This Premier Travel Inn (PTI) is on the western outskirts of Ashford just off the A2070 and is only a short hop from junction 10 of the M20. It is located in an industrial estate to the east of a dual carriageway which means it is easy to get to, however this location is also part of its downfall. The hotel itself is modern in design with three floors, a good sized car park for 200 vehicles and a restaurant alongside. Sure the bones of this review is like my previous review of the nearby PTI Ashford North, however there are differences between the two which I will go into detail later.
Bookings for this hotel like all PTI hotels can be made via the Internet or over the telephone. The web site is www.premiertravelinn.com and the central reservations telephone number is 0870 242 8000. For this hotel the direct line is 0870 977 305 and the fax line is 01233 500742. You will normally be asked for a time of arrival, which in my case is always after 6pm. If you wish to cancel you room you can ring up the hotel directly, no later than 1pm on the day of your first night.
The reception desk is always manned whenever I have arrived, but that has never been later than 8pm. The check in should only take a few minutes to get a key and go to my room. Unfortunately every time I have arrived at this hotel it has taken at least ten minutes even if there are no queues, such is the incompetence on the front desk. The rooms are spread out over the three floors, to get to the higher rooms there are some stairs and a lift. There are also 3 disabled rooms that are conveniently located on the ground floor nearest to the reception.
The décor in the rooms is bland, with cream walls, red speckled carpets and gaudy red checked curtains. The rooms are large, a wardrobe to hang clothes, a desk, a wooden chair, a T.V., a kettle, a hairdryer and beyond another door a bathroom. The bathrooms have a sink, W.C, and a bath with a separate shower nozzle, so you can have a bath or shower as you wish. Unlike the nearby Ashford North PTI the rooms are not cleaned properly and the bathrooms seemed to be missed the most. There are spider webs lurking in the corners and scum marks on the bath. Yuk!
To make things worse the mattress on the beds are soft and after a few nights here they will do my back in. This is slightly strange as a different bed in a hotel of the same chain five miles away is soft, but not to the point of screwing my back up. The rooms do not have air-conditioning, but they do have a rudimentary heater control mounted on a wall, which on one occasion did not work at all which was especially annoying as there was snow falling outside. Once again the windows do open, but they are restricted and will not open far enough to let in air. In short the rooms are average or worse.
On previous visits in the winter of 2005/6 the pub alongside called the 'French Connection' was marketed as a 'Brewers Fayre' which is a woeful chain of shoddy pubs run by the same Whitbread chain as the hotel. During my last visit in July 2007 it had been re-branded to look like an independent pub with new printed menus and different signs. Under the changed fascias I could still recognise the sordid drivel of Brewers Fayre, which was confirmed by some familiar faces behind the counters. Main meals on offer consist of meats, fish and pastas, with prices ranging from £5.99 for a water scampi and chips through to £13.99 for a 14oz rib-eye steak.
Of course I initially fell for the marketing ploy thinking that the 'French Connection' had been through a major makeover, but I was disappointed not once but twice. As the saying goes you can't make a silk purse out of sows ear and that is true in the case of the 'French Connection'. If your masochistic tendencies are not abated by the rubbish dinner you could go for breakfast. You can have a full 'chubby' breakfast for £7.50 or a lighter continental breakfast for £5.25. I never tried it but don't be surprised if it is no good as this pub is so poor that the locals I know still refer to it the 'Sh*te Connection'.
Room prices are variable depending on what day you stay, with £54 for a week night or £52 at the weekend, these were current rates on July 2007 and can change on a regular basis. This hotel is the not the worst PTI I have stayed in but is very close to the bottom for the following reasons. Firstly the location is poor as it is right alongside a dual carriageway which is used by the local 'lads' and their tuned-up cars. It's great fun in the early hours to listen in bed as another big bore exhaust blasts up the road. Next the rooms are not maintained or cleaned properly with evidence of spider webs and malfunctioning equipment. Finally the pub alongside is very poor, the staff are slow and the food is dire. The 'French Connection' may have had a lick of paint on the outside, but you can't paint over a rotten piece of timber forever. You are better off getting a supermarket pasty and eating it in your room... cold. It's much cheaper and you won't be disappointed, well not much anyway. If you are looking for a hotel to stay in the Ashford area then this is not the one, for that you could try the nearby PTI Ashford North, which is much better for the money.
This review may be found at other websites under the same username and is written by me.