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Barton Grange Hotel (Preston)

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Barton Grange Hotel / Garstang Road / Barton / Preston / Lancashire / PR3 5AA / Tel: 01772 862551 / Web: www.bartongrangehotel.com / E-Mail: stay@bartongrangehotel.com.

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      11.12.2006 18:03
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      A friendly hotel who care for their guests with delicious local food.

      Barton Grange hotel is no longer with Best Western. It is now a Classic Hotel and it is 4 star! To quote their rating "A Deluxe 4 star hotel is exceptionally well maintained with deluxe standards of accommodation, facilities and public rooms that offer every comfort with excellent service." Do I agree? Well read on and you will see what I think! My husband was searching for a hotel half way between where we live in Scotland and where my sister and her husband live in England. We wanted to treat them for a special occasion. We wanted a bit of luxury, good food, an indoor pool and places nearby to visit whatever the weather. The Barton Grange hotel looked as if it fitted these requirements and so we booked 2 nights B&B for the four of us, over the internet. Later we decided to go a day earlier and emailed our booking, and we were given the same room for all the nights stay. +The Booking.+ 10/10 Simply done on the internet and a reply quickly confirmed, that it was successful. Payment would be made after our visit, and we could cancel up until a few hours of arriving. +Where exactly is the Hotel+ 8/10 From the M6 it is easily found by exiting at Junction 32 onto the M55 and leaving at the first exit. Follow the A6 at the roundabout and head towards Garstang. The hotel is in the village of Garstang. It is 5 miles from Preston railway station and 35 from Manchester airport. Sadly there is very little else in Barton, but it is easy to reach Preston, the Lancaster canal, Blackpool and other places. +Parking+ 8/10 There is lots of room to park in front of the hotel, but it is shared with the adjoining Garden Centre, and when we arrived on the Sunday afternoon it was exceptionally busy as there was a large Anniversary party booked in too. +Reception+9/10 We were lucky we had RED CARPET treatment! It was for the Wedding Anniversary, but a nice welcome for us too! The reception was bright and airy and lovely chairs in the bar area. The receptionist on Duty welcomed us, checked we had booked for dinner, gave us some basic instructions, noted which complimentary newspaper we would like delivered to our room next day and as soon as we had completed a form we received our information/charge card and key and were on our way to our room. The card or your essential little guide, contained details of all facilities and opening times, and the number to call if you needed help. Reception staff were called "Looker -Afterers" - a rum name it explained, but better than receptionist! They have a huge jar of sweets and biscuits, should you feel like raiding it! They were very helpful when we asked advice of places to visit etc- one downside was there was no information in the rooms of local places, so perhaps a book at Reception would be useful. There is also a box to pop your keys in if you don't want to take them out with you and for express check out- providing you have settled up first! Check in time is after 1.00pm and check out by 11.00am + Accommodation+ There are 51 bedrooms, all with satellite television, trouser press complete with iron and board, mini bar/refrigerator and hairdryer which is in a drawer and not attached to the bathroom wall! There are a mixture of single, standard twin and double, superior and executive twin and double and family rooms. Lift access to all floors - complete with notice that there is a delay on the doors opening! The lift is small and quite slow we only used it when dealing with our cases! There is also wheelchair access. The AA has awarded an AA ROSETTE: These are awarded by the Automobile Association to restaurants that provide outstanding cuisine, using the finest fresh ingredients. +The Bedroom- Standard Double + 9/10 I had the advantage of seeing two rooms, which although the basic furniture was the same the colours and decorations were slightly different. There was a small fitted wardrobe, with shelves on one side and room to hang short blouses above. The safe was in the bottom of ours and a large fan. In the cupboard above were extra pillows in a zipped plastic cover, ensuring they were kept clean. As already mentioned there was an ironing board, iron and trouser press attached to the wall, and a suitcase rack over a large drawer. The furniture was in a warm cherry wood, and of good quality. The mini bar/fridge was fitted into the work unit/dressing table along with drawers and storage with crockery and coffee etc plus a small kettle. I liked the special touch of a small container of fresh milk - specially bottled for the Grange! The milk was replaced each day. Also supplied was the hairdryer - not a bathroom fixture thank goodness and writing paper etc. We had a gold suede char at the desk and two terracotta suede padded arm chairs beside the coffee table. These had cushions, in terracotta and maroon which matched the curtains and large cushions on the bed. A lovely large comfortable bed, with a duvet and modern cover and an upholstered headboard attached to the wall. There were two bedside tables, with drawers and large lamps. There was a large radiator, which we didn't need to put on - even in October as the pipe running through the bedroom