* Prices may differ from that shown
Mercure Bowden Hotel, Altrincham
We booked a very special deal with this hotel in order to enjoy a week end with friend we had met on out Kuoni China trip years ago. There were four of us couples that got on really well and try to get together at least every six months to keep in touch. I was given the task of finding somewhere that was good value and that we could all get to reasonably easily for a couple of nights. Two couples live in Lincolnshire, one in Yorkshire and us in Derbyshire.
I discovered a great deal that Mercure hotels were offering for £140 per couple we got two nights bed and breakfast, one three course evening meal with a bottle of wine and then we could stay the third night free but if we wanted breakfast we had to pay. I phoned and booked four rooms just to make sure they could fit us all in, I gave them my credit cards details and the names of all those coming. I could have done it on line but as there we going to be four rooms needed for the same nights I just wanted to check it was going to be available.
About three days later I received a letter of confirmation and the credit card slip through the mail. That was a few months ago but we finally got our week end away at the end of November. Well I can hear you are all very keen to know if this was a good deal or if it was a dump!
We were not the first to arrive; in fact we were the third couple as we were childminding until 4pm so couldn't leave home till then. There had been no problems and I think these first two couples got the best rooms judging by our conversations later. The first to arrive had booked our dinner for 8pm and we and agreed to meet in the bar at 7pm so having been welcomed by the lady at reception, we got our key and made our way to our room.
First impressions of the hotel entrance area and the Reception was good. The bar area was to the left as you came through the door and was modern, clean and comfortable. The restaurant was to the right as you entered the hotel and looked a good size and was light and airy, just inside the door was a settee and chairs where you could sit while waiting for your table, or just sit and read as there was a book shelf there too.
Firstly it was a very strange journey to get there as we had to go up a flight of stairs, across a bit of a landing then down another very dingy looking set of stairs and along a long dark corridor. Almost at the end, next to the cleaning equipment room was our door. We were not hoping for a lot as we opened the door as our journey down was a little odd. However the key card worked and in we went.
It was small, clean and the bed looked nicely made up. The window at the end of the room took up the whole width of the wall and overlooked a large flat roof which was not the best view we had ever had but not the worst either.
The room was virtually filled by the double bed; there was a small wardrobe and desk with a tiny drawer. The drawer had no storage space as the Gideon' bible and the hair dryer(which was firmly fixed) were in there. There was a comfortable tub arm chair and an upright chair which tucked under the desk unit but as it stuck out quite a bit we moved it around to near the other chair. The bed had really great reading lights and a small bedside shelf on both sides of the bed which pleased me. I love reading in bed and hate it when I can't because the one reading light is NOT on my side of the bed! The light had an upper bright light and an angled sort of pointing light which was perfect for me.
The bed was very comfortable but the pillows were small and hard and not great at all. I struggled with the pillows and they gave me neck ache.
Once again this was very clean very small but did have a shower over the bath which pleased me as I do love my bath and had taken some Lush bath bombs to enjoy. The water was always good and hot and the bath filled quickly as it was pretty small. We were given soap, shampoo and shower gel as complimentary bath goodies. These were okay, nothing exciting but they did the job. Luckily I had taken shampoo and a conditioner with me so my hair didn't suffer too much but stupidly I thought the hairdryer would be okay but sadly it was pretty naff and ineffective.
So the room was okay, not great but as we were not planning on being in the room much we thought it would do. We were just saying that when a loud hum started and the room almost vibrated. We looked at each other trying to decide whether to laugh or get angry. My husband phoned Reception and said this loud buzzing was filling our room and she calmly replied', That will be the Jacuzzi!!' We asked to change rooms but were told there were none but that the Jacuzzi went off at 9pm. We decided that there was not a lot we could do and as we were going to be out most of the time it was not worth spoiling our week end by causing a fuss. The couple to arrive last in our group shared the Jacuzzi pleasure as they were next to us!
DINING IN STYLE
We went to the bar at our pre arranged time and enjoyed a pleasant drink in the comfortable seats near the front door. At around 8pm we moved to the dining area and were shown to our table for eight. We were asked what sort of wine we wanted and so opted for two red and two whites to share between us. We were then brought the menus which were pretty comprehensive considering it was a £19.95 for three courses deal. This was our included meal, part of our £140 per couple deal. I chose a really good prawn and crayfish cocktail; there were other options such as fish cakes which got a few votes from our party, a nice soup and some pate as well as others which I forget. The mains included a lamb dish, a pork chops dish which a few of our group had and said it was very tasty, I had a really tasty sea bream which came beautifully presented and cooked as I like it . I am struggling to remember all the choices as we hadn't seen each other for a while and were chatting so much I forgot to study the food properly. However we were all pretty happy with the food and we all do eat out quite a lot. My favourite was a really delicious crème brulee which was perfect as my desert. Others enjoyed chocolate brownies, cheese cake and an ice cream selection which also got the thumbs up from those eating them. Some of the group then went on to enjoy coffees but I find that coffee that late at night means I do not sleep so I didn't share that pleasure but did enjoy the chocolate brought with the bill for drinks.
We agree to meet at a given time for breakfast but as there were no tables for eight we split into two groups of four. There was a pretty good choice of food available. Four fruit juices plus a selection of tea bags or filter coffee from a jug were the drink choices. As it was all buffet style presentation you could return to top up drinks o food when you needed to. The table with fruit and cereals, muesli and yogurt had a pretty varied selection and got most of my personal attention. The hot selection looked good too with scrambles and fried eggs, fried bread and hash browns, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon and sausages so others were happy too. We were brought a selection of white and brown toast for the table as well as tiny packs of butter and jams too.
The verdict from our group was that it was a pretty good breakfast but I am not sure whether anyone of us paid for the breakfast on the final morning when it wasn't part of the deal as it was £13.50 a head and I don't think I got that value from my choice of breakfast bits.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
The hotel is in a perfect location as you can walk into Altrincham or Hale in less than 15 minutes and find any number of different restaurants and shops. This also takes you to the train station in Altrincham where we bought day rover tickets for £10 for four of us which took us to Salford Quays for the day. We thought that was brilliant value at £2.50 per person for the day's travel.
The rooms were pretty tiny but clean and did the job. The bathroom the same and if you could ignore the sound of the Jacuzzi or go out for the day then it allowed us to explore the joys of Salford Quays and Style Mill on the next day. At the price we paid we certainly would not complain. The food, particularly at dinner was excellent. The staff were all delightful and very helpful and really apart from the Jacuzzi vibration and location and size of our room we couldn't complain.
We didn't use the pool but those who arrived early did go and have a swim and said it was very pleasant, warm water in the pool and the Jacuzzi was on a timer so went whenever regardless of whether anyone was in there or not.
So yes if you get a bargain like we did go for it as this is a great area to explore and this hotel with plenty of free parking provides a great base.
I am not sure about facilities for disabled people as our room would have been impossible. If you need to know I would suggest phoning to enquire first as some parts are certainly not going to be suitable.
Thanks or reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.