The Hilton Hotel Dartford is in a particularly insalubrious part of Kent, literally a few moments from the Dartford crossing toll booths. However it is ideally situated for the Bluewater shopping centre and as my husband and I were having an afternoon of shopping and then a late evening at the Bluewater cinema, we decided to book the hotel rather than face a tiring drive home to north Hertfordshire.
As we approached the hotel over the Dartford Bridge we were quite concerned about the proximity to the main roads but in fact as we got closer we decided it was probably set back far enough for traffic noise to be a non issue. The hotel has a reasonable appearance close up as you can see from the dooyoo picture, but it really is in an awful area. Still I doubt there are many people who will go on holiday to the Hilton Dartford Bridge, rather this is a hotel for a convenient stop over and as such I don't think the surroundings are too important.
As we pulled in, we were quite surprised to find that we needed to take a ticket to get into the car park. The fees were quite substantial, other than for residents for whom they are limited to £3 per stay. We could not see why anyone would come here if they were not a guest and we thought the fee to park for guests and non-guests was quite ridiculous for a hotel in this location.
The hotel lobby is quite large, there is a bar off to one side and there is plenty of comfortable seating around, most of it vacant when we arrived. It was 3.30pm by this time, nevertheless the receptionist told us she would have to check whether the room was ready as it was apparently still showing as "dirty" on her system. I thought she could have said "not ready" as opposed to "dirty" to be honest and in view of the time I wondered if they are quite so forgiving to guests that might be late checking out.
Fortunately the room was ready and we were directed to the lifts to make our own way up. We did not have high expectations, when I was younger Hilton was a by-word for hotel luxury in but I think those days are long gone and so my low expectations were more than satisfied with the light coloured decor as we made our way along the corridors to our room.
First impressions of the room were not too bad either. The decor was also mainly in light colours and gave a feeling of a bright and modern room, it was only after a proper look around that I noticed paper peeling from the walls and other slightly tatty effects. On the other hand, we did notice that the TV was a modern flat screen, but we neglected to try it out so I could not say if there was a good channel selection unfortunately.
The room otherwise contained a bed, sofa, dressing table and tea and coffee making facilities. The bed was not great, the headboard was a piece of wood attached to the wall but the rest of the bed was not actually attached to it and being a rather flimsy bed on wheels we found it parted company with the wall during the night and pillows ended up on the floor in-between. I also found the bed far too soft and lumpy for my liking. We found the room a bit too warm and there is no air-conditioning. The bathroom was small to medium in size and functional but rather dated. The floors and walls were covered in cheap looking white ceramic tiles and the grout was discoloured which made the room particularly the floor look dirty, although I don't think it really was.
After dumping our bags, we headed over to Bluewater for some shopping and the cinema. Upon returning to the hotel we decided to have a nightcap in the lobby bar. There were a few other people doing the same by this time, although generally the hotel felt very quiet. The wine was quite nice but £10 a glass was silly money in this type of establishment.
We had a peaceful night's sleep and left quite early the next morning after deciding to skip the £13 breakfast. The room cost £88 with another £3 for the privilege of parking there. I could have sworn I booked at £78 but unfortunately the email confirming the reservation does not include the rate. It was a very so-so kind of stay and I would say a hotel of a similar standard to the Premier Inn. Nothing to rave about and nothing in particular to moan about either.
Last Christmas my work booked up the Hilton at Dartford bridge for our Christmas party. It was quite a step up from what we usually have - Pub carvery and Karaoke and we were all very excited to be able to wear posh frocks and high heels.
My friend and I decided we would make it an extra special night and so we booked a room. As we had a party booking we were able to book a twin room with breakfast for £69. We thought at £35 each it was a terrific bargain.
Where is it ?
The location of Hilton in Dartford is not particularly pretty, it is set right by Dartfords toll bridge, next to a big business park. However as you drive up to the hotel you could be forgiven for thinking you are in some tranquil setting with its tree lined drive and ambient lighting.
It is the perfect hotel if you are visiting Bluewater or Lakeside shopping centres as it is about five minutes from both. It is also a brilliant base if you are traveling via Eurostar from the new Ebbsfleet station as it is less than five miles away.
Check in experience
We arrived at about four O'clock, we found a parking space with ease and the check in desk was clearly visible.
We were greeted at the check in desk by a friendly lady, who after the normal formalities. Gave us a little welcome pack with all the details of breakfast times, mini bar costs, emergency numbers etc and directed us to our room. It was an easy and pleasant experience.
The room was very large for the money we paid. It had two double beds that were neatly made up with ample pillows and extra blankets as it was December. There was a large desk with writing paper, pens, telephone and the Hilton bumf. There was also a large dressing table with a big mirror and plugs for hair dryers and shavers.
The bathroom was roomy with a huge well lit mirror, bath with shower and normal toilet and sink. There were complimentary shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soaps.
The room was clean, smelt fresh and was in good repair.
My work had booked a three course self serve dinner with a disco after. It cost £29 per head.
