We have just returned from a few days away to visit Thomas Land. We booked a package deal through Caledonian Travel which entitled us to bus transport, two nights bed, breakfast and dinner and also our ticket to Drayton Manor and Thomas Land. The hotel that was included in our package was the Holiday Inn in Walsall. Our package deal cost £119 per adult and £99 per child. On the Saturday evening, the standard 'walk in' rate was £99.00 per room per night but you can get it cheaper by booking online in advance from around £63.00. Breakfast can be added for £10.00.
~Holiday Inn, Walsall~
20 Wolverhampton Road West
It is worth noting that there is a Holiday Inn Express across the other end of the motorway - don't confuse them! We arrived by bus and the driver was able to locate our hotel easily despite it being tucked behind some trees just off the M6. The hotel is located within a residential area in the outskirts of Walsall. It is in a good location to travel to Birmingham AIrport and other local attractions.
The hotel has 156 bedrooms and is fully non smoking. There are three fully accesible bedrooms for those with wheelchairs, an executive wing and also standard bedrooms to accommodate up to 4 people in total. The hotel offers free carparking and coach spaces. There are 10 suites within the hotel for events and they also offer wedding packages. The hotel is set across two floors and there is no lift within the hotel so please keep this in mind if you have mobility issues. Other facilities include the J10 fitness suite and swimming pool, a bar, lounge area with Sky Sports, a gaming area and a restaurant serving food and snacks throughout the day. Guide dogs are welcome.
When our coach arrived at the hotel, the on duty supervisor came to greet us. As we had been travelling for 8 hours, we were all tired and desperate to get off the bus. We weren't pleased to be asked to remain on the bus and come forward when our names were called. It wasn't particularly well organised. We were given a key card and told when to expect breakfast and dinner. Check in is from 2pm. Check out is from 12pm but we were leaving around 9am so handed our key card in at the reception desk with no issues. A wedding event was being set up as we were leaving. Service was friendly.
The exterior of the hotel is nice enough and as we entered, we found the reception and lobby to be welcoming especially as they had a Christmas tree in the corner to promote their Christmas packages! The reception area is bright and airy and everything is well sign posted. The hotel is easy to navigate with the dining and lounge facilities being in one area and the rooms and fitness facilities being in a different area. There are a few vending machines in the lobby which weren't too expensive compared to a lot of other hotels. There are spacious and clean toilets near reception.
The carpets within the lobby areas could really do with a good scrub. The low lighting is possibly to stop you from noticing the dirt stains but it doesn't really work! We were on the top floor and noticed that the bannisters leading up to the rooms were a bit wobbly and not terribly safe. These issues need addressed. Aside from limited access to the first floor, the hotel is wheelchair friendly throughout. Aside from these issues, the interior of the hotel is nice. There is an outdoor seating area to the back of the hotel with picnic benches and a large lawn which looks well maintained. There is no bank machine in this hotel but they accept card payments.
We were travelling as a party of seven and requested two family rooms. We were given rooms 277 and 278 which were identical in layout but back to back. We found our room to be spacious and the decor to be neutral. The furnishings were nice enough and there was everything we needed to make our stay comfortable. We had a good sized, comfortable bed with immaculate sheets and a selection of both firm and soft pillows. I didn't personally sleep well due to feeling unwell but my fiance slept like a baby as did my sister in the next room. I was pleased to discover a double plug socket at the side of my bed for charging my mobile. Our son had a pull out sofa bed which was already assembled on our arrival. It didn't look particularly durable but my son was comfortable sleeping on for two nights and my nephews in the room next door had no issues with their sofa bed. It is fine for children.
Our room also had a long desk with a large flat screen television featuring an array of free channels and also pay per view channels. In the cupboard within the desk was a kettle, mugs and a lovely selection of teas and coffees. Our room also had a spacious wardrobe with hangers and a safe which was easy to operate and perfect for storing the DS consoles whilst we were out. A chair and small table were also included. There was a sufficient amount of lighting in the room which could be controlled with various switches. We were able to put our bedside lamps on whilst my son was sleeping with no issues. There were two good sized mirrors in the room too. Our room overlooked some trees and other rooms. The window sill could be doing with a paint in my opinion. The heavy curtains blocked out the light perfectly well. There were plenty of plug sockets within our room and also a hairdryer and bins. Wi-Fi is available within the rooms but is only free for members.
