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Burstin to get out of here
The Grand Burstin Hotel (Folkestone)
Member Name: arnoldhenryrufus
The Grand Burstin Hotel (Folkestone)
Advantages: Near to Folkestone
Disadvantages: Very worn, bad food, dirty in places and a very lumpy bed
Grand Burstin Hotel
My hubby had started smoking again so we decided to take the Euro tunnel over to France and drive through to Belgium, but as this is a long journey for us as we live in Shropshire we like to stay over somewhere and make a little break of it. Originally we were only looking for one night, which I had booked online after reading a little info. I didn't do my normal checks as I was getting a bit stressed, so I just booked here after reading the short description and price, which we got for £47.00 for the one night. The night before we were due to go hubby said lets make it a longer break and stop for 2 nights, so I got on the phone and booked the extra night and this time for some reason they charged me £49.00.
If I had been my normal self (not the stressed out maniac I was at the time) then I would have normally checked out reviews first, it's a shame that I didn't as I missed information that would have definitely made us change our minds and not go here; reviews titled 'This place has got to be the worst hotel in the uk' another one being 'hotel from hell' would have got me searching for another choice. I did read these reviews after our visit and I agreed with a lot they said, I will go on to explain our visit and let you make your own mind up.
The hotel is very large and has 12 floors and over 1300 rooms, but it advertises 481 en-suite rooms available, some of these rooms are smoking rooms even since the government ban.
It is part of the Britannia Hotel group which was started in 1976 when they purchased a hotel in Manchester; in November 2004 the group purchased four hotels from the Grand Leisure group, the Grand Burstin being one of these hotels bringing the hotels owned to 28 now. The Britannia Hotel group has a total of 35 hotels at its last acquisition in August 2009 of a hotel in Blackpool. I really do hope that the other hotels are in better shape than this one is.
There is a small over packed gym and a swimming pool which you can use at a small extra charge; it costs £2.50 per adult and £1.00 per child; we did not use these facilities, but I did take a quick look. The gym had a fair amount of equipment but it all looked very close together and very cramped in my opinion. Some internet sites say the pool was 12 meters and other say 10 meters, it just looked small and oblong to me.
The lobby area was very large with the reception desk on the right as you come in; our first impression was not a favourable one, as it did look very hi di hi, like something out of a bad sitcom. Whilst waiting to book in, a couple in front of me were asking for a refund saying they did not like the place and did not want to stay here (we should have run off there and then). I looked at my hubby and we decided to stay anyway, as we were both very tired. The staff here were polite and efficient, but I wouldn't say they were friendly. Even though we had booked for two nights the receptionist said as we had booked them separately then we would have to pay for the first night now and come back down in the morning to book in for our second night. This worked out in our favour for the second night as there was a £5.00 voucher in the bedroom to take off your next booking, so the next morning I went to reception filled out the voucher and paid only £44.00 instead of the £49.00.
We had booked a smoking room, but the receptionist informed us that they had none left and we took a no smoking room instead, this upset hubby especially as he read a sing in the lobby saying that all rooms were smoking. I challenged this on his behalf and was informed that all floors above the 5th floor were smoking and there are 12 floors in this hotel.
We took the lift to the third floor where we were staying; the lift sounds very cranky and didn't install confidence as it creaked up to our floor. On a couple of occasions over our 2 days it stopped short (an accident waiting to happen), fortunately for me my hubby noticed so I did not trip.
The bedroom was 'L' shaped, with the wardrobe (a single with shelves inside) and dressing table on the right as you walked in. They have put a mirror over the dressing table, but no accessible plug socket near to it for using a hair dryer. There was a half moon unit in pine next to the dressing table with the portable TV on it, the unit had two shelves you could use for storage, I put our toiletries on it as the shelf in the bathroom was very tiny. There was an iron mark on the carpet and the walls were a caramac colour with a white dado rail and cream flock wall paper.
There was no welcome book telling you about the facilities, but there was some headed paper and a pen, which I used to the full making notes for my review.
There was a small window that only opened a little way and our view was not very nice, it looked like a derelict building which had squatters in (sorry if they are not squatting but that's how it looked to me).
The bed was hard and very lumpy, you could feel the springs digging into your back; we did try sleeping on the top of the quilt but that didn't help either. I did not like that there was a stain on the quilt, but we didn't make a fuss about it. There was a spare pillow in the wardrobe and I rang to get another one for my hubby as the pillows on the bed were flat and lifeless, it took the staff about 1 hr to get one up to us.
