“ Address: Newgate Street / Newcastle Upon Tyne / England „
I recently found myself needing to spend a night in Newcastle and having very little cash to spare I decided to use some of my Airmiles to pay for my hotel room. After looking at the available hotels on the Airmiles website I decided on the Newgate Hotel partly because it was one of the cheapest options, and partly because not knowing the area well I wanted something central, close to the train station. I paid a total of 1080 Airmiles for a 1 night stay. The cash price would have been £54.95.
=== Location ===
The hotel is situated on Newgate Street, right in the heart of Newcastle city centre. It's an easy 5 minute walk from Central Station and I was able to find it very easily despite not being at all familiar with Newcastle.
It's just a few steps away from The Gate, Newcastle's premier entertainment venue, a 5 minute walk from Eldon Square shopping centre, and a 17 minute drive from Newcastle Airport.
=== Facilities ===
The hotel has 93 fully en-suite rooms, including family rooms which accommodate two adults and one child, and inter-connecting rooms. Offered as standard in all rooms are a TV, hairdryer, direct dial telephone and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities. They also offer free Wi-Fi in the bar and reception area, and a large flat-screen TV in the bar.
Room prices include a continental breakfast served in the 6th floor restaurant which offers panoramic views of the city. Breakfast choices include an assortment of cereals, pastries, mini bread rolls, cheese, preserves, and a choice of orange juice, English breakfast tea or freshly brewed coffee.
Free parking is provided, with disabled spaces and ladies-only spaces available.
=== Arrival ===
I have to admit I was a little taken aback when I arrived at the hotel. The entrance, if it wasn't for the huge 'Newgate Hotel' sign above, could easily be overlooked or mistaken for a side entrance. Instead of entering into a lobby or reception area you first have to navigate a couple of staircases and a maze of grubby looking carpeted corridors with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the car park.
On finally arriving at the reception desk I stood for several minutes whilst the receptionist chatted to one of the housekeeping staff, neither of them even acknowledging me. When the housekeeper left the receptionist finally shot me a glance and I explained to her that I had a room booked and gave her my name. She then asked if I wanted to check in, and when I replied yes she shoved a form across the desk and told me to sign on the line. When I handed the form back to her she tore off a section of the form and gave it back to me with a key card, saying only 'first floor'. She didn't even bother to tell me what room number I was in before turning away. I can't say I've many experiences of checking into hotels but I would expect to be told the room number, how to get to the room, and what time I need to check out by, but here I was given no information at all and the receptionist seemed completely disinterested.
Ascending the stairs leading up to the rooms felt like entering a greenhouse, the stairwell was so ridiculously hot I felt exhausted by the time I reached the top. Luckily for me I was in room 101, which is the first room you come to after climbing the stairs and navigating a few more empty corridors. I had some trouble getting the key card to work, but after a few attempts a friendly housekeeper who'd been in the next room came and showed me how to use it, and managed to get it open after a couple of attempts.
=== The Room ===
The room at first seemed fairly cramped as I entered through the very narrow corridor between the wardrobe on one side and bathroom on the other, but once in the room it was actually more spacious than it seemed and a decent sized double room. The décor was plain and simple and there was more than sufficient storage space for even the longest stay. As well as the large wardrobe there were 2 bedside tables, a desk with drawers and cupboard space, and 2 large shelves.
On first look the room looked clean and tidy, but I soon realised everything wasn't as it seemed when I noticed what appeared to be blood stains on the carpet by one side of the bed. From then on more and more caught my attention including grubby cushions on the chairs and surfaces that looked like they hadn't been dusted since the hotel opened. Pulling out one of the desk drawers revealed a hospitality tray with the oldest looking kettle I've ever seen that I would guess from the amount of limescale inside it had never been cleaned. Sat alongside the kettle were 2 dirty cups and teaspoons. This was a shame as the sachets of tea, coffee, sugars and sweeteners provided looked pretty good and I would have loved to make myself a nice cuppa but didn't fancy drinking tea full of bits out of a dirty cup.
