“ Address: Symonds Road / Bury St Edmunds IP32 7DZ GB / Suffolk „
Last year I spotted a Groupon deal for a stay at the Ramada Inn in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The deal was £79 for bed and breakfast for two with a three course dinner, with the option of taking a second night on a bed and breakfast basis for an additional £50. Thus a friend and I booked a Friday and Saturday night for a few months hence.
CHECK IN AND GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
We arrived at about 7pm and parked up, there is a good sized (free) car park that was about two thirds full but we didn't see that many guests when we were here. The outside of the building is nothing special - it is a purpose built hotel so little visible character, although they have landscaped the gardens and made an effort to make the internal décor inviting. I found check in efficient and the lady who attended to us was polite and friendly and also helpful in providing maps and directions at other times. The hotel is a little way at the edge of the town but there is a pedestrian cut-through to the town which took about 15-20 minutes. I wouldn't like to do it after dark though. Alternatively you can drive into the town as it is only 5 minutes away. The hotel is near the A14 and was really straightforward to find (at least if you are coming from the London direction). There is nothing else in this area apart from a large Sainsbury's and a residential area.
The communal areas seemed clean if non-descript. The corridor outside our room smelt a bit of ammonia but the smell didn't permeate our room, but was unpleasant whilst in the corridor.
We found our room (on the ground floor) with no trouble. It was a compact twin room that was clean with minimal light wood furnishings - a bedside table, a few drawers and hanging space, as well as twin beds. There was also a small TV as well as tea and coffee making facilities. The bathroom had a shower over the bath, as well as a lavatory and basin with enough towels. It was a small room but it did us for two nights. It was billed as a standard room and the rack rate for the room (no breakfast) was over £100 at the time, so I was very pleased with the deal we got. The hotel also provides free wi-fi but we didn't use it, so cannot comment on signal strength.
When we came back at 4.30pm on the Saturday having been out all day I was surprised to find that our room had not been serviced. The cleaners knocked on the door about 20 minutes later ready to do it, but we were in relaxing mode by then, settling down for a read and a doze before dinner so we turned them away.
FOOD & DRINK
We had our included meal on the first night. The restaurant was simply decorated, but light and airy with large windows down one side. We were seated promptly and given a menu. The menu is mainly British-European. There is not a great selection for veggies but generally has a good range of other dishes, and was averagely priced.
To start I chose jacket potato skins with cheese, herbs and sour cream with chives. It wasn't quite as I expected as the chives were with the cheese rather than the sour cream (which was on the side) but it was OK and was served with some nice dressed leaves. My friend opted for the fish cakes with tartare sauce. She enjoyed the flavour (they were 'Thai spiced') but thought the texture a bit iffy. The also looked very unattractive, like three discs laying there on some salad.
For the mains my friend went for a large burger with an assortment of optional toppings (after all it was included). She enjoyed it but did find it filling. I chose the risotto with mushrooms, dolcelatte cheese and spinach. I too found it filling, taste wise it was OK - as I would have expected with those ingredients, but on the dry side.
Normally I probably wouldn't have bothered with a dessert but it was free, so I made an exception. My friend went for a Rocky Road. She thought it tasted nice but didn't think it looked like a Rocky Road as it was in neat layers, which was different to how it had been described. The chocolate sauce was quite tasteless however. I had an ice cream trio - vanilla, chocolate and strawberry - which tasted as it should be.
In addition to the food we had a bottle of still water (£4) and a pleasant South African Chenin Blanc which was £17. The service was slow, the staff seemed inexperienced, but they were keen so we didn't hold that against then.
There is a bar area here, between the reception and the dining area. It was never very busy but had a pleasant enough atmosphere with discreet lighting and low music in the background. There is also a quiz machine that we spent far too much money on. Drinks weren't cheap and service was friendly. It is worth mentioning that the bartender is also the night porter/reception cover, so after a certain time, is on his own and you may have a short wait for a drink if he is unavailable.
Breakfast was excellent. The lady who ran the breakfast was efficient and polite. You helped yourself to cold foods, toast, juice etc but eggs were cooked to order. When your eggs were ready you could then go up and select your other hot items such as hash browns, sausage or bacon etc. They did claim that they had a selection of cold meat and cheese but there wasn't a great deal available, but there was plenty of fresh fruit. Teas and coffees were brought to the table.
We really enjoyed our stay here, especially as we had such a good deal. I would be hesitant to recommend this place at the full rack rate price (I forget the exact amount but it was well over a hundred pounds room-only) as the standard room (that we had) was so compact, and for that amount of money I would expect a more superior room. The service from everyone we met was very good (although some waiting staff were obviously inexperienced) and always friendly. We were disappointed that the cleaners came to do our room so late though. Location wise we were happy being a short walk from town. If you are visiting Bury St Edmunds (and you should - it is a lovely town) then I do recommend that you at least consider this hotel if you don't mind being a short walk from the action.