“ Address: Rivenhall End / Witham CM8 3HB / Essex / Tel: 01376 516969 „
The Rivenhall Hotel Witham Essex A WEDDING INVITATION My godson's wedding was approaching. The wedding was to take place on a Monday afternoon at Braxted Park in Witham, Essex and the evening reception would also be held at this venue. Witham is around an hour's drive away from my home, depending on traffic. As my husband wanted to be able to have a drink at the wedding we decided that instead of booking a taxi there and back home, we might as well book some rooms at a nearby hotel. When we took costs into account it didn't seem as if it would be that much more expensive to pay for accommodation for one night and by doing this it would enable my husband to drive there on the day and we could return, also in our own car, the next day. My husband has been to many events when he can't drink alcohol, as he is being chauffeur, so this seemed like a nice idea; he would be able to enjoy the wine, champagne and beer along with the rest of us and not have to abstain on this occasion. Also, I think being out all day and evening, at an event such as a wedding, can be very tiring, especially if ones return home is at night and driving home will take about one hour. It's much better, if possible, to leave the driving until the next day so the driver is rested and free of any effects of alcohol. As a godparent, I had been invited to the wedding ceremony which was to take place at one thirty in the afternoon. My son and his girlfriend had been invited to the evening reception but thought they too would like to book a room at a hotel so that they could travel both ways with us, rather than make their own way, by train, to the venue. WHERE TO STAY? I searched online for hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation in the area. As I knew we would still probably require about two taxi rides from hotel to venue and back when the wedding was over, I considered that the hotel we chose should be very close to Braxted Park so that the taxi rides didn't work out too expensive. After a read and a look at some photos (and, of course, also reading a few reviews) I thought that the Rivenhall Hotel would probably be the most suitable and my family agreed. I chose this hotel mainly because of these three reasons: Proximity to venue Price Facilities which included a swimming pool BOOKING OUR ROOMS I could have booked the rooms online but decided to instead use the telephone, as I wanted to enquire as to whether we could book in early. I had thought it would be nice to change into our wedding clothes in our hotel room rather than travel in them and have them creased. The trouble was the rooms were available from two o'clock p.m. and the wedding ceremony was due to begin earlier. I phoned the hotel reservations about two weeks before the wedding date and asked if there was any chance of securing our rooms early and I was told that the hotel would try to let us book into one room early but that I should phone a few days before our arrival to see if this could be done for certain. I then booked three rooms-two doubles and a single. The doubles were £50 each and the single was £45. We decided to pay for room only and not to have breakfast; we could then spend the time instead having a swim before we had to check out and would find somewhere to eat on the journey home. And breakfast would have upped the room price to £75. This didn't seem worthwhile as we all thought it would be nicer to not rush just to have a nice swim before leaving the hotel. We agreed that an early lunch en route would be a better option for us. My son rang the hotel a few days before we were due to arrive and was told that they could guarantee at least one room would be cleaned and made available early. We expected to arrive about midday. OUR STAY AT THE RIVENHALL The day of the wedding arrived and we found the hotel by following directions which my son had googled. The hotel was signposted when we were a few minutes away. EXTERIOR/GROUNDS On approaching the hotel it looked attractive. This hotel was built on the grounds of what was once a large farmhouse and had been converted into a hotel in the 1960s. In the year 2005 Greenwoods Estates purchased it, refurbished and extended, adding facilities, making this an agreeable looking hotel. RECEPTION/CHECKING IN We parked near to reception and went to ask if our room was ready. We were greeted by a polite and very friendly receptionist who said that they were able to give out the keys to all three rooms immediately. We had a short conversation with the receptionist who lived locally. She told us a little about the venue we were going to for the wedding. Card details were taken and two signatures were needed to check in. The receptionist informed us that all facilities were available from the time of checking in until check out. I do think at this point we should have been told that the swimming pool wouldn't be available