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Better Than Sleeping In A Field
Travelodge (Norwich Cringleford)
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Travelodge (Norwich Cringleford)
Advantages: Well located for parts of Norwich
Disadvantages: Rooms in need of updating, argumentative staff
I came home from Mexico the weekend I did, rather than staying later into the summer as I'd originally planned, because one of my best friends was getting married. Manchester to Norwich is a long drive, and the parties were due to go on into the night, so I booked to stay at this Travelodge, about 5 minutes drive from the venue. Despite the wonderful promises on their website of summer discounts and special offers, I ended up paying £65 for the room for one Saturday night, though this was still a cheap(er) option since B&Bs in this part of Norfolk, are on the pricy side.
The Travelodge is easy enough to find, though if you're coming from the west you have to go all the way round the roundabout to see it, with no signs confirming it's there. You can see the Little Chef next door first, and then the Travelodge sign comes into view. In addition to the Little Chef there is also a petrol station and a Burger King here, but apart from that it's in the middle of nowhere, on a nondescript A-road roundabout near Hethersett. There is nowhere to walk nearby, though it is also the site for a local Park and Ride, so you can reach the centre of Norwich quick easily and cheaply, which my chauffeur/mother did that afternoon while I was off gallivanting at the wedding.
We arrived too early to check in, and didn't bother seeing if the room was ready since the website had highlighted the 3pm check in time and stressed that rooms would be available earlier only if you paid an additional £10 fee. I thought 3pm was a little late, but then check out was not until noon so people who like a lie-in would have been happy. We had pre-paid for the room and because there's nothing you could possibly want to charge, you don't have to leave a credit card imprint on arrival. The key was handed over to my mother who had a print out of the confirmation, though it was booked in my name and with my debit card (there's a fee for credit cards). However when I returned, nearer midnight, and asked the room number, the man on reception told me that technically he wasn't supposed to tell me. I couldn't ring the room since they didn't have phones, and we were sharing one mobile between us, so a fuss was made and he eventually told me when I correctly confirmed the booking address. Sure, that's a form of ID checking, but actually most of my friends would know my address off by heart too, so for someone who made such a fuss, I don't know why he didn't just accept my offer of photo ID to prove who I was. This was the only interaction we had with the staff here, so it won them no points in terms of customer service. In fact, we saw no one else the entire time, since without anything on offer except for corridors of rooms, few staff are needed.
The Travelodge is a pretty standard motorway/A-road services design and was a long, flattish building spread over a few levels. We were on the ground floor, though at the back, away from the car park and, I discovered the following morning, with a really rather lovely view of some unloved, overgrown shrubs. I think Travelodge rooms are pretty uniform these days, but for those who haven't stayed in one recently, we had a spacious but rather sparse room. There was a large double bed, plus a sofa bed and pull out bed. We had booked the room on twin occupancy and though the sofa bed had not been made up, bedding for it had been provided. The beds proved to be extremely comfortable, especially the sofa bed. It was also a rather wonderful design, and I wish they sold sofa beds like that for houses, not just en masse for hotel chains. A very strong Wi-Fi signal was available in our room, but you had to pay extra for the access code for this.
Tea and coffee making facilities were provided (I stole the Splenda...I wanted my money's worth) though there was only one spare plug for my laptop when both the TV and kettle were plugged in. In the bathroom, the freebies stopped, with only a tiny bar of soap provided. I knew they didn't do bottles anymore, but I had assumed for some reason they did do wall-mounted dispensers of stuff. For the record, they don't. You can buy toiletries from the vending machine in reception, but I just washed with soap and risked being smelly/spotty on the 6 hour drive home. The hotel had no real character, and looked dated. I've stayed in better Travelodges in the UK and abroad, and cleaner ones too - there were layers of dust near the window and behind the desk, discovered while searching for an additional plug socket. The bedding was clean, ditto the towels, but the rest seemed to have had only the most cursory of glances.
The hotel has no other facilities - it really is just a place to sleep and nothing else. So how was that part, the sleeping? Well, travelling in July, the night was a short one in terms of hours of darkness. No problem, we could just shut the curtains. Except...one sported a rather large hole near the top that let in a steady stream of bright light. Also, from my vantage point on the sofa bed, I could see the smoke detector in the corridor near the door (a view hidden from the main bed in the room). While pleased to note we had such an item (smoke detectors don't really exist in Mexico), I was less impressed by the pulsing red light it boasted, which popped up every few seconds, bathing the area in colour for a split second. I always sleep on my back (sleeping on your front gives you wrinkles, apparently, and if you've ever worked with older people in a hospital or hospice, you'll know what sleeping on one side makes you look like), but the only thing for it was to roll over (carefully, in such a narrow bed) and bury my face in a pillow to avoid the two and feign an environment of blackness.
Darkness and quiet are the two ingredients for a good night's sleep for me, so having failed on the first, could it deliver on the second? Though I awoke once in the night to a few voices in the corridor (no doubt other wedding guests) it wasn't as loud as I had feared and I soon got back to sleep.
In the morning I had a complicated but powerful shower, tried not to slip in the tub (a sign warned me not too, but gave no guidance on how to avoid doing so) and dried on the thin, scratchy towels. They had given us enough for two - I'm not sure if this is standard or if more/fewer would be provided depending on how many people the room was booked for.
The hotel was not one of the Travelodges with a Bar/Café but could provide an overpriced and uninspiring breakfast to go. For £4.05 I would expect more than a cereal pot, a fair-trade flapjack/cereal bar and a smoothie, not least because the tea or coffee they also offer could be made free in your room. I also think it's unfair that you have to book breakfast for everyone in the room, or no one. If you want it for only some people, you have to sort it out on arrival and the cost jumps to £4.50. Instead, we went to the Little Chef next door. In fact between us we went 3 times during our stay. Little Chef's have a quite deserved reputation for being poor but expensive, but with no alternative we made do, and the food wasn't as bad as it could have been. It wasn't cheap though.
This is not a hotel you choose to stay at for the facilities in either the rooms or the rest of the hotels. It's all about location and price. If I'd been reading a review on this place before I'd gone, I would have wanted to know if it was safe, secure, quiet and clean. It was all of these things more or less (noticeably less clean than the Novotel I was in in Toronto a week before). I still don't think it was a bargain for what we got, but when needs must and you have little choice in the matter, I don't think you will come out of this place injured or flea bitten or having had a sleepless night or anything of the sort, so for that reason it is recommended.
Summary: It served a purpose, but I'd not rush back in a hurry