Newest Review: ... open a bill to your room. Prices are average and you can use their free WI-FI connection after getting an access code from the barkeeper. ... more
Not sure if I really want an encore ...
Ramada Encore Hotel (Chatham)
Member Name: Fritzthecat
Ramada Encore Hotel (Chatham)
Advantages: Great staff and fantastic breakfast buffet
Disadvantages: Room much too small, stained towel, no storage space in room at all
We'd booked a night at the Ramada Encore Chatham as part of a family package offered by Dickens World. The package included the entrance ticket to Dickens World, 1 night in the hotel for the 4 of us (2 adults, 2 children aged 8 and 9) in a family room, and breakfast. We booked a weekend in August and the deal cost us £109, which was cheaper than booking hotel and entrance tickets separately even though the hotel seems to have some very affordable offers.
From outside the hotel is just one big concrete block, clad in wood wherever there are no windows, and looking very little impressive. Although the property is fairly new the wood already looks very weathered which gives the whole building a slightly run-down appearance. Not very appealing at all but misleading as the interior is actually well maintained and bright.
The check-in/-out was easy and uncomplicated and the staff at the reception were very friendly and most helpful. We had a few questions about where to eat in the evening and got more than enough suggestions and descriptions how to get there.
There is a bar located directly behind the reception, adjacent to the dining and breakfast area. Like the whole hotel it is designed in a very modern style and too bright for my taste. Before the barman got the idea to close the blinds it was a bit like sitting in the inside of an aquarium, clearly visible for all passing by. The seating areas are furnished with huge red leather sofas and coffee tables, which could be very cozy if the whole room didn't have about as much atmosphere as the waiting room in an airport. There are TVs which constantly show music videos. I have no problem with that but the music was annoying and would have probably most appealed to a bunch of teenagers. The weather was fine and we soon went to sit outside where we were save from the music - and had a prime spot overlooking the parking lot. Not great and probably also a bit of an issue for those who have their rooms right on top of the terrace, especially if they want to keep their windows open. During the time we were sitting on the several very cheerful groups who seemed to have attended weddings in the area returned to the hotel and it got rather lively.
The bar is open 24 hours a day but after 11pm they don't accept payments any more and you'll need to open a bill to your room. Prices are average and you can use their free WI-FI connection after getting an access code from the barkeeper.
I noticed a small meeting room next to the entrance. This wasn't of any importance to us but might be interesting if you are looking for a meeting space somewhere in this area.
Our room was located on the second floor and we were handed a set of electronic key cards during check-in. Make sure to ask for more than one if there are two of you because the lights don't work without card.
The room was on the very small side. A pull-out sofa had been opened and made up ready for our kids and that made it really cramped. There was no way that we could have used the desk as the sofa reached until the chair, not leaving enough space to pull it out, so just forget about sitting on it. To close the curtains in the evening proofed tricky as they were so squeezed in between sofa bed and wall/window that we needed to move the heavy sofa-bed a bit to get be able to close them.
There isn't a wardrobe, just a small coat rack with 4 hangers and a mirror. The few shelves beneath were filled with spare pillows and towels and the hospitality tray. Luggage had to be lined up along the wall which made the room even harder to navigate, luckily we didn't bring much for just the one night.
The bathroom contains a walk-in shower, toilet, and a sink with a huge mirror. Soap, shower gel/shampoo, facial tissues and shaver socket are provided and there were plenty of shelves and lots of space around the sink to house enough toiletries to make a beauty queen happy. I wish the bedroom would have had storage facilities to match this !
The shower had good pressure and there were plenty of towels but one had nasty brownish stains on it which I found disgusting.
Apart from the towel everything else was clean and the sheets smelt fresh, the pillows were comfortable.
The furnishings are very modern but a bit on the bland side and the bright red colour scheme seems to scream IKEA.
