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Chadwick Hotel (Lytham St Annes)

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South Promenade / St Annes / Lytham St Annes / Lancashire / FY8 1NP / Tel: 01253-720061.

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      27.03.2007 09:51
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      A Hotel of real character, for some, not the right character though!

      WHY DID WE BOOK THE CHADWICK HOTEL? I am tempted to start off by saying 'for old times sake'. Cutting a long story short, I used to stay there regularly as a solo (make that bachelor!) business traveller. The last time I tried to book a room at the Chadwick was for the night of our wedding in Blackpool in October 2001. It was half term and the Blackpool Illuminations were in full swing, there were no rooms available; we accepted second choice, the Fernlea Hotel just along St Annes Sea Front. Following much hard work, and with business actually improving, I decided to treat Mrs R and I to a night at the Chadwick, following a day of business appointments in Lancashire. St Annes also happens to be a very convenient location from which to visit our friends and Godson, who live in nearby in Kirkham. HOTEL DESCRIPTION / OUR PERCEPTION FROM HOTEL PUBLICITY. One really, I think, needs to know Lytham and St Annes, neighbouring Blackpool even, to appreciate the appeal of the Chadwick. It is unashamedly "old fashioned" in its publicity, both on the web site and in the presentation of the hotel brochure. This really is very much in keeping with the charming, largely Victorian, seaside town of St Annes. The Corbett family, who have owned the Chadwick for the last 60 years, are happy to promote their hotel primarily as that of a family holiday venue - additionally as a year round business hotel, with the added attraction of a health centre complex. On offer are single, double and several grades of "Family" rooms. Also advertised are rafts of various "themed" breaks (e.g. 1960's weekends etc) and "bargain" mid-week 2 or three day breaks in all seasons. Incidentally, Mr and Mrs Corbett named the hotel "Chadwick", after the name of the hotel in which they spent their honeymoon - in a sense that rather sets the tone of the place - in the most romantic way! HAVE WE STAYED THERE PREVIOUSLY? I have stayed at the Chadwick very many times between 1990 and 2000, almost always on business - although on one sad occasion for the funeral of a very close friend. My stays there usually lasted three nights and took place at least three times a year, I have seen all seasons at the Chadwick! My wife has not previously visited the Chadwick, due to the downturn in the engineering business - and the loss of our old friends who lived close by - our business trips have tended to be overnight "lodge" visits in the heart of the areas actually being visited. BOOKING PROCESS In the old days, like everyone else, I was in the habit of phoning a hotel direct and booking a room - at rack rate. In the year 2006, thanks to the internet, of course things are now different. The Chadwick's website will let you book a room direct with the hotel; there are many special offers and "themed" breaks. We actually booked our (one night) stay through Booking.com. We paid a £20 deposit by card with £58 paid on departure. LOCATION 9 / 10 The Chadwick has a premier location in St Annes, being situated on the sea front, overlooking the River Ribble Estuary. It is a three minute walk into the charming town centre from here, less than that to St Annes Pier. In front of the hotel is a sandy beach, stretching for miles in both directions, the tide never comes in far enough to reach the end of the pier! St Annes is located less than 4 miles from the end of the M55 motorway in the outskirts of Blackpool, the seafront hotels are clearly signposted as you drive into St Annes from either direction. The train station is located less than a mile away, just to the north of the shops and is a mere five minute taxi journey from the hotel. As far as I was concerned, as a businessman, the Chadwick's location, less than 20 minutes from the M6 at Preston, was ideal for visiting our customers in the north west of England. On this particular occasion, we were driving up to Edinburgh the following day, the Chadwick geographically proved an ideal half way stopping point, on the way from our home in Brighton. FIRST IMPRESSIONS 4 / 10 As you already know, these were not really my first impressions - but nothing has changed as you approach the Chadwick by car. For those of you, unlike myself, not tied to four wheels, this will be of no significance! However at 72 bedrooms, the Chadwick is, I think, the largest hotel in Lytham or St Annes. It supposedly has parking spaces for 40 cars. When you arrive laden with luggage it would be helpful to park fairly close to the hotel, this is not always possible. Of all my stays here, on only three occasions have I actually managed to park in the car park! Fortunately, unlike in neighbouring Blackpool, there are few parking restrictions on and around St Annes front. The outside of the building itself looks like two Victorian detached villas which have been connected in the middle, there is nothing actually wrong with the Chadwick architecturally, but it is not the best looking hotel that we have ever stayed in! The reception area is warm and welcoming when you finally arrive there though. CHECKING IN 9 / 10 This will be your first contact with the delightful staff here. Kasia the young (Polish) receptionist spoke excellent English and was extremely warm in her greeting and checked us in quickly