Whenever my family and I go away if there's a Marriott hotel available we stay there. In the past we've tried staying at more expensive hotels only to end up disappointed. The great thing about staying at a Marriott is that you always know what you're going to get. I know that for many this would be a negative but I like knowing exactly what I'm going to get when I arrive at a hotel. When I go on a trip I like to know that there's a clean room, a comfortable bed and a warm shower waiting for me at the other end and while I find that each Marriott has it's own unique qualities I know that I will get exactly what I expect. Or at least I did until now.
The Preston Marriott is located just outside of Preston. I don't drive so I had to get taxi's to and from the town centre. It cost £8 to get into the town centre and took about ten minutes. This isn't the most conveniently located hotel and I'm sure you could get one in the centre of Preston but I liked being a bit further out. I was there to relax rather than see Preston and I liked being removed from the city, it just felt more peaceful. This hotel is probably more convenient if you drive and there is complimentary parking on site (and plenty of it).
==Arrival and Reception==
We arrived at the hotel half an hour before check in and my first thought as we walked up to the hotel was that it was the nicest Marriott that I've stayed in. Located in a Victorian manor house the Preston Marriott has a very classic, elegant look. As you walk in you feel like you're in a hotel much grander than a Marriott. The majority of Marriott Hotels, this one included, are four star hotels so although they provide comfort and some luxury they're certainly not the most expensive of hotels but walking into this Marriott I felt like I could be walking into a five star hotel. The hotel seems to have retained some of the original features of the house and the décor really plays up to its origins as a manor house.
At the time I thought the check-in process had gone very well. We were greeted by a friendly woman who checked us in quickly. I paid for my room on arrival and she asked if I would like to put a deposit down for anything I might want to put on the room. I don't have a credit card any more but always have in the past when I've stayed at Marriott hotels. Usually I give them my credit card and then just put everything on the room. They ask for a credit just in case you leave without paying your bill. I had assumed I could do the same with a debit card so I asked if it would be possible just to pay for everything at the end, I told her that we want to watch a film at some point but would prefer just to pay when we check out. She agreed to this so I didn't put a deposit on the room or give a credit card. It was all very efficient and I thought it had all gone very smoothly.
We arrived in the room and went straight for the mini-bar...five years ago we would have been going straight for the wine but all we were interested in was the chocolate. Unfortunately we couldn't open the mini bar. I called reception and they told me that there was a lock on the mini bar and they would open it for me. So we went out and came back a couple of hours later and still couldn't get into the mini bar. I called again and they told me that it was open. I managed to open it eventually but it was really really stiff and difficult to open. When I finally got in there it was warm and the smell was awful. I called reception again and they sent someone to look at it. To cut what could potentially be a long and tedious story short the mini-bar was broken and we were asked to move rooms.
So we moved all of our luggage to a room down the hall. Again we went for the mini-bar and found that this one actually worked! One of the things that I thought was great about the mini-bar was that there's a section for your own food, unfortunately no one had bothered to empty it and there were things left over from the previous occupants. I suspect that the mini bar isn't checked regularly partly because of this but also because our mini bar wasn't restocked the next day. I found this frustrating because it meant that instead of getting a drink from the mini bar I either had to go down to the bar or order room service (which is expensive just for drinks). Maybe if the mini bar was regularly checked they would have noticed that the one in our original room was broken and we wouldn't have had to change rooms.
Okay, enough on the mini bar. There is certainly more to the room than the mini bar. We booked a double room and in Marriott hotels you always get two double beds in a room. The beds were really comfortable. There were a couple of things that I really liked about my bed, the first was the number of pillows. I generally don't like to sleep on pillows and will only have a pillow on an uncomfortable bed but I do like having a lot of pillows when I'm watching television or reading. There were so many pillows on this bed and they were just perfect for watching television. The other thing that I liked was that there was a blanket on top of the duvet. It used to be that they had a bedspread that you would end up kicking off of the bed because it's purpose was purely aesthetic. I think having a blanket is an improvement and it was such a lovely, soft blanket that I liked just snuggling under it. The bed itself was just so comfortable, I didn't need any pillows at all. It was so soft.
Although the sheets on the bed were clean the rest of the room wasn't. The floor seemed to have been vacuum cleaned but the furniture was really really dusty and it was clear that it hadn't been dusted. I hate to think how long the room went without being dusted because the dust was really quite thick.
