“ Address: Emerson Road / District 5 / NE37 1LB Washington / Tyne & Wear / England / Tel:+44 191 416 50 10 „
I am a massive Sunderland fan but live down in London. I try to get up for as many home games as I can but the 600-odd mile round trip is something that I sometimes decide is best split over 2 days. Therefore I needed somewhere in a good location for getting to the ground, not far from the motorway and definitely on the cheap side to make it worth while. The Washington Campanile fits the requirements perfectly and so is my hotel of choice whenever I am staying over.
I had not heard of the Campanile chain but having been on the website it seems they are part of the Louvre Hotels group which have properties all over Europe. There are also Campaniles the length of this country from Dartford to Glasgow.
Located a stone's throw (literally) from the A1M at junction 64 and in a strange little district that includes a Holiday Inn, a Toby Carvery (see my review of this place) and a Mexican looking restaurant named Chevy's that resembles, at least from the outside, the exotic bar in From Dusk 'Til Dawn.
Being so close to the motorway you would expect a bit of noise and yes, if the windows are open then you can hear the cars. However, being a soft southerner, it is not often that I leave the windows open this far north of the Watford Gap.
The little business park is situated right on the main A road into Sunderland and so it is perfect for me going to football. Being so close to the motorway as well it is ideal for anyone looking to break up a long journey on the A1, possibly up into Scotland. Newcastle airport is also only 18km away.
There is ample parking right outside the hotel and this is free. Check in is 24 hours (night porter) which is great for me as I am often not up there until late at night.
I usually pay around £35-40 per night and invariably stay only one night. This is usually a Friday or Saturday night and so not some cheap midweek deal. I find it best to go through the travel supermarket comparison site as it is usually £10+ cheaper than going through the Campanile website. In fact I have just booked a double room for one night at the end of February and it came in at just over £30 when booking through Expedia via the travel supermarket site (£47 if you went through the Campanile site direct). This is for room only and does not include breakfast although you can add this on when making the booking for about £8 per person.
Checkout is at midday and if you wish to cancel you can do so up to 24 hours in advance and get a full refund.
There are 78 rooms at the Washington Campanile, split over 2 levels. There are double, twin and triple rooms available as well as ones with handicapped facilities.
I usually opt for a standard double room which comes with a good sized double bed, a desk and chair, a 14" television with around 10 channels which includes terrestrial channels plus Sky One and Sky Sports News. The rooms also have a wardrobe, tea/coffee making facilities (I usually spend the last 20 minutes of the drive from Scotch Corner looking forward to the shortbread biscuits that come with the kettle and teabags!) and an en suite bathroom. The room is a good size, plenty of room for 2 people to walk about even with a couple of suitcases on the floor.
The rooms are without fail exceptionally clean and this goes for the carpets, walls and bedding. The bed is more than comfortable enough for a good night's sleep. The pillows are not like the breeze blocks I have rested my head on in some European F1 motels. There are also ample spare blankets should you succumb to the often-savage Northumberland weather outside.
The bathroom is a good size and, like the room, is always spotlessly clean. The shower is easy to adjust to the right temperature and the pressure is always just about right. Clean towels (bath and hand) are also provided.
Wifi access is available in all rooms but this comes at an extra charge.
I have not had dinner there so I cannot comment on that, but the restaurant does seat up to 60 people and having looked at the menu it seemed like there was a fairly wide variety and the prices were very reasonable. If I arrive during opening hours then I will always stop and have a pint and a chat with the staff. They are very friendly and a nice cold pint after a long drive is usually just what the doctor ordered.
The breakfast is a full English which fuels me up perfectly for the day. If you don't book breakfast when you make the room booking, you can still turn up in the morning and just pay for it there. You also have the choice of the continental style breakfast of fruits, pastries yoghurts and cereals but I am more of a grease-monkey when it comes to breakfast. Breakfast is served from 6.30 - 9am on weekdays and 8-10am at weekends.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay for a few nights or even a base for a holiday then this probably isn't for you. Equally if you are searching for something in the city centre or with good transport links then I would encourage you to keep looking. The Campanile does not have a gym/spa or swimming pool, nor are you going to be offered massages or pampering treatments. This place really is a motel in every sense of the word. Pull up, rest your head, get some breakfast and then carry on your journey. For location from the A1M it is absolutely ideal and if you search around a bit you can get it for a nightly rate which is pretty hard to beat.
Breakfast is good and the staff are really lovely and welcoming, even if you rock up in the wee hours of the morning.