There are a very limited number of Freeview channels on the TV, if I remember it correctly there were 9 channels altogether, including one children's channel and one news channel. Personally, I don't care whether there is a TV at all or if it only shows the Mickey Mouse Channel but for all those who might have to stay here a bit longer a larger choice to kill the evening might be preferable.
There is no WI-FI access in the rooms at all, only in the public spaces downstairs, and the Internet connection they offer via modem or TV is not free. I wasn't impressed by that at all and didn't even ask how much they wanted. For one night I can survive without Internet but if I'd been here alone or on business I'd probably be rather annoyed.
The hairdryer was working perfectly but is a bit odd to use as you need to press the button to keep it going the whole time.
Plenty of tea and Nescafe for one evening but not enough milk.
Food & drink:
We checked the menu of their restaurant and found the choices rather limited , especially for children, and also weren't impressed by their prices . Apart from that the restaurant area, which serves as breakfast room in the morning, looked anything but not inviting. The furniture is made up of nasty wooden and metal chairs and tables in a light colour, the decor of the walls is so unobtrusive (boring) that I don't even remember what was there - and there is yet another TV that is running constantly blaring hip hop music into the room . Totally unacceptable in a restaurant in my opinion ! Overall more like a cheap coffee shop than a place where I'd be willing to fork out more than £15 for a steak. Thankfully there are plenty of restaurants in walking distance.
The breakfast is served in between 7.30 and 10.00 o'clock.
The buffet was great and offered a huge choice that should meet everybody's taste. There were a good selection of cereals, including the mix yourself kind of muesli with a choice of flakes, nuts and dried fruits. A variety of rolls, croissants, sweet pastry and toast, jams, honey, chocolate spread, butter and margarine weren't missing either, and there were yoghurt (plain or fruit), fresh fruit and a choice of fruit salads that were very nicely presented in little glass cups. You can also choose in between a for a hotel buffet very impressive choice of cheeses, ham and salami.
Hot items included scrambled egg, 6 minute eggs, bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans.
For drinks you can choose in between a variety of coffees, teas (both breakfast or herbal), milk and two different kinds of juice. I'd opted for cafe au lait which wasn't great at all. I left most and got myself juice instead.
The food was constantly re-filled, there was never a shortage of anything at any time and all tasted and looked fresh. We stayed until almost 10am and saw that they were still bringing out more food a few minutes to ten so probably they are not too strict with their breakfast times. Apart from the coffee this was the best breakfast I've had in a hotel in a long time and I'm really impressed !
The breakfast and the friendliness of the reception staff were clearly the highlight of our stay and I recommend that if you are planing to visit that you make sure not to miss the breakfast.
Easy accessible from the motorway and thanks to the dockyard and Dickens World, which both are neighbours, very well signed out. Just follow the signs to the attractions and they will lead you there. I've seen several bus stops near the hotel so getting there with public transport is probably not an issue. Parking seems to be a bit of a problem. The parking lot is L shaped and the larger part leads away from the well lit building towards the visitor parking space of the dockyards, which are of course totally empty at night. We were lucky to get one of the spaces right in front of the hotel but later on many guests weren't. I didn't feel like checking whether the far end of the other part of the parking lot was just too far or too dark or simply full but quite a few guests left their cars either directly in front of the entrance or in the narrow access road next to it (not signed out as parking areas). I have the feeling that these spaces weren't signed out for parking as they actually might serve as access for emergency services.
At the nearby marina you can find Dickens World, a 3 minute walk, and a shopping and leisure complex with many restaurants in various price classes which cater for about every taste, from Mexican over Chinese, Italian to American Diner and more. There is also a large cinema so finding some entertainment and keeping well fed and watered is clearly not an issue.
We clearly loved the breakfast and the staff but otherwise weren't all that impressed by this hotel. The rooms are just too small to be sold to 4 people, there are not enough storage facilities in the bedroom even for one guest, the bar and restaurant were boring and stained towels are an absolute no-no. They are lucky to be the only hotel in this area ...
Summary: Fine for just one night
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