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New County Hotel (Gloucester)

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Address: 44 Southgate St / Gloucester GL1 2DR

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      08.03.2012 21:35
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      Err, I'd probably give this one a miss if I were you

      Now, before I begin this review, I should probably mention that this hotel stay was free of charge courtesy of one of the high street bank's incentives for moving bank account. This could explain why we weren't allocated the best of the bedrooms, but the overall stay and our impression of the hotel would apply to anyone staying there, regardless of the room, so I think my review will be valid for anyone considering a stay here. Looking on booking.com, a double room would normally cost around £75 for a Friday night.

      The hotel is based in the centre of Gloucester. This makes it convenient for going out in Gloucester, although driving in Gloucester is a bit of a nightmare due to all the one way systems. It looks very stylish from the outside, I'd describe it as boutique and contemporary. It has its own restaurant and bar which is used by the locals as well as guests, although I can't comment on this as I didn't use it.

      The hotel have an arrangement with an NCP car park at the back of the hotel, meaning you can park there for 24 hours costing £5. You just park up, then tell the hotel your car registration number and pay the £5, they then give the car details to the car park managers so you don't get a ticket, as it's normally a pay and display car park.

      On arrival, it took about fifteen minutes to check in, despite the fact there was nobody there except ourselves. The staff didn't seem to have much idea of what was going on, and the fact I wanted to pay for the car parking by cash but didn't have the correct money seemed to cause chaos. The lady on reception spent about five minutes looking for a piece of paper which she had just handed to us to write our registration number on, I think there had just been a shift changeover because the receptionist didn't know which rooms were ready and which weren't. We finally got our key, and were told which room number we were in. The hotel is a bit of a rabbit's warren, with stairs on split levels, and it was like a maze trying to find our room due to the confusing signposting. We must have nearly ended up in cleaning cupboards several times during our stay!

      Something I should point out here is that the hotel is not wheelchair friendly, and it actually states this on their website. Apparently it's because it's a listed building, so they are restricted to the alterations they can make.

      Anyway, the corridors are narrow, and there are stairs aplenty. The room we were put in looked out directly onto a fire escape, and was so close to the room next to it (on a corner) that if we both opened our windows we could have shaken hands. The windows were open when we arrived, we tried to close them but one wouldn't shut properly. I guess this is to do with the listed building thing, they can't put double glazing in so they have those single glazed shutters which you have to pull up and down. We weren't too worried from a security point of view because there were anti-burglary spikes going up the fire escape, and luckily it wasn't a cold weekend so as we were only staying one night we didn't make a complaint.

      The hotel boast on their website that they have recently undergone refurbishment, but to be honest the room was looking a bit tired and wasn't finished to the highest quality. It looked great on the website but this was obviously very clever use of photography. The walls were painted cream, which is nice and neutral, but around the sockets you could see the bright red paint which had obviously preceded it. The carpets were fresh and new, and the bathroom was basic but clean. I just think a little more effort could have gone into making it really nice instead of just ok.

      Facilities in the room were perfectly adequate, we were only there for a night so it was fine for our needs. There was a double bed which I suspect was a three-quarter size rather than double, as my partner's feet dangled off the end and he's hardly a giant! There were bedside tables each side of the bed, and a chair in the corner. There was a flat screen TV on the wall opposite the bed, and underneath a table with tea and coffee facilities. I have to say, the refreshments were probably the best thing about the room with a very good choice of teas, coffees, hot chocolate, and a couple of different types of wrapped biscuits.

      The hotel offers free WIFI which it says on the website can be obtained by asking for a code at reception. My partner managed to get this on his phone without asking for a code which probably shouldn't have happened but it saved us the hassle of going to see reception.

      The bathroom had a shower which was over the bath. The shower head was square and huge, which made me think it would be a great experience, but unfortunately the shower pressure was pretty poor, the only way to get good pressure was to have a freezing cold shower. It was either that or have a trickle of hot water.

      The toilet flush was also very poor, it struggled to flush a single sheet of toilet roll which could have potentially caused embarrassment if you were staying away with someone for the first time! You could also hear everything that was happening in the bathroom, far worse than other hotels I've stayed in. You could also hear everything the people in the next room were saying, I couldn't help but hear a couple discuss the weather at length before check-out the following morning.

      In the afternoon, we popped out to check out Gloucester, which incidentally didn't take us long. When we got back, we headed to our room and were warned by several staff that there may be things in our way in the corridor because they were carrying out some repairs. Each corridor we walked down seemed to be like Krypton Factor, with duvets, bedside cabinets, folding mattresses, all scattered along the corridor. Although they warned us, I didn't think this was a particularly good thing to be doing without isolating it to one part of the hotel. Surely doing one room at a time would be a better approach rather than emptying rooms out and causing trip hazards to the guests?

      I think the worst thing about this stay, taking into account the other annoyances which we tried to laugh off, was that in the evening we tried to get an early night as we faced a further drive to see family (we used the hotel as a halfway stopping point). Unfortunately, the hotel were having a "Plenty of Fish" singles disco, which made the floor of our hotel room vibrate because the music was so loud. Coupled with the fact the window didn't shut properly, we ended up facing the fact we weren't getting to sleep until the disco finished, and watched a bit of TV until the party finished. It went on till about 1am, which is quite late considering the hotel had guests trying to get to sleep.

      Breakfast wasn't included as part of our deal, I think if it had have been I would have skipped it because I was very keen to get out of the hotel by the morning. The bed was actually quite comfortable considering the size, and once the noise from the hotel function room had stopped and we finally got to sleep, it was actually a decent night's sleep.

      Although we weren't paying customers, I still feel our experience in this hotel was hugely disappointing. Ok, you might expect to not get the room with the best view, but the other annoyances would have applied whether we'd paid or not. I would struggle to recommend this hotel to anyone, unless it was being used as a one night stopping point as part of a longer journey, and even then the tariff is very expensive for what it is. It's also worth checking on their websites whether they have any functions planned, although they also do weddings so the chances are if you go at the weekend, you're likely to be kept up all night with loud music.

      I award this hotel two stars, one star for each plus point. The first being for its location, which is right in the middle of Gloucester so very convenient for going out, and the second for the bed which although wasn't full sized, was comfortable and not creaky or saggy like some hotel beds can be.

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