It's been a tough time at work for my sister and recently she has been feeling particularly down. I've also been needing to get away, so we decided to book ourselves a little weekend break just to have a change of scene. Both of us following the philosophy that to be a proper break we needed to stay somewhere comfortable and with things to do as winter is coming and we can't trust weather to be great, we decided to go for a hotel with leisure facilities. After much trawling for a decent deal on the Internet, we came across The Croydon Park Hotel. Basically the deal was £120 for two nights in a twin room, no breakfast. Normally I am keen to book breakfast but as my sister often skips it, we just couldn't justify the price. For the two of us for two nights breakfast on top would have added a whopping £40 onto our bill.
I booked the hotel via an online agent and was briefly warned that there is a cancellation policy that will charge us should our plans fall through. Luckily this was not to be the case for us, but I would advise that you check their up to date policy if you are considering booking with them. I was briefly worried when I read a few bad reviews about the hotel, but overall the impression I got was that it was alright if you're not too fussy. Well, lets see how it worked out then!
If you are searching for information about this hotel, their website is absolutely useless. I nearly thought I'd been cheated on price at the agent's site, until I realised that the site had not even been updated for over a year. So prices aren't reliable and really the site is very basic and the pictures vague. I'll give the link, but it probably won't help you much. http://www.croydonparkhotel.com/
At least I think this site is fairly honest as on the site of the agency I booked with, it lied that there was a steam room, and let me tell you now, there is NOT. I'm not sure I should say who I booked with, but you can ask privately if you want to know.
For being in the most ideal location possible, I could almost be tempted to add on a star for this hotel. A very short walk from East Croydon rail station and near enough to plenty of shops and restaurants, it could not get any better. From East Croydon there are regular trains going straight into the centre of London, and you can also get direct trains to other places like Brighton. But just setting up a hotel in the right place does not immediately win me over. When you arrive you will notice a couple of beatifully designed tall buildings, one that even lights up at night. Well, the hotel is the bland red-brick building in between them. It has a rather pleasant entrance as you come closer, with some nicely trimmed plants and a posh lounge area for sis to relax and unwind while muggins hobbles over to the desk with her booking confirmation. There were some newspapers left on tables and I think they did put out piles of either Irish Independant (why not ordinary Independant though?) and The Daily Telegraph. Perhaps there were others but they must have been nabbed fast.
The lady at the reception desk was reasonably polite but not particularly friendly. I did feel that I had to prompt her for the niceties like 'hello' and 'thank you' or just a smile, but she wasn't completely cold after a little talking. She was quick to deal with the reservation and I did not have to hand in my confirmation, I just had to fill out some details and then I got the key. She gave very clear directions for the lift (behind me), the restaurants and also the leisure centre. I assumed our room was on the first floor as it was a 100 number. and that turned out to be right.
However, when we entered the room we were greeted with one disappointing thing. We had specifically reserved a twin room, but had been given instead a room with only one bed. The bed was king-sized and I really didn't feel like making a fuss about something this minor, as long as it was the only thing to go wrong. I kick people a lot at night but apparently not too much, so I guess this was tolerable. I did feel afterwards that perhaps I should have said something and maybe there is something to be said about the fact I was hesitant to do so.
Apart from this, the room seemed alright. We also had a big sofa (could sleep on this if desperate!), coffee table, plenty of hanging space and drawers for our 2 nights. There was a telly that worked, with some freeview channels, although the remote was dodgy! An ironing board and iron was provided and also a hairdryer, although it took me ages to locate the sockets to plug them into! I had to move the luggage holder in the end to get to them. We also had kettle, tea and coffee, but only one little caramel biscuit each, a tad stingy! The temperature of the room wasn't bad at all and gave me no problems with sleeping. If only I could stop kicking my sister. I had dodgy skin but no problems with the bedding, so I guess it was all cotton/linen. That's good to know.
The bathroom was well lit and marble, which got very cold in the mornings, so I would definitely recommend you pack sandals or slippers for bathroom use. We generally used the pool showers so I can't really comment on the actual bath although just to say it was a reasonable size and similar type of shower to the usual hotel shower. A shower mat is provided and towel for the floor. You also get plenty of bath/hand/face towels.
The room was cleaned to a good standard each day and anything we used was replaced. In this respect, I was very pleased.
The leisure facilities.
