“ Oldham / Lancashire / OL8 4AS. „
The Avant Hotel in Oldham is operated by Menzies Hotels, a small chain of approximately 16 hotels in the UK who have established themselves as a credible four star hotel operator since their inception in 1992.
Like the other main hotel in the area, the Swallow Bower, the Avant is marketed as Manchester East, not Oldham and indeed it is a very suitable location for a visit to Manchester, as it is only about five miles from the City Centre itself, and only a mile from J22 of the M60. Our destination was in fact in the other direction, to a restaurant on Saddleworth Moor, for the second big family occasion in Greater Manchester in as many weeks, and for us the Avant proved to be the most logical hotel for ourselves, in an area which does not have a huge amount of choice, hotel wise.
My sister, who was also staying at the hotel, booked the room for me via Superbreaks Holidays, as she gets 10% NHS discount with them, and the room rate I paid of £72 including Breakfast for two adults was reasonable for a four star hotel with a pool. Her rate was only £105 for two nights, for a room for one adult and one 14 year old, and therefore was especially attractive for her.
The hotel is located just off the A62 Manchester Street and is within a stones throw of Oldham Town Centre. Location wise, it isnt great, situated in the Werneth district of the town, and the area seems to be predominantly light industrial premises, in a run down state, many of which are plastered with posters but it is very convenient for Oldham Werneth train station (which is on the Manchester Victoria Rochdale line) for those not arriving by car.
The hotel does have a fairly solid reputation in the area, and has extensive function suites, thus proving popular for Weddings. We had no problem with parking, although I did notice some guests parking on the slip road to the hotel on Sunday morning, presumably later arrivals for the day's wedding. The function room entrance was separate from the hotel main reception of this fairly low level building.
First impressions of the Hotel Lobby were very good. The lobby is bright and airy with fresh painted neutral walls and a selection of contemporary attractive furniture in warm but funky colours. The reception desk was well appointed, and there were at least two receptionists and a Duty Manager at the desk. The checking in process was fine and in keeping of what would be expected from a four star property. There was a separate leisure check in desk adjacent to the main desk, for those guests wanting to use the Leisure Facilities.
Our room was VERY close to the reception area. We simply had to go through a double door and we were the first room after some public toilets and a lift. My sister had requested a quiet and non smoking room on my booking, and in fact we got neither of these. I had feared we may not get the nicest rooms in the hotel due to the booking agent we used. Superbreaks are a very good agent, but because they sell via High Street Agents, their commissions are much higher, and so I feared the reservations staff may have fallen into the dilemma of allocating the better rooms to their higher paying customers.
The room itself was adequate although it did not overwhelm me; it was typical of most chain hotels bedroom standards. The bedding itself was warm and inviting, spotlessly clean and in good condition, which is probably the most important factor. The furniture was a blonde style of wood, which fits the contemporary styling of the reception. The room was dark however, as there was no central light over the main bedroom area, and more importantly as our ground floor window looked out onto a brick wall, presumably the side of the leisure facility! There were tea and coffee making facilities available, although there was only one little packet of biscuits, which is a little on the mean side when there are two guests!
The bathroom was fairly dated, with a peach coloured bathroom suite, always a mistake, as white suites age much more gracefully than coloured ones. Room Housekeeping had not been quite so thorough in the bathroom, as I opened the waste bin to find a used razor and some tissue...the bathroom was well apportioned, although the shower was the over bath variety. One of my biggest bugbears with showers over baths is if the screen or curtain is not adequate for the job, and the shower had a tendency to spurt, meaning the bathroom floor got soaked as water escaped from the sides of the curtain. There was only one bath sheet and one towel in the bathroom too, although on reflection this might be a good thing as it does cut down on excessive laundry..better for the environment.
We did receive a courtesy call ten minutes after we arrived to check the room was ok. Despite the negatives I have pointed out, the room was fine, and adequate for our trip, and so in true British style I said it was fine. My sisters room was larger thanks to a mistake on the booking which went in her favour, and I think the bathroom was more modern than mine. Around one third of the hotels bedroom stock was renovated late last year so she just got lucky! There are 103 bedrooms altogether.
We all met in the lobby bar prior to leaving for the restaurant. By now there were fewer staff around reception, and no one attending the bar (it was 6pm on a Saturday). We eventually got service from the receptionist. A large 250ml glass of wine cost £4.95, which is about average, and reasonable enough for a four star property. Our round of drinks, which included one large, and one regular wine, one can of Guinness and a J2O was around £12, which is reasonable. There is also a basic bar food menu available here. On our return, we decided we would have another drink, and service was not so hot, with the waitress insisting we could only have house white or house red at that bar despite the fact they have a printed drinks list with several different wines! There is another residents bar in the hotel, which we did not sample, although we did retreat to yet another bar on a lower level, which appeared to be a small bar to serve the conference rooms.
I never got to use the pool, mainly thanks to the fact that I didnt go to bed until 430am although my sister had used it the previous day, and said it was fine although perhaps a little tired-looking and the Jacuzzi didnt appear to work too well. I also missed my inclusive breakfast, deciding sleep was more valuable although the rest of the party did all eat and it was fine, but again buffet style. As I didn't get to my room until 430am, it would be fair to say the proximity of the room to the lift did not disturb my sleep although I think allocating this particular room to a wedding guest attending a function there might have been a wiser decision on the hotel's part.
Overall, I was a little disappointed in the hotel, although not overly so that I would not use them again. I am very familiar with their main competition up the road, as I worked for that group for a long time, and I did not see any discernible differences in the bedroom quality despite the fact that the Avant is one star higher. I think the Avant will always be a popular hotel and is suitable to business users to the many businesses on the Oldham-Manchester routes, and indeed will be popular with Wedding guests at weekends. While it is not an overly luxurious indulgent hotel and indeed not in a dream location, it is going to offer generally good accommodation and service for a reasonable price, despite the negatives I have mentioned.
Menzies Avant Hotel
Tel: 0161 627 5500
Just 5 miles from Manchester City Centre and less than 2 miles from the town of Oldham and the Saddleworth Moors. The recently refurbished Brasserie restaurant has been stylishly decorated to create a warm, relaxed ambience. With the finest Conference and Banqueting facilities in the area, Menzies Avant Hotel proves and ideal choice for training courses, seminars, wedding receptions, presentations and dinners. The latest addition to the hotel, Waves Health and Leisure Club, boasts one of the best and most exclusive leisure clubs in the Greater Manchester area. With a 14m indoor swimming pool, Cardio and Fitness Suite, Whirlpool Spa, Sauna, Steam room, Solarium, and Aerobics studio, hotel guests can enjoy complimentary use for the duration of their stay. There is also a Cafe Bar to relax and unwind after an energetic workout.