Archive for the ‘Hotel Review’ Category

Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London

On a recent visit to London my husband and I stayed in a Premier Inn Hotel. It was very conveniently situated for the plans we had and the price of accomodation was most competitive. So we checekd in to the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London.

Our first experience of the hotel was checking in. It all went smoothly. The check-in clerk was professional, courteous and very helpful. She took time out to look up the first place we were visiting on her computer and directed us as to the best way to get there. It took a few minutes, but she could not have been kinder.premier inn room

We got up to our room and found it was spotlessly clean. The room was also a good size. It had not only a queen-sized bed, but also a sofa that could have been used as an extra bed, perhaps for a child if we had needed it. The bed was extremely comfortable. There was a courtesy tray with teas and coffees, extra pillows and the bath sheets were a good size.

Unfortunately, the window did not open and we could not adjust the heating, so the room was uncomfortably hot at night. Also the cleaners did not refill the courtesy tray for the later days of our stay and the towels were not soft.

new eltham bathroom

On our first morning, there were not many people in the hotel so the famous, hot Premier Inn buffet breakfast was not on offer, but the cooked dishes were served to order, although the continental breakfast was buffet. The meal was delicious. Later in our stay, my husband was overjoyed when full buffet breakfast returned!premier inn ne

We had an evening meal at the hotel once. It was freshly cooked and tasty. We had drinks in the hotel on another evening, there is no separate bar, but there are comfortable couches in the restaurant area to enjoy a drink.

All in all, we very much enjoyed our stay and will use the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London again.

Val Penny

 

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Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out, Cala Millor Majorca

It was ten years since I had been to Majorca and over forty years since my husband had visited the island, so, when we decided to go to the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out for an Easter Break, we joked that the place would be glad of the repeat business! However neither of us had been to Cala Millor so the trip felt like a real adventure: going somewhere new.

The Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out is an adults only resort. We had never chosen to go to an adult only resort before and chose this one rather by chance. It seemed like a relaxing place and had an indoor pool and spa which we thought we would enjoy at that early part of the season.cala millor reception

When we arrived at the hotel, from the very beginning, we found the staff to be charming and helpful. We were greeted with a smile and a glass of cava and when we went up to our room, on the top floor, we were delighted with the accommodation too. Although we arrived early in the day, our room was ready for occupation. It was scrupulously clean and comfortably spacious, although at that time of year we did not use the balcony as much as we might have done later on.cala millor view

What marks this resort out from many others we have visited is the beautiful grounds which surround the hotel. There is plenty of seating, many sun beds, a jacuzzi and lovely outdoor pool a snack and drinks bar in the grounds with tables and chairs where hot and cold drinks and light meals are served. It was lovely to sit with a drink or a snack and enjoy the views from the terrace.

The dining room, within the hotel is where most meals are served. The Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out offers many levels of board through from bed and breakfast to all-inclusive. In the dining room, again, there was lots of space and the seating very relaxed: everybody just choosing where they wanted to sit rather than being assigned a table. All meals are served buffet style although, apart from breakfast, drinks are served to diners.cala millor dining room

In the basement of the hotel there is a heated indoor pool, a jacuzzi, a small gym which is well-equipped and well-used and a delightful beauty salon where many different procedures can be enjoyed. These require to be booked at the reception desk.cala millor outside

We were also delighted by the situation of the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out. It is in a very flat part of the island, and therefore lends itself to easy, enjoyable walks. It was funny walking along by the sea and coming across so many happy children and families when we were staying in an adults only environment. We also enjoyed easy walks to the shops and into the town where there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from. We enjoyed the fact that the weather was warm enough for us to eat al fresco and people watch.

Both my husband and I very much enjoyed our holiday in the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out and certainly plan to return soon.