Our room was just a standard double room and it contained two double beds, a desk and chair, a bedside table, a table and chair (which was so comfortable that my friend refused to vacate it at all during the weekend...except obviously when we left the room), a television and of course some storage. In terms of what was contained in the room it was very good, but basically just standard for a Marriott.
Thankfully the bathroom was a lot cleaner than the bedroom. The bathroom consisted of a toilet, sink and a bath with a shower in it, all of which were clean. As long as a bathroom is clean I don't think there's much that you can really do wrong but there were a few minor issues that I had. The first was that whoever had cleaned the room hadn't stocked up the tissue. Instead of a box of kleenex we had just an empty box. There wasn't anywhere really to hang the towels which I found quite annoying. Otherwise the bathroom was fine. There were more than enough towels for two people and the toiletries were stocked up the next day so we never ran out of anything.
With a Marriott hotel you know what you're basically going to get in terms of extras. There is tea and coffee, along with a kettle and mugs, available in the room. They also provide you with complimentary biscuits. On the desk you get a pad of paper and a pen. In the bathroom we had shampoo, shower gel, soap, body lotion and a shower cap. The only items I used were the shampoo and soap, both of which were fine. I don't like to use bars of soap and would love to see the day when Marriott provide liquid soap in the rooms (surely it would be better environmentally to just refill a bottle rather than having lots of barely used soaps that get thrown away when someone checks out...not to mention all the packaging on the soap).
As we were supposed to be having a lazy, relaxing weekend we decided to get breakfast delivered to our room every morning. This will cost you an additional £3.50 if you have Bed and Breakfast or if you don't it will cost £14.95 plus the £3.50 tray charge. There were three breakfast options, a full English breakfast, a continental breakfast and healthy breakfast. All breakfasts are served with a hot drink and fruit juice of your choice.
If you don't eat meat the full English actually isn't an option. The Marriott are overall pretty awful for vegetarian food and the breakfasts aren't an exception. How it is that a hostel can manage vegetarian sausages but a four star hotel can't baffles me. My friend had the full English on both days and from what I could see it wasn't worth paying for. She commented that she had had better fry up's in cheap cafés. In addition to the fry up her breakfast came with a selection of pastries. On the first day (which was a Sunday) I ate her croissant and it was stale and hard. It was absolutely disgusting. I really had expected fresh pastries but this one tasted like it was at least three days old.
On our first morning I decided to be healthy and have the healthy breakfast...actually it was more a case of not being able to have a cooked breakfast and not wanting a continental breakfast. The only thing I liked on this breakfast was the cereal (which I could have bought myself for £2 and saved myself £16). The breakfast had in addition to the cereal some fruit that wasn't ripe and a bowl of berries that were really really bitter. I love fruit and I love berries so I was surprised that this breakfast was so awful. I barely ate any of it. It was a real disappointment.
You can't go wrong with a continental breakfast so after a disastrous breakfast on the Sunday (and a worse lunch) I decided to stick to the safe option and order some cheese and pastries. The cheese was really good. There wasn't much of it but there was a good selection of different cheeses and it was all lovely. The pastries were slightly better than they were the day before. It wasn't as hard as the one from the day before but I can't say that it was nice either. It just didn't taste fresh. If after reading this review you still want to stay at this hotel book for room only and find a nice bakery...or you could even buy croissants the day before and they'll be about as fresh as these ones were.
The Leisure Club is most definitely the strong point of the Preston Marriott (which actually considering the rest of the hotel isn't saying much). I only used the pool so I can't comment on the gym but if the pool is anything to go by I can imagine the gym is pretty good too. My friend and I decided that after all the food that we were eating we should probably try to burn a few calories...considering how much we ate during our visit it probably didn't make much difference but sometimes you just want to feel like you've done some exercise. The pool was really nice but perhaps not the best pool for actual swimming. The pool is a rectangle and one end has a jacuzzi on either side. Although it was nice to have two jacuzzis the location could have been better. With them located on either side of the pool it meant that they were taking up some of the pool space so swimming lengths when there were more than two people in the pool was difficult. However, I recognise that this is a leisure club and as such it's not really designed for exercise as such. It was a very relaxing swimming pool and I did enjoy spending time there. There was a steam room and a sauna too. Staff at the Leisure Club were friendly and helpful and towels were provided for us. Perhaps something that could be improved is the temperature in the changing room. It was so cold. When I'm getting dry after swimming I don't want to feel like I'm freezing! The changing room and the toilets in the changing room were very clean, as was the general pool area.
