“ Address: North Road, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 1UQ / Tel: 0871 984 6279 / Country: England / Country Province: Northumberland „
Always the intrepid explorer, there was no way I was going to let a trifling fall of snow lose the cost of my train tickets and the price of a hotel room, neither of which could be refunded (getting the cheapest prices also usually means that you can't cancel and have to pay in advance) so at the end of November wrapped up warmly we set out for an overnight stay in Berwick upon Tweed.
We had booked a double room in the town's only Travelodge which is situated about ten minutes walk (in fine weather) from the train station, and fifteen from the town centre; of course, because of the perilous conditions underfoot, a fierce wind and sporadic heavy snow showers, this walk took about twice as long as it would normally. There are plenty of buses going up and down this stretch of North Road so if you aren't driving and you don't want to walk, you can quite easily get into town.
We booked online through the Travelodge website and our confirmation told us we couldn't check into our room until 3.00pm. However, as we had arrived in Berwick just before noon and didn't want to carry our bags around all day we went straight to the hotel.
There was nobody on reception when we arrived but a sign on the desk did say we should press the button and someone would be along as soon as possible. The welcome, when it came was less than effusive; "Yes?" Not a hello, how can I help or anything remotely friendly. If we wanted a room before 3.00pm we'd have to pay an extra £10. We asked if we could just leave our bags instead and the answer was a rather blunt no! I explained that we wanted to go back into town and due to the weather we didn't want to come back at 3.00pm then go back into town again. The answer was still no until I protested that it was unusual as other branches of Travelodge allow this; the receptionist looked at our bags - neither was very big - and relented.
Having passed a pleasant afternoon and evening in town we returned to the hotel shortly before 10.00pm which does portray me as a lightweight but we had spent several hours in the Barrels - Berwick's finest beer drinking establishment, and one I would wholeheartedly recommend - and I was ready for my bed.
There was a different receptionist on duty, a younger one, who looked to have asked her friends round to keep her company which, while they weren't behaving in a menacing or inappropriate way, was not really giving a good impression of the place.
Our bags were returned to us and the receptionist gave us directions to our room which was on the first floor and which overlooked a quiet tree filled area, so well away from any car park noise. Walking through the hotel we didn't spot any particular signs of wear and tear and the standard of cleanliness was excellent. This standard continued in the sleeping area of our room but the bathroom was a bit shabby in places. Generally, though, the level of cleanliness was excellent whereas the issues were more to do with age and wear.
The room was designed so that there were a few footsteps into the main sleeping area but this could not be closed off to minimise noise; fortunately the hotel was eerily quiet when we visited and I would suggest that, because of the fact that it is not right in the town centre, it probably doesn't attract many noisy young types liable to make a racket after a night out.
As well as a decent sized double bed our room had a double sofa bed - not so comfortable for general lounging, but perfect to pull out if extra sleeping room is needed. I believe this is standard in Travelodge rooms, making them a bargain for families if you can get a good price during promotions. There was plenty of room to move around the room with the bed in sofa mode, but I think it would be a bit tight once used for sleeping. If you do want to have extra guests using the sofa bed, it's essential that you state this when booking in order that the correct items of bedding and towels are provided.
We had two hand towels and two reasonably sized bath sheets but with a tiled bathroom floor, a bath mat would have been appreciated. In the bathroom there was a sliver of soap but no shampoo or shower gel; if we'd have needed any toiletries we could have bought them from the vending machine in reception but I'd have been more likely to nip out to Morrison's instead. There was a bath tub with a shower attachment running off the taps. One tap turned one way for the water to come out of the tap itself, the other way to use the shower. The other tap adjusted the heat and unfortunately the wording to indicate the direction to turn the taps had been almost totally obliterated from the tap so getting a shower, then getting the right temperature took a bit longer than I wanted.
Nobody books with Travelodge for a luxury stay. There was a kettle and a few tea bags and coffee sachets but the piddling amount of UHT milk provided is pathetic given the size of the mugs. Our kettle was already filled and should have been empty on arrival. There was a television set with an annoying remote control that had to be held in a very specific way to be used. Alternatively, you could use the controls on the television set of which only half worked.
There was a small clothes hanging space with more than enough hangers for clothing for a couple of guests who're staying a couple of days. One detail that impressed me was that the hangers were strong and well suited for hanging heavy winter coats (so often I find that the cheap wire hangers are provided which are rubbish for heavier items).
For the length of our stay and the time we actually spent in the room we were happy enough. Travelodge is budget accommodation and aimed mainly at motorists so it would be unfair to criticise it for lack of facilities. There is no breakfast room but breakfast boxes (I would rather bring my own) can be ordered when checking in. I'd suggest going across the car-park to Morrison's for breakfast, or, if you are really desperate, going to McDonald's which is just a few footsteps away. We just made hot drinks then trudged into town for a Wetherspoon's special instead.
We paid just under £30 for our stay and felt that it was a fair price; the location is useful and convenient and the rooms are in good condition and are comfortable so our simple requirements were certainly met. The staff could have been more welcoming and there were a few small details that should have been attended to, even for this basic level of accommodation. On the whole, though, this is a perfectly acceptable budget hotel for a short stay.