Val Penny

Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, High Maybole Rd, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland

I went to visit Alloway with my friend Anna. We stopped for coffee and cake at the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, High Maybole Rd, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland. The Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, is set on the banks of the River Doon and across from the Burns Memorial Gardens. We took the opportunity to visit the beautiful gardens before stopping in at this tranquil hotel.Burns museum

The Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, is situated in an ivy-covered house is a 6-minute walk from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. We took a self-guided tour of the property Robert Burns grew up in, Burns Cottage,  as well as a visit to the museum that houses his manuscripts, books, many artefacts and artwork. Burns Cottage, was the first home of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet and radical thinker. It is located in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was built by his father, William Burness in 1757. Burns is acknowledged as Scotland’s national poet. He was born there on 25 January 1759.Burns Cottage

After our visits in the town of Alloway, Anna and I decided to look for somewhere to stop brig-o-doon outfor afternoon coffee and cake. We were delighted to find the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, its fine-dining restaurant offers traditional Scottish cuisine, and panoramic views of the gardens and river. The hotel also retains exclusive fishing rights on the river for its guests. Other amenities include landscaped gardens, event facilities and limited parking, but coffee and cake sufficed for us. brig-o-doon entrance

The entrance is beautiful and in the lobby and fire added to the warmth of the surroundings. We so enjoyed curling up in the comfortable armchairs whiling the afternoon away. The coffees were delicious. Anna had a cappuccino, while I opted for a decaf latte. The cakes were fresh and tasty. Anna had an individual bakewell tart, while I had a slice brig o doon insideof apple pie. The service provided by the staff was excellent.

There was a wedding taking place the day we were there. Nevertheless, the service for us was still excellent. We were not made to feel unwanted or in the way at all. The only brig o doon roomsdisadvantage to the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel is that the access for those with mobility issues is poor. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel and we hope to visit there again.

 

Val Penny

 

 

Winchester Writers’ Festival, University of Winchester, West Downs Student Village, Winchester, England

The Winchester Writers’ Festival is held in the middle of June and attracts over three hundred emerging novelists, poets, short story writers, children’s writers, script and memoir writers  from across the UK and the world to the University of Winchester. Delegates attend workshops, talks and one-to-ones with over seventy literary agents, commissioning editors, authors and expert practitioners throughout an inspiring and supportive weekend. This year was the first time I had ever attended The Winchester Writers’ Festival, but it was recommended to me by my friend and mentor, Simon Hall.winchester

I had the opportunity to meet with four agents and publishers, three of whom expressed an interest in my work. However, it was eventually Crooked Cat Books, whom I had submitted my work to, prior to attending Winchester, that accepted my debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ for publication.

At Winchester, I stayed in student accomodation. My goodness, it took me back! Accommodation with breakfast is available at the University of Winchester in basic student rooms in the West Downs Student Village and in Beech Glade on the main King Alfred campus.  A free shuttle bus service will run between West Downs and the Festival venues on the main King Alfred campus at key times over the weekend. En suite and Standard (shared bathroom) accommodation is available at very reasonable prices. Beech Glade is much more convenient for the main campus where the talks, meetings and meals are held, but only West Downs has en-suite accommodation, so the deal was set. I was staying in West Downs. The West Downs Student Village is at the top of a steep hill, so I was glad the course ran a shuttle bus morning and afternoon.

winchester university diningThe accommodation is basic, but clean. My room contained a bed, wardrobe, desk chair and book shelves with an ensuite shower room. Basic bedlinen, toiletries and towels were provided too. I was only there for a long weekend, what more did I need? Accommodation includes hot and cold buffet breakfast for the nights you stay. If you are attending the conference for the day, lunch is also included. Dinner is not and requires to be booked and paid for separately. The meals were ample and tasty and there was provision for vegetarians. Prices in the bar are much lower than in the real world.

Winchester makes great play of being inclusive and having rooms suitable for wheelchair users. I did not see any wheelchair users at the conference. The pack I received states that, although there are stairs leading from conference buildings to the bar and dining roomm, there are lifts for those with mobility issues. I do not have mobility issues, but there were delegates who required assistance to walk. The lifts did not work. That was unsatisfactory.