This is the bit that really hacked me off. We always check opening times and facilities of leisure centres before booking because we know what we want. The main reason I chose this hotel was because it advertised the whole range of things I wanted for us to enjoy. [Steam Room?] The opening times were clearly advertised as being from 7.00 until 10pm every day. My sister wanted to rest for a while before going for a swim, so although I was itching to jump into the pool, I preferred to wait for her (I've had a bad experience being alone in a pool before). We decided we would relax in the jacuzzi for a bit first.
Well, the jacuzzi was definitely not a success, on the first night we got downstairs and about 8.45, only to find a sign up saying that the jacuzzi closes on that night (not sure if every friday or something) at 9 and last entry is at 8.40, for cleaning. Now, although I accept that it is good to know these things are cleaned, I thought that was why they had leisure centre closing times? It's not like there was someone there actually physically scrubbing the thing, someone had just put a hosepipe in and to a non-expert onlooker it appeared basically that water was being run through the hosepipe and down the jacuzzi drain! On the second day, we rushed to get back from London so we could have our chance to use the jacuzzi. I suggested asking in reception first whether it would be open for use so we didn't have to get changed and everything first. We were both tired and only wanted to use the jacuzzi to relax and nothing else. The lady at reception said the jacuzzi was definitely open but there was a problem with the pool so we would not be able to use this, which, for us that wasn't a problem. At the leisure centre I did notice that there was nothing to indicate to the guests that the pool was out of use. We went in, got changed into our swimming costumes and showered ready to use the jacuzzi. Then we walked over to the jacuzzi/pool area only to be stopped by a young man working there, who abruptly told us we were not allowed in because there had been an electrical problem. When I got annoyed, he was more apologetic, but not without excuses. He insisted his absent manager had told him not to let anyone in, although he himself was walking all over the 'dangerous areas'. Giving up, we picked up some towels from the pool area. After changing back into our clothes and getting ready to go, we went back to the pool area to return our towels, as that is where the towel bin is located. Jacuzzi gatekeeper was ready to have a go because he thought we were going to try and get in the pool/jacuzzi again. I then said to him "can you please put a notice up for other customers so that they don't have to change and shower and everything before they find out they can't even use anything". He replied that he didn't have time!
The swimming pool we used only on the first night, before the electrical problem. First thing of note is whatever you do, don't try to get in without a shower cap; this is a cardinal sin! There was a lady cleaning the changing rooms,who I said 'hello' to, who then followed us out and waiting for me to start climbing into the pool before giving me an ear-whooping about using shower caps. We promptly obeyed. Actually it is better to use shower caps, especially if you have long hair because there is less chlorine damage to your hair, and for this I was grateful, but afterwards I felt like a naughty schoolkid who had to be watched - and that is how I also felt about the jacuzzi man. The pool is quite small, so with more than 3 people in it, it would feel rather cramped. However, it was noticeable that in the evenings and early mornings there was practically no one else around anyway.
With all the nonsense about the pool/jacuzzi, I'm not so paranoid as to think that they would intentionally stop us using their facilities. Still, all this does make you wonder if they really give a toilet brush about keeping their customers happy and their standards high. Frankly, it wasn't such a bubbly place.
We didn't eat at this hotel at all, and I am not going to try and blag anything, but I will share my observations anyway. The Whiskers Bar was a pub like room, with mostly men lounging and chatting or watching football, where you could order food at a reasonable price, which was generally pub food but not that much in terms of choice on the menu. On the first night we considered eating there, but figured we might find somewhere nicer outside.
There was also a rather posh looking restaurant called Oscars, filled with mostly older guests and probably the wealthier of them, because as we requested a menu and sat at the couches outside to peruse it, we were astonished by the prices. The food certainly did sound interesting, but this is not one for a budget traveller like me! The man who gave us the menu was pleasant, and the people eating did look quite happy, so this must have been a good sign, I would hope.
My sister did the check out process, which for us was just handing in the key really and letting them confirm that we had not ordered any room service etc. We asked if it would be okay to leave our luggage behind while we wondered around London again, and this was fine with them. Reassuringly, they locked our bags away in a cupboard and gave us a raffle-type ticket for reclaiming later on. Off we went for our last day of holiday.
Well, if, like us you book a hotel based on its facilities, I would definitely not recommend you go for this one. Also, even if the restaurant is good, I have been to other hotels with excellent food and service in their restaurants for a far lower price. Although most staff were not outright rude, the hotel was not one I would consider friendly. However, if you just want a room for the night in a convenient location at a low price and you have a thick skin, this hotel is perfect. So really it depends what you are after. I will evaluate based on my needs and expectations, but bear in mind these may not be the same as yours.