On our first night at the hotel we decided to have dinner in the bar. My friend ordered chicken and I ordered a cheese sandwich. I love cheese and salad sandwiches with salad cream but unfortunately the Marriott don't usually have salad cream. I decided to try my luck and asked if it would be possible to get a cheese and lettuce sandwich with salad cream and to my surprise and delight (yes, I get excited over small things) they said that I could have that! When our food was finally served half an hour or so later I asked the waitress if it had salad cream in it and she replied in a very abrupt manner that the chef was aware of what my order was so yes it did. When I bit into it it was clear that it didn't. I opened the sandwich and sure enough, no salad cream. I mentioned this to the waitress who insisted that it did have salad cream in it (even though I could see, taste and feel that it didn't) but she told me that she would get some more from the chef. She returned a short time later to tell me that he had used the last of it up in my sandwich. It's not a big deal that there was no salad cream, Marriott hotels never have salad cream, my order wasn't on the menu and I can make do without but to be lied to is a big deal and that's what makes me angry.
After dinner we ordered drinks, I had a hot chocolate and my friend had an Irish coffee. I would think that you can't go far wrong with those things, certainly not a hot chocolate but I was wrong again. The hot chocolate tasted powdery. The Irish coffee was a joke. They took all of the ingredients and mixed them together. My friend couldn't even drink it. I don't know how much she paid for the drink but I know it wasn't cheap so you would expect that they could at least get the drink right.
One thing that I will say in favour of the bar is that it's very comfortable. Throughout the bar there are a variety of different seating options with different types of tables so they do cater for different preferences. This is always a big deal for me because I like to be comfortable when I eat. I like to sit on a chair with good back support at a table that's a decent height for eating off of. There were tables like this here but there were also sofa's and higher tables for those who prefer them. The bar is quite big and it has a very spacious feel. The tables aren't all on top of each other which I like. I did spend some time during the day in the bar writing and found it was a really nice, relaxing place. It was quiet and comfortable, a little over priced but you expect that in a hotel.
In the past I've had Sunday lunch in Marriott hotels that do a carvery type lunch and they've always been really good. When I found out that the Preston Marriott did them I told my friend that we had to have lunch there because it was always so good. Booking a table was really easy, I just rang the reception desk and they booked the table for me. When we arrived we were greeted and seated immediately, the staff were welcoming and the restaurant looked lovely. The restaurant feels authentically historical with some of the original features still present in the dining room. The chairs were very comfortable, soft but with good back support. Unfortunately everything went downhill from there.
My first stop was of course the soup. I love soup and one of my favourite parts of having lunch at the Marriott is always the soup. I was really disappointed when I noticed that the soup was minestrone. There were two reasons for this, the first is that I come from an Italian family and minestrone is what you have when you want to get rid of all your leftovers, for me it's not a soup that I would pay to eat. The second reason is that although I love multiculturalism and living in a multicultural society a Sunday roast for me should be English, or British (I'm not sure if the whole Sunday roast thing is an English thing or a British thing...but it's certainly not Italian!).
So I skipped the soup and moved onto the starter. There was a fairly good range of foods available. There was salad, cold meat, cheese, potatoes and bread. I did really enjoy my starter. I liked that there was a reasonable choice of vegetarian food and it all tasted fresh...except for the bread which tasted like it had been bought in a supermarket the day before.
The main course was awful. We approached the place where a member of staff was serving meat and picked up a plate that was too hot to hold. With a serviette between my hand and the plate I asked the member of staff what the vegetarian option was. He told me that he would just go to find out. Usually there's both a vegetarian and fish option (I eat fish, I'm a pescatarian), all I could see was two different types of meat (usually there's three or four to choose from). While the member of staff went to check I noticed how dirty the area that he was serving from was. I like restaurants to be clean, I think expecting cleanliness in a restaurant is pretty reasonable, especially when that restaurant is in a four star hotel. There was grease and bits of meat and gravy on the counter...not pleasant. He returned a short time later to inform me that the vegetarian option was...pasta. Pasta? Has my nonna taken over the Marriott and persuaded them that it is in fact normal to have pasta with every meal (there's a reason I dislike pasta so much...I ate it almost every day for the first sixteen years of my life)? Did someone decide that pasta goes really well with Yorkshire pudding and gravy? Pasta and roast dinner do not go together and pasta is not a substitute for meat...it's a carbohydrate.