supplied more than enough heat - so much so we had the windows open all night! There was free wireless access in the hotel and we did use this to check out places to visit and routes etc. The bedroom loses a few points as it was really too hot and we couldn't do anything except open the windows and the roof fans from downstairs were outside our windows and were very noisy until late at night and again from 06.30 am small points but annoying! My sister's room was in blue and gold, and a gorgeous bronze coloured bed cover. Imaginative garden photos were on the walls and a few artificial flowers, gave a welcoming feel to the rooms. The television has BBC 1 and 2, ITV, Channel 4 & 5 , SKY sport 2, SKY One, SKY news and some radio channels. The telephone had a list of call prices. Room service was available and if you felt peckish through the night you could even order a sandwich! The owners have a sense of humour and instead of boring signs to hang on your door saying do not disturb, they had signs which said " By gum I'm jiggered!" or if your room was ready to be cleaned - " Git thi' sen in and spruce things up a bit!" +The Bathroom+ 9/10 Small but beautiful! It was basically white, with a green edging half way down the walls, and was beautifully clean. The floor was curved up the wall, like in hospitals, making it easy to keep clean. There were plenty of lovely fluffy white towels and flannels, plus a box of tissues, shoe cleaning kit, sewing kit and although not my favourite Molton brown toiletries a very good second best! Bottles attached to the wall of liquid soap, shower gel and shampoo, by H2K. I like not being limited to one sachet of shower gel! The shower was over the bath and the shower curtain was either freshly laundered or brand new! Not a stray hair in sight! +Leisure facilities+ 9/10 These were for guests only. A key which was on your key ring was needed for entry. Great idea, as most hotels are open to the public as a Leisure club. There was no supervision in the pool, so children were not allowed in alone. The pool was a reasonable size and included a Jacuzzi area. It felt cool at first but you soon became accustomed to the temperature, possibly too cool for small children. There was a lovely sauna, which I enjoyed several times! There was seating in the pool area and a window looking out into the garden. The lovely towels were free and plentiful. The shower room - I only used the ladies but am told similar facilities were in the male one, had one shower, lockers with keys, and a wash basin, hair drier and free toiletries. There was shower gel/ shampoo, conditioner, gel and hairspray! All the same good products as in the bedrooms. The gym was small but modern and had a running machine, rowing machine, bike etc. Plenty of small towels and water. Plastic bags were available to take your wet swimsuit back to your room. On our last morning we went down about 7.30am and it was already clean and tidy. The Jacuzzi wasn't working, but was quickly repaired by one of the handymen who was checking the temperature. There is also a pool table and bar billiards available in the games room near the panelled lounge. There are several lounges, the wood panelled lounge has been lovingly restored and a beautiful staircase leads up to the first floor and some of the original bedrooms. There were extra newspapers here and a large screen television on the one side of the lounge. There is a modern lounge and bar near reception, and more settees in the walled garden bistro and another bar. Maybe not the usual "leisure facility" but there is a lovely prize winning garden centre, just next to the Walled Garden Bistro. It sells the usual and unusual plants, pots, tools, etc and had a wonderful array of Christmas items in a huge range of colours and some clothes, and other gifts. But that is another story! A discount is available for hotel guests! +The Walled Garden Bistro+8/10 This serves traditional, seasonal country food made only from the finest and freshest local produce, open from 10.00am until 10.00pm daily, and meals are cooked all day to order. Our Dinner was included from the Specials Menu on the first night, or an allowance of £16 off the a la carte menu. This was not explained by our waitress! Never the less someone else did later inform us, and we had a lovely meal There were semi private areas like the Wash house seats up to 6 and the Herb Garden which seats 30, for slightly larger parties.. The lighting was dim, and it was quite difficult to see the step down from the entrance/bar area. But there was a buzz and it became quite busy. The food was wonderful though! I had Lemon and Lime Sea Bass on a salad of sun dried Tomatoes, olives and mustard and cress with a Horseradish sauce. Then Breast of Duck on a Potato Rosti, with spiced pears and Baby Carrots and a Port Jus. I choose Coffee and Hazelnut Parfait with Forest fruits and crisp finger biscuits and my husband had the Lemon Mousse in a Brandy snap basket with strawberries. I tasted his just to check it out! All this for £15.95 if ordered before 7.00pm! The second time we ate in this restaurant we chose a mixture of Special items and from the a la carte menu and again the food was brilliant, but the lighting so low we found reading the menu difficult! It was turned on a bit brighter though when requested, so we could feast our eyes on the beautifully presented food. My mouth is watering just remembering it all! Lunch is served daily in The Walled Garden Bistro, and there was a wide menu from soup and delicious sandwiches using local meats and cheeses, to wraps and jacket potatoes, pasta, and main dishes. Coffee and