I have just returned from a week-long stay at the Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC - and can I just say that if I didn't have to stay there for work, I would never set foot inside the building again.
On the positive side, since I was ensconsed in the establishment for a week for the Show I work on last year, the reception staff have improved immensely since 2012 and did at least try to help when things went wrong - but some of the things they were having to deal with beggar belief when you realise how much people are paying to stay there. And how they deal with them says much about how little they think about the customer while pursuing the corporate dollar.
No 1 problem was the insect infestation in my room - and in several others in my business' party. It is no hint of a lie to say that my first step inside my room, on the fifth floor, was met with a very loud crunch as I stepped on the bodies of literally 25 dead flies. I counted them as I picked them up and flushed them down the toilet. 25. There were more inside the room itself, embedded in the carpet, and a whole family circling the cornicing. Having rung reception, and got not answer, I took to Twitter - and this at least got a call back, at 1.30 AM! (when I was asleep, ready for the working day ahead). No one thought about that while fulfilling the corporate need to be responsive! The chap on the other end of the phone didn't seem to appreciate that I wasn't on his time line.
I went to reception the following morning to complain, and was told it would be sorted with a "deep clean" of my room (which begs the question, why didn't they do that in the first place?)...on my return from a long day at work that evening, imagine my disgust to find seven or eight dead flies still lined up along the skirting board in the bedroom, clearly visible as I stepped into the room. I rang reception, who told me that they must have come in through the (hermetically sealed) window.
Anyway I decided to take a bath to relax after a hard day on my feet, but couldn't work out why the bathroom was so dark - until I realised that all the light fittings were filled to the brim with flies and small black beetles (all mercifully dead). So much for a deep clean.
I complained again on departing for my second full day on my feet at the NEC, and to be fair to the hotel when I returned, they had left a bottle of wine as a gift and had also changed the light fittings....but by the time I left the following morning, three of the six spotlights were already filling up nicely with the corpses of small black beetles. I think there's definitely a huge infestation problem in play.
No 2 problem: the prices. How on God's earth can any establishment outside Mayfair in London think it is acceptable to charge £8-9 for a 250ml glass of wine?!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When four drinks cost me almost £30 I felt moved to complain, but was told this was "standard for the area". What area is that - rip off town? A complete case of taking the P - trust me, we didn't want to have to stay there in the evenings, but when you are placed in a hotel for work, that's what you have to do. Total and utter profiteering.
Temperature controls in the bedrooms were a complete mishmash - it was either stiflingly cold or bakingly hot. In the end, I resorted to sleeping with the window open, figuring that the noise from the nearby motorway was at least preferable to the sweating/shivering combo that I was being forced into.
Little things like failure to replace shower gel, clean towels etc started to grate after a while as well - there is no point in paying a premium if one has to constantly second guess the staff as to whether or not they are going to replenish supplies, change towels, remove rubbish etc. and chase them up when they don't do what they're being paid a premium for. It would have been quicker to do it myself tbh.
If I didn't have to stay there for work, I would never set foot on the premises of the Crowne Plaza EVER AGAIN, which I'm sure they'd be delighted to know, as I'm hoping that my complaints at reception were heard by more than the 15 people queuing at the time. There are other MUCH BETTER hotels in the NEC vicinity, and the CP will definitely have to pull its socks up when the new casino opens in 2015 (can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned!).
All in all, a case of "could do better" - but whether they can be bothered when their location means they'll get trade whatever the level of service remains to be seen. My advice would be avoid if it's at all possible - the Arden and the Hilton give much better value for money (and don't charge nearly £9 for a class of wine!).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the heart of England the Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC offers a unique contemporary style and simple elegance on the doorstep of the NEC and within close proximity of Birmingham International Airport. Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC offers a luxurious accommodation featuring air-conditioning, high speed Internet access (subject to an additional charge) and TV with movies on demand. A fashionable bar and Pendigo's Restaurant is also available for all residents and non-residents. With 11 custom-designed meeting and banqueting suites, Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC has the flexibility to host events of many shapes and sizes. Set in landscaped grounds overlooking Pendigo Lake, Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC is only 5 minutes walk from the National Exhibition Centre and NEC Arena, 5 minutes drive from Birmingham International Airport and International Train Station, 10 miles from Birmingham City Centre and within easy reach of major UK motorways (M5, M6, M40 and M42).WI-FI Internet Access is available in all meeting rooms, bar and the restaurant. We also have very reasonable Park and Fly packages packages available. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Crowne Plaza Birmingham
- Birmingham Crowne Plaza