So I got a Yorkshire pudding, piled my plate up with roast potatoes and vegetables, covered it all in gravy and returned to my table, ignoring as I did the mess around all of the food containers because I was too hungry to be put off my food. Whoever makes the croissants at this Marriott must make the Yorkshire puddings too. No matter how much gravy I put on it it just wouldn't soften, it was really hard. The potatoes and vegetables were cold and the gravy just about warm...five more minutes and it would have been cold. It was clear that they hadn't been putting out fresh food.
The desserts looked really good and there was a really good selection. I had a chocolate cake and my friend carrot cake. The cakes weren't as good as they looked. They were quite dry and after a few bites we gave up on the cake. I didn't think that the taste was bad, in fact I really liked the taste of the chocolate cake, it was very rich which is exactly how I like chocolate. It was just that it was too dry (even with cream on) to eat much of it.
Service started off being very good. The staff welcomed us in a friendly and warm manner, escorting us to our table and taking our drinks order immediately. Our drinks were served quickly and we were directed towards the buffet. Staff removed our plates quickly and efficiently while maintaining their friendly manner. During our meal I had observed the staff offering coffee to people who had finished eating. When the member of staff came to clear our table she didn't offer us coffee so we waited but still no offer. Eventually I had to ask her for it. After our coffee was finished I wasn't sure if we were supposed to sign something to put the meals on our room or if it was automatic. There wasn't anyone around to ask by this point so we left and a member of staff caught up with us later to get me to sign a piece of paper.
On our second night we decided to order room service. I called down to reception to place our order but there was no response. I kept trying but after forty minutes decided to go down to reception to see what was going on. When I got down there another guest was placing an order for room service at the reception so I guess I wasn't the only one who couldn't get through on the phone. The man working on reception did apologise to me and I found him to be very pleasant, polite and friendly. He explained that they had had a bit of a rush and that no one had been able to answer the phones. I don't really think this is an acceptable excuse. It's a four star hotel. They know roughly how many people are due to check in and they should be prepared for that. While I understand that sometimes things go wrong so much had gone wrong by this point in our visit that it didn't seem like being so unprepared was just an isolated incident. To have food delivered to your room you have to pay a £3.50 tray charge, I really don't think we should have been charged this considering I had to leave my room to place the order which in my opinion defeats the point of room service.
We didn't have to wait very long for food, I think it was about half an hour and the food tasted really good. My friend had the same chicken she had had the night before so we knew that one was going to be good and I ordered a cheese and tomato pizza. The pizza was a really good sized portion, too big for me to finish on my own and it tasted good. I thought that the amount of cheese on the pizza was perfect, not so much that you choke on it but enough to cover the entire pizza. All the condiments for the chicken and chips were delivered with the food which was good (I hate it when you get your food and then either have to call down for ketchup or end up not having any because you feel too guilty to call someone back up).
One of the things that we had decided before we even arrived at the hotel was that we would find a nice, family friendly film for us to watch and one of the things that we specified when we checked in was that we would want to buy a film and we had been assured that it wouldn't be a problem, even if I didn't leave a credit card. So we tried to buy a film but for some reason it wouldn't let us. I called down to reception and I was informed, by a very pleasant and polite man, that we couldn't put anything on our room because I hadn't left a deposit or a credit card. He explained to me that debit cards can't be used to guarantee payment of the room and that I could either leave a credit card or pay a £50 deposit for each day that we were staying in the hotel, then when I checked out I could either pay the difference or be refunded the difference depending on how much we had spent. This seemed fine, it's completely reasonable to have some guarantee that someone will pay for what they've used. The member of staff explained it in a way that made it easy to understand (not that it's a difficult concept) and I was left wondering why it hadn't been explained when we checked in. You see the problem was that by this point our bill was already at nearly £100. This was the second night of our two night stay and we had been putting most things (with the exception of dinner on the first night and some drinks) on our room. This clearly indicates that there's something wrong with their system. What's the point in people giving deposits or leaving credit cards if you're just going to let people put things on their room anyway? I went to reception, paid the deposit and was given a receipt for everything we'd already spent. Going down to reception to pay the deposit was a bit of an inconvenience, particularly as we were in our pyjamas ready for bed but the problem was quickly and easily solved.