cake only costs about £4, and was gorgeous! Prices ranging from about £5.95 for a sandwich which came garnished with a mountain of crisps and salad! +Healey's Restaurant+ 10/10 Breakfast is served from 7.00am to 9.30am Monday to Friday and 8.00am to 10.00am on Saturday and Sunday. The tables were covered in linen cloths and the hot and cold buffet had a large selection of breakfast items. Tea or coffee and toast were brought to the table and more if needed. The waiters were friendly, and very helpful. In the evening one half of the restaurant was closed off making it a more intimate room with lovely décor, everything matched carpet, walls and covers etc it had a classy feel about it! To quote "The buzzing, more contemporary Healey's Restaurant has a cosmopolitan feel with upbeat service and an atmosphere to match. Chef Andrew Nash has carefully selected ingredients and combined them with flair and imagination to produce dishes that can often look too good to eat! Healey's has been awarded an AA Rosette for superb cuisine." Dinner is served from 7.00pm to 9.00pm Monday to Friday. Healeys Restaurant is not open for Dinner on Saturday or Sunday nights. Guests are invited to dine in the Walled Garden Bistro Restaurant. When we arrived on the Sunday the restaurant was in use by an anniversary party. I'm glad we were there through the week too, as I would have been disappointed not to dine in this restaurant. It does need to be booked in advance as they get very busy. Local produce is used and we sampled some different things during our stay. Warm breads of various varieties were served with butter! I enjoyed a trio of fish cakes using sea bass, smoked salmon and crab with avocado salad and tartare dressing, (£ 8.95) whilst my husband had Wood Pigeon breast with black pudding and beetroot salad with raspberry dressing (£6.95). Again I had to try the pigeon as I'd never had it before and it was beautiful! Being a lover of fish I had Roasted Monkfish with King prawns and seared scallops with fondant potato, wilted spinach, asparagus and Beurre blanc sauce.(£17.95) There was also Rack of Lamb and Quail. Being a sweet person, I had to squeeze a pud in! The menu sounded great but there was a delay of 20 minutes for a few items, this suited us, as we could chat and allow our main course to settle before eating again! I had sticky toffee sponge served with roasted figs and Drambuie Ice cream. (£6.45) Absolutely delicious and worth waiting for. The other sweets were all enjoyed too by the rest of our party. Certainly not cheap but we enjoyed everything and I couldn't fault anything, and I have to say I'm sometimes a bit fussy as I was a catering manager and I also judge cooking at shows. All the plates were modern in shape and everything was beautifully garnished. +Conferences and Weddings+ There are a selection of rooms depending on your needs and although we were aware of the wedding anniversary on our first day, we only knew a conference was in as we saw a sign and plates being taken through for the Buffet lunch. Barton Suite - 300 maximum, Balcony Room - 120 maximum, Grange Room - 70 maximum and Panelled Lounge - 30 maximum. People can get married at the hotel and they obviously love arranging all special events. I can't rate this as we only saw what rooms were available and did not experience it. And finally if you are still with me, here is a little bit of history about the hotel. +History+ Barton Grange was built in 1900, as a country residence for Mr John Healey, a Justice of the Peace and local cotton mill owner. The house was requisitioned by the War Office as a mess for officers of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Edward and Ada Topping were running a market gardening business near Preston and Ada was looking for a large house to run as a bed and breakfast whilst Edward could continue market gardening from the grounds. Barton Grange appeared to be tailor-made and they bought it at auction for £6,450! and had 6 bedrooms available for use. Trade increased steadily and more bedrooms were added in the 1950s and '60s and the ballroom in 1960 before significant expansion in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Plans from 1901 were discovered for a Walled Garden to the south of the house. This garden was re-created and a roof put on it, making it The Walled Garden Bistro. The hotel now has 51 bedrooms, a leisure centre, 2 restaurants and conference and banqueting facilities for 300 but the original house is still at its heart. (You can see the lintel announcing "1900" as you enter the panelled lounge through the original front doors - although you're now twenty yards inside the building at this point!). In 1963 Edward Topping Junior ("Eddie") started a garden centre in the grounds - the first in the north west of England. This too started very small, little more than a cabin, but is now very well established and widely known. Eddie also established Barton Grange Landscapes and a wholesale plant growing division, both of which are still going strong and there is another Barton Grange Garden Centre at Bolton. Eddie's sons Peter and Guy run the Landscape/Wholesale and Garden Centre Divisions respectively. Eddie also ran the hotel for 20 years from his mother's retirement in the mid '70s before handing over to his other little boy! Did I enjoy my stay? Most certainly. Would I go back? Well, I hope so but they have plans to build a new Garden centre and marina nearby and possibly a new hotel, so it may be sometime in the future that I will be able to review the new hotel! Hope the food is still as good!

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