The new style concept of Village Hotels springing up around the country certainly expects you to leave your pre-conceptions of hotels at the door.
If you want quaint, historic, heritage, olde-worlde charm and picturesque settings then you will have to look elsewhere.
To look at, they are probably like nothing you have seen before in hotel terms.
They are large cubes of buildings with black glass all over the exterior.
All have a Starbucks and a Pub/grill/restaurant on the ground floor.
The bar has huge tv screens which play throughout the day, either news or sports.
(See my earlier review of the Village Hotel, Glasgow).
All feature very impressive sports facilities with superb, large and fully equipped gyms and in this case, an L shaped 20m swimming pool, one leg of which had been separated off for lane swimming. There is a Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna too.
There are more than 100 exercise classes to take part in weekly.
On this occasion, my wife and I visited the Village Hotel at the UK’s only island city, Portsmouth (One for the pub quizzers there).
There is a very large, free car park at the hotel. It is around 4 miles from the city centre and historic dockyards. There is a bus from the door and a five minute drive will get you to the city’s very efficient and cheap park and ride system. It is only £4 in total for between 1 and 7 people.
For a small fee, we upgraded to a Club room. This gave us free access to the Health and Fitness Club and the pool, which is normally £5 a time.
On entering our room, we had a bit of a shock, for the en-suite shower and bathroom at the far end of the room had clear glass screens which meant no privacy. We needn’t have worried, for at the flick of a switch, these screens became opaque. For a bit of devilment, just flick the switch when someone is in there!
This is just one of a host of cutting-edge technologies which the room featured.
Amongst these were:
A very large wall-mounted flat-screen tv with SkyHD and Chromecast movie screening.
A free to use smartphone for calls and internet access.
A Dyson hot and cold fan.
Amazon Alexa Echo Dot for any queries you may have.
Tassimo tea and coffee machine with pods.
Sealy Posturepedic bed and premium bedding.
Espa toiletries. Bottled water. Ironing board and iron.
Spacious (for two) monsoon style shower with two shower heads.
Access to the Business Club centre.
Having said all that, the room is not as large as you might expect. The bed is huge but there is little room for anything else other than bedside tables and a small desk, chair and hanging space. There was only one small window in the en-suite bathroom. The décor was modern, excellently maintained and room service was impeccable.
As the hotel is clearly targeted at the business community and for want of a better word, ‘millennials’, it takes some getting used to, though there were quite a few more mature guests like us, I guess taking advantage of the cheap deals which can be had on their web-site.
The ground floor pub has a central, oblong bar area flanked by the pub on one side and the grill/restaurant on the other. There is a range of keg beers and lagers and I tried a pint of Goose Island IPA which was superb, but at £5.35 a pint, extortionate even for a hotel.
The hotel offers a cheaper bar menu with burgers etc., around £10., or an a la carte choice with starters around £7, Mains £13.50 to £29 (for fillet) and desserts at £7. Not cheap, but aimed at expense accounts.
The décor is industrial influenced as are so many pubs and bars these days, with exposed pipework and bare concrete walls, enhanced ( ? ) by large ‘Banksy’ prints, for an urban feel.
Opened in late 2017 at a cost of £21m., this hotel is four star and has 153 bedrooms.
You would think that the teething problems would have been ironed out by now.
Only one of the two lifts was in working order, causing frustrating delays and crowding.
This, according to staff, had been going on for several weeks with no sign of repair.
On taking a meal from the bar area, the BBQ ribs were sparse, lacked substantial meat, the chips were stone cold and the coleslaw a weird pinkish colour.
Wine glasses on the table bore lipstick stains.
Breakfast was identikit hotel buffet style and didn’t vary from day to day.
Cereals, juices, yoghurt, mixed fruits, and frozen berry fruits were accompanied by all the usual hot dishes; re-constituted scrambled egg, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, sausages and bacon. The meat products were, to be fair, quite good.
Sliced bread toast, supermarket croissants and pain au chocolate were also present.
As a treat, at the weekend, fried eggs were also supplied.
On several mornings, our cups on the table were not clean and had to be replaced.
Don’t get me wrong, the breakfast was adequate, but is adequate good enough for a four star hotel?
The food quality obviously varies from hotel to hotel, but with good deals on offer, it is hard to resist these bargains. Register at their web-site for some excellent, cheap e-mail offers from time to time, at hotels around the UK.
There are many attractions in Portsmouth, the historic dockyards, the Victory ship, The Warrior ship, the Mary Rose remains and the spectacular Spinnaker Tower with it’s glass walkway and, for the more adventurous, an abseil trip down the outside.
For further info, go to www.village-hotels.co.uk/hotels/portsmouth ,though the area is so newly developed, the postcode PO6 3FR has not yet been updated on most sat-nav systems.