Our bathroom was reasonable in size and had some rather cool green LED lighting under the sink. This could be turned on without the need for the ceiling light and provide sufficient light for going to the bathroom during the night. The bathroom had plenty of space for toiletries and there was quite a number of towels available in different sizes and also a bath mat. We had a shower over the bath which was easy to control but not particularly powerful. There was plenty of warm water for us all to shower. Our bathroom was acceptably clean except for a little bit of blackness between the tiles. A cheap looking dispenser of soap wash was available but I personally preferred to use my own. You can request complimentary toiletries at reception if you have forgotten something. My sister received a toothbrush.
Overall, I would say our room was comfortable. We didn't spend a great deal of time in it except at night as we watched some TV before bed. The room has a temperature control unit which we found fiddly to use and quite noisy so we chose to open or close the windows to get the room to the right temperature. I found the room to be quite hot during the night and even thought the duvets weren't particularly thick, I preferred to kick them off. I did hear a slight murmur of flight traffic coming from overhead when the windows were open but no motorway noise which I was pleased about. The rooms appear to be well sound proofed and we didn't hear my sister and the kids or the other family in the next room either.
Sadly, my sister wasn't quite as pleased with her room. It was spacious enough for herself and the three children. She requested extra pillows which were promptly brought - that was fine. She called me in and asked me to have a look at her bathroom floor. Here, we discovered some rather unsightly 'extras' in the form of a few clumps of pubic hairs which hadn't been cleaned prior to my sister being offered this room. On our way out to the supermarket, my sister went to the main desk and complained. She informed them that she expected it to be clean by the time we got back. On our returned an hour later, the pubic hairs were still there and untouched so she had to complain for a second time. She was given complimentary drinks for herself and the children as way of apology and the mess was cleared. I know things can be overlooked but that is just gross! She also discovered a rather big blood stain on the chair in her room. The chair was removed but another was not brought as a replacement.
Rooms are serviced on a daily basis. Our beds were made, bins emptied, towels replenished and the tea tray replenished on a daily basis. They didn't move any of our stuff but the room was suitabled tidied to a good standard as was the bathroom. Bedsheets are changed less frequently so weren't changed during our stay.
Breakfast served from around 7.30 until 10am. Dinner was served from 6pm.
We dined here for breakfast and dinner each day in the Seasons Restaurant. Room service is available but we didn't use this option. The website states that guests have a choice of a specials or formal menu but this didn't seem to be the case on our visit as all guests were presented with a buffet selection. The dining area was nice enough but again, the carpet was dirty and we noticed food remaining on the floor from dinner the previous evening so it hadn't been cleaned properly. The tables are moved to suit different sized parties but on the second evening, we were given very limited space and were bumped by everyone trying to get past. This was mainly down to a function being held in one half of the restaurant (with partition doors to seperate) and wasn't particularly organised. The restaurant staff were friendly enough and quite to take plates away when finished.
The breakfast selection was excellent and well presented. There was a chiller with a lovely selection of fresh fruits including berries and pineapple along with yoghurts and whole fruits too. A wide variety of boxed cereals, fresh milk and dried berries could also be chosen alongside toast (you had to toast it yourself), croissants and pastries, jams and other spreads and a range of fruit juice. For those who wished to have a hot breakfast, you had a choice of egg, sausage, bacon (crispy too), beans, tomatoes and hash browns. There was no vegetarian sausages on offer. I found breakfast to be delicious and there was a fantastic selection. Everyone in our party was happy to fill up for the day and the hot food was piping hot and cooked thoroughly as well as being replenished on demand. On the last day, we managed to take a few bits for the journey home.
