I have stayed at 4 different De Vere Venues over the last 12 months and have been very impressed by them all. Admittedly these were all part of a deal offered by De Vere costing £10.00 a night so it is well worth making sure you get on their mailing list as they are currently offering £19.00 rooms as I type however availability is slim and you need to be flexible. When you are looking at one of these deals do your research first to find out whether they have a pool/jacuzzi/gym as this adds a little bit more luxury too if thats your thing. With the De Vere Venues (not to be confused with De Vere Hotels) these are generally all business conference centres so you may find that on some of the locations there is an older country house and than a new part as well. On the deals they offer you tend to find that you are put into the newer part but I've found that nearer the time they have emailed me to find out if I want to upgrade my room for £10.00. They also offer deals on an evening meal which I have taken up once and been impressed although the food selection isn't always that great. However all the Venues have free cappucino/coffee machines dotted around with biscuits and fruit for you to use! With the deals aswell there is no breakfast included, however if you're on a budget (like we were) I took some croissants, fresh coffee and my filter pot and that was breakfast in bed sorted! I'm not sure I would pay the full price for these but they are definitely worth £10.00 or £19.00 for the night...and they are definitely better than a Premier Inn. We also stayed at the Venue in Wokefield Park in Reading which turned out to be the BMW Training Academy so lots of Minis and BMW's in the reception in case you like that sort of thing! Out of the 4 Venues I have stayed at, they all had plenty of outdoor space to walk around so if you just want to get away for the night these are perfect but none of them seemed to be close to anything unless you wanted to get in the car and drive...
I have stayed in several De Vere Hotels over the last few years, and I still go red at the thought of one of them. More of that later! In my opinion, they offer good value for money and are great venues for a weekend away. However, my recommendation is to join their mailing list. I have had a couple of fantastic deals over the last couple of months, taking up their offer of £19 per room deal. Yes, that's £19 per double room. Ok, breakfast isn't included, but can be added for just £7.50 which is pretty good value when you consider that it is a help yourself, full English breakfast along with all the trimmings. I stayed at Daresbury Park, Warrington last Saturday night. I had taken advantage of the £19 offer, and the hotel looked inviting on the website, so I clicked the button, and off I went! These offers are usually for weekends only, and the hotels are obviously used for conferences during the week. The hotel was very easy to find, being just seconds off the M56 and the clear map on the hotel website really helped. First impressions were good, the foyer was clean and inviting, the staff were courteous without being intrusive. The room was just what I expected, comfortable, not spacious, but not cramped either! The decor was slightly dated, as was the overbearing dark furniture, but there was nothing wrong with it, just my opinion I guess. I had received an email a couple of days before my stay offering various extras from £15 for a two course evening meal to extending your stay until 2pm for an extra £5 per person. We took advantage of the evening meal, and were really glad we had, it was the highlight of our stay. Excellent! The new restaurant was warm and inviting. The table was beautifully set and service was very good. The choice of food was somewhat limited from the set menu, but was tasty and the presentation was exquisite. Oh, and we also took advantage of the £5 off a bottle of wine offer that was in the email as well. Total price of the 2 course meal was £41.50 for 2, in a 4 star restaurant, I was very impressed. Next morning, we took advantage of the spa facilities, well actually just sat in the jacuzzi! For some reason I was feeling a little dehydrated so the chilled water cooler was a welcome touch. The fun shower made me ponder. Surely the word "fun" is subjective? In this case, definitely so! The "fun" shower had a hot and cold button, an oversized central rose and smaller, ineffectual nozzles around the edge. It appeared to have lights as well, but they weren't working either. It didn't raise my fun levels at all, so I got back in the fun jacuzzi, went in the fun steam room, then swam a length in the fun pool! It was time to return to reality. Checkout was smooth, no hidden extras, the only minor irritation is getting past the barrier to get out of the car park. All in all, a great relaxing stay, at a great price! No embarrasing situations either. Back to my opening paragraph. My well meaning group of friends didn't tell me that a previous group stay had been booked as a Valentine special, so when I went to reception demanding my chocolates and wine for my single room I did not know what all the funny looks were for. Doesn't a single girl need the chocolates and wine even more than a loved-up couple? I got them!
