Monday, 3 September 2012

Sod the B&B, Give Me Premier Inn anyday...

Having just spent a week around the Windsor area in 3 different hotels/B&B I have come to a conclusion:

Hotels and B&Bs: Premier Inn are eating your lunch.

We stayed for 1 night initially in Premier Inn at Sunbury Cross. Now, Sunbury Cross is basically a 1960's concrete boghole - the very epitomy of Prince Charles' "monstrous carbuncle" speech concerning the state of "modern" architecture. However, this is barely a problem as the Premier Inn is completely self contained so the only reason to leave is to nip next door to the shops or to leave the place entirely to visit your actual destination.

The rooms are reasonably priced, immaculately clean and everything works. The breakfast is a first class all-you-can-eat buffet and the evening dinner has a wide variety of extremely well cooked meals. There is WiFi available for £3 per day, aircon which can be left on all night, quietly, and a small but decent flatscreen TV with plenty of spare inputs should you decide to take your own laptop or video player.

The best part is car parking - on site, under cover, safe and free (though some Premier Inns such as Heathrow do attract a charge for this). The other best bit was the fact that breakfast was available from early until 10:30am - perfect for early risers and those who'd rather have an easy day. Coupled with a noon-at-the-latest checkout makes for a very relaxing experience.

Contrast this with a B&B we booked 2 nights in in Windsor. Car parking was a nightmare - 4 spaces on the driveway (ie no chance), residents' bays only, in the road outside and the recommended car parking was 3 minutes down the road in the derelict end of Windsor in a multi story car park where the ticket inspector I bumped into cheerfully told me about the bloke who got bottled on the ramp a few days previously. Rather nervously, I paid the £1.50 to park my car overnight and after removing all incentives to thievery, I scarpered. The worst bit was having to be back on the dot of 9am to either pay for a day's parking at £11 or move the car somewhere else.

The B&B to be fair was tastefully decorated and clean but sadly lacking in basic maintenance - eg TV looking like it was about to fall off and the bedside shelf was maintaining its position by nothing more than sheer balance. All for £100 per night.

Then there was breakfast. Available until 8:45am and served by Squidward's younger sister. The experience was so painful that I took the hit on a last minute cancellation penalty and rebooked the Sunbury Premier Inn for the last day, which was the best decision I'd made all week, other than pay for a Q-Bot for the last day at Legoland...

The B&B would suit contractors well enough who'd be up early enough to avoid the car parking issues and the sort of people who would enjoy a 4-5 star hotel are unlikely to consider the likes of a modern Motel. But for people such as myself who want a good bed at a reasonable price, decent nosh, an absolute minimum of hassle and who would really find Jeeves distastefully eyeing our lowly middle class selves deeply annoying, there really is only one option from now on.

And no, I don't work for Premier Inn and they're not paying me... But I will accept used fivers if you change your mind...

Update:

Just had a call from the hotel we stayed in (Legoland joint deal with the Royal Berkshire Hotel). They're claiming we checked out early having booked 5 days. We booked 3 days and enquired about the cost of extending to 5 and told them "No" when it transpired it would be around £150 per night. They somehow translated that into "booked for 5 days" and claim we owe then for a late cancellation fee despite the fact that we reconfirmed our 3 days only in person when we arrived.

I'll leave that for the wife to sort out - but it's pretty much confirming my preference above. At least the Premier Inn send you emails and SMS messages confirming exactly what booking was made.

Further update:

The Royal Berkshire have finally given in and accepted we booked for 3 nights. Then they found an extra bar receipt that was not on my final bill to the tune of an extra ten quid or so. Not very efficient at all...

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