“ Address: Stanley Place / Talbot Street / Nottingham / NG1 5GS „
Fortunate enough to get tickets for Day 2 of the first Ashes cricket test match of 2013 to be held at Trent Bridge, my sister and I needed accommodation in Nottingham and after much deliberation we chose, through booking.com, the 3 star "The Welbeck Hotel" due to its proximity to the cricket ground and reasonable reviews, opting for their "Superior Queen Twin Room" allowing us to share a room with two Queen sized beds and thus saving money. We were able to save even more money by selecting the pay in advance offer which was cheaper, but on the other hand non-refundable (eek) and required all the money up front. But we knew we would never miss out on the chance to watch an Ashes match so were willing to take that risk. The other choices of rooms (there are 96 available within the hotel) were the "Superior Single Room" and "Superior King Double" which are as obvious as they sound by being a room for 1 person, or for 2 sharing a king sized double bed.
==Admin 1: Prices==
So let's get the admin out of the way first - how much did 2 nights in the Superior Queen Twin room cost during mid-July 2013? The room itself cost £198, which works out at £99 per night so just under £50 a night per person (which isn't half bad in my opinion). However, as I mentioned before this booking was purchased at a special advanced rate and so it looks like the ordinary rate as of July per night is £117 (so £58.50 per person) so if you're risk seeking as opposed to averse you obviously may want to try to take advantage of the special advanced rate. It looks however like the prices for the different rooms as well as different times of the year fluctuates a fair bit, and there also seem to be a lot of special offers on apparently all the time so if you are interested in this hotel a bit of shopping around may not go amiss to try to get the best deal - I haven't seen a non-discounted room for more than £140 per night so I think that is the most you would have to pay but you'd be unlucky not to get it cheaper.
There are also a few extra options which push the cost up just a touch. Firstly we opted to include breakfast as part of the package which was £10.75 each per day which added another £43 to the bill and also we included parking as part of the package since it is very limited near the hotel. There is a multi-storey car park right next door which you can use for £14 a day if you haven't booked in advance but there is no guarantee of a spot, but they have underground parking attached to the hotel (open 24 hours a day) all tightly secured with CCTV and automatically controlled shutters to add some proper protection which, if you pay £14 a day (so a further £28 to our bill) - the same price as the neighbouring multi-storey, you will be guaranteed a spot. The only thing is you must be out by 2pm. So our final bill came to £269 which between two people was pretty decent.
==Admin 2: Location and Parking==
Address: Stanley Place, Off Talbot Street, Nottingham, Nottingham, NG1 5GS
Telephone: +44 (0)115 841 1000.
So how easy was the hotel to find? With SatNav (would I do it any other way?) it was pretty easy, though due to a serious amount of one way systems, SatNav does occasionally ask you to drive through brick walls which is not ideal, but it was not particularly tricky to find. I personally wouldn't be confident negotiating the one way systems of Nottingham however without such an aid so I would recommend planning in advance how to get to the hotel. Once you arrive it isn't particularly clear about how to deal with the parking situation, but there is a small bay you can pull in right outside the hotel's entrance (where taxi's also seem to linger) to allow you to briefly hop out and obtain an electronic device from reception to open the shutters to the underground parking situated to the right as you face the hotel.
==Admin 3: Checking In==
Once safely parked you can return to the reception (I would advise grabbing all your gear as you need a latch key to re-enter the car park which required further trips back and forth from reception) to begin the checking-in process. Since we booked in advance this was easy, all we needed to do was supply our booking reference and they located our booking and handed over the keys with the customary instructions about breakfast serving times, checking out times and making sure we left the key with them every time we left the hotel. This was done in an efficient and polite but not overly friendly way. Knowing the hotel offered free Wi-Fi we had to actually ask for the passcode once later discovering it was not available in our room information which required yet another return to reception which I felt was something of an unnecessary chore. But otherwise the whole procedure was pretty smooth. We were located on the fourth floor and thankfully were able to make use of the lifts in the reception area (which were so smooth at first we didn't even realise we were moving) to transfer our luggage though a porter/bellhop service is available.
So, on to the room which we were very pleased with overall as it was well prepared for us and looked pretty clean, especially with the en-suite bathroom not being noticeably dirty in any way. It was fairly spacious for a twin room, with at least a leg width's amount of space between each queen sized bed and plenty of room either side with enough walking space between the foot of the beds and the desk to allow easy manoeuvring about the room without the danger of bumping in to things, though if both guests were to attempt moving at the same time, the submissive one would have to give way. There was a reasonably sized wardrobe for hanging a few things up and 4 drawers and two bedside cabinets so a lot of storage space, although I would think you would have to partially live out of your suitcase if you were staying for more than a few nights, certainly up to a week. The view outside the window was not inspiring however unless you find modern concrete architecture and pavements motivate you, but thankfully the curtains were thick enough to block everything out, including sunlight.
