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Waterford Hotel (Southport)

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      30.04.2006 12:04
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      Good quality accommodation, close to the "action" but at a price.

      Southport, as befits one of England's leading seaside resorts, is not short of a hotel or two. Agreed, most are fairly “mature” but then the atmosphere you get from well-lived-in accommodation can often be very enjoyable. We have stayed at several of them over the years.

      Southport is renowned for its mature buildings. Most of the residential properties were built in the late 19th and early 20th century when Southport developed as a place for the rich to escape the then depressing environs of Liverpool, Manchester and other industrialised towns and cities. All over Southport you still find large detached houses of three or more floors with generous gardens. These properties enjoy large rooms and high ceilings. However, their upkeep has exceeded the capabilities of most people and so many have been turned into hotels, guest houses and retirement homes.

      Our usual reason for visiting Southport, since we moved South over ten years ago, is to visit my wife's family, who still live there. Usually we have stayed with them but since they sold their house and bought an apartment closer to the town centre, this option has not always been possible. On these occasions we have used a convenient hotel. The top hotels in Southport are not cheap. Some approach London prices, which is astounding. It is probably because, until recently there has been no real competition from the likes of Ibis or Premier Travel Inn. Even those such as the Bold Hotel on Lord Street charge £90 a night for a room.

      What we needed was something of more reasonable cost but comfortable and within easy reach of the In-Laws apartment. This meant finding something at the North end of Lord Street, not far from the Fire Station roundabout, for anyone who knows Southport. Between here and the Marine Lake runs Leicester Street and on this road you can find many hotels and guest houses.

      By searching the Internet I discovered the Waterford Hotel (http://www.waterford-hotel.co.uk/). The picture on the website portrays an attractive looking hotel and some agreeable rooms but there is little more information above this. There is certainly no indication of prices. For that you have to phone or email the proprietors. Phoning is probably best. I got no reply to my email so after two days I phoned. Perhaps they just don't check their email very often! Fortunately this turned out to be their only serious short-coming.

      I was offered a room on a Saturday night for £75, including breakfast for two. Subsequently I also booked a second room for my daughter, as she had decided to come with us as well. They didn't have any single rooms but let us have a normal family room for £70, as there would only be one breakfast. Bear in mind that this was Grand National weekend, though we weren't in Southport for that reason, so these prices may be “opportunistic”.

      Clearly we were taking something of a chance. The website does show pictures of some of the rooms and they do look attractive but then no hotel is going to publicise anything dodgy are they? It was only for a single night so even if it was to turn out disappointing, at least we wouldn't have to put up for it for long.

      We arrived to find the hotel pretty much as it was shown on the website, which was a good start. The hotel is well decorated and clean in appearance. There is a car park area in front of the hotel with parking spaces for about eight vehicles. The hotel is situated very close to the junction with the Promenade and opposite what used to be the old Promenade Hospital, which has since been converted into very up-market apartments, some owned by famous footballers. This means that the hotel has views over the famous Southport Marine Lake, especially from those rooms on the second floor.

      As is typical of such Southport residences, the entrance is in the middle of the building, between bay windows. A small Reception desk is situated at the end of the small lobby, opposite the stairs to the upper levels. On the way you pass, on your right, a small resident's bar and on the left the restaurant.

      The residents' rooms are on the first and second floor, reached by stairs. I don't believe they have a lift but then again I had no need to look for one. The stairs from the first to the second floor are enclosed and accessed via a door, to comply with modern fire regulations. There are about a dozen rooms. Both ours and our daughter's contained two beds, a double and a single, to suit families with a small child. The price is for the room, regardless of the number of occupants but, as I said earlier, they did discount my daughter's room as she was the only one using it.

      The one thing that always makes me uneasy about using hotels at this end of the market is that you never quite know what you are going to find. Too often I have encountered accommodation where you open drawers or wardrobes or look under beds with a certain trepidation. The whole atmosphere is redolent of lack of cleanliness or maintenance.

      No such worries here though. Our room was one of those at the front, with views off the Southport sea front. The room was in excellent condition, tastefully decorated in sympathy with the era of the building. Everything was spotlessly clean and in perfect order. The room was quite large, as would be expected in a building of this age, as also was our daughter's. The free-standing wardrobe even contained an ironing table and iron, should you need to take the wrinkles out of any of your clothes. There was a TV with a selection of satellite channels, although we weren't there to box. We did catch up with a little breakfast TV though.

      There was a roomy en-suite with a bath and a shower over it for those who prefer (me!). Even though we were on the top floor, the pressure to the shower was quite adequate. The whole bathroom was tiled and, as with the bedroom, spotless.

      We enjoyed an excellent night's sleep, even though Leicester Street and the Promenade can get quite busy. It is a bus route and there is a bus stop within metres of the hotel but no undue traffic noise was experienced.

      We didn't eat in the hotel in the evening but did take breakfast the following morning. We didn't use their bar either. The breakfast room is large with more than adequate seating and space between tables. It is decorated in keeping with the remainder of the hotel. Breakfast consisted of anything from Full English “downwards”. The only criticism was that they did not have any other milk than “Full Fat”, OK as far as I am concerned but annoying to my better half, who is definitely a “Skimmed” person.

      We enjoyed our stay at the Waterford and would undoubtedly be more than happy to spend another night there should the occasion arise. However, for an extended stay their prices are somewhat on the high side, but you do get good quality for your money. I would rate the hotel 3½ stars, just about rising to 4 if I am wrong about the absence of a lift.

      I am more than happy to recommend the Waterford Hotel.

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