First, let me preface my observations by saying, in my opinion as a professional travel agent, that far too many of the complaints of ALL hotels on this website are based on expecting luxury service on bargain basement rents. The shortcomings I identify in my review need to be balanced with my overall opinion that it was extremely good value for money.
For the record, I stayed on Friday 27th June and I paid only £34.30 for a standard double room (without breakfast), booking a few weeks in advance. Note: this is a limited promotion - £49 is more typical – but I have found future weekend dates that are also £34.30 (on Booking.com).
It is worth noting that, although this hotel is part of a “chain”, that it is individually owned. Best Western provide marketing and branding to hotels – but you are dealing with the owners, so they should (at least in theory!) be more responsive to suggestions and criticisms than budget hotels where the management are direct employees of a large corporate head office hundreds of miles away.
Location - It is on the edge of the village of Appleby Magna – this sounds like the middle of nowhere but it is only 200 yards from Junctiion 11 of the M42. I chose it because I wanted to visit the military memorials at the National Memorial Arboretum (10 miles). It would also be an economic and peaceful base for a visit to the N E C, Birmingham) – however, the information (supplied by the hotel) on Tripadvisor, and their in-room cards, is incorrect – it is not 14 miles to the N E C, it is 19-20 miles depending on which route you take.
Check-in - Reception was efficient. Another plus for this hotel is generous times: you can officially check-in from 2pm and you need not check-out until 12 noon. Many hotels will not let you in until 3pm and throw you out by 11am.
The room - Mine was 253, upstairs and across the grass “courtyard”. If staying in the Summer, I would ask for an upstairs room so that you can safely leave the window open. The rooms have individual radiators (useful most of the year) but NO air-conditioning. Those staying on the ground floor would have to choose between open windows for ventilation or stuffy closed for night-time security. At least in my room, motorway noise was not an issue – I could have been in the middle of the countryside.
It was clean and equipped above the average standard for a budget hotel. Safety box in the closet, kettle with a modest supply of tea/coffee, a table with two armchairs; modern LCD freeview TV with a perfect picture; bedside telephone. The bed was an excellent size, though the mattress seemed a little tired. Only one spare mains socket (next to the kettle) so bring a double plug if you want to charge more than one phone or you will have to unplug the TV. Even a Room Service menu was available (surcharge £3 for delivery) and a laundry service offering same day dry-cleaning.
The bathroom was smart and with the usual toiletries. However, I found the bath to be both narrower and shallower than typical – if I was slightly more overweight then I might not have found it comfortable. I am not a fan of fixed shower heads (prefer those you can unhook) – the shower was almost touching my head when I stood up (and I am only 5’ 7”).
Wi-fi - All hotels need to understand the “gadget” revolution that has taken place in the last couple of years. Full marks to the Appleby Park for providing free wi-fi within their budget rates (my receipt had a daily wi-fi rate crossed out with a pen, so the decision not to charge may be fairly recent). Signal strength and speed were good enough for me to stream my favourite internet radio station (not always possible in hotels, even those that still charge £10+ per day). However, getting online was slightly cumbersome: you are given a small print-out with a temporary username and password. It was not until I had struggled for 30 minutes that I found out, from Reception, that the code only worked once for EACH gadget. Maybe we are not entirely typical: we had two smartphones and two tablets between us! They soon solved this by printing out more unique codes for us.
Facilities - Large, and free car-park – we had no problem getting within 30 yards of the door. Large, open-plan lobby area with Reception plus bar at the far end, tables and chairs which mainly become a breakfast area in the morning. There was a small area off the lobby called a “business centre” which had a desk with one standard PC on it. I guess these are becoming bypassed by the plethora of lap-tops, tablets and smart phones that people carry these days – but access to a printer is probably useful.
No ice machine (to the best of my knowledge) but the bar staff had no objection to providing me with supplies of ice to take to the room (my wife says I am a “cheapskate!”).
Food - I only inspected the restaurant menu, and did not partake so I cannot usefully comment. It seemed reasonable if limited, and the fact that a restaurant and bar exists is a bonus – some of the similarly priced budget hotels in the UK have neither. The buffet breakfast was being served as I left in the morning – it had the usual 6 or 7 cooked components of the typical English breakfast on “help-yourself” hot plates and the standard selection of cereals, yoghurts etc. From other comments, I am given to understand that sometimes breakfast is provided on an individual “ordered from the kitchen” basis: I guess it will depend on how many of the 95 rooms are occuplied and have pre-ordered breakfast. Breakfast would have been £7.50, which strikes me as reasonable for a hotel.
Across the road, there is a Shell petrol station with the usual small grocery /snack selection. More importantly, it has a McDonalds and I was able to avail myself of a modest breakfast for £3.49. On reflection, I should have forked out the extra £4 in the hotel for the unlimited buffet! However, a McDonalds is a useful bonus for those travelling with kids.
Two miles away, at Measham, is a lovely Chinese Restaurant called Link Measham Cantonese. I won’t review it, as you can find over 40 reviews elsewhere on Tripadvisor. That it is rated, on here, as 2nd out of 51 restaurants in the Swadlingcote area speaks for itself. We had an excellent meal with a friendly and amusing host (not always a feature in Chinese Restaurants). IF you are planning to go in August 2014, check first – the Malaysian owner is going “home” for 4 weeks holiday.
Summary - Good value for money. My main gripe was the noise. Random bursts of muted banging in the middle of the night – it sounded like a hyper-active child was playing hopscotch in the room above my head. I was a little disappointed that the managers were well aware of this phenomenon and had engineers trying to trace it for some time, without complete success (it is mentioned in other reviews as being a problem at least two weeks before my arrival). Given that the hotel was not full (I checked online in the morning before setting off and could have booked at least 10 rooms) I do feel that they could have made more effort to allocate rooms away from the noise, even if it meant giving a free upgrade. BUT – I would definitely come back and stay here the next time I am in the area, and would recommend it to anyone else.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The BEST WESTERN Appleby Park Hotel, just off Junction 11 of the M42 is perfectly located on the outskirts of Tamworth, midway between Birmingham and Nottingham, and 10 miles/14km from Drayton Manor. The NEC is just 14 miles away.Do business with a choice of 5 flexible meeting rooms with all the latest equipment and complimentary wireless internet access and free parking.The Appleby Park Hotel is located amongst some of the best fun filled attractions in the country including Drayton Manor Theme Park, Twycross Zoo and Conkers. Family and interconnecting rooms are available making us the ideal choice for your family break.Relaxed and informal, The Park Restaurant offers tempting dishes cooked to perfection with light meals and snacks served in the lounge bar throughout the day. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ramada Tamworth
- Tamworth Ramada
- Best Western Appleby Park Hotel Appleby Magna, Leicestershire, United Kingdom