The bathroom was also very reasonably sized with just enough room to swing a cat, though the shower wall might get in the way. The toilet was in a good location out of the way with easy to reach toilet paper and sanitary disposal bags and the sink was spacious with a large mirror above, although ours did have a crack in it so we were hoping no bad luck was transferred to us. The bath was a little on the skinny side but seemed okay length wise and had hand rails to help you in and out, though both of us opted for the shower so cannot comment on the bath's comfort. The shower was unexpectedly powerful with very easy controls (simply lifting the handle attached to the bath taps up to turn on and control the speed and side to side to control the heat) which produced a powerful and uninterrupted flow and consistent heat for at least 10 minutes which was excellent. There were two bottles of shampoo / shower gel combined in to one located in the bathroom so if you didn't bring your own you'd be okay - one in the shower where you'd expect and the other by the sink. We suspect the second was meant to be soap and they supplied the wrong one, but for some reason we'd brought our own so this wasn't a problem although obviously it would be if you hadn't. I don't recall a bath mat, and the floor was a little slippery when wet so a little care when leaving the shower/bath would be advised.
There were plenty of towels in the bathroom, the linen on the beds seemed very clean and the beds themselves were very comfortable with a medium to hard rigidity to the mattresses and two fairly soft pillows apiece and there were spare blankets in the wardrobe (not that we would contemplate using them considering how hot it was when we stayed). If anything, the duvets were a bit thick for the time of year, but if they kept the same tog over the colder seasons I think they would be fine, just not great for baking hot July. But, the room does have the possibility of cracking open the window to try to cool the room down, albeit not very far, and does offer air conditioning through a very simple control panel, with two fan speeds with the lowest temperature at 16°C which wasn't that cold. The only trouble is, the rooms are powered by the keys themselves, so if you are not in the room there is no power which meant there was no way to keep the air conditioning on throughout the day since we were out for the majority, so we always returned to a very warm room even with the window open. As a result of the air conditioning being a little noisy we tried not using it the first night and keeping the window open which was a catastrophically bad idea as we both positively cooked and it was quite noisy with passing footfall and cars so we both had a pretty bad night's sleep. The second night we tried it with the window shut and the air conditioning set to the lower setting yet it still remained very warm and whilst having a better night's sleep, it was still a little restless. Obviously this is conditional on the time of year but during hot periods it does seem tricky to keep the room cool.
Another issue was background noise in the hotel as some guests were very noisy - I could almost hear a conversation between some drunken people at 4am in the morning as well as slamming doors throughout the night, though I don't know if it would have woken me up from slumber since I was already awake at the time. I certainly heard a whole lot less the second night both inside and outside when I was able to join the land of nod for longer periods so I suspect the noise may not necessarily be terribly disruptive, especially outside if your window is shut although this could have been to do with the fact we were 4 floors up, but perhaps something to consider if you worry about noise. My sister wore ear plugs and was mostly just bothered by the heat. Another thing I should add is the door is not self-locking so you do need to lock it when you leave, and also when you are inside if you are worried about safety which is something we forgot to do, though we managed to not be murdered.
So what were the amenities in the room?
* Tea and coffee making facilities - these were hidden away in on the of the drawers in the main wardrobe with a small kettle, two cups/saucers/spoons and pots of Nescafe coffee/decaf coffee/ PG Tips tea, UHT semi skimmed milk and sugar. The tea we made was of nice enough quality though the cups were on the small side.
* A trouser press - not tried even for review purposes.
* A hairdryer - located in one of the desk drawers and attached to the drawer (I guess to stop you stealing it) this was pretty generic, but decent enough with one strong-ish setting and a cool button to stop you burning yourself.
* A mandatory Bible in case of an emergency spiritual crisis.
* A direct dial telephone - not used, but was working.
* A flat-screen TV - pointing at one of the beds so you may want to choose wisely it was a decently sized TV operated by just a remote control, but only with access to Freeview.
* Wi-Fi - this should have been available in the rooms and in fact anywhere in the hotel but I was completely unable to pick it up with my iPhone or iPad from within my room which was rubbish, although my laptop succeeded in picking up a weak signal (and thankfully the passcode given by reception was correct), so if you were relying on Wi-Fi for some reason you may struggle with smart phones and tablets, although it could of course be limited to Apple, but I suspect not.
* Room service 24 hours a day (using direct dial telephone) - based on an abbreviated version of the restaurant menu, but you can ask for things not listed as a punt if you wish.
* Turndown service - this was decent with beds freshly made, tea and coffee replaced, rubbish removed and fresh towels supplied and no signs of an invasion of privacy.
