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Bowden Lodge Hotel (Southport)

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Address: 18 Albert Road / Southport / Merseyside / England

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      24.12.2008 16:47
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      A good value-for-money family hotel close to Lord Street.

      I lived in Southport for around 15 years. It's where I met the love of my life so you will appreciate that I have a particular affection for this delightful sea-side town. When I was very young I always promised myself that one day I would live by the sea. At that time my grandparents did; they lived in Worthing. I think I assumed that I would spend every day sat on the sand making sandcastles! There's plenty of space to make sandcastles on Southport beach; the sea is more out than in. We haven't lived in Southport now for over a dozen years but still regularly return as my wife's parents still live there. They have an apartment close to Southport's world-famous Lord Street, with its arcade shop-fronts, which reputedly inspired Haussmann to do a similar job when redesigning Paris. They don't have a lot of space so we book into a local hotel for the night or so of our visit rather than impose upon them. Southport, you'll appreciate, has no shortage of hotels, of all different standards and prices. Until recently the choice has been mostly between the more expensive, large, traditional old hotels such as the Prince of Wales on Lord Street and the Royal Clifton on the Promenade and small family run guest houses that have been created out of the classic detached double-fronted town houses for which Southport is renowned. These old piles date back to Victorian times, and look it. However, they are relatively comfortable and have more or less had the market to themselves for years. Recently though, Southport has been going through something of a revival. Much needed money has been spent on giving the whole place a facelift and the improvement shows. Chapel Street has been pedestrianised, the Lord Street gardens have all had a [well overdue] complete revamp, with new seats for the weary to rest and enjoy the newly replanted flowerbeds. In addition, brand new hotels have been built; the very upmarket (rooms at up to £600 a night) Vincent on Lord Street and a huge Ramada Plaza on the Promenade, next to the Floral Hall. In addition there is also, at the other end of the market, a new Premier Inn on the Marine Lake, which has been so popular that it is already undergoing expansion. We tend to go for the small family guest houses as, generally, they offer good value for money. However, the standard is quite variable and, as you will have gathered from my previous reviews of many of them, are either good quality but expensive or of reasonable price but a but below par. One which which we thought would become our regular choice has now been dropped due to what I consider sharp business practice. So we needed somewhere new for our Christmas visit to the in-laws. The Bowden Lodge is a hotel that I have considered before but not chosen for a number of reasons, none of which were associated with the hotel itself. It is architecturally the same as most of its kind but has the advantage of being situated quite close, on Albert Road, to the town centre. Albert Road is, though, a main route into town and so there is the potential of traffic noise with which to contend. You can't miss the hotel; it has a nice big sign at the gateway. The forecourt has room for parking around 10 cars, which is very handy, especially as you really can't park outside on the road. The entrance to the hotel is, as is usual with these sorts of houses, up a flight of steps. At the door the immediate impression is that the place is well decorated and maintained. On our visit there was a "Vacancies" sign in the window, but that was probably because of the time of year (just before Christmas). The impression is maintained as you enter the hallway. The front door is always locked and so, initially, you have to ring the bell. However, should the weather be inclement, you are under cover whilst you wait. The decoration is in sympathy with the age of the building and very attractive. Effort has been made to keep the typical ornate plaster cornices. The carpet seems new though I guess it's just well looked after, as it seems, is the building in general. There is no Reception as such. The working spaces of the owners appear to be to the rear and left of the building with only the Dining Room occupying the right-hand ground floor room. All of the bedrooms are on the upper floors, accessible only by a stairway. On our stay we had two rooms, a double for me and my wife and a single for my daughter. Her single was actually a twin room. Hers had just a shower room whilst our double had a full bathroom with a bath and shower over. The rooms are, though, well furnished, spotless and in a very good state of maintenance. There are none of the often seen signs of unrepaired "careless" occupation. Our room was very comfortable although not overly spacious. All of the windows are double glazed to modern standards so the rooms do not suffer from any draughts such as might have been expected from original sash widows. The rooms are heated by central heating radiators with thermostatic radiator valves so that you can achieve your desired room temperature. The bed is provided with a very colourful duvet rather than sheets and blankets. The pillows are quite strange though. They almost seem like they are inflated rather than stuffed with the usual filling! Two are provided for each sleeper and, although I usually use two I had to dispense with one on this case! No road noise was evident during the night so it would appear that the double glazing has been doing its job. There is a wall mounted TV but, unusually these days, it provided only analogue channels. Most hotels these days seem to have Freeview enabled TVs, but not here it seems. Also provided is a hair-drier and facilities for making yourself a mug of tea or coffee in the room. There is plenty of storage space for clothes, certainly enough for an extended stay. A lobby area leads into the main bedroom, off of which is the bathroom. The bathroom is, however, of very decent size. Shampoo and shower gel is provided in large bottles rather than the usual "individual" sizes. The shower is not controlled by a thermostatic temperature controller but only by the normal hot and cold taps so you will have to experiment to get the right temperature for you. The water pressure is not particularly high so the shower spray doesn't throw very far. Breakfast in the morning was a choice of cereals and/or a cooked English. The cereals were from normal makers' boxes so I assume that they were what they appeared to be; they seemed to be anyway. Tea and coffee plus "proper" fruit juices are also available. Breakfast was entirely satisfactory, so no complaints there. For one night's stay for the three of us I paid £115. I didn't think this unreasonable. For a double this is around the normal price but for the additional single it worked out good value for money. We have stayed at a comparable quality hotel but had to pay much more for the privilege. We have also paid about the same or even more to stay at a couple of hotels which didn't match up any where near the quality of the Bowden Lodge. I can certainly recommend the Bowden Lodge as being by far the best quality and value for money that we have found so far in Southport. The management here is good and seems to be trustworthy, unlike a certain other hotel on which I have written a review. We will almost certainly be returning here in future, next time we return to Southport, always assuming that you lot haven't booked all the rooms, the normal penalty for giving a hotel the thumbs-up!

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