Very long winded, but worth the read! Have been a few times now, and I must say I'll avoid going again wherever possible! My last visit was the last straw! Went for a special evening by invitation only - started off well enough and we were seated without incident, and then the nightmare began! We paid a lot of money for a ticket for a 4 course meal and entertainment, and it was a total waste of money in my opinion. Firstly there was some sort of soup - I have no idea what flavour it was meant to be, as it was that bland I ended up adding every imaginable seasoning just to give it some iota of taste, and then came what I refer to as cat food. Allegedly it was some sort of ham and chicken creation, which actually reminded me of spam. Not what one expects in a hotel of this reputation. The main course then arrived, and followed precisely the same standard as the previous 2 - horrific. This was a roast beef dinner, although I must say I've never experienced one quite like it (are roast potatoes supposed to be hard enough to crack a tooth?!) Anyway, I promptly sent mine back, and the bumbling waiter did not even offer an apology, and returned 20 minutes later with a new plate of cold roast beef and vegetables! Lovely! I declined this meal, and then went to seek solace as the bar (I mean, you can't get Gin and Tonic wrong right?!) The Gin and Tonic was actually very nice, and a much needed retreat, however it's £6 price tag FOR A SINGLE MEASURE did nothing to calm my nerves. And when I returned to the bar later on for another G&T and a pint of lager, I had less than £1 out of a tenner. A guy next to me was ordering champagne - so I quickly moved away from the bar as he was a hefty chap, and I didn't want him falling on me when he fainted at the price asked of him. I was actually arranging my wedding at the time of my last trip, and enquired as to the prices for my wedding breakfast and reception etc etc. After experiencing Oulton Hall's finest cuisine I decided to book somewhere else, as they were charging £90-£100 per person for the meal - and I could not stand the thought of feeding my wedding guests cat food/ spam and hard vegetables and paying £100 each for the pleasure. Plus, you can only invite rich guests, or everybody will be on tap water after 2 hours once they have ran out of money for drinks. If you want my advice - if you're booking a wedding and want amazing food at great prices, and drinks that aren't astronomically expensive (and also a round of golf!) get yourself booked in at The Manor Golf Club in Drighlington. The staff are lovely and attentive there too - VERY MUCH unlike Oulton Hall's excuse for customer service.
The De Vere hotel chains in my opinion offer something a bit special for a hotel stay and are great for a weekend away. They have 12 different hotels to choose from, spread around the country. The most beautiful in my opinion is Cameron House on the shores of Loch Lomond. The others also feature amazing building and several are in stately type homes. A lot of them feature golf packages/wedding packages so there is really something for everyone. My husband and I stayed at the De Vere hotel in Cambridge a year or so ago, he took me for a surprise weekend away and I was very impressed with the hotel. He firstly choose De vere's as they are known to have very nice, luxury hotels at quite good prices in good locations. This location was fantastic. At first though I must admit I was a bit disappointed because looking at the photograph of the hotel you expect it to have a lovely huge green area in front of it but that is actually the park next to the hotel. The hotel is situated right in the town and not really surrounded by green area at all as the photo suggests but never mind, it did not put us off. The location like I said was in town, just a short walk down the road (Regent Street) to all the shops and restaurants so after a great day sightseeing etc it did not take long to get back "home". The rooms there start from about £110 but you can pay for for the suites with the four poster beds which are lovely. You do have to pay to park as well which is quite annoying, it is £14 a day which is quite expensive but is what you get with hotels in the city. Cambridge itself has lots of great things to do, the shops are good and then of course there is all the old university buildings to look around, take a trip down the river cam etc. They have a ncie restaurant called 17 which is adjacent to the hotel and there is also a bar as well with excellent big couches that you can slop on and a lovely fire. The rooms were fairly big, all on suite and room service went til quite late. The decor inside is quite oldy world, with lots of dark wood but very nicely maintained. The staff were very friendly and offered lots of advice on what to do during the day. I would definitely recommend taking a walk to the Botantical Gardens which are close to the hotel too. For more great De Vere hotels I would check out their website, www.devere.co.uk
The De Vere Hotel Herons Reach is located about 2 miles from Blackpool town centre - set in its own extensive grounds its a world away from the neon glitz that is the promenade. I had booked one night, a Saturday, booking though www.lastminute.com I got the room on a Bed and Breakfast for £75 - the hotel was quoting me £110 to book direct with them. The hotel sits well back from the main road, surrounded by a gold course, gardens and lakes. Overall its a pretty location, quite and relaxing. Check in was reasonably efficient, just one couple in front and I was served within a few minutes. The girl on the desk didn't quite manage a smile, but dealt with me in a professional manner - i soon had my keys and was on the way to my room. The room was of average size, had a small window which opened fully which was good. Decor was very loud, lots of swirls and a real lack of co-ordination in terms of fabrics etc. The room consisted of a double bed (seems very small when used to a king) - dressing table, wardrobe, armchair, 27" TV and trouser press. No mini bar and no iron and ironing board which i normally consider essential in any hotel. The bathroom was again average size. Overall the room was nothing great, but was clean and would do the job. After a quick visit to town, back to the hotel for a few drinks. Tried the first bar located just off the lobby - staff were very unsure of themselves and the bar was very poorly stocked. Asking to see a wine list was met with the response that they had house red or house white. Got pointed in the direction of the "Nineteen" bar, so called because of its location at the end of the gold course. Staff were slightly more helpful and my request for a bottle of champgne was met with the choice of three (the house fizz being described as "border line"!). After about 15 minutes the champagne eventually turned up. I order a few nibbles which came in about 5 minutes - very tasty. Staff in the "Nineteen" bar were slow, undertrained and lacking in any sort of motivation (or so it seemed). After a few drinks it was back to the room, quick change and back out again. Kept waiting for 40 minutes for an Iron and board to arrive in the room. Had to call reception 4 times. Used reception to book a taxi for me which turned up right on time. After a late night out, still made it to the restaurant for breakfast the following morning. It was a buffet style self service offering. Lacking somewhat in the pastry/bread side but catering well for the full cooked option. A very pleasent breakfast, staff were excellent and food was surprisingly good. Check out slowed down by a few people disputing bills, had about a 10 minutes wait. In summary, this hotel was a good location, quiet and has excellent leisure facilities. Caters for most people i would have thought. Not sure i would stay here at the standard rate, but certainly good value with the lastminute.com rate.
