There’s something slightly decadent about checking into a hotel that’s really not that far from home.
Having spent a wonderful day exploring parts of Shropshire – one of England’s least developed counties – it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to have crossed over the county border and headed back to our base in Staffordshire. We could surely have found something in the fridge for tea – but how much nicer to find yourself in a lovely hotel, getting ready to be waited on in impressive surroundings?
My wife and I were staying at the Park Inn by Radisson in Telford, a hotel we must have driven past on numerous occasions without giving it a second thought. Okay, so it’s part of the massive Radisson chain and as such is very much a corporate player. In that sense, you could be almost anywhere but, that said, it’s like a welcome oasis of calm in the heart a manufactured town that largely shot up in the 1960s and 70s.
The 30-year-old, mid-market Park Inn is currently undergoing a top-to-toe £3.5 million refurbishment, which should be completed by March. On our arrival we spotted new comfy chairs still in their packaging in the foyer area and other signs that `the workmen were in.’ We felt fortunate, therefore, to be accommodated in one of the newly-modernised rooms which was warm and welcoming on a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon. As you would expect, it had everything the modern visitor requires, including a sparkling white shower room (so no bath) and high-quality flat-screen TV with Sky channels. And soon the Wi-Fi will be free.
Room prices start at around £49 and, of course, if you book before the hotel’s refurbishment is completed and opt to stay in an un-modernised room, you can expect to bag a bargain room-rate.
Luckily for us, the RBG Restaurant (it simply means Radisson bar and grill, apparently) had already benefitted from a major transformation. Its modern clean lines and tasteful décor make the dining experience extremely pleasurable. Service was both friendly and efficient.
Naturally, we returned the next morning for a fabulous help-yourself breakfast, which set us up nicely for the day ahead. Sadly, there was no time to indulge in the hotel’s impressive pool and health centre.
First we ventured into Telford’s huge shopping centre, which is only a few minutes’ walk away. The mall is a magnet for shoppers from miles around but Telford has other notable attractions, including the wonderful Town Park – a fantastic facility with envigorating lakeside walks and a range of activities for young and old alike.
While Telford town (Radisson’s website seems to think it’s a city) has some fine facilities in its own right, including an ice rink and artificial ski slope, where it really scores highly is with its location, close to the M54 and M6. Within a few minutes’ drive you can be enjoying some of the loveliest countryside in the Midlands – and some of the pretties towns and villages anywhere. However, before you can find them you first have to negotiate your way around countless roundabouts that have come to symbolise this gleaming modern town named after legendary engineer Thomas Telford.
The surrounding area has no shortage of attractions. For instance, we ventured to the delightful county town of Shrewsbury which has all the charm of, say, Chester or York but without the hordes of visitors.
Our mini-break also took in Ironbridge Gorge – the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you can gaze at the famous Iron Bridge, the world’s first cast iron bridge, built in 1799 to span the lovely River Severn. There are ten endlessly fascinating museums in the area, too, each brilliantly helping to tell the story of the Industrial Revolution and this proud corner of Shropshire’s place in it.
So while Telford might not leap out as an obvious short-break destination, it actually has a huge amount to offer to visitors of all ages.
Park Inn by Radisson Telford Hotel
Forgegate, Telford Centre, Shropshire, England