There's times when all the frills aren't necessary, when all you're looking for is a clean, comfortable and quiet place to sleep. Having stayed at a number of hotels in Exeter, and needing to be there for a meeting early the next day, I decided on this occasion to overlook the city centre hotels I've stayed at before, mainly because they were twice the price of this hotel, would have parking costs of £10-£20 overnight and I didn't need the extras. There are quiet a number of business hotels near to the M5 and on this occasion I used Tripadvisor for reassurance and came across this hotel.
I've stayed at the Premier Inn hotel at Countess Wear before, but found it worn and wasn't overly comfortable with the motel format. The other Premier Inn hotel in Exeter is opposite St David's station which, although a much newer hotel than Countess Wear, would have incurred parking charges. So after my previous experience at Premier Inn in Colchester I decided to give Premier Inn another go... not the usual bells and whistles but they only wanted £51 per night and that was booking the day before. The city centre hotels wanted at least double that.
First impressions were great, ample car parking and the hotel looking immaculate being virtually brand new. The lady at check-in was very welcoming although not sure once she took my details I then had to self check-in which printed out my key card. Access to the rooms is through a key card door, reassuring after the Countess Wear hotel. The reception area also featured a couple of vending machines; ok it's not room service but the hotel is not that big and the prices were reasonable so I did get a couple of snacks.
The corridors were modern and bright, if just a little tight if two people passing.
Then came the room and I was very impressed. The four star chains in Exeter should be very worried. The bed was large and comfortable with good linen, bed runner and choice of pillows (you don't get the latter two anywhere else in Exeter that I've seen). There was a large tv on the wall along with a fitted multimedia hub (the only other Exeter hotel I've seen that is Magdalen Chapter). Plenty of space in the room and although the view was of a car park, it didn't really matter, the room itself was exceptionally clean, in immaculate condition and stylishly decorated.
The bathroom was a fair size with a bath with overhead shower. Soap and shower gel/shampoo came from wall dispensers but little bottles seem to be disappearing from lots of places. I stayed in a premium Upper Deck room with Village Hotels a while ago and this bathroom beat it hands down. For a budget hotel, I was surprised to see Hansgroe taps and shower fittings, something normally only seen in a few premium hotels.
Sleep quality was spot on... the hotel was quiet, there were black out curtains and the temperature was fine (I noted proper room air con/heating rather than an ineffective electric heater I've seen in other Premier Inns). The windows don't open in this hotel which didn't bother me and they tell you at the time of booking. They state it's for environmental purposes but more likely to be so they can ensure a "good night's sleep guaranteed" without people affecting that by letting the noise in or the temperature to fluctate.
In particular, this hotel knocks the socks off two others in Exeter. Firstly the direct city centre competitor Jurys Inn; the rooms are much bigger, much quieter, beds more comfortable and there's a bath rather than a tiny shower cubicle in a tiny bathroom. Also free parking on site, faster check-in/out and less room noise. The second is also the city centre Mercure Southgate; again the rooms were bigger, better furnished, better equipped, better bed, better tv, much better bathroom and all for half the price and no parking charges (plus everything else that is wrong with Accor hotels).
It's not comparable with say Magdalen Chapter or Abode Royal Clarence in the city centre, but I would use these hotels are for very different purposes for their leisure experience or walking into the bars/restaurants/shops etc in the city.
The rating I've given this hotel is based on the price, the standard and the expectation of a budget hotel and is due to every single expectation being far exceeded.
The only thing I was disappointed with was the Premier Breakfast. It's served in the Brewers Fayre next door but I fell it was far short of the equivalent breakfast at the Table Table next to the Colchester hotel. In this one, the staff seemed either overworked or not sure what they were doing even though the restaurant was less than a quarter full, starting with a five minute wait to be seated and then what seemed like an endless wait for the buffet to be replenished. The cold buffet was poor with nothing like to choice at Colchester. There were no plates for toast, no spoons for coffee, orange juice had run out and no muffins. I don't really like hot buffets - in Colchester they took your order and brought it over - here it was the worst aspects of buffet combined; eggs that have whites like rubber and yolks like sawdust, undercooked bacon, poor sausages and a few baked beans swimming in sauce. My advice would be to avoid breakfast here, there are lots of other places nearby (the local supermarkets are cheaper and do better food) so I've not allowed it to influence my score for the hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Convenient location, just off of Junction 29 of the M5. Parking is available for a discounted rate of £2.50 per 24 hours for Premier Inn guests. Ten minutes drive from Exeter International Airport and 20 minutes from Exeter St Davids train station and city centre. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Premier Inn Exeter (M5 J29) Devon