My first visit to a De Vere Hotel, I recently stayed at Slaley Hall in Northumberland. It's an ideal location for a special luxury break in a gorgeous part of rural England. The hotel is set in a large (1,000 acre) area of forest and moorland in Northumberland, and whilst it does literally feel like you are miles from anywhere, the hotel itself has got everything you might need, so there’s hardly any need to go anywhere else. It’s 20 miles away from Newcastle, and the nearest town of any size is Hexham, around 8 miles away, but all the roads surrounding Slaley Hall are country lanes, so it’s a very peaceful place to be. On arriving, you think you’re about to get lost, but it does turn out to be very well sign posted at every little road junction. Slaley Hall is a “golfer’s paradise”, as it says in their leaflet. There are 2 courses - a 7,021 yard, par 72 Hunting championship course, which is included in the PGA European Tour (none of this means anything to me, as a non-golfer!), and also the Priestman course, also a championship specification course. A Golf Clubhouse gives it all a ‘golf club’ feel, without it being too exclusive, as all hotel guests use the bar facilities. Use of the golf courses is of course free to hotel residents. As I say, I didn’t go there for the golf, just for a quiet, romantic weekend – and Slaley Hall fits the bill here too. There are 139 bedrooms, all of which are very well equipped, and slightly more spacious than most hotel rooms, with room for a very big double bed, as well as a small couch, table and chair. As you’d expect, there’s an en suite bathroom, TV, trouser press, laundry service, room service, morning newspapers delivered outside your door… all of which felt highly luxurious to me. One little touch I’d never seen before in a hotel bathroom – a swish retractable washing line! Came in very handy washing our swimming costumes. Yes, there’s also a leisure club, with a 20 metre swimming pool, gym and various health and therapy treatments. The swimming pool costs you nothing, not even for locker and towel hire, and the pool was the best I’ve been in (not counting abroad), lovely warm water, well designed with a spa pool. If you’re one of those people that likes to do 50 lengths before breakfast it may not suit you, but for someone like me who likes to swim gently in circles, it’s a wonderful place. Beauty treatments don’t come free, and you’d have to set aside around £30 to treat yourself to something like a massage or a facial. The restaurant is rather plush, and has lovely views overlooking the golf course and the forest. Breakfast can be whatever you want it to be, as everything’s there at the buffet – full English breakfast, continental, Danish pastries, fresh fruit. Each day there’s a special hot dish as well – I’d recommend the scrambled egg with smoked salmon. Slightly let down by the toast, which never seemed to be either fully browned or kept warm, and the coffee, again not as piping hot as it should be. We didn’t eat ant other meals in the restaurant, but the menu looked excellent – allow around £25.00 per head for dinner. A less formal meal can be had in the Clubhouse. We want mad with the room service (a menu that’s available right through the night) and for a snack like a sandwich and French fries, or cheese and biscuits expect to pay around £6.00 This is a 4 star hotel, so a stay here doesn’t come cheap. For bed and breakfast, you may have to pay as much as £100 per night per room. Special deals are often available, though. There’s a short break rate, which between Sundays and Thursdays is £49.50 per person per night. We booked via the laterooms.com website, and paid £87.50 per room per night, whic h for two people seemed like a bargain. They also offer what’s called a Spa Break, which includes bed breakfast, evening meal and a massage and facial – for £135 per person per night – now that sounds like a luxury break to me. I enjoyed my stay there very much – if I was a golfer, and if the toast had been hot, I’d give it 5 stars. Slaley Hall, Hexham Nr Newcastle upon Tyne Northumberland NE47 OBY Tel 01434 673350 Bookings (Central reservations) 01925 639499 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.devereonline.co.uk