“ Address: Summerhill Harvester & Innkeeper's Lodge Dudley Kingswinford / Swindon Road / Kingswinford / West Midlands DY6 9XA / Tel: 0845 11 26 069 „
When my Brother had to return to University for the afternoon over the summer, we elected to stay somewhere in the Wolverhampton area over night: his Uni is a three hour drive away from our house so it seemed like the most logical thing to do. Having previously stayed at the Innkeeper's Lodge in nearby Dudley, we had no reservations about booking with them again: their accommodation is basic but perfect for what we wanted for that night.
PRICES, BOOKING, LOCATION AND SIGNING IN
Prices at this particular Innkeeper's Lodge begin at £56 per room, per night from Friday to Saturday and a pound less between Sunday and Thursday. We stayed overnight on a Wednesday and we decided to use the company's Advance Saver offer: the rate per room was reduced to just £29.95 but the only snag was that we'd have to pay a small fee if we wished to cancel our bookings. This didn't matter of course and we knew exactly when we'd be going to the Black Country so we went ahead and booked online. You can book over the phone if you so wish but I'd fully recommend booking online any day: the website is easy to navigate and you can find your desired destination either on a map or a dropdown list on the homepage. The website is also very handy for booking - once you've selected the number of rooms you want and the date, those rooms are reserved for you automatically for ten minutes whilst you fill out your details. If you so wish, it's a few extra minutes for you to have a cheeky look elsewhere to see if you can find a better deal. At £59.90 for two twin rooms for one night, I have to say I doubt you'd find anything cheaper elsewhere...
After you have entered all of your relevant details, you should receive an email in your inbox confirming the dates you wish to stay at the hotel and the rooms that you have reserved. There's a choice of double, single, disabled or family of the twenty-two rooms at the Dudley Kingswinford Lodge and you can also ask for a cot in case you have any little ones with you.
The Lodge itself is located a short distance away from Summerhill and you have to pass a number of roundabouts in order to find the hotel. If you don't have a Sat Nav (ours sent us the wrong way at first anyway), it's a good idea to follow the signs towards Dudley and then go onto the A4101. Once you arrive, you'll perhaps see the sign for the Inn's Harvester restaurant before the Innkeepers Lodge sign itself. It's at this stage I'd also like to point out that the hotel's parking facilities are very sparse: we didn't have any issues finding a parking space in the afternoon but in the evening we did. The Harvester is very popular with the locals (which you would think is a good sign but a review at a later date will tell you otherwise) so if you are staying at the hotel, I'd recommend getting back to the lodge as early as possible to make sure you secure somewhere to park, especially if you cannot get about very well. I think the hotel should look into some form of separate car park for paying guests but I doubt whether this will happen anytime soon.
To get your keys at this particular Innkeeper's, you need to go to the bar at the Harvester restaurant. That's where the hotel's actual reception is and I do think that the hotel would benefit greatly from having a separate registration point: the bar can get very busy in the evenings and if you get to Dudley later on in the day, it might be difficult to get everything sorted out efficiently. Still that's just a minor consideration and the dude on reception was very friendly and it wasn't very long until we were sent packing to our rooms...or should that have been unpacking?
THE ROOM, BATHROOM AND FACILITIES
Our first hiccup was the fact that our rooms were on different floors. We found out the next morning that the Lodge was full the night before so that might explain why our rooms were located away from each other but it would have been nice if they'd been a little closer together for convenience sake: as we were only staying for one night, our stay didn't facilitate more than one suitcase so it made packing and unpacking a little inconvenient, but nothing we couldn't live with. I also want to point out at this point that if you do struggle with stairs than it's important to book yourself a disabled room as the Lodge does not have an elevator.
My Mum and I decided to stay on the ground floor in a room right next to the entrance. This might sound like a bit of the risk in terms of noise level throughout the night but we both found that not to be much of an issue at all throughout our stay. Every time somebody left the lodge, we could hear the click of the switch allowing the door to open which was a tad annoying but again, it's not a major complaint.
The room itself was very grand looking and something you certainly wouldn't get with many other hotel chains. You see, the Innkeepers Lodge at Kingswinford was originally a manor house and to commemorate the Lodge's extravagant tales, a brief information sheet was placed on the wall in both of the rooms we stayed in. Whilst the other room told a tale of Glam Rock (my Brother was particularly vague about this but it could have been about Slade whose front man Noddy Holder was born in the Black Country) our room had information about Guy Fawkes' cronies who'd broken into the house and remained there before a battle with the authorities. I liked the addition of the historical notes: the information sheet complimented the appearance of the hotel and made it feel very significant and personal to the building.
