“ Address: Pipers Way, Swindon, SN3 1SH. Phone: 44 1793 512 121 „
It's not often my husband surprises me, but when he announced that he thought we should go to Swindon, I have to admit to be a little perplexed. Still, it was half term, we had told the kids we would go on a night away, somewhere, and, albeit only about an hour from home, Swindon is well placed for the Cotswolds, the West and Oxford and we found what looked like a very good deal at the Marriott for £67 for a family room, including breakfast. We arrived quite early in the day and were able to check in at around lunch time, ready to enjoy the full delights of the town, the steam museum, the retail outlet park and, as it turned out the most crazy traffic management system known to man.
The Marriott is situated near to the Old Town, off the ring road and one of the town's many roundabouts, we had no trouble finding it, even with our rather erratic sat nav and my terrible sense of direction. As you can see from the photo the building itself is a symphony in red brick, still there is plenty of free parking (don't "pay and display" when you arrive and just make sure you give your registration in at reception) and the staff were extremely welcoming and helpful. I would guess they are probably more used to dealing with business visitors - the hotel is not far from the M4 and handy for other places that aren't Swindon, but still with a full health club and pool, including a children's part, a restaurant serving children's menus and large rooms it's a pretty good hotel for families too.
The room itself was pretty well what you expect from a Marriott- it's a 4 star hotel. Our second floor room contained two very comfortable double beds, a number of inoffensive pictures, pleasant enough furnishing in shades of mahogany, reds, and golds and all the usual additional features; a trouser press, hair dryer, LCD TV and the ubiquitous mini bar that if you are me (i.e not staying on expenses) you are not ever going to touch, tempting as all those little bottles may be. There was plenty of room to put our things, with a mirrored wardrobe in the entrance next to the bathroom and plenty of drawers and the like. There was also a desk with a chair, and a further two armchairs and a table. Everything was very clean, including the bathroom, with bath and shower, which was a safely bland white. All in all the room was large and also well lit - this can sometimes be an issue in hotel rooms I have found, not so here where there were enough lamps dotted around to light every nook and cranny.
Our room was very clean, but a little tired around the edges, the mahogany table had clearly had some sort of incident in its life and two of the legs had been roughly screwed back on by someone with carpentry skills akin to my own. We also found out the hard way early in the morning that the shower was set permanently to under 38 degrees - the safety button you were supposed to be able to press to get a hotter shower didn't work at all, so though there was water pressure aplenty we couldn't actually get a hot enough shower. Bar this we were pretty pleased with the room - the beds were comfortable with a choice of square or rectangle pillows, and the temperature of the room easily regulated via an efficient air conditioner/cooler. It was also very quiet, though was one of those rooms where the ventilation system is always a quiet hum - this wasn't too much of an issue for us and neither were we disturbed by any other guests.
We ate in the restaurant in the evening, mainly because it was pouring down in rain and we didn't fancy venturing out. You can order the same menu in the bar or restaurant and should the child's menu not appeal children from 6-12 can have half portions from the adult menu. The menu included a choice of a la carte or a fixed menu for £16.95 for two courses. Though the choice wasn't vast, and included things such as fish and chips for the £12 mark, steak and salads, everything we ate was well prepared and tasty and the service was excellent. We enjoyed our chicken breast with chips and side of vegetables, and my daughter tucked into a burger that looked as big as the adult portion, while her younger sister had a very nice looking pasta and vegetables - the staff didn't blink either when a discerning 4 year old asked politely if they had any parmesan for her Italian fare. Our bill, including a beer and a wine, came to under £50 for 4, which we felt was fair value. Breakfast next morning in the same restaurant was buffet style and copious, with a good range of continental items, cooked sausages, eggs and bacon and plenty of fresh fruit, juices and yoghurts. My only slight criticism was that I opted for a freshly cooked omelette and the lady preparing it seemed to pour about a quarter of a jug of oil on the griddle making something that I'm afraid I couldn't eat, delicious as it looked. There was, however plenty else that I enjoyed including the very fresh fruit salad and danish pastries- the hotel may have regretted the "kids eat breakfast free" policy however as my eldest polished off a surprising amount of hash browns and sausages.
Throughout our stay all the staff, whether in the restaurant, the pool (very warm) or on reception that we came across did their level best to make sure we were pleased with everything and, though not a hotel of character or particularly memorable, the hotel was a good base for us for our trip, bar a few little niggles. For the price we paid, I couldn't really fault it - apparently had we booked even earlier we could have paid under £50, but as it turned out I felt we got a good deal. If you happen to want to go to Swindon - or more likely without being unfair to Swindon, one of the surrounding areas this is a good place to stay. Recommended.
Footnote: Though we went on to prettier areas and I couldn't in all good consciousness say I'd recommend Swindon as a tourist destination, the Steam museum is well worth a trip, and the retail outlet area has some good deals. Also if you happen to be in Swindon do seek out the "magic roundabout", a crazy 1970's traffic management system (wiki has plenty of pictures and info), which we happened upon - it was quite an experience by itself and certainly one of the most memorable moments of our stay.