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York Villa Hotel (Southport)
Member Name: ermintrude
York Villa Hotel (Southport)
Date: 08/02/01, updated on 08/02/01 (110 review reads)
Advantages: You know exactly what you're going to get
Disadvantages: You've seen it all before
Sometimes I think that almost every English B&B I've ever visited has come out of the same mould. You know the sort of thing: patterned carpets in the hall, flowery bedspreads, a little TV six feet off the ground, and a nagging fear that the door to the en-suite is not quite, um, soundproof. The York Villa Hotel is really no exception.
Make no mistake, there's nothing wrong with it. It's a fine, solid example of a seaside bed and breakfast that does its job very well. And let's face it, if you want character and individuality, you'd be hard pressed to find it anywhere on this one-block-back-from-the-prom Southport street. The B&Bs line up, cosy bay windows with "Vacancies" signs stretching as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by the odd Indian or Chinese restaurant, with their Bengal this and Hong Kong that breaking up the Sunny Banks and Sea Views. The York Villa fits in very well, although it sits, perhaps a little warily, next to the Conservative Club.
Crisp green and cream paintwork provides a public face, and the golden glow spilling from the hallway beckons the weary offseason traveller into its warmth. The landlady is no less welcoming, with a cheerful smile and some polite chit chat about the weather, your journey, and so on. Instantly, you know where you are and what to expect. Here's the little stand with leaflets about local attractions; there's the bell to ring for service; one door leads to the neat dining room, already laid for breakfast, while the other opens onto a cosy lounge and bar.
Key in hand, it's up the steep stairs and through some heavy fire doors (difficult to negotiate when you're carrying bags, but at least you can sleep safe in your bed), then into your room. Again, the deja-vu is almost overwhelming: the MFI furniture and random assortment of coathangers, the matching chintzy bedspreads, curtains and border, the little TV on a wall stand, and the small
-but-adequate en-suite. A kettle, cups and instant drinks sit neatly on the table, while decent freebies are lined up in the bathroom.
There's the odd bit of fraying round the edges, of course, but not too much. While the en-suite has a shower, it doesn't have the tiling, curtain or cabinet, so there are obvious spots of mould and peeling wallpaper. The hotel isn't non-smoking either, and cigarettes have left tell-tale marks by the sink and even (in one tiny spot) on the bedspread. But it can't be denied that the place is spotlessly clean.
Then there are the touches necessary to turn a Victorian building into a B&B - the fire doors I mentioned (and they really are quite heavy and prone to slam), and in the room, the false ceiling with incredibly unflattering strip lights behind a frosted panel. Given a choice between that or the spotlights over the double bed, this is not the B&B to choose for your softly- (and flatteringly) lit romantic assignation.
Breakfast! The larger-than-life jolly landlord offers the usual choices: fruit juice, cereal (don't expect anything fancy like muesli), fruit (tinned grapefruit), toast (white), and that phenomenon known as the English breakfast. Yes, I had it (hang the diet), and no, it was really no different to any other breakfast I've had at a B&B. Bacon, sausage, egg... yada yada, you know the score, it was all there, right down to the black pudding. Certainly set me up for the day (and the next, truth be told).
Enough of the B&B itself, what of the surroundings? The York Villa sits on a street between Lord Street and the Promenade (although the prom looks onto a boating lake rather than the sea, which is most likely 2 miles or more distant). This makes it fairly handy for the bus and rail stations, as well as the central shops and restaurants, and the ubiquitous pier. Nothing in Southport is that handy for the beach, as it's so far out, but this is as about close as y
ou can get. Being on a street almost entirely populated by B&Bs, it could probably get a bit busy (especially parking-wise) and noisy in the season, but as we went in January the only thing that disturbed us was a tanker pumping something into (or out of) the Conservative Club one morning. Exactly what it was, I leave open to speculation.
Contacting the York Villa Hotel coudn't be easier - they are truly part of the information age. Not content with phone and fax, they give a mobile number (07713 147 172), freephone (0800 0345 440), and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). When we booked, the freephone number gave a dodgy line first, but calling back solved the problem straight away. Prices are extremely reasonable, and range from £22.50 per person per night according to the leaflet, although you'll probably get a discount off-season.
If you're after accommodation in Southport, and want a bit of comfortable predictability in your life, I'm sure you could do much worse than this.
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