Free, but limited, parking is available at West Downs and further parking is available in the main car park and Medecroft car park on the main campus but as I travelled to Winchester by train, this did not affect me.

lemnsissayThe keynote speech was delivered on the Saturday morning by Lemn Sissay. I enjoyed the talk and found him a motivating and interesting speaker. Unfortunately, as many people queued to buy his books after his talk, we were told he had somewhere else to be. As a result of this, he stopped dedicationg the books and just signed them, then he left. Not all those waiting with books go them signed. This was bad organisation disppointing and tacky. I have never seen this happen anywhere before. I opted not to buy any of his books.

The Winchester Writers’ festival was interesting some seventy-five speakers delivered fifty separate talks, readings and workshops to almost three hundred writers. The accomodation was adequate. However, bearing in mind the conference only lasts three days, it is extremely expensive. I would not attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival regularly, but I may attend again in the future. I believe there are other writers’ events that are better value for money.

Val Penny

 

 

 

1745 Cottage Restaurant, Traquair House, Traquair, Innerleithen

I had lived within 40 miles of Traquair House at Traquair, Innerleithen, Scotland, for many years, but had never visited it. So, earlier this year, My friend Anna and I took time out to visit Traquair House and we had lunch in its 1745 Cottage Restaurant. The date in the name of the restaurant refers to the Jacobite rising of 1745 was the unsuccessful attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the males of the House of Stuart.traquair house

Traquair House is Scotland’s Oldest Inhabited House. Throughout its history it has been visited by 27 Scottish Kings and Queens. The house dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491. Traquair House was originally a royal hunting lodge, and played host to Mary Queen of Scots. Later as staunch Catholics they supported the Jacobite cause without counting the cost.traquair 1745

Now, in its grounds, there is a maze, a selection of craft workshops, a brewery and the 1745 Cottage Restaurant. traquair 1745 in

The 1745 Cottage Restaurant is situated separately from the main house. It is picturesque outside but spotlessly clean inside. Internally, the restaurant combines traditional features and modern cleanliness. For lunch, I chose the leek and potato soup. It was home made, but lacked seasoning. I was a bit disappointed by it. Anna made the better choice. She thoroughly enjoyed her homemade tomato and basil soup. Certainly the portions were generous and the rolls served with it, although they did not look homemade, were fresh and tasty.traquair 1745 inside

After our soup, we were served a selection of freshly made sandwiches. Again, there were plenty of them. There were prawn, tuna salad, ham and tomato, egg mayonnaise, cheese ans cheese savoury sandwiches washed down with a pot of strong tea. or coffee. We enjoyed the sandwich selsction very much. Also the service at the 1745 Cottage Restaurant was polite and friendly. The restrooms were spotlessly clean and the restaurant offers good access for those with moblity issues. We were pleasantly surprised by the price, too.

If you have a chance to visit the house and gorunds of Traquair House, I am sure you will find it interesting, and I recommend the 1745 Cottage Restaurant. Anna and I enjoyed our meals.

Val Penny

 

 

Apple Apartments Greenwich O2, 1 Providence Place (27 Blackwall Lane) London, England

One of the great joys in my life is my family. I have two beautiful daughters of whom I am unfailingly proud. It is, therefore, a great delight that they agree the three of us should have a ‘girls’ weekend’ once a year.Apple apts livingroom diningroom

This year we spent our special weekend in London, at Apple Apartments Greenwich O2, 1 Providence Place (27 Blackwall Lane) London, England . It was a lovely weekend and the apartment was very spacious.Apple apts livingroom kitchen

We had three double bedrooms an en-suite shower room and a family bathroom upstairs with a large living/dining/kitchen and small wc downstairs. The concierge was helpful, the accommodation was spotlessly clean and the beds were comfortable, so the most important boxes were ticked. Apple apts main bedroom