On the way back up to the room I glanced down at my bill and realised that it had someone else's name at the top. I went back to reception where the member of staff apologised and gave me the correct bill. Although he was polite and apologetic I really think that this is a huge mistake to make. I had the persons name and address, I didn't check but it's possible that there were other personal details on there too. It really made me worry about who might be getting my details. It doesn't really inspire confidence! I went back later that night to get an updated copy of the bill so that my friend and I could work out what we owed. There were staff sat in a room behind reception but no one actually on reception. I waited to be acknowledged but all the staff did was look out of the room at me and then turn back to what they were doing. There was no acknowledgement or anything. In the end I decided to go back to my room and sort it out when we checked out the next day.
The next day we checked out and when I checked over our bill I noticed that there were things on it that weren't ours. For example we'd been charged for two lots of room service the night before instead of one. They realised when I pointed it out that they'd charged us for another guests meal. They did correct this but it really shouldn't have happened. From the point of view of management I would be worried about how many people aren't paying for what they consume because of mistakes made by staff at this hotel. From my own point of view I thought it was very fitting with the rest of the stay. Just to add to the confusion their printer wasn't working and they couldn't print me a copy of our bill. They did email me a copy but I would have felt more comfortable having a copy to check over then and there rather than just relying on the rather confusing bill that she had on her screen (she kept moving things off of the bill and changing things and it all got very confusing).
Internet is available at this hotel both in the rooms and the public areas. You do have to pay for it. I think this is a bit of a cheek. I've stayed in three star hotels that have free internet access, I could sit in a local café and get free internet access with my £2 latte but a four star hotel won't throw in free internet with a hotel room? I did try to buy internet access while I was there but for some reason it wouldn't work. I did ask about it at the bar but they said I would have to go to reception and I just didn't want to get onto the internet that badly.
The hotel is reasonably accessible. There are rooms available for guests who are wheelchair users. Pets are not allowed in this hotel but people with disabilities can of course bring service dogs with them.
I found this hotel to be very family friendly. My ten year old sister was with us for this visit and she loved the hotel. She really enjoyed the pool and we had a good choice of family films to choose from.
This hotel is not vegetarian friendly. The vegetarian selection on the bar menu is very limited. There was no vegetarian option with the roast and they do not do a traditional English breakfast with a vegetarian option.
If you are a smoker you may be able to get one of the five rooms that allow smoking.
Room: £178 including breakfast.
Mini Bar: £7.80 for two soft drinks, some pringles and two chocolate bars.
Room Service: £34 for two meals, two drinks and a tray charge.
Restaurant: £32.75 for lunch for two people, not including drinks.
This is a lovely hotel with so much potential but a hotel is only as good as its staff and the staff at this hotel belong in Fawlty Towers.
The Marriott Hotel Preston is ideally located just off the M6/M55 interchange just to the north of Preston. Very handy for an overnight stay prior to travelling north to Scotland or to the west and Blackpool. Situated in a very secluded woodland setting well off the main road this historic 4 star hotel is one of the better Marriott hotels I have had the pleasure to stay in. The hotel in general consists of the Manor House and then several other new buildings built on (some newer than others). The hotel has many little lounge areas and these are away from the main reception area something quite unique compared to modern hotel standards. Bedrooms have just ungone a make over (Dec 2003) are are up to the usual Marriott standard (bathroom with bath and shower, complimentary toiletries, minibar, hospitality tray, iron and trouser press, two phones, desk with modem and ISDN access, colour TV with Sky channels including all the Sky sports channels, lounge chairs and coffee table and kingsize bed). The leisure club has also just ungone a refurbishment with pool, sauna, spa and steam room as well as a fully equipped but small gym. The changing rooms although very clean and tidy are very open with not much privacy (personal preference). The only dissapointment for me was breakfast something that Marriott are usually very good at. Maybe it was just a bad hair day for chef but nothing except for the eggs was fresh. Also the restaurant is bit of a labirith - a bit of a mission to find the breakfast buffet table!! Fine if you like old sytle restaurants but not really my taste. All in all this hotel provided what was expected of a four star hotel but no more. The staff were pleasent and helpful (particulary the porter) and cleanliness was very good. For the Preston are
a this is the best but there are better further afield. Use it for a stop over not for a long holiday stay. Also do not book on the Marriott website or through Central Reservations always phone the hotels reservations depart direct and ask for the best deal.