Newest Review: ... the A66 just off junction 40 of the M6, set slightly back from the road, but there is a large sign so you can't reall miss it. If you do yo... more
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Advantages: Reasonable value if you book early; fine for a cheap overnight stay
Disadvantages: On a busy major A road; dull
Is there anything as grim as a Travelodge? No, seriously: even a tacky seaside boarding house has its own dated personality. Each time over the last few years that I've stayed in a Travelodge I've promised myself that it will be last and each time I go back. It's not that I've had a bad experience; on the contrary, I've always found Travelodge to provide exactly what I need for a low cost overnight stay. However, these days I find their no frills style a little too austere and want something that is a little more human.
Penrith's Travelodge is situated no more than two miles outside the town centre, on the busy A66; it's popular with people visiting the Lake District (Penrith is known as the gateway to the Northern Lakes), especially those into outdoor pursuits such as cycling (as the number of cars carrying bikes would indicate). It's a fifteen minute walk to the town centre but part of that is on the footpath that runs alongside the A66 and the traffic does thunder past you as you walk; fortunately after 100 metres you leave the A66 and walk along a quieter road. I imagine most guests that stay at this hotel come by car; there's ample parking on site. The reception staff can arrange a taxi into town if you need one but do check about the cost because we were told that the fare can be anything from £5 to £15 depending on the company and the time of day/evening.
We booked in advance, securing a £19 room for a Saturday night. Check in was smooth and we found the receptionist very friendly and helpful; there's a lot to be said for hiring older people and I do think we experienced a level of service that's these days less common with the budget chains, which tend to employ young people from other countries who are often not familiar with the local area.
Our room was on the ground floor of the second building, reception being in the first building. Even with two buildings this isn't a big hotel and the building plan is such that you don't have loads of people trooping past your room to get to theirs. The sound proofing is good so that even though we were on the front of the building, we couldn't hear any traffic noise. Like so many other Travelodge rooms I've stayed in, you could only describe it as 'alright'. It was clean and everything worked; there were a few minor scuff marks on the walls, the grouting could have done with a freshen up in places and the toilet could have been just a little bit cleaner. The worst thing was that the lampshades were filthy - not dusty but the sort of dirty that comes from age; someone had scraped a finger across one of the shades at some time to prove a point. It made me wonder whether this had ever been a smoking room though certainly there was no otherwise evidence of it having been that.
The bed was comfortable enough but would have been more so had the pillow been thicker, or there had been extra pillows; we both folded our pillows in half. Usually I find hotel rooms far too hot, even in winter. Himself fiddled with the heater and got the room to an acceptable temperature though in the early hours it became too cold; the heater also regulated itself with a loud and irritatingly click every twenty minutes or so.
The hot water meanwhile worked just fine though the shower was a little feeble. Make sure you bring your own toiletries, only a tiny sliver of soap is provided. There was only one hand towel but the two bath towels were larger than any I've had in a Travelodge (not as big as a bath sheet, but getting there) so I didn't feel too much like moaning. I've noticed recently that Travelodge disconnects the heated towel rail 'for your safety': this makes me wonder why they ever bothered to install them and brings me nicely to another issue about this room.
The coat/clothes hanging area is as far away from the heater as it's possible to get and there's only one chair that you could drape a wet garment over; if you'd been out walking or cycling and had been caught in the rain, the chances are your clothes may not dry overnight if very wet. Although this hotel seems popular with cyclists and walkers, it isn't really geared up for their needs; if you're only away for a weekend this may not be an issue but for a longer trip it's probably not suitable.
The hotel shares the site with a Little Chef which is open from 7.00am until 9.00pm daily, with last orders taken at 8.30pm. A Travelodge continental in-room breakfast can be ordered from reception and there's a vending machine selling snack items too. The nearby Rooster café and restaurant situated on the way into the town centre is attached to a petrol station and offers much cheaper breakfasts than the Little Chef. Alternatively you could try Café Oswald which is just across the car-park from Rooster: it's the café-restaurant of the Cranston Food Hall which sells quality food and drinks from local producers.
This Travelodge is very much a 'motel'; if you want to be close to Penrith town centre then it's not really the hotel for you. On the other hand it is cheap and assuming you got a cheap rate, you could still pay for a taxi to/from town and pay less than you would for a hotel in the town centre. As usual the in room amenities and level of facilities generally were of no great importance to us as we used the room only to sleep and wash. It's not the sort of room you'd want to spend much time in but for £19 we really couldn't find very much to complain about.
Summary: Adequate accomodation at budget prices, handy for North Lakes and Penrith