Little things brought the apartment from excellent to good. The third bedroom had no bedside light, so I moved one from the main bedroom, only to find it had no bulb, so I needed to move a bulb from the sidelight in the living area. There was a dishwasher, but no tablets to allow us to use it. There was washing up liquid but no cloth or brush to give it effect. There were no dish towels to allow us to dry dishes, so we ended up using a hand towel.Apple apts bed 2

Having said all this there were sufficient mugs, glasses, plates and cutlery for the three of us to enjoy meals in the apartment. There was a tea bag and three sachets of sugar. Happily, we came prepared and the predilection of the British to drink tea continued unabated!Apple Apts bed 3

The bathroom facilities were exceptional. I was pleasantly surprised to have a  downstairs wc as well as the two bathrooms upstairs. It was a very useful and welcome addition to the accommodation. There were plenty of hand towels and bath towels.Apple Apts family bathroom

The beds were all comfortable with crisp white sheets, however, the stairs leading upstairs were quite steep and I was surprised that there was only a bannister on one side of them. Nevertheless this did not detract from our comfort during our stay. Apple Apts ensuite

My daughters treated me to a visit to the Duchess Theatre in Catherine Street where we saw the hilarious show, The Play that went Wrong. Public transport to and from the Apple Apartments Greenwich O2 to the theatre district was good. There is only one underground line from the nearest station at North Greenwich, but trains run regularly.Apple Duchess Theatre

All in all, we had a lovely weekend and I can recommend Apple Apartments Greenwich O2. It offered excellent value for money. We enjoyed our stay and with very small tweaks, this would be truly exceptional accommodation.

Valerie Penny

 

Peebles Hydro,Innerleithen Rd, Peebles, Scotland

Peebles Hydro outsideI have always enjoyed visits to the Peebles Hydro. It is a beautiful building in marvelous rolling countryside, indeed, the Peebles Hydro that is there now was built in the early 20th century as a country house hotel and spa resort in Peebles in the border region of Scotland at the south. The hotel actually opened in 1881, but burnt down and was rebuilt in 1907. It served as a hospital for injured service personnel during  World War I before reverting to hotel use.peebles-hydro-peebles-lounge

Peebles Hydro is a magnificent category B listed building. Peebles Hydro offers a peebles hydro entrancebeautiful setting in gardens, in the border town of Peebles. This charming, historic hotel features an indoor swimming pool, a spa, a gym and restaurant and overlooks the Tweed Valley and is backed by Glentress Forest. It is a 14-minute walk from the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery, and only 1.2 miles from Peebles Golf Club. The Scottish Borders are ideal for cycling, walking, fishing and golfing. The River Tweed is a short walk from the hotel.

peebles hydro poolWhen my children were growing up we made regular visits to Peebles Hydro, there is a lovely pool and special activities for children to be safely entertained. There is also a playground for children and there are lovely walks by the river Tweed nearby. Films are played for the children and there is a special early teatime for them. peebles-hydro-peebles-restaurant

I enjoy lovely views when enjoying breakfast or dinner in the restaurant. There is also a Peebles Hydro outcocktail bar. The evening dinner is always a favourite, the meal choices are tasty, the wines exquisite and the service first class. More recently, my husband and I regularly visit with my mother for a delicious, traditional afternoon tea on her birthday. The fresh sandwiches, scones and cakes washed down with tea poured from elegant pots enjoyed looking over the vibrant views of the Scottish borders is always a treat.

peebles hydro roomMost recently, last week my friend and I ventured to Peebles. It was a dleight to be back at the Peebles Hydro. Our rooms were lovely, each room at Peebles Hydro features classic décor finished in lightly coloured tones. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, a TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, heating and a bathroom with free toiletries. Breakfast was delicious and, as vegetarians, we had plenty of choice. I always enjoy visiting Peebles Hydro and highly recommend it.

Valerie Penny