~Me and Novotel~
Any review of a hotel will come with baggage - just like the occupants of the hotel's rooms. I view the Novotel Birmingham airport through the rose tinted glasses of a gold membership of the Accor group's loyalty club - in other words I'm a loyal user of this chain and it's not unusual some months for me to spend almost as many nights in their Amsterdam branch as I do in my own bed at home. On the other hand, I'm not a morning person and I was booking the hotel in order to take a 6 am flight from the airport. So my positive influence was that I like Novotels and my negative influence was that I didn't REALLY want to be there at all because I hate getting up early.
I use Birmingham airport most weeks but this was the first time that I'd taken such a ridiculously early flight. Knowing that the Accor group has pretty much got the monopoly in on-site airport hotels at Birmingham, I asked our travel agent to book the Novotel. I'm not a fan of Ibis and I'd never stay in an Etap. I was pretty shocked that the room would be £133 without breakfast (not that I'd have had time to eat a breakfast) and I'm pretty sure that I got ripped off by our lousy travel agency at work. I arrived at about 10 pm, parked up in the short stay car park number one which I always pre-book, and headed across the drop-off car park to the entrance to the hotel. NEVER leave your car outside this hotel or you'll get charges so high you might be tempted to just abandon your car altogether. It's best to use the long stay or short stay car parks and you can always save by pre-booking your stay.
~You never get a second chance to make a first impression~
The Novotel is the closest hotel to the airport. It stands on the edge of the drop off car park, looking like a big deep blue mirrored box. The entrance is up a ramp off the far end of the drop off car park and my first impressions on entering the lobby were quite good. It looks clean, modern and fresh with some funky furniture and a bustling restaurant off to the side. I went to the check in desk to get my room key and was asked if I'd like to pay straight away or when I checked out. Knowing that I'd be leaving at 5 am and that anything I can avoid having to do at that sort of hour would be a help, I said I'd pay straight away. The receptionist took my card, handed me the credit card receipt and told me I could get my invoice in the morning. I asked what on earth was the point of paying up front if I couldn't have an invoice and why couldn't she give me one. Apparently their 'systems' meant she couldn't. I find that absolutely pathetic. I asked her "So why offer me the chance to pay now if you can't give me the invoice?" Suddenly her English which had been very good up to that point seemed to escape her.
I harrumphed off to my room, muttering under my breath that they were totally pathetic and should know better. I headed for my room, knowing pretty much that it would be like every other Novotel room but I had a surprise - or rather a few surprises, some good, some bad.
~Same old same old~
The décor was no surprise - absolutely standard Novotel with lots of very neutral colours - beige walls, beige blackout curtains, brown and beige carpet. There's lots of light wood in the bed surround, the storage furniture and the desk, lots of white bedding and a few bright red cushions. I have no problem with any of that - it's entirely what I expect. What I didn't expect was to find that the sofa bed had been set up. I booked a room for one person but they'd set my room up for a family of four. I found this really annoying because it meant I had to clamber over the bed to get to the curtains and I couldn't really use the desk without squeezing into the space between it and the bottom of the sofa bed. The bed surround was slightly different from the one I'm used to but slightly worse since the bed side 'shelves' were so tiny I could barely fit my phone, my book, my tablets and a glass of water in the space. The Novotel desk is a swivel system where part of the desk can be rotated to find a suitable position for watching the TV or doing whatever else might require you to move the desk (such as....... I have no idea). However with the sofa bed out, it wasn't going to swivel anywhere
The television was wall mounted and the right size for watching from the bed - I'd guess it was around a 24-28 inch screen. Anything bigger or smaller and I find it hard to watch. Frustratingly I didn't get free internet which would normally be included when I stay at other Novotels since I have a gold card for the Accor Club. I'm just not willing to pay hotel prices for Wi Fi so I used my dongle instead.
Other facilities included a wardrobe with an ironing board inside, a storage unit with various shelves, a