I spent one night here as part of a coach tour. I know coach tours get bargain rates and this can be reflected in the food provided. This was very much the case here.
This is a typical chain hotel on the edge of a housing estate and by a golf course. It is modern, clean but completely characterless. The decor of grey/beige and long dark corridors only lit when movement is detected don’t help.
It is a long low building with 24 hour reception, large lounge with an outside sitting and drinking area and a small restaurant.
Check in was efficient but very neutral.
I had a large and very comfortable room overlooking the car park. It was on the ground floor but there are several small steps to reach the corridor. There is a stair lift and staff will help lift cases up them.
The grey/beige decor continued into the room apart from a splash of colour from the cushions and mini bolsters which threatened to take over the bed. The bed was large (2×3’ beds joined together) and extremely comfortable. The pillows weren’t as soft and did rather fight back.
Although a double room, there was only one comfortable chair provided – a bit tough if there are two of you…
I had a walk in shower which was efficient with a good jet of water. There was no rubber bath mat and the floor of the shower did get slippery when wet – potentially a slip hazard as the dispensers of shampoo were at the opposite end of the shower. Bath towels were large but not very fluffy. They did dry well, and a towel bath mat was provided. I discovered two towelling robes in the wardrobe.
There was a kettle with tea bags, coffee and also hot chocolate – a perk. There were also two small bottles of water provided.
There was reasonable amount of hanging space in the wardrobe and drawers under the desk and in the bedside tables. There was a safe and ironing board but no iron. I couldn’t find a hair dryer either, although there was supposed to be one in the room. There wasn’t a Gideon Bible either (are these no longer left in hotel rooms?)
The flat screen TV worked when I arrived but refused to turn on again the following morning.
The room was quiet and I wasn’t disturbed by noises from outside.
So as a room, I was very satisfied. I’ve not stopped in a Mercure hotel before and would describe the room as on a par with Premier Inns.
The restaurant was too small to cope with the number on the coach tour, so we ate in a separate room.
It was a buffer meal. Food was delivered and we were left to our own devices. The cold buffet was bland and decidedly uninspiring. The best bit was the potato salad and mixed leaves. The hot meal lacked inspiration being a choice of chilli mince or vegetarian chilli – a bit tough on anyone who disliked or couldn’t eat spicy food. This was accompanied by rice and overcooked broccoli, carrots and frozen beans.
The desert was slices of bland cheesecake with a small bowl of fresh fruit salad and a cheese board might have served ten but not 30. There were no biscuits. One of the group did go and ask for biscuits. They eventually arrived when nearly everyone had finished. But there was no butter…
No one came to check or clear tables so we ate surrounded by dirty plates. It was an example of mass catering at its worst. I ate a lot but still felt hungry and unsatisfied at the end of the meal.
As you can imagine there were a lot of very unhappy guests at the end of dinner and several of us made a point (very politely) of commenting to staff afterwards. The receptionist shrugged her shoulders and said the catering was nothing to do with her and was between the catering manager and tour company.
Checking reviews on Trip Advisor when I got home, it seems as if this isn’t an isolated complaint as several people who had dined in the main restaurant had also raised concerns and given negative feedback in their reviews.
Breakfast did however rather redeem the situation. It was a good rather than a great breakfast. There was the usual selection of cereals, yogurts and fruit (but not fresh fruit). The blackcurrant compote was delicious. The hot breakfast was a serve yourself kept warm under heat lamps. This included bacon sausage (herby rather than meaty), eggs, hash brownies, tomato, mushroom and baked beans. There were no staff on duty and the fried eggs were slow to be replenished.
There was the usual choice of white or brown sliced bread for toast as well as a warm loaf of brown bread. This was delicious and disappeared quickly. I’m not sure if it was replaced. There were rolls, croissant and pain au chocolat. Jams etc were small jars of Tiptree preserves – another bonus. Lack of attention meant there was no butter out and we had to ask for this.
Only one knife was provided and there wasn’t any spare cutlery or anyone to ask if you wanted a clean knife for your toast. I know that is only a small thing, but the small things matter and do mount up.
The dining room isn’t very big and soon fills up if there are a lot of people wanting to eat at the same time. Take a sweater with you to claim your seat! used plates were only cleared when staff thought you had finished and left the dining room.
So to sum up
Comfortable room 4/5*
Evening meal – disaster 1*
Breakfast good 4*
Staff and customer care 3*
Would I use this place again – yes, as long as it was a reasonable rate. I’d book room and breakfast but not an evening meal.