Dinner was good to. You aren't going to get top notch, restaurant food but there was something that would appeal to most and a varied selection. Vegetarians (that don't eat fish) may find the selection a little limited and I do feel the hotel could offer a bit more vegetarian options. The food changes each day. The chiller section offered a range of cold pasta dishes including tuna pasta and coronation pasta, coleslaw and other salady bits which were ideal as a starter. Everything tasted fresh and tasted good. On the first evening, I had some delicious soup though couldn't figure out what flavour it actually was. The second evening was a rich tomato soup which I very much enjoyed.
The main meals on offer were quite good and they catered for children too if they prefer plain food. My son is a really fussy eater and wouldn't eat anything but fries and bread rolls for two nights despite there being pizza, chicken, gourjons and fish fingers but the other children had a great selection on their plates. On the second evening, the chef prepared a pizza for my nephew on request which I thought was a kind touch. Service at the hot food varied between being self service and a chef being there to dish it up. I love a selection and enjoyed a bit of tasty fish with a bay leaf in it on the first evening, some potatoes, pasta bolonaise bake and a few other bits. Everything was delicious and full of flavour. On the second evening, there was a steak pie which was really nice and gammon with pineapple. I asked for a piece of chicken with bacon and cheese but found that it was a little undercooked so didn't eat it. Everyone in our party enjoyed the main meals and between us all, we managed to try nearly everything on offer. I certainly couldn't go hungry at this hotel.
The desserts were fantastic. We asked for plain ice cream for the children and they received a good sized portion each evening. On the first evening, there was a selection of fresh fruit salad, a meringue and cream type dessert, lemon cheesecake, torte and a few other bits. The lemon cheesecake was lush! On the second evening, I took a small portion of apple tart and cheesecake and both were delicious. I returned for a slither of the chocolate fudge cake on display and it was so moist and absolutely amazing! Drinks can be purchased from the adjoining bar which we opted for on the first evening and it was the last time we ordered from the bar. £9.00 for a Fruit Shoot, Pepsi Max and a bottle of beer - extortionate! On the second evening, us adults chose to make use of the complimentary water and took drinks in for the children. The bar is well stocked with beers, spirits and soft drinks but very expensive so be warned.
We made use of the other facilities on offer within the hotel. We found the lounge/bar area comfortable to sit in thanks to the large sofas on offer. There was a small games area with a pool table (£1.00 a game) which we made use of during our stay. My fiance, son and nephew made use of the pool on both evenings. The J10 fitness centre is open from 6.30/7.30am until 9/10pm each day and is accessible to all guests by obtaining a key card. The key cards are valid for 15 minutes from issue and you need to use them by this time or they don't work. I had a look in the changing area and found it to be clean enough. The gym was quite small with a few running machines and rowers. The indoor pool was 10m and had an adjoining jacuzzi which wasn't working. My fiance said that the pool was heated well and they enjoyed spending time in there for a few hours. It was quite popular with those on our coach party and also other guests. A sauna is also available. The facilities within this hotel are really good in my opinion.
The Holiday Inn in Walsall isn't perfect by a long stretch but it was fine for us for two nights. It appeared to be popular with families, couples and also business users. It does offer a good range of additional facilities and caters for events in a seperate area of the hotel. It is possible to pay extra to upgrade to a bigger room with seperate lounge area but we didn't have that option as we booked as part of a package deal. The hotel was comfortable for my family and I. Staff appeared to be friendly towards both adults and children and were happy to provide high chairs on request. It was accessible from the motorway and it took us around 30 minutes to get to Drayton Manor from this hotel which wasn't too bad. If we did choose to go back down, we would take this hotel as part of our package again but wouldn't book it if it wasn't part of a package as there are better hotels. I swayed between 3 and 4 stars as the main issues were only experienced by our own party whilst every other family had nothing but praise for the hotel. Hopefully the hotel will take the comments I submitted on board and continue to improve.
Thanks for reading :)
Further information can be found here : http://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/gb/en/walsall/bhxwa/hoteldetail