I think this is where the Hilton standards were dropped, they obvioulsy wanted to make as much money as possible and so crammed 100's of us in this fairly small room. There were in my opinion double the amount of tables than there should have been. Every time you needed to get up for the loo, bar or for food it had to be done with military precision through a maze of chairs and tables making people stand up to let you pass. I stood up at least 10 times to let people by during my main course alone.
The tables were set nicely with crisp white table cloths and little party poppers, there were also some lovely flowers in the middle.
The food was ok, it was nothing special or exciting and for the mains I had to stand in line for fifteen mins - think school dinners only slower.
For starters there was a selection of salad, a pate dish or breaded chicken, Main course was a traditional roast, with lamb, beef and turkey then they had the roast potatoes and vegetables.
I can't comment on desert as I didn't have any.
The dance -
It was a fun typical cheesy disco which is great for a good party atmosphere. The DJ was funny and tried to get everyone up dancing, the problem was that the dance floor was tiny and there wasn't enough room for even a third of the room to dance, when asked to move the tables back they said the couldn't.
The bar -
A good selection of wines, beers and spirits but at high prices. We expected to pay a bit more as it was a hotel but £7.50 for a glass of normal white wine is taking the Michael . I think a bottle of smirnoff ice was £4.00 and a coke was £3.25.
The staff very very friendly and helpful though and even with big queues we were served quickly.
The morning after ...
After quite a heavy night of drinking and dancing we needed a good brekkie to get us going and Hilton did not disappoint.
There was an abundance of hot sausages, bacon, eggs of all variety, toast, cold meats, fruit, yoghurt, loads of cereals in fact anything you could have wanted for breakfast they had.
There was a waitress who bought over a big pot of tea and who refilled it when necessary.
It was lovely, delicious and well presented.
Checking out -
This was simple as we had already paid and hadn't used any extra facilities we just popped our key in a post box and away we went.
Should I go ??
I think it is a beautiful hotel with more facilities than I can comment on like gym and pool as I didn't use them. I would avoid group parties but as a typical hotel stay I think it ticks all the boxes.
Comfy large rooms, good check in and out service, nice breakfast and good location. So if you are traveling this way it might be worth a stay.
Why on earth did we visit the Hilton Dartford Bridge? You may well ask! Situated just off junction 1A of the notorious M25 motorway (Commonly known as the World's largest car park) and with a fascinating view of the Queen Elizabeth II bridge over the river Thames, it's not exactly a holiday destination. I decided to treat Amanda to an afternoon's shopping at the huge and excellent "Bluewater" shopping mall and thought that a night at the Hilton would (a) be a pleasant way to end the day and (b) boost my Hilton Hhonors point balance. There! I'm a true mercenary! I mean romantic; of course I do. The Hilton Dartford Bridge is thus named because it stands in the shadow of this wonderful bridge. The name puts you off right from the start. It's five minutes' drive from Bluewater. Think about it...."Hilton Dartford Bridge" or "Hilton Bluewater". Both legitimate names, but which sounds more attractive? Vote now! Anyway..... We arrived late afternoon... ...having booked a fantastic rate. £69.90 ($112) for a double room, including breakfast and tax, struck me as superb value and we decided to go for it. OK - so we don't live far from the hotel, but I'm always up for a night away and I'm always keen to earn Hhonors points. And Air Miles - remember that Hilton "Double Dip"! The hotel is a modern building. I held short of calling it a monstrosity, but from the outside it certainly lacks charm and character. The name put me off. The location put me off. The outside put me off. I wasn't 100% sure it was really worth it. We drew a deep breath and entered the building. I admit to being very, very pleasantly surprised. Reception This was very welcoming. Once in through the automatically opening double doors, we found ourselves in a beautiful lobby area with the reception desk conveniently located on the left. To the right was the Cafe C
ino, Court Bar and Seasons Restaurant. Further to the left was the Living Well fitness centre. In the centre of the lobby were plentiful comfortable settees, chairs and tables where you could enjoy a drink, a chat and (as I later discovered) a cigarette. Or two. We checked in. There was no queue and the staff were very friendly and helpful. As a Hilton Gold Hhonors VIP member, I was upgraded to a King Club Room. Rack rate was £138 ($221). I paid just £69.90. A bargain! A swipe of the credit card and we were given a keycard for our room (on the first floor) and directions to get there. We declined the offer of help with our bag and headed off to the lifts. Our room Was impressive. Large, nicely furnished and triple glazed, but non-smoking. The triple-glazing meant that my normal trick of leaning out of the window was not going to work. There were going to be plenty of trips to the bar that night! The ensuite bathroom was large and impeccably clean. The bath was comfortable and the shower was sufficiently powerful to provide a welcoming morning massage! A Hilton bathrobe was provided. I can never work out why, in a double room, they only provide ONE! We were not going to fight over it tonight, though - I was clearly going to be heading downstairs for a smoke later on and happily allocated it to Amanda. The bedroom itself contained a really comfortable bed with white duvet and comfortable pillows, a comfortable two-seater settee, a wobbly coffee table (which was fine for coffee, but which might not have stood up to a room service supper), a writing desk and chair, minibar (not outrageously priced, simply expensive!), ample storage space, tea-and-coffee making facilities, trouser-press (of course!) and the standard Hilton colour television with on-line billing, internet access and playstation games. Pay-per-view movies were available, but the free stations were more than adequate for our needs. Amanda was delighted to notice that
