I must admit, I've always been something of a snob when it comes to hotels, believing you get what you pay for. I'm all for grabbing a bargain, but not if it compromises our holiday or overnight away.
Travelodge have recently spent £57m refurbishing their hotels and I have to say, from our recent stay at their Birmingham Airport location, it really shows.
From only £31 for a double room (advance booking rate) I can honestly say there was very little to set it apart from a hotel room at four times the cost.
All the staff that we came into contact with were extremely amenable, all asking us about our stay and offering any help we needed. I'd like to praise especially the guy on reception who was exceptionally welcoming and helpful.
We were visiting Birmingham to see Disney on Ice at the Genting Arena, NEC and this hotel is ideally situated, only about a mile and a half away - don't be tempted to walk it though as the route is down a duel carriageway - trust me! Instead, the reception staff will book you a discounted taxi which costs around £5.50.
If you're visiting the NEC, arena or flying from the airport, then this is an ideal base. In fact, our room overlooked the runway and Ruby had a great time watching the planes take off (it's situated right next to the control tower so for any budding plane spotters it's perfect).
That said, we weren't in any way affected by noise during our stay. I guess they don't have night flights from Birmingham and that, together with excellent double glazing meant we all slept undisturbed.
The beds in Travelodge hotels are all designed exclusively by Sleepezee and have over 900 individual pocket springs. We did find the beds firmer than we're used to, but all had a comfortable night's sleep. Ruby's bed was a single and she was a bit put-out by that - usually in family rooms she's used to sofa beds which give her more room, but given that she was asleep within 5 minutes of hitting the pillow it obviously didn't bother her that much!
In the room you'll find everything you need - a colour remote TV; bedside lights; a desk, temperature controls; hanging space and coat hangers; tea and coffee making facilities (they are much more generous with their consumables than other more expensive hotels we've stayed in and were happy to provide sachets of de-caf when we asked). There's a good sized en suite bathroom with a lovely powerful shower and everywhere was spotlessly clean and fresh. Toiletries are provided in the form of wall mounted pump dispensers, I guess to reduce the cost of disposable individual bottles of shampoo and shower gel. There were plenty of soft, white, fluffy towels for us all.
The only thing that seemed to be missing was a phone. If you needed anything from reception, you couldn't ring down, but let's face it, when was the last time you used a hotel room landline? Ok, so there was no mini-bar either, but again, who pays mini-bar prices these days?
As we were pushed for time, we decided to eat in the hotel bar area rather than at the venue. This was a good choice as it meant we could avoid the crowds and the over-priced takeaway food options at the arena. The food is not going to win any Egon Ronay awards, but it was cheap and cheerful and filled us all up nicely. There was a good kid's menu offering 2 courses for only £4.95 which is excellent value and we chose the nachos at £6.95 to start, piri piri half a roasted chicken at £8.75 and a chicken salad at £7.95. They also had a pizza option you could eat in your room.
The bar area was spacious and airy, with a contemporary feel to it and they offered a good selection of wines, beer and soft drinks.
Breakfast is served in this area in the morning and it's an extra £6.65 per adult if booked online in advance. There was a wide selection of hot and cold foods and again the staff were very attentive at clearing tables (and mopping up spilt milk - sorry about that!).
Parking's not included in your stay, but there is a NCP operated car park right outside priced at £7.50 for 24 hours and you can come and go within that period for no extra.
In the lobby area there's vending machines offering quick snack options, a cash machine and an electronic checkout facility, but you'd miss the delight of speaking to the staff if you use that, which I honestly think is one of the biggest selling points of this hotel. All the team seemed young, but very passionate about their roles and eager to help. They were a real asset and credit to the company.
Our stay has certainly opened my eyes and changed my perception of 'budget' hotels and next time I'm looking for an overnight stay or a weekend away, I'll definitely be seeking out a Travelodge. They are ideal for families as kids not only stay free, but get free breakfast too.
Disclosure: We were invited to stay for the purpose of this review. All opinions and images (unless otherwise stated) are my own.
Linking up with Time Travellers.
Linking up with Time Travellers.