“ Accommodation Rating: / City: Harrogate „
In February 2004, I was an observer at my trade union Womens Conference, and stayed as part of a group booking at the Cedar Court Hotel in Harrogate. I thought the hotel was a perfectly pleasant place to stay though I would not choose to stay there again on future visits to Harrogate.
The Cedar Court Hotel was apparently Harrogates first hotel, way back in 1671. This sounds really impressive but I cant pretend that I would have guessed it was so old, and this piece of information is gleaned from the booklet I picked up. It reopened in its present form in 1999.
It is a 4 star hotel with 100 bedrooms and 10 Conference/Meeting rooms, a gym, a restaurant, a lounge/ bar and a 24 hour menu. It is one of a group of 4 Yorkshire hotels which still have literature boasting of the groups independence but are now part of the Best Western chain.
I spent a little time there in my room, the lounge and one medium sized boardroom style meeting room. Because I was there for a conference at the expense of my union I had quite limited time so didnt sample all the facilities. Also, I preferred to tag along with a group of people eating out or snack in the lounge for meals rather than try the formal restaurant.
My bedroom was on the 2nd floor of 3 and I never needed to wait for the lift. It was a respectable size with a double bed made up with a duvet in a fairly simple modern print. I prefer duvets to fussy traditional hotel bedding and think the actual room was much nicer looking than the illustrations in the little booklet Ive brought home. The double bed was irrelevant in this case but would of course be preferable if I was away for the weekend with my boyfriend.
There were lots of lights, mainly lamps but well distributed around the room. There were phones in all rooms and internet access points were apparently provided though I didnt have a laptop to try this out. Hotel rates for making outgoing phone calls seemed pretty steep at 90p for 3 minutes local, £1.40 for 3 minutes national I dont know how this compares to regular UK hotel guests - and as Im a cheapskate I opted for calling home from the payphone and asking Mikey to call me back.
There were no fridges in rooms which could be an issue though it didnt matter on this occasion to me. The colour TV only provided the basic terrestrial channels, to the disappointment of some members of my delegation. It took me a while to turn that on because I started off trying to do it without the remote control. Sound proofing wasnt too good although I wasnt disturbed late at night I could hear entire conversations from next door and a lot of slamming doors earlier in the evening.
The bathroom offered a choice of bath/shower so would appeal to all tastes. The method of running a bath was a little confusing to work out and the instructions werent very clear. I would have believed this was just me being stupid but another delegate also mentioned it taking 10 minutes to understand that the two taps werent hot and cold one was for water and the other was for temperature control.
I was disappointed by a guide to attractions in Yorkshire which only seemed to have leaflets for out of town shopping villages in the area theres more than that to North and West Yorkshire.
There was a kettle and little sachets of tea, coffee and biscuits. I couldnt get the kettle to work but this may have just been me, Im always a bit daunted by the array of switches in hotels. Im sure the hotel staff would have helped if Id had time to ask them.
Eating and drinking
The bar and restaurant were open to visitors from outside the hotel but didnt attract many of them and seemed pretty quiet. Breakfast was a buffet system and guests could choose from croissants and similar stuff, a range of tinned fruit and cereal and hot English breakfast type fried food and fruit juice. I was disappointed by the lack of fresh fruit on offer. Service of coffee, tea etc at breakfast tables was pretty slow we then took everything back into the lounge with us as we were more comfortable there than in a room with little white dining tables arranged as if for afternoon tea.
I believe guests could have a proper 3 course meal for about £16 in the hotel restaurant I paid about £7 for chicken sandwiches and chips in the lounge on Friday evening so the full meal was probably better value for money. The food was ok but unimaginative and processed - plastic white bread in my sandwiches, only tinned fruit at breakfast.
Service was good pleasant and friendly service, fairly quick and efficient. If you are attending a meeting or conference and want somewhere to leave your bags once you have checked out on the final day until youre ready to head to the station and home, the hotel has a cloakroom. However, you have to put your stuff in there and take it out, there is no lock on the door and no real security, so this isnt recommended as a place to leave anything of any value.
The address is Cedar Court Hotel, Park Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 5AH. The hotel is south east of the town centre.
This is a major reason why this would probably not be my own choice of hotel, as Cedar Court is a good 15 minutes walk from the Conference Centre on the other side of the town centre, and from most of the other big venues in Harrogate there are so many places ranging from very posh to b&b much much closer.
Arriving by train
Cedar Court is just over 5 minutes walk around the corner from the train station. You can get a taxi but, given the vagaries of Harrogates weird one way system, this will probably make you think everything is much further apart than it really is. So its worth walking at some point if youre able to handle this slightly hilly town to orient yourself.
The main shopping area of the town is just a couple of minutes walk further than the train station, from Cedar Court and you can walk through this area, downhill, towards the International Conference Centre and the bigger conference venues in Harrogate.
Arriving by car
I arrived by car as my mum gave me a lift from Ilkley. This turned out to be rather hard to find by car. Park Parade is off Knaresborough Road. Directions on the hotels booklet suggest taking the A661 or A61to Harrogate.
I stayed there as part of a group booking - £75 per night on a Thursday and Friday night, single person occupancy in a double room. This was some time ago but similar deals may still be available.
Cedar Courts own website on www.cedarcourthotels.co.uk now has online booking facilities. I looked up rates and a couple in a double bed or friends in twin beds could stay there at the weekend for £200-£280, or £150/£190 for anniversary/honeymoon specials. It wouldnt be my choice for a romantic weekend though!
Do you prefer telephone booking? Call 01423 858585
Hotel standards and facilities would seem to be fine for people on business or couples staying for a weekend break, but there are better places to stay if you are going to events at the Conference Centre or other venues thereabouts.
Children under a certain age can stay for free, but I didnt see any there and I would say this hotel doesnt have many facilities or attractions for children. It has a relaxed but perhaps slightly staid feel to it.
I would only recommend this if location in the town doesnt really matter, and to those with a preference for 4 star hotels over bed and breakfast accommodation.
Cedar Court as an Event Venue
In July 2005 I went to the Harrogate Crime Fiction Festival, previously organised twice at the Majestic. My friends and I didnt stay at the hotel, and it was ok as a conference venue but the meeting rooms are noticeably smaller than those at the Majestic, hence less people could fit into popular sessions. It did handle offering food - snacks and meals - to hordes of people between events better than the Majestic. Overall, though, the organisers clearly felt that this was not a great venue, and next years conference will be at a third Harrogate hotel.