==The Hotel Amenities==
The hotel offers a safety deposit system for valuables, conference rooms for corporate clients, a laundry and dry cleaning services and as far as I can tell, though I'm afraid I'm not an expert, there are vague sounding disabled facilities which include disabled toilets on the ground floor, wheelchair access to the restaurant, bar, reception and conference but you would definitely want to check this out beforehand. Also, children under 3 can get in for free even if they use existing beds, and likewise children under 2 can use cots/cribs for free. However the number of cots allowed in each room is 1 so I don't think this hotel is designed to particularly accommodate large families with small kids as you would need to spread yourself across many rooms.
The hotel has their Rooftop Garden Restaurant (although where the Garden came into it I wasn't overly clear) which offered "great views over-looking Nottingham city centre" and is open to guests and the general public from 5:30pm-9:30pm on Mondays to Fridays; 11:45am-9:30pm on Saturdays, and 11:45am-3pm on a Sunday. The views may have been ideally placed all up high and everything, but picturesque they were not unless you like looking at a concrete jungle and rival hotels. It also multi-tasks as a bar through these times, but the opening times extend to 10:45pm Mondays to Fridays; 11:45pm on a Saturday, and 2:30pm on a Sunday. Here is where you also get your breakfast opening at 7am-10am on Mondays and Fridays, 7am-10:30am Tuesdays to Thursdays and 7:30am-10:30am on the weekends. Breakfast here was a fine selection of hot food including all the usual suspects of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans, sausages etc.; bread which you can toast yourself and adorn with jams, butter and marmalades; boxed cereals e.g. Coco Pops, Cornflakes to name a few with milk, as well as a selection of fruit juices. There did seem a shortage of bowls at certain times but mostly it seemed well stocked, at least at the times we visited. Tea and coffee was also brought to your table if you requested it. All in all a very pleasant service.
We did actually also use the bar here on our first night there and the restaurant on our second and every time, including breakfast, it was being managed by the same man seemingly alone out front. It was pretty empty both nights which actually made for a nicer atmosphere and allowed as to have our drinks and eat our meal in relative tranquillity, but I cannot say what it's like on the weekends as we patronised on a Wednesday and Thursday. Since the poor chap was on his own on night one, we did have to wait for him to serve us as he was scurrying around in the kitchens and sorting out room service so thankfully it wasn't that busy at the time, but we did receive service with a smile. It was a small bar but with a variation of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks, including my favourite Appletiser. Come the second night for our meal he remembered us and even our drinks order from the previous night which was nice and he took our order almost straight away so there was no messing around and we received out meals within 20 minutes. You can see the full menu online (and at the hotel it is also available in the lifts) but we chose fish and chips for £9.95 and gammon steak, chips and salad for £8.95 which were both warm, tasty and of good quality, especially the nice chunky chips and salad that w consisted of more than just leaves so no complaints there. However, due to a similar busyness of our poor waiter dealing with room service and other diners we had to wait longer than we wanted before we could pay (which could be charged to your room if you wanted though we paid outright as we didn't want to have to worry about payment during the checkout procedure).
==Admin 4: Checking Out==
Checking out was also really easy at reception. We said we wanted to checkout, gave our room number, and were promptly told that we were good to go since we had nothing to pay. Trading our room keys for the underground car park key we packed up the car, I got my sister to return the key whilst I attempted to free my car from the underground vault. The shutters were supposed to lift automatically upon approach. They didn't. Rather fortuitously a car arrived just moments after annoyance started to settle in and I took advantage of their shutter opening skills but that could have caused a problem. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the end of our stay at The Welbeck Hotel in Nottingham.
==Nearby Stuff and Transportation==
The hotel is actually rather well situated. Trams and bus stops are within a 10 minute walking distance which was perfect for us trying to get to Trent Bridge taking us a mere 25 minutes from leaving the hotel which made for a stress free time. A 10 minute walk will take you to the Chapel Bar area with a fantastic array of restaurants and nightlife which includes Nottingham Rock City (a live music venue), a couple of cinemas, the Nottingham Playhouse, the Nottingham Arts Theatre and Old Market Square if you're feeling cultural as well as Nottingham Trent University if you're academic. Other things to do in the area include: the Castle Museum; the Castle and Lace Centre; City of Caves and the joint attraction the Galleries of Justice Museum; Broadmarsh shopping centre; Victoria Shopping Centre; the National Ice Centre all a 15 minute or less walk.
So we were very happy with what we got for the price we paid as the style of the hotel suited us for a quick break. The staff were friendly (or at the very least polite), our room and bathroom were clean, comfortable and well stocked with useful items and both fairly spacious and the restaurant served some decent food for breakfast and dinner, plus the location to the city attractions, restaurants and transportation was useful. The major negatives were poor Wi-Fi, noise both in and outside the hotel (though not much can be done about unruly, inconsiderate guests) and an inability to cool the room down for which 1 star will be deducted so overall I'd give this hotel 4 stars if you're looking for a short stay somewhere, though I don't think it's particularly ideal for families or really lengthy stays.