from 9.30 the next morning until midday because then we could have timed our next day's swim much better. We were informed that a further car park was available which was nearer to our rooms although, in fact, everything seemed to be conveniently placed. ROOMS Some rooms are located in the main part of the hotel near to reception. I would expect these are the superior rooms. Other rooms are spread around the grounds and can be accessed by walking through corridors or around blocks. It appeared that rooms were all close enough to the hotels facilities and too much walking wasn't necessary. We first checked that our daughter's single room was suitable. I was expecting it to be smaller having read some reviews but it seemed perfectly adequate for a one night stay, or even longer. Both double rooms were good in my opinion. Our room consisted of: A carpeted room, which contained a double bed, which was certainly comfortable enough; I slept well enough in it. The neutral coloured bed linen was pleasant too. The window looked out onto the Hi Life centre housing the hotel's swimming pool and other health facilities, including a small gymnasium. As well as being curtained, the window had net curtains for extra privacy. A comfortable chair was supplied. The dressing table was equipped with a mirror and one wall had a good full length mirror attached to it. The room had a double radiator, two bedside cabinets, a chest of drawers, dressing table, wardrobe and a further set of drawers. I thought the amount of storage space was very good, although for a one night stay we didn't need it. As well as lighting for the bedroom and bathroom there was also two wall lamps over the bed and there were two more lamps placed on the wall over the dressing table. One lamp needed a new bulb. In the wardrobe there were extra towels and a warm bedspread. On the dressing table there was a flat screen Freeview television and a telephone. We used both. We used the television for news on the rioting which our country was facing at the time. On the chest of drawers was a large tray housing a kettle, and sachets of a few assorted tea bags, coffee, sugar and milk and two cookies. The bathroom was clean and pleasant with toilet, basin with surround, bath with an over bath shower and a shower curtains. I found the shower curtain large enough to keep the water inside the bath. A definite plus, in my opinion. There was a radiator (which we didn't need at this time of year) towel rails, white towels and toiletries, which included two small pleasant smelling small tablets of soap, a small bottle of shampoo and one of shower gel. Tissues were also supplied and an adequate supply of toilet tissue. The rooms weren't luxurious but I found them to be clean and well enough equipped. They were comfortable. Although we only stayed for one night I think the hotel was good enough to stay in for a few nights. The only quibble I have with the room is the shower, which I thought was rather pathetic, with very low pressure; indeed, rinsing conditioner out of my hair the following morning took a lot longer than usual due to the tiny dribble of water which was released from the shower head. When we first arrived in our room (on the day of the wedding) we had time to quickly freshen up and changed into our wedding clothes. I then discovered that my maxi dress was caught in the buckle of my shoe and so my husband went to reception where, fortunately, staff supplied him with a small travel set of cottons and threads. A quick repair and rearranging of my posh hat and we then drove off to the nearby Braxted Hall. Whilst we were gone my son and his girlfriend went for a swim (towels supplied) in the hotel pool and also availed themselves of the use of the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. They felt that they got their money's worth! Later they readied themselves for the evening (putting on their glad rags) in their room as they enjoyed the luxury picnic that they had brought with them. Picnic set supplied by yours truly! Later, when there was a slight lull in the wedding celebrations, my husband and I returned to the hotel as we had planned to leave the car there. My husband phoned through to reception from our room and asked that they arrange a taxi to take us back to the wedding venue, which they did. When the wedding was over we arrived back at The Rivenhall at about one in the morning. The hotel grounds, reception and the bar area was lit up and looked welcoming. I don't know if the bar was open (I certainly didn't want a drink other than a hot chocolate) but it looked as if it was, although it being a week night/morning it was, and not surprisingly, quiet. We both slept well and even my husband's snoring didn't keep me awake for long. The bed was comfortable as I have already said. I actually thought the hotel was very quiet and I wasn't disturbed. HI LIFE FITNESS CENTRE Once we had had a cup of tea and morning ablutions we all went