there was a (superb) bowl of fruit and a box of chocolates provided. A nice, and very welcome, touch. There was no cot (ie crib) (ordered in advance) for baby Josh - but a quick word with reception cured that. This is, I find, quite common and something we've got used to. What DID surprise me is that when the cot was delivered (in our absence), it was left to us to assemble it. Ho Hum! All in all, a nice, bright airy room with plenty of space for European guests and triple glazing which kept the noise out most effectively and which made it,as I have said, impossible to enjoy a cigarette in a non-smoking room. Not to worry! You'll be delighted to know that I stuck by the rules in that respect. Inevitably, it wasn't long before it was time to appraise... The Bar... ...which comprises the Court Bar and Cafe Cino. The former sells alcoholic drinks at (for a hotel) very reasonable prices. The latter sells coffee and light snacks - again at reasonable prices. Service was very friendly, the seating was comfortable and we were able to see that Sheffield United had managed to keep Coventry City to a goal-less draw (despite the latter only playing ten men) via the inobtrusive Sky TV screens. The fact that baby Josh decided to go walkabout didn't seem to bother anyone and the bar area seemed very child-friendly. We'd already eaten so didn't try out the Seasons restaurant this time. The table d'hote menu, however, looked inviting and - at £19.95 ($32) per person - seemed to be very reasonably priced. After a few drinks - and quite a few cigarettes - we decided to return to our room. I went to the car to pick up my newspaper and returned via the fitness centre - just looking in! A very attractive pool, with sauna, solarium and whirlpool spa complemented what looked to be an absolutely fantastic gym. We watched some television, quite enjoyed some incredibly stupid girl leave "Who Wants To
Be A Millionaire" empty handed (quite a feat!) and settled down. It was a really comfortable room. The bed was exceedingly comfortable. Before doing it justice, though, just one more trip down to the lobby and bar, where I sat reflecting on the day and engaging in a spot of people-watching. Always good fun. There was a vibrant (let's just say that there were complaints in the morning!) wedding party going on and suddenly a scream of "Oi! You're famous! Gimme an autograph!". Alas, it wasn't me, but Shane Connor. You know - Joe Scully, from "Neighbours" - who's currently appearing in pantomime in Dartford. "oh - him!" In the space of about a month, I've shared a Hilton hotel with an Australian soap star and the members of the UK Xmas no 1 band, "Girls Aloud". Maybe someday, I'll meet a real celebrity! I guess I'll have to keep trying. And so to bed I cannot stop going on about how comfortable it was. Superb! See you in the..... Morning ...which arrived, bringing typical wet British weather with it. Never mind, though - it's Sunday and, according to the in-room hotel guide, breakfast is served until 10:30am. A leisurely start to the day. Superb bath. Fantastic, powerful shower and down to breakfast at 10:10am. Those who are familiar with my writing will possibly know that breakfast and I make strange bedfellows. I'm not really a breakfast person. Amanda, on the other hand, is and Josh, bless him, needs his Wheatabix in the morning. We arrived. "We close at 10am" they said. "It's on a notice by reception" they added. Frowns all round. We were admitted to experience the leftovers. We were not the only ones to mutter complaints - this was the only down-side of our entire stay. It's something they need to address quickly! We finished, packed and decided it was time to... Check-out
It struck me as odd that the usual Hilton "Express Checkout" was not available at this hotel. This is a shame, because it's a good system: you check-out via the TV in your room and simply hand over your keys at reception before heading off into the sunrise. Not so here! However, it was effortless, friendly and efficient and we were soon on our way with happy memories of a decent, comfortable and very friendly hotel which ought to consider changing its name. All in all, a very enjoyable experience, and great value. Andrew PS - I hope to move this, once a more suitable category can be created for it!
Location: convenient to Orchard Theatre and Bluewater Shopping Centre, within the vicinity of St. John's Jerusalem and Arena Essex Raceway / Location: convenient to Orchard Theatre and Bluewater Shopping Centre, within the vicinity of St. John's Jerusalem and Arena Essex Raceway / Number and type of rooms: 179 air-conditioned guestrooms. Satellite programming and video-game consoles are provided for your entertainment, while wireless Internet access (surcharge) keeps you connected. Private bathrooms have complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include desks and separate sitting areas, as well as multi-line phones with voice mail / Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities: Treat yourself with massages and facials. If you're looking for recreational opportunities, you'll find outdoor tennis courts, a health club, and an indoor pool / Dining: Satisfy your appetite at the hotel's restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dining is also available at a coffee shop/cafT, and 24-hour room service is provided. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge / Business, Other Amenities: business center, a computer station, and audiovisual equipment. This hotel has 17 meeting rooms available for events. Parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.