Moving on to the bathroom the thing that immediately caught my eye wasn't the dirt and grime, but the odd position of the toilet. It sits in one corner of the room pushed right up against the 2 walls, giving you no space for your left leg and making it impossible to sit comfortably. Being only small I could just about sit the right way round, but anyone larger would literally have to sit side-saddle on the toilet. It's all very bizarre and I have no idea why anyone would decide that's where the toilet should go, as there's plenty of space in the bathroom and it could easily have been positioned further away from the wall giving the leg-room needed.
That's not to say there wasn't any dirt or grime to catch my attention. Every bit of metal in the bathroom had years worth of rust encrusted onto it, the paint was peeling off the ceiling, and the bath looked like it needed a really good clean. The towels looked clean and white and felt soft and fluffy, but they had a really musty smell that made me reluctant to use them. Mounted on the wall above the bath were 2 dispensers, one marked Lux Shampoo and Shower Gel, and the other Dove Cream Wash. Both dispensers were so dirty I daren't even touch them so I couldn't even say whether or not they'd been filled.
=== My Stay ===
I arrived at the hotel just after 2.30pm and after dumping my bags in my room went out to do what I needed to do in Newcastle, returning at around 8.30pm. I had wanted to ask about checking out times but there seemed to be no staff around the reception area and I didn't want to hang around so I went straight back to my room. I was meeting a friend at 9.30pm so I passed the time trying to find something to watch on the very limited channels offered on the TV in my room. The reception was so bad on most channels that I gave up after a while.
I would normally have gone for a quick drink in the hotel bar before going out to meet my friend but it was very small, dark, dingy and uninviting, and every time I passed it looked overcrowded, so I gave it a miss.
I returned to the hotel at around 11pm and settled in to sleep. I found the bed very comfortable but the mattress was very soft so many people would probably not get on with it. I was expecting to hear a lot of city noises from the surrounding area but surprisingly I barely heard any of this. Instead what kept me awake all night was a very loud, constant whirring noise from outside, like a loud boiler or machine working. The window in my room wouldn't shut properly so I was unable to shut out the noise to any extent, and wind also whistled through the gap. Other noises that might affect your sleep were the very loud banging of doors within the building, cars coming and going form the car park overlooked by my room, and low-flying planes coming and going from Newcastle airport. If you're looking for a restful night's sleep this is definitely not the place for you.
I had to set out to a meeting at 7.30am and so was unable to sample the breakfast which is served from 8am - 10.30am on weekends (7am - 9.30am weekdays). So, when I woke I took a shower, which was a feat in itself. The shower was a decent power shower but the head was loose in it's holder so couldn't be repositioned. The power of the water from the shower kept pushing the bath plug back in, so I ended up having to hold it up with my toes to prevent the bath from filling with water. This meant I was unable to turn around and it was very uncomfortable and painful after a while. There's also not enough ventilation in the bathroom and I found the room filled up with steam extremely quickly, and the mirror was rendered unusable. I therefore had to use one of the mirrors in the bedroom to apply my makeup. Ideally this would have been the one with an overhead light, but this was rendered unusable, and therefore completely redundant, by the desk and TV positioned oddly in front of it, so I had to make do with a full-length mirror and poor lighting.
Once I was ready I headed down to reception to check out but again there was no-one around. By this point I was so annoyed with the lack of service in the hotel that I just left without checking out.
=== Conclusion ===
I can honestly say I was so dissatisfied with this hotel that had I paid in cash rather than Airmiles I would have filed a formal complaint and asked for a refund. The hotel in general is very dated and the room I stayed in and the service I received was absolutely not worth £54.95. Looking back I really wish I'd taken photos to show you just how disgusting it was. I did leave wondering whether all the rooms were as bad, or if they just stuck me in their worst room because I wasn't paying cash. Either way I won't be staying again, and I really begrudge having to give this so-called 3 star hotel 1 star.