Our room, I have to say, was in pretty good condition and is one of the most decorative we've stayed in with the Innkeeper's Lodges. The ceiling fascinated me: beautiful, flower-like circles and engravings added to the special feel of the lodge and definitely made it seem like it was not purpose built for guest trafficking. In addition to the ceiling's patterns, a large fireplace was situated very close to the entrance and its engravings featured a proud-looking Roman lady of high status. Although the fireplace is no longer host to an operational fire, in its place stands a bunch of artificial white flowers which complements the rest of the room's pale features perfectly.
I'd like to stress that the standard and opulence of this room is not a theme that runs throughout the entire hotel, sadly. Of the other rooms we have stayed in before at Dudley Kingswinford, they've always been plainly decoration with white and cream furnishings to give the appearance of a clean environment. I also want to emphasise that the room I stayed in on this visit to the lodge was supremely bigger than many of the average twin rooms on offer throughout the building, probably in order to maintain the original features. The room was lovely and cool on the day we stopped the night which was a blessing but I can imagine that it would be very difficult to heat during the winter as there's only a small radiator. In all honesty, I think it's too small a heater to really warm the room through so if you do happen to stay at this Innkeeper's during the winter months, just pray that you're not staying in that particular room! My Brother and Dad stayed in that room in the middle of January once and apparently, it was freezing!
However, in spite of the white and cream decorating, was the room clean? Yes, I'd say it was. I have to admit, the floor needed hovering as I found a biscuit wrapper on the floor, one that we certainly hadn't brought in ourselves but that was it as far as sanitation concerns went. I am a bit of a freak when it comes to hygiene (well, not just hygiene) and I'm delighted to report that all of the sheets were crisp and white and didn't have a mark or stain on them what-so-ever! Better than the Hilton at Coventry anyway...
The facilities within the rooms themselves are quite basic, as you'd expect from a hotel offering you a stay for as little as thirty quid a night.
In the room, you get the basics of a desk, a desk chair, a comfy chair, a bedside table in between the twin beds with a lamp and a couple of decent length mirrors. Tea and coffee making facilities are available and are plentiful with the cups and spoons being stain-free. There are a couple of features within the room that I think are worth a mention, starting with the telephone. Now, it's unlikely that many folks these days don't have themselves a mobile phone (queue annoying Southern drawl) but in case you've been silly and left your charger at home when the battery's about to go flat, there's the opportunity to call both people within the hotel and other landline phones on the set in the bedroom. As we all had our mobiles with us we didn't use the phones to call the outside world. However, we did take advantage of using the phone to call the other room as that feature is free of charge. I'm not quite sure of the cost for calling a phone outside of the hotel but there are instructions on the telephone itself to help you. It's important to remember that you will require a credit or debit card in order to process your telephone transaction.
The phone itself, at least for dialling numbers inside of the hotel, was ok but definitely doesn't host excellent sound quality: it's quite crackly but served its purpose of waking the boys up in time for breakfast!
If you're on a business trip or have separation anxiety when it comes to your laptop, you can purchase Wi-Fi air time from as little as £2.99 for thirty minutes to £11.99 for a stay of seven days either online at the hotel's website once you get to the place or by SMS. I have to say that the Wi-Fi prices are fairly reasonable although I cannot comment on how good the quality is because I A) didn't take my laptop and B) was too preoccupied with trying to get the blasted telly to work! Normally, I just go to my Grandad's house if I want to play the Krypton Factor but the Innkeeper's Lodge at Kingswinford provided me with minutes of entertainment, such as 'which station am I on?' and - perhaps more importantly - 'where's the Freeview channels the hotel boasts about?'. In all fairness, it wasn't that much of a nuisance that I couldn't watch TV the following morning but if you ever go here with the expectation of watching some Freeview channels be prepared to be disappointed as within certain rooms, the signal is very poor and you may find yourself wasting a lot of energy and patience trying to figure it all out.
Onto the bathroom and I'm very pleased to say that it was in a very good condition. Again, I'm quite fussy when it comes to cleanliness and I liked the fact that both guests staying in the room were offered an ordinary bath towel and hand towel as well as one that served as a mat when we got in or out of the shower. The towels also appeared to be very new which was a big plus too. In spite of the bathroom not being overtly big, I have to say that the shower was more than a respectable size. If you are so inclined, you could probably fit four obese people in there if you tried! Well, perhaps not quite four, more like three...There was always lots of hot water and the addition of a combined shower gel, shampoo and soap liquid made showering unfussy although, the fact the dispensers were stuck on the wall may disappoint those of you that like your hotel 'freebies'!
The only real downside to the actual shower unit was that there were no handles, just in case you are a bit unsteady underfoot and do like to have some safety rails as a means of support. Having said that, the floor of the shower cubical itself was not at all slippery and it was also a relief that the water stayed at a constant temperature once it got going. There was no danger of the water overflowing out of the shower cubical as there was a small step to get into and out of the shower which is something to keep in mind again if you do have mobility issues.