for a swim. This is one complaint that I have, as mentioned earlier, when we arrived at the pool we were told that a parent and baby class was soon to take place and we wouldn't be able to use the pool. I was cross as, if we had been informed about this on enquiring about the pool when checking in, we would have arrived earlier for our swim but, as we had only been told that we could use all facilities until our departure; that towels were supplied for the fitness suite and all we would need would be one pound for a locker. Oh well, we made the best of it and had a very quick dip in the small but delightfully warm pool before trying out the steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi. I thought these were all good. I found toilets, changing rooms and facilities generally in the fitness centre as well as in the hotel to be clean and inviting. The showers in this facility were much better than those in our hotel rooms, although I only used them, for the sake of hygiene, before entering the Jacuzzi from the steam room. There was a gym in this area. Although the changing rooms were up some stairs and then down again to reach the poolside, I noticed disabled signs around, so feel that to use the pool one could bypass the few stairs. The small pool was very easily accessed with wide, shallow steps fitted with secure handrails. RESTAURANT: The hotel has a very attractive looking restaurant called The Wildberry. I can really only give information about this restaurant as we didn't use it but we did have a look in and it looked very tastefully arranged. I will tell what I know in case readers are interested in booking a hotel with a decent restaurant. I noticed that the daily specials were announced on a board outside the restaurant, near to the hotel's reception. Here is an example of what is on offer: Sunday Lunch-3 courses for £14.95 The restaurant is open every day to residents and also to non -residents where a la carte is available or offers can be chosen such as 'specials' where prices for one course start at £8.50, two courses £12.50 and all three courses, if you're feeling really hungry, can be purchased for the price of, £14.95. There are vegetarian options but I thought when looking at the menu that for the main course the choice for non-meat eaters was too limited. If I was staying at this hotel and needed a meal then I'm sure I would have found something to suit but as the vegetarian selection wasn't that extensive it wouldn't draw me in if I lived in the area and was choosing a place to dine. CHECKING OUT Back to the hotel room, I showered and then packed up our belongings and we all vacated our rooms at about 11.30 a.m. Check out at reception was speedy and efficient. We hadn't accumulated any extra charges. OTHER FACILITIES AVAILABLE The Rivenhall Hotel has conference facilities which can hold events for up to 150people. I was informed by a relative that she had attended work based courses at this hotel several times in the past and had been impressed. The Rivenhall Hotel is one of the areas wedding venues and must be well equipped for this judging by what I've seen of it. These events can be catered for (according to the hotel website): * Last Minute Events (within the next 4 weeks) * Christening or Naming Ceremonies * Funeral Receptions * School Proms & Summer Balls * Masonic Nights * Hen Parties * School Reunions * Family Reunions * Children's Parties LOCATION In my opinion this hotel is in a very desirable spot as it is easily accessed from Essex and surrounding counties such as the neighbouring county of Suffolk and London. It is off of the A12road and is an easy journey from London and its borders with Essex. The Rivenhall Hotel is close to the m25 motorway and is only a short drive away to Stansted airport. We arrived here, as already explained, by road but some members of our family travelled to this area of Essex, from north London, travelling either by bus or underground to Liverpool Street station in London and then it was only a short overground train journey to reach here. CONTACT Website: http://www.rivenhallhotel.com The Rivenhall Hotel Rivenhall End Witham CM8 3HB England T: +44 (0)1376 516969 F: +44 (0)1376 513674 Hotel Manager Manni Paurmashko - Hotel Manager E: email@example.com T: +44 (0)1376 516969 OVERALL THOUGHTS As far as I'm concerned this is a good hotel to use for a short stay and it had more good points than bad. I had read several varying reviews and so when taking these into account was pleasantly surprised with the hotel overall. For the purpose that we stayed here-wanting decent clean accommodation with a few facilities, mainly with my son and his partner in mind, we feel the hotel exceeded our expectations. True, I didn't expect too much but, really, apart from not being told that the pool was being used privately and the shower being below par, everything else was good. I would recommend this hotel. I think it was worth the price paid.