and efficiently. The Corbett family have always been good at hand picking the "right" staff for their hotel - indeed, there were still many faces that I recognised from my previous visits during the 90's. She handed us the key to room 93 and gave us the instruction to get out of the BACK of the lift…… ……read on and you will discover why that instruction may have been of importance! ON THE WAY TO THE ROOM. i.e. how easy is it to find your way around? How accessible is it for less able persons? What condition are the public rooms and passageways in? 5 / 10 This hotel is an absolute maize of passageways, stairs and lifts. As you progress back through the building, it splits into different levels with stairs going off in different directions. I well remember my first couple of visits here being frustrated at the end of a long day attempting to find my room! On this occasion, we alighted from the FRONT of the tiny and very slow lift (the rear door did not open for us!), only to see the group of rooms, including ours, signposted on the landing opposite to where we were standing - with no access to it! Eventually after going down a flight of stairs to climb the parallel flight back up again we emerged on the correct landing to take another flight up to our top (third) floor room. These particular rooms are certainly not suitable for the elderly or infirm, there is no lift access to them, the stairways by which they are approached are steep, narrow, and rather rickety, for some reason not being level - they tilt down to the right! Having said that, there are dedicated ground floor rooms provided at the Chadwick for disabled guests. The whole ground floor is on one level and there is ramp access to the car park, which in turn offers level access to the sea front, which at St Annes is unusually flat. All of the public passages and rooms, particularly the splendid dining room are still, as they always were, way over-heated. Apart from the issue with the heating, there is a wonderfully warm ambience about the public rooms at the Chadwick. The lounge areas, bar and dining room all have the feel of a cosy private home about them, even though some of these spaces are large. Furnishings and carpeting downstairs are in rich reds and golds, lending an old fashioned comfort to the hotel. The lounge facing the sea at the front is a particularly attractive place to while away the time, or in which to have traditional tea served in the afternoon - yes I've even done that in the past! THE ROOM 7 / 10 Room 93 is one of the most modern in the hotel - dating from an expansion programme in the 1980's. The impression gained on opening the door is that the décor is more late 1960's / early 1970's, soft rose and cream coloured bedspreads and curtains, carpets to match - comfortable but most certainly dated. This is a large family room, containing a generous double, accompanied by a proper single bed. With two opening side windows and a very good view of the sea and Southport in the distance, a front facing room (at a price premium) would not have served us any better. A large double wardrobe is provided along with a dressing table and adjacent full length mirror. Two bedside cabinets with drawers and a couple of small armchairs complete the furnishings. On the electrical front, there is the obligatory Corby trouser press (does anyone ever use these things?) and of course a hair dryer. A small kettle is provided on its own little stand adjacent to the en-suite bathroom door. The stand is well stocked with coffee - both ordinary and de-caffeinated, as well as tea and a couple of sachets of hot chocolate. Two tiny packets of macaroon biscuits were also provided, having not eaten all day, they actually went down rather well! As you would expect, there is a television in the room - a very small (possibly 16 inch) Sony portable mounted on the wall, in a room this size it is lost. The set was old and the picture less than impressive. For a charge, you can apparently purchase an access card for wireless internet, which is available through Swisscom Eurospot. A minimum 30 minute charge of £3.00 applies, rising to £633 covering a 12 month subscription to this service. Since my last visit, at what must have been huge expense, individual air conditioning units have been added to all bedrooms. This really takes care of my, and every fellow guest that I have ever met, complaint that the whole place is vastly over heated. The air conditioning unit cooled the room quickly and efficiently with the minimum of noise. What has always been most impressive at the Chadwick is the amount of local information provided in the room. There are two comprehensive information folders, one listing the hotel facilities and those available locally, the other a compendium of Lancashire and Cumbria attractions. Adittionally there is a hotel channel on the television telling you all about the facilities and local attractions - stretching as far south as Liverpool, approximately 50 minutes away from here by motorway. As far as providing local information is concerned, the Chadwick is by a very long way the best hotel that I have stayed in. THE EN-SUITE 5 / 10 In keeping with the room, this is a very spacious en-suite, bigger indeed than our bathroom at home. Its' main feature is the spa-bath and hugely powerful shower above. Mrs R likes a power shower (too violent for me I'm afraid), whilst I found the spa-bath a less than relaxing experience due to the excessive noise that it generated. Not to mention flooding the bathroom with water which it splashed out "over the top"! Talking of noise, the bathroom fan - this was an inside room, no window - was unacceptably noisy, especially as it carried on working for a long time after you turned off the bathroom light - very disturbing at night if your partner visits the bathroom. On top of this, the fan was actually totally ineffective, after a five minute shower, the whole bedroom was dripping in condensation, the TV screen steamed up so much that the picture was opaque. Whilst this may have been our fault for not closing the door properly, it does represent a safety hazard. A notice in the bathroom requesting that the door be closed would not go amiss. Whilst the bathroom tiles and customised (etched with the Chadwick logo) mirror look quite up-market, this impression is rather let down by the black and damp edges around the floor and bath. The cushioned floor covering was also rather uneven in places. This en-suite certainly was overdue for refurbishment. DID WE GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP? 9 / 10 In this room, yes we did! The double bed was very comfortable and the double glazed windows kept outside noise to a minimum - especially bearing in mind that this room was directly over the kitchen entrance at the side of the hotel. However, in the older parts of the hotel, I know that the floorboards are very creaky and have been woken late at night by people walking over head. FACILITIES ON OFFER - No score here, different grades / prices of hotel understandably have different facilities. The Chadwick I think would score a 9 or 10 here. Facilities are offered for the whole family. Leasure Centre - Open from 7.00am until 10.00pm - Comprising: large, heated, indoor swimming pool; spa-bath, sauna, Turkish room, Solarium and gymnasium. Changing room lockers require a 50p piece, which is returnable. Free towels are provided, and for hotel guests free tokens for these facilities are available upon request at reception. The pool is not supervised and the hotel requests that an adult accompanies children at all times. Regrettably I have never had sufficient time to test these facilities. Incidentally, if you arrive without swimming costume, you can purchase one from the reception! Conference Suite - for 60 delegates and is air conditioned. Games Room and Children's Play Area - open from 8.00am until 11.00pm. Table tennis, or pool table provided for a £1 returnable deposit. For the children (under 12's) the soft play area is an unsupervised facility. BREAKFAST / OTHER MEALS, FOOD & DRINKS 8 / 10 The Chadwick's approach to catering was always hail and hearty, generous portions of well cooked, attractively presented food. It is some years since I ate dinner in the dining room, but the quality of the breakfast here is still top notch. This is the only hotel in which we stay these days where the whole breakfast is served to your table - your choice having been made off of the comprehensive menu. We are not big eaters in the morning, usually choosing a continental type breakfast; here this is more of a meal, with a combination of continental and "English". If you so desire, a "full English" will be served to you. The choice of toasts, jams and marmalades, cereals and cooked items is good. One thing that I was pleased to see is that the formally tiny servings of fruit juices have been replaced by full sized glasses, the quality of the juices, hers apple, mine orange, was notably good too. Falling into this category is the very good and unusually reasonably priced 24 hour room service menu. OVERALL VALUE FOR MONEY 7 / 10 This all rather depends on your expectations of a hotel and also where it is located. Compared to any hotel on the south coast, the Chadwick offers superb value for money. On the north west coast, where one has to compare it to other similarly situated hotels, it still offers something above and beyond the norm. In a sense as a privately run hotel it does not compete directly with the big chain hotels in neighbouring Blackpool and yet offers everything that they do and more besides in terms of real character. However, since originally using the Chadwick, I now have far more hotel experience both here and in Europe and feel that for those of us not making full use of the facilities, £78 per night is rather steep for a double room. IN CONCLUSION: How likely am I / are we, to use this hotel again? Having used it on so many occasions in the past - and in view of improvements made during the last 6 years that we have been staying elsewhere, I would say that if in this area we would probably use it again. As a comparison though, I would have to say that the Innkeepers Lodge, in which we stayed in Stockport the previous night, was in several respects - particularly the room and en-suite - of a much better more modern standard than the Chadwick. It was also £26.00 less expensive per night to stay in. One has an affection for the place that could never occur in a modern chain hotel. What I really like about the Chadwick is its old world charm, rickety stairs and lift included. To be fair, I have to say that Mrs R was somewhat less impressed by this, feeling rather uncomfortable at breakfast when discovering that we were the youngest guests by a generation here! This is the first of my hotel reviews using a scoring system, it will be interesting to see how the Chadwick scores against a variety of other hotels, using objective scoring rather than the rather emotive "character" issue which this particular hotel majors on. Richada's HOTEL RATING: Chadwick Hotel, St Annes - 63 / 100 - 63 % CONTACT DETAILS: The Chadwick Hotel South Promenade St Annes Lancashire FY8 1NP Tel: 01253 720061 Fax: 01253 714455

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