ Address: Leigh Sports Village / Sale Way Leigh WN7 4JY / Greater Manchester „
When we booked a two day 'Mystery Tour' with National Holidays for just £39 each we were not expecting great things from the hotel. The company does use some very good hotels (I am always hearing great things about the hotel it uses in Arrochar) but it also uses some stinkers (I will refrain from naming names because I've not stayed in them myself, but there are a few names that crop up repeatedly in negative reviews of National Holidays trips).
We were very surprised, then, when our bus pulled in at the Leigh Sports Village and parked up outside the Park Inn. It's not that I think of Park Hotels as being something particularly special, but it was definitely not what I had anticipated staying in.
This is rugby league country and the Leigh Sports Village is dominated by the rather swanky and new-looking Leigh Rugby League stadium. On the same complex there's also a large Morrison's store, and a sixth form college. It's just off the A579, lying between Manchester and Liverpool and 6 Kilometres from the M6. The town of Wigan is about fifteen minutes away by car. The location means that there is plenty of free parking.
Attractions that are relatively near are Haydock Park, Knowsley Safari Park, the Trafford Centre and the Pennington Flash country park.
With cheap tour like this you often find that the accommodation is just far enough out of town that people will stay at the hotel rather than going out in the evening; in other words, they have a captive audience. Fortunately this hotel is just a ten to fifteen minute walk (it should be about fifteen minutes but you can go a lot faster when it's a freezing February night!) from Leigh town centre. It's not the most exciting town in the north west of England but it gives you more options than the rather soulless looking hotel restaurant.
I don't know how old this hotel is but judging from the style and things like the road surfaces around it, it looks pretty new. The public areas such as the bar and restaurant lead off the large airy foyer. In contrast the reception desk, hidden behind a large pillar, looks to be too small. Superficially the place looks to be in good repair but there were one or two issues such as a tripping hazard in the restaurant.
We were a fairly large group but we were checked in quickly. The receptionist had a list of who to expect and rooms had been allocated in advance. This would seem obvious but not all hotels plan ahead so full marks to the Park Inn staff on this score.
This is the first time I've stayed in a Park Inn and the standard of the room met my expectations. Park Inn is the budget arm of Radisson hotels and on the basis of my experience at Leigh, I'd describe them as being at the top end of the budget range. In many respects the brand is in line with the better Premier Inns but the public areas of Park Inns seem to be of a higher quality.
Our twin room wasn't vast but neither was it cramped. There was a reasonably sized work station/dressing table and the lighting was well considered so that you could realistically use this area to work in. Bedside lamps were also well positioned, close enough for reading, but not so close you could feel the heat on the side of your head. Ours was an interconnecting room; we tried the door when we arrived to make sure it was locked; it's a shame the other people felt the need to unlock the door on their side and rattle the door handle on ours. Unless you knew the people in the adjoining room, why would you do that?
The rooms don't have much personality but they are light, comfortable and contemporary. All rooms come with a digital safe,air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities and a large flat screen television with plenty of Freeview channels as well as some additional paid for ones. We'd been very generously supplied with teabags and coffee but there were only a couple of little milk pots which was enough only for one hot drink each.
The bathroom was light, spacious and well maintained. The walk in shower performed very well; the control was at the opposite end to the shower head meaning you could adjust the temperature satisfactorily without having to stand under the water and be chilled or scalded in the meantime. Instead of bath towels there were lovely fluffy bath sheets though one of ours was shabbier than the other and had a hole in it.
Perhaps because we had skipped the evening meal the member of staff greeting visitors at breakfast time said he did not have our room number on his list. He told us to go and start our breakfast anyway and he would check with reception. We knew we were entitled to breakfast but it would have been a courtesy if, after having checked with reception, he had come to confirm that this was fine.
Breakfast is a buffet affair; the choices were well presented but unexciting. I did notice that staff were quite attentive, keeping everything replenished as necessary. One positive about the breakfast was that the food was hot without being dried out, an advantage, perhaps of staying at a busy time. On the other hand six plates had to be put aside as too dirty to use, so it was a case of 'swings and roundabouts'.
Apart from the stumble in communications with the young man at breakfast, my interaction with the staff was positive. The reception staff were friendly and helpful, providing restaurant and pub recommendations and giving directions. They had a real 'can do' attitude which I often find missing these days.
Additional facilities we didn't have time to use include a sauna and steam room.
The RBG restaurant is billed as a 'grill' specialising in steaks and burgers.
There is free wifi access in the foyer; for access in the bedrooms there is an additional charge.
We were pleasantly surprised to be staying in a hotel of this standard having anticipated something much less smart. It's not a hotel with much personality but what it offers is executed competently and cheerfully.
Booking 21 or 28 days in advance will bag you a discount of 20 per cent, while booking 10 0r 14 days early will reduce the cost by ten per cent. Generally a standard room without breakfast will cost £50 and with breakfast it's £70. I'd say that £10 each for breakfast is a bit steep. so-called 'business friendly' rooms include breakfast and cost about £86. From a quick look at the website I can't really see what advantages these rooms offer as high speed internet charges still apply.