“ Kenwood Road, Sheffield S7 1NQ. Tel: + 44 (0) 114 258 3811 Fax: + 44 (0) 114 250 5600 „
Having just finished a revamp on a hotel review, it's time for me to write another one!
In spite of my lovely holiday in Barcelona with my best friend, I have recently felt desperate for a break. Yes, another one. I needed to think carefully about my spending, and since Europe had been so costly, this holiday had to be in the UK. After sifting though numerous impressive deals (most of which we had just missed out on!), we finally found this hotel with what looked like a deal too good to be true. We paid just under 300 for 5 nights in this hotel for two people sharing a twin room, with breakfast (and as I booked through a cashback website I also got 10% of this back!).
The trouble is, when you pay so little, it makes you wonder how they can afford the prices, or why they need to have such low prices, especially when looking at the facilities and kind of building it is, it is clearly aiming to be a luxury 4 star.
We arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon, long after most people would have already checked in, so there were no queues. Also it was a weekday and there appeared to be fewer people checking in during the week than for weekend breaks. Having taken my details and done the usual tapping on his computer, the receptionist briefly worried me by asking if we had booked only 4 nights. Luckily another room was available and as this was a twin (apparently he was going to put me and my sister in a double room, never a good idea!) I thought it just as well. I don't know what would have happened if we had insisted on the room that they had overbooked. Apart from this, check-in took just a few minutes and we were given a room key each (swipe card).
We actually ended up moving from the alternate room they originally gave us, because the shower was not clean and did not work, and that side of the building had only one floor so got excessively hot. When we did move, the room we were given was a lot smaller so it did feel like we had been downgraded, but in the defence of the receptionist, he did lend us the key to go and have a look to check we were happy with the room before moving. To be honest, I hassled him so much I didn't want to start being petty!
There were minor differences, like the original room had a decent large widescreen telly and more room for all the crap my sister brings with her and dumps on chairs, tables etc. The second room had a small, old-style bix box telly. It also had a separate placing for the tea and coffee facilities, whereas in the second room they were stored away inside the TV cupboard and took up all the dressing table space when brought them out to make drinks. Still, I think we were losing too much sleep in that heat and these were not things that would ruin our holiday!
Most of the usual facilities are there, but there is no minibar - these have clearly been taken out as you can still see the marks and connections where they were meant to fit inside cupboards.
This section is not suitable for persons with sensitive stomachs or currently in the middle of eating something. Trust me.
The quality of cleaning, from day one, was what made we realise how the hotel could afford to charge less, or had no choice but to do so! Because I had chosen and booked this hotel, having insisted to my sister that it would all be alright and she'd get as good a stay here as certain preferred brands of her, I was hesitant to tell her everything. More importantly, I really didn't want anything to spoil our holiday. The first room we stayed in had not even been cleaned since the last guests had checked out! Bearing in mind we did not check in until late that means that even after hours of time to sort out this room ready for the next guest, either nothing was done or the room was used and dirtied again by someone. I hate to be crude, but you do need to know these things if you are considering this hotel. The bathroom smelt, and still had remnants of the previous guest's poo lining the toilet. It had not even been flushed properly. When I went to take a shower later that evening, I was horrified to find that the bath blocked immediately and as the water came bursting back out of the drain, so did a couple of clumps of someone's mousy hair! It looked like a small animal (no offence to previous guest) and I nearly jumped right out! This is why we had to change rooms. In fact so careless were the cleaners, when we csme to get our stuff from the room they had left the whole box of tea/coffee supplies in there on my bed. In the second room, I came in after one day to find a dead bug near the sink in the bathroom. Also, a moth had died on the floor and then accidentally got trampled in; the cleaners removed the body but left the stains on the floor. The towels looked discoloured, though I suppose there could be other reasons for this. Inside the room did not seem so bad. The beds seemed to have been made but I wasn't convinced that the sheets were changed.
Hotel layout and grounds
I did wonder about disabled access as there are a fair few places that could only be accessed by use of stairs. However, there are lifts available so I think it is just a bit of an extra hassle to get to places but perhaps not impossible. The building was very impressive, with an almost medieval style facade (my archeological history knowledge is not great so don't quote me on this. On Ciao I'll try and post a picture!) and a bright, open entrance with glass windows at the back looking out onto the grounds and further down a lake. Admittedly it all looked a bit like stepping into a painting, but for us this was perfect because one thing we wanted to do was relax and do a bit of sketching.
Admittedly, I was a bit worried about the food here as if the rooms were not cleaned, or cleaned this badly, it seemed that probably there is no reason the kitchen would be in a better state! However, I would say that the restaurant and bar staff, and all those breakfast waitresses were absolutely lovely and always willing to help.
The choice and quality was not brilliant at the breakfast buffet but there was enough probably to suit most people's needs. Most days there was a jug of water with ice in the cold section and that tended to be where we headed first with the hot weather! There was always plenty of orange juice and a red drink - possibly cranberry or Ribena. Milk was semi-skimmed, which I am no longer used to but think is a fair compromise for most. All the usual cereals were available, apart from the more unhealthy childrens ones that hotels appear to be avoiding these days. There were some small pastries and croissants but these were often dry and ran out fast. There were the usual hot and cold buffets but neither looked appealing and as I don't eat meat there would not have been enough choice for me. However, it all looked very clean and well organised so I was quite impressed.
On the first night we had dinner in the restaurant. I have to admit it took an awfully long time for each meal to reach our table but the quality and presentation was superb and well worth the wait. Anyway, we were sat by the glass doors and had a lovely view of the lake, so I wondered outside to take a few photographs between meals. Unfortunately there were only two choices for vegetarian main meals and had there been more options we might have eaten in there more than once. Pricing was based on the number of courses, which I don't really like as not all courses are of necessarily equal value and it's nice to have some budget options, but at least this way we knew what to expect when the bill arrived! I think if you want drinks you need to order them from the bar or let the staff know in advance, as we were only given complimentary water and asked if we would be drinking wine when we arrived. That said, we only wanted water and did not bother to ask about drinks.
The restaurant and bar staff overlapped, but the menu was different and actually had better choice for food. I was happy to see a few virgin cocktails on the menu as neither of us drink alcohol and it's nice not having to have the same boring old drinks we always have. Staff were pleasant and really helpful and each night we came and took a jug of ice water from them. They kept offering us glasses but in our second room we had rinsing glasses and were happy to use these. Service was not quite as slow for the snacks we bought, but there's also a telly in the bar area to keep you entertained. I noticed a fussball table but it was out of use for some reason. Anyway, the World cup was on!
I was pretty impressed with the deal we managed to get, especially bearing in mind the leisure facilities advertised. It appeared that this hotel really had the lot! Sadly I only had the chance to visit the facilities twice during our week there. I made the effort to try out most things, but no gym equipment I'm afraid. I didn't want to embarrass myself!
There is a code for entering the gym area, or if there are people around I notice they will often just let you in without question. There was hardly ever anyone at the desk so I had to help myself to towels and try to remember to sign in and out. One of the other guests kindly pointed out the changing rooms. The layout is a bit odd, because the changing rooms are on one side upstairs with the gym and to get to the pool you then have to walk round and go downstairs. It is only at the bottom of the stairs that a sign notifies you that no shoes are allowed beyond that point and this means that the stairs are probably often dirty from people wondering down there expecting there to be changing rooms by the pool!
I didn't use the pool at the busy times so the changing space I had was adequate, but it looked like it could get pretty cramped in there. There was only one private cubicle and the lock did not work so that was pretty useless. I can't get dressed in front of people so that would not be ideal, but as I say there were not many people about and luckily I was the only one to use the cubicle. There were ample showers and I was glad to see that they had both shower gel/hair wash and some conditioner. Some were not labelled though!
So downstairs, aside from the pool, which was of a small leisurely size, there was a jacuzzi that could squeeze in up to 4 people, a steam room and a very, very hot sauna. I usually use the upper seats in saunas and get used to the heat quickly, but my oh my this one was scorching! Thankfully there is a cold shower right next door. The steam room was small but rather fancy and aromatic so great for relaxing in. I only wish I had more time to spend in there! The lovely thing about the jacuzzi and pool was that from there you had a perfect view of the hotel grounds and going there first thing in the morning, as I did, is highly recommended as you can watch the sun coming up over the lake while bubbling away. There were also plenty of loungers and tables for just relaxing and reading.
I had a peek at the gym and it was a little busier than the pool had been, but this may have just been because the World Cup was on and there was a telly in there! There was a good range of machines but as I say it probably gets a lot busier at other times of the day so can't say how easy it is to get on the one you want. There's a water cooler in the lobby area, which is always good to know.
Wireless Internet Service
It was a bit of a nightmare for me to get my computer connected to the Internet as I must have had some settings on my computer regarding the IP address that did not work with their wireless. If you do have technical problems then the hotel have to contact their service providers. The receptionist did so and then called me and transfered them through. They didn't actually solve the problem but I managed to work it out by myself fairly quickly after. Although advertised as free, I tend to regard these things as included in the price and so expect them to at least work. The Internet was not as slow as some can be but here is the catch: you have to keep logging in by entering your username and email address every half an hour to continue accessing the Internet. So as it is coming up to half an hour you need to make sure you have saved anything that you might lose if you lose your connection. Plus it is not exactly smooth! I don't think this would be ideal for heavy Internet users and so cannot recommend. You can pay for the better service where you do not have to keep logging in but personally I wouldn't bother.
We did not give our card details for any extras and so check-out was pretty brief. The same receptionist who checked us in just confirmed our room number and told us we had no extra charges. I think by now he was tired of me coming with all these questions (frankly I don't care how irritating your guests are, you are being paid to help!) so we didn't exactly get an enthusiastic "come again" smile, but he was never rude or unpleasant towards us.
Purely because of the absolutely atrocious cleaning standards of this hotel, there is no way I will be spending another night here. It's a shame as there are plenty of good things to say about this place, but frankly to me hygeine is basic. I do not forgive a 1 star hotel or lodge for failing to clean properly, and for a 4 star, this is certainly a disgrace. Whilst this hotel has the potential to be a real top place to stay, I'm afraid I certainly will not recommend it, whatever the purpose of your stay. Two stars for potential.
Imagine staying in a city hotel, close to the centre but with a lake in the grounds. Impossible? No, I stayed at the Kenwood Hall Hotel in Sheffield recently and although I had walked past the entrance many times when I was younger I didn't realise what lay behind the gates. The original gates are now closed and a larger entrance is just up the next road, there is plenty of parking and even room for a bus! We had the "pleasure" of having a football team staying the weekend we were there but they were very well behaved and didn't cause us any bother.
The original hall is still used but the more modern building has been sympathetically designed to fit in with the older building. The 12 acres of parkland including the lake gives the hotel a restful feeling, and we were lucky enough to have good weather and enjoyed a walk around watching the squirrels and the ducks. There were seats and tables outside and even in September it was warm enough to enjoy a drink in the sun.
This is also a conference centre and has several rooms for meetings and parties and dedicated staff who deal with this side of the hotel.
Once a Swallow hotel, it changed to Marriott but now is part of the Principal Hayley group.
The reception has a revolving door as well as a glass swing door, I noticed most people preferred the swing door when they had cases! As we walked in we were immediately welcomed and registration was quickly dealt with. The reception often had two members of staff dealing with guests, and although we didn't need help with our case it was offered. There was plenty of seating in the reception and adjoining bar area, stairs led up to function rooms and lifts were through the swing doors. It was modern and very clean.
Altogether 110 rooms, I was lucky enough to have a room overlooking the garden and lake. There were six in our party so I got to see 3 rooms and although the twins were similar the double was more like a suite with separate lounge area, and large armchairs.
The twin beds were very comfortable with white duvets and deep burgundy throw and cushions. Curtains were in gold material and carpet in green, gold and burgundy pattern. There was no central light but 3 large lamps gave off a reasonable light, although had I been a business guest with work to do at night, I may have struggled to see clearly. The other furniture was typical hotel type with case rack, trouser press, small table with 2 padded chairs and a desk/dressing table with mirror. The television was in a cupboard unit with drawers underneath and in a small alcove was coffee and tea making equipment. It did look as if there had been a mini bar in an earlier life, but this luxury didn't exist. The built in wardrobe had an iron, ironing board and fan. Also a hair drier was in one drawer. The bedside table in our room also had a clock/radio and a very clever lamp with two switches, allowing one person to turn off their side of the lamp whilst the other person could have their side on.
The bathroom was a good size and had nice toiletries and large bath sheets. One thing I did find strange was there was only 1 hand towel and 1 bath towel in the bathroom, so I asked at reception if we could have another set but was told it would be in the wardrobe! I was able to pass this on to the others who hadn't discovered them either! There was internet access at a charge, but the reception area was free wireless access. There was room service if you preferred to eat in your room or have breakfast in bed, and papers were delivered if requested.
Sheffield is famous for steel and the name of the restaurant is taken from a type of Stainless steel. We booked a table but although the hotel was quite full it wasn't too busy. Several of us had the Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup at £5.95 which was delicious and quite filling - or maybe it was the warm rolls and butter, which was replenished that filled us up! The Smoked Haddock rarebit looked lovely too. For mains some had Duck and Spicy Noodles, Giant prawn and Pea Risotto and Braised Steak and Roasted vegetables these cost around £14.95. I couldn't manage a sweet but those who did had Chocolate tart, Pavlova with Lemon curd and Coulis costing £5.95 and the Cheese Plate which was £6.95. Everything was cooked well and well presented. They advertise that they serve traditional food with world wide influences. Wine was about average price for this type of hotel. Service was quite good and we had a little time between courses which if I'm not in a rush I like. At both ends of the room was a small raised area with a few tables which allowed a larger group to be away from the main dining room.
The restaurant was also used for breakfast and then had a buffet set up behind the table area. I was pleased to see linen napkins were in use at breakfast as well as at dinner. There was a choice of cereals, plenty of fresh fruits, yogurt, fruit juices, cold meat and cheeses, plenty of hot dishes, bread, rolls, Danish pastries and waffles made to order. Small jars of jam and marmalade were already on the tables as was milk, and pots of tea or cafetierres of coffee were left on the table to help yourself.
We ate in the bar on our second night as we only needed a light meal, there was a choice of various sandwiches, served with crisps and salad from about £6.25, Quesadillas, Classic Burgers with fries etc. Wine was £5.20 a glass, beer £3.30 a pint and Coke £2.35. The only difficulty was there wasn't enough room to put all our plates on the table but our knees worked OK!
For guests who like to be active there was a small pool and Jacuzzi and a small gym with weights and cardiovascular section. Also a Spa, but I'm afraid there wasn't time to sample this. It did seem to be well used though.
We paid £75 per person for the two nights for bed and breakfast, it is advertised as £79 per double room but offers are available, and you can get a reduction for online booking.
A great place to stay in Sheffield, because it is quite close to the city and the shops, museums, theatre etc, but with plenty of parking. Excellent food and beautiful surroundings. Where else can you stay in a city and listen to an owl hooting at night and be woken by a cockerel in the morning?
A brilliant Hotel for staying at, or even organising a conference, or wedding reception at is the Swallow Hotel in Sheffield. Sited in the very leafy suburb of Nether Edge, it has a multitude of facilities and brilliant service to add to its immaculate and picturesque surroundings. The hotel is currently going through a major redevelopment at the moment, where a large percentage of the 'modern' part of the building has been demolished and is being rebuilt better to serve thenew Millennium. However, it hasn't lost its original character and charm, and the grounds continue to be very well kept even during the redevlopment. The hotel has excellent dining facilities and conference facilities. The grounds include a large are of grass parkland and a lovely lake - particularly beautiful for wedding photos and summer evening strolls. Its very close to the city centre (within 1.5 miles) so easily accessible by both car, local transport and walking. At times such as during the World Snooker Championships, the hotel is usually quite well booked up with star of both snooker table and tv screen - and so an autograph hunters heaven at times. All in all - a brilliant place and well worth the cost. Food usually excellent, and staff both friendly and helpful.
Located within attractive parklands, but only one mile from the city centre, Kenwood Hall (formerly known as the Marriott Sheffield hotel, and the Swallow Hotel) combines quaint charm with modern conference facilities.