The bathroom was really small and had no shower, only a bath, toilet and sink. You needed to be very flexible to use the loo and get to the toilet roll; the toilet was right between a wall and the bath, with no space at the sides of it. The toilet roll was round the side of the wall, so you had to bend your right arm back to get to it or twist yourself slightly and use your left hand to reach it, alternatively be prepared pull some off then use the loo. There was 2 plastic glasses, an all in one, shampoo, bath and shower gel and soap for you to use. The side panel on the bath was painted chipboard and was very warped and the extractor fan did not work.
The bath had a bath mat in so there was no need to ask for one, the water pressure was very good on the hot tap, but for some reason not very good on the cold tap and the hot water did get very hot. The handle on the toilet was extremely dirty and had grime all around it, looking like it had never been cleaned.
Back in the bedroom they had a pencil print of a naked woman on the wall, they had a small kettle on the dressing table with a couple of cups and saucers (no teapot) and tea and coffee. There were water marks on the ceiling tiles.
The soundproofing in the rooms was not brilliant as you could hear the TV's in the other rooms and people returning to their rooms.
Heating wise there was a convector heater in the bedroom and a heated towel rail in the bathroom.
Our first night we popped downstairs to have a look around and that's when I noticed it had lots of seating areas, bars, restaurants and a ballroom. It looked like a holiday camp all put into one floor of the hotel. We did buy a drink on one of the nights and sit on one of the sofas in the bar area, the sofa was very low down but fairly comfortable although I did have to get help to get off it. A double Jack Daniels with lemonade and a single Bacardi and Coke cost us £7.00, hubby went back up and got me a bottle of water for our room and that cost only 60p which was very cheap for hotel prices.
We took a look at the restaurants to see what they had on offer, but we were not tempted. They have two restaurants and a burger/snack bar. The burger type one was in the main lounge bar area it was a little section at the one end of the bar, (I think it was in the Maritime Lounge), from what I could see you could have simple bar meals, like burger and chips, fish and chips etc.
The Harbour restaurant is where we ate our breakfast and they offered a buffet style self service evening meal, for I think around £10.00 per head, the menu didn't impress us, with its choice of Roast pork, curry or Cumberland sausage as the main courses (it is a 3 course meal, but to be honest I didn't bother looking after seeing the options on the main menu). We went to look around a bit more and found the Victoria restaurant which costs £12.99 for a 3 course meal, for the extra couple of pounds you get a nicer looking restaurant with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers and a tea light candle on the table.
We enquired about the menu and was told it was the same as the Harbour restaurant with a couple of little extra's, which on our first night was chicken in mediterean sauce or haddock in white wine sauce; this still didn't appeal so we carried on exploring the hotel.
I did discover some beautiful period features, as I noted a lovely old fireplace just leaning against a blank wall, and a beautiful wooden stair case in an area of the hotel that looked Victorian and appeared to be under renovation. When we looked outside later we could see the workmen and a rubbish Shute.
We also found a ballroom, which must be where they hold the entertainment which they advertise; I also noted that they did a bingo session as well. As nothing was really inspiring us to stay here and eat for the evening we decided to go into town, it is advertised that it is a 10 minute walk up a very steep hill, hubby knew I wouldn't make the hill so we booked a taxi using the free phone in the lobby, the taxi cost us around £3.00.
The next morning we got up early as we didn't sleep very well with the lumpy bed and went downstairs to the Harbour restaurant for breakfast. My first impression of the restaurant was of an out of date school canteen, it looked very cheap and tacky; there was no-one on the door to check our 'meal ticket' (this was given to us when we booked in). There were a few members of staff hovering around but they were just there to clean tables and were not that friendly or helpful.
We grabbed a couple of glasses of grapefruit juice and put them at our table. The buffet breakfast was completely self service; you even had to make your own toast, teas and coffee. So what delights did they have for us; a choice of orange or grapefruit juice on both days, cereals were rice krispies, wheetabix or cornflakes. Fruit was tinned prunes or tinned fruit salad on the first day and the next day it was prunes or grapefruit segments both tinned. The toast you made yourself on a rolling grill, the cooked breakfast really did look extremely unappetising and I love a good cooked English breakfast. The bacon looked like it had been boiled and it was all stuck together, the sausage was those cheap cereal based ones you can get from the supermarket, fried bread looked hard (I don't eat this anyway), the fried eggs were broken and in bits all over the tray, you were also offered baked beans, tinned tomatoes and scrambled egg. In all the years I have stayed in hotels I have never left a breakfast, but I did here on both mornings, it was awful the worst breakfast I have ever had. I was gob smacked when it came to getting our tea and coffee, we had to go to a table and pour it out from flasks, and there was a white pot for hot water, a blue pot for tea and a red pot for the coffee.
