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A depressing, dirty and souless experience
Travelodge in general
Member Name: steedandpeel
Travelodge in general
Advantages: Well, it was better than spending 3 hours stuck on the M25
Disadvantages: So many - the worst hotel I have ever stayed in
I will be writing this review on the Travelodge, Harlow, Essex, where I stayed for one night in October 2008. I had to attend a conference in nearby Bishop Stortford the following day. Rather than commute all the way from Bristol and back again in the same day (and probably be stuck in the morning M25 commute), I opted to stay overnight in the nearest Travelodge. I am generally quite fussy about overnight accommodation; unless I book a really top hotel, I like to go for a well known brand so I know pretty much the standard of room that I will get.
---The Booking Process---
I only decided to stay overnight the day before the conference, so the very same day of the booking. I used the online booking service to locate the nearest Travelodge and book a room which was relatively quick and user friendly. The cost came to £59 which I thought was very reasonable due to the last minute nature of the booking; I paid an extra 20p for a text confirmation which came through about 10 seconds after I'd paid. I liked the fact that there was confirmation, as I would have worried about whether the booking had gone through, but I felt this could have been a free service, as I'm sure it doesn't cost 20p!
---Location and Parking---
I used a SatNav to get to the Harlow Travelodge; I don't think I would have found it otherwise, particularly as I didn't arrive until after 9pm. It is located in a rather strange location, on the outskirts of Harlow, where you enter a carpark with a station, pub, Travelodge and some residential flats all surrounding it. The carpark had a barrier which was closed. I wasn't sure whether I had to pay, or if I was allowed to park there, or even how to get into the carpark. However, I eventually decided to drive towards the barrier and it opened automatically!
Once inside the carpark, I spotted the Travelodge at once, and parked in one of its allocated spaces. Again, I wan't sure if I had to pay, but I decided to chance it and took my luggage into the hotel.
Checking in took about 30 seconds, once I'd attracted the attention of the receptionist on duty. I could hear her in a back room chatting on the phone, despite the fact I was making quite a bit of noise to attract attention. When she eventually came out, she told me where my room was and let me get on with it - she didn't offer any additional services or facilities such as breakfast. She motioned to where the lift was and instructed me that my room was on the second floor.
On entering the room, I noticed that it was quite large, and simply furnished with a double bed, sofa which doubles as a pull-out bed, tv, tea and coffee making facilities, desk, and not much else! There was also an en suite toilet.
I was not particularly impressed with either the standard of accommodation or the cleanliness of the room. The remote control for the tv was sticky, so I had to clean it myself. I also noticed there were a couple of stray hairs in the bath, the grouting was slightly mouldy and the shower curtain didn't appear to be very clean. The toilet seat also had a chip mark on it. I also disliked the fact that the mattress had a plastic wipe-clean surface; this made me suspicious of what previous guests had been up to and really put me off the whole experience of sleeping there. Although I did use the bed, I couldn't bring myself to have a shower in the grotty bath, so I just had a wash in the morning.
The room was relatively quiet once noisy revellers from the adjacent pub had gone home. There was just the odd car and train passing, which I generally find quite peaceful. My room was at the front of the hotel, so the view overlooked the carpark, which wasn't particularly pretty.
---Extras and Services---
As I have written above, I wan't offerred any additional extras or services; I understand that Travelodge do offer a takeaway breakfast service, but I certainly wasn't offerred it! When I arrived, I had not eaten anything for tea. As there is not a restaurant in the hotel or nearby, apart from the pub, I had to eat from a very expensive vending machine - I was not impressed. I could have gone to the pub, but it appeared very rowdy, and as a female on my own, I didn't feel comfortable.
The vending machine also sold some basic toiletries; there are none included in the room.
One thing that I must point out is the complete lack of atmosphere of this hotel. It was like the Marie Celest - apart from the inattentive receptionist, I didn't see or hear a soul within the hotel the whole time I was there. It was very odd.
Within ten minutes of arriving, I felt completely depressed with the dreariness of the location, blandness of the hotel and the general atmosphere. It was like the Dementors from Harry Potter had sucked my soul out! Although I arrived after 9pm and left the next morning at around 8am, my time at the Travelodge really sticks in my mind for how depressing it was. I'm normally a cheerful person, but I felt like weeping the whole time I was there - it was awful!
I really didn't enjoy my stay at the Travelodge in Harlow. The room was bland and grotty, the customer service was non-existence, the location was weird and the whole experience made me feel terrible. I was expecting a clean and simple room, similar to the standard you would find at Holiday Inn Express (which I've always found excellent), perhaps without frills.
I know that Travelodge do have hotels in much more exciting locations. For instance, if you were staying in the centre of Bath, you may not be so worried about the lack of extras or food. However, in the Harlow Travelodge, the location is so odd, and it feels remote and disconected.
I think overall it was marginally preferable than the alternative of sitting in traffic on the M25 for serveral hours, but only just. I would avoid staying in a Travelodge in the future and take my chances in a bed and breakfast!
Summary: Travelodge offer bland and cheap hotel rooms - you get what you pay for!
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