However, most importantly, was the Innkeeper's Lodge at Dudley a good location for a quiet night's sleep? Actually, yes: although the hotel is situated quite near to a round-about, I doubt whether the noise would disturb you all that much. The beds themselves were firm yet comfortable and for the money, I have to say that this aspect of the stay was a triumph...
BREAKFAST AND CHECKING OUT
One of the main selling points of the Innkeeper's Lodge for many people is undeniably the fact that you get a complimentary continental breakfast included in the price of your stay. Since our visit in the summer, the hotel has changed how they serve breakfast and instead of going down to the hotel's restaurant between 7am to 9.30am during the week like we did and between 8am and 10am over the weekend, you go to reception to get a free breakfast bag. I cannot comment on the quality of the breakfast bag but I hope the information on the breakfast food in general will be helpful for anybody considering staying at any Innkeeper's Lodges in the future.
In the past, we've always found Innkeeper's breakfasts to be fine: basic but fine and with lots of choice. However, this has always been a weak point for this particular Lodge; on one occasion when we stopped there, breakfast wasn't served at all due to one reason or another. Again, although the breakfast is free of charge, it is one of the hotel's additional aspects that they pride themselves on and something they're keen to advertise both in separate leaflets and on their website.
Although breakfast was served during our last stay there, I wish it hadn't been. Considering the Inn was full the night before, I thought the Lodge made a very poor effort in terms of variety: besides tea and coffee, only orange juice was available, (there's normally a choice of at least two fruit juices and a jug of iced water is normally on the table too) a few rather odd flavours of yogurt (who wants rhubarb for breakfast?) and a few apples, bananas and pineapple segments that looked to be deteriorating rapidly. There was plenty of bread which you could toast ('could' being the operative word: the toaster was painfully slow!) and a selection of butter, cheese and condiments like packets of Philadelphia, Nutella and Marmite. Normally, the Innkeeper's have a selection of pastries out too and whereas there were a few croissants and pain au chocolat, they looked very dry and weren't covered over, much to the delight of the flies...
The staff members present were a world away from the friendly guy that we'd checked it with. I commented to my Brother that none of the spoons were very clean (yuk!) and one of them did wonder off rather begrudgingly to get some more. Fair enough, I hadn't asked him to yet but he just seemed very irritated at the prospect of having to do something. He and the lady on duty kept clearing off outside for a chat and as a result, no one was available to ask for any water and it gave off a very apathetic vibe. Again, I can live with the fact that the variety of food on offer wasn't overly special as it was free. However, the staff member's general attitude towards the customers just wasn't very favourable and didn't exactly make for a very pleasant start to the day.
When it comes to checking out of the hotel, you can either leave your key in your room for the cleaners to collect on their rounds or take it back to the bar where you originally got it from. After the warm and friendly welcome we got at breakfast time, we decided to leave the keys in the room: we couldn't have handled all of the pleasantries that were bound to greet us upon returning to the bar as breakfast was still being served...
OVERALL: THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF THE INNKEEPER'S LODGE AT DUDLEY KINGSWINFORD
For the price, I definitely think I can recommend the Innkeeper's Lodge at Dudley Kingswinford: in spite of the facilities themselves being very basic, it honestly didn't matter as we were only staying for one night. Although some may miss the added features of gyms and spas like you can get with the more upmarket chains of Hilton and Ramada, I don't think that for £60 for two rooms for one night we can really complain too much about anything. Everything in the room was nice and clean and there was lots of space in the wardrobe and cabinets in which to store our belongings.
The real downsides of the stay were undeniably the parking issue and the poor breakfast. I could have lived with the cutlery being dirty if the staff had apologised for it being grubby. Alas they didn't and the two people 'working' that morning could have frankly cared less about the concerns of the customers. This of course wasn't the general attitude of all of the staff members at this particular Innkeeper's Lodge: the other room we booked had a rather tricky lock and the guy on reception at the time we booked in was more than helpful when it came to sorting that issue out. It's just a shame that the two members of staff in the breakfast room that morning couldn't have followed his example and been a little politer towards the paying guests. After all, manners really don't cast anything.
Would I encourage you to stay in the Dudley Kingswinford Innkeeper's Lodge if you're in that area and looking for somewhere to crash for the night? Why yes I would, especially if you can get your room on the advanced saver offer. Since our visit, many of the Innkeeper's Lodges have been taken over by Travelodge and whilst Dudley isn't one of them, it does bring into question just how long the the Lodge will maintain its pretty, offbeat features in many of its rooms. It would be a shame if that particular hotel was altered so dramatically for the sake of having more than twenty-two rooms but perhaps the Travelodge's take over will give some of the staff at this Innkeeper's the kick up the bum they most certainly need!
Book over the phone: 0870 243 0500
Address: Swindon Road, Kingswinford, West Midlands, DY6 9XA
Please note: Review previously displayed on Ciao under my username, MizzMolko.