We weren't the only ones that were disgruntled as I sat there listening to other families around us complaining to each other.
We had already booked our evening meal on the second night at a lovely local pub, but even if we hadn't there was no way after this breakfast that we would of considered eating here, but for the sake of this review I did pop in to have a quick look to see what it looked like. Remember both the restaurants served the same food, just the dearer one offered better surroundings a couple more choices and a tiny candle. I took a look in both and believe me there was no finesse or fine dining here, both restaurants had bad canteen type presentations of food, making it look totally yuk if I am to be honest.
Starters - seafood cocktail/ barbecue chicken/ soup of the day.
Mains - Chicken meal/ curried meat balls/ salad bar
Vegetarian - vegetable loaf.
Victoria restaurant extras - Honey roast gammon or fillet of fish
Dessert - Fruit crumble or Peach fruit flan
Victoria restaurant - pear in red wine.
Cats and dogs are allowed to stay with you in the hotel; according to the internet they charge £10.00 per pet per night.
There is a very large car park and underground parking available; it was very full on both the days we stayed.
They advertise a sauna, solarium, luggage storage, games room, internet services etc which we didn't use. I did notice a group of young people crowding around a lap top in the foyer so I assume they must have been taking advantage of the wi fi service.
They also advise that they have cable TV for the rooms, but we only got four channels on our television, it is also advertised on the internet that hairdryers are provided in the rooms, I didn't find one in our room.
There are conference facilities and wedding bookings available, but personally I wouldn't even consider this place as a venue for either, especially the wedding.
There were flyers all over the foyer and sitting areas on display advertising up and coming events and they surprisingly do get booked up a lot, I overheard the receptionist telling a man that they were booked up all through November for when he wanted to come back and they were fully booked the two nights we were there, so some people must like it.
Disabilities - As mentioned they do have lifts; they ask you to notify them if you have mobility issues, I wish I had done this because I didn't expect a bath, I thought they would have showers as I have difficulty with baths getting in and out of them, so if you do decide to go here and you have mobility problems please remember to mention it. The main entrance is also on level ground, as are all the areas like the ballroom, restaurants and bars etc.
Coming from the motorway follow the M20 Southbound, come off at junction 13 and follow the signs for Folkestone Harbour and Pleasure Beach. You can't miss the Grand Burstin Hotel is an extremely large white building right on the harbour front.
If you take the train to Folkestone Central Station you can either grab a cab or walk to the bottom of the road and turn right towards Cheriton Place and then left towards Road of Remembrance, the hotel is at the bottom of this road. Taxi will only cost you a couple of quid and will save you lugging your luggage about.
I am pleased that during my research I read some of the negative reviews on this hotel; there was a moment that I thought maybe I have been spoilt by good hotels and good service that I was giving this hotel a raw deal. After reading those reviews I now realise that I was not over-reacting it is as bad as I thought it was and 59% out of 291 reviewers agree with me.
Historically the building had some nice features, I did ask the receptionist if she knew anything about the history of the hotel and she said she didn't which was a tad disappointing, it would be nice if they staff had an interest in their place of work as tourists like me ask questions.
If I was going to say anything to The Britannia Group about this hotel, it would be to come here as a customer and see for themselves. It is in need of redecoration and they need to fix the problems in the rooms and take some pride in their hotel, this will then cascade down and hopefully instil pride into their staff as well making a happy workforce. Just changing the way they deliver the food and the quality of the food would make an instant big improvement.
When we spoke to some local people, they informed us that the Grand Burstin Hotel had quite a reputation which was not very favourable. We will not be using this hotel again and we certainly don't recommend it in its current condition, to us it was not worth the 2 stars it has been given. Before I leave you my husband has informed me that I was much too soft on this hotel, he would have had a lot more stronger words to say, like the state of this hotel was 'beep beep awful' he wouldn't even take the dogs here it was that bad.
Thank you for reading
Arnoldhenryrufus (Lyn x)
Summary: Very worn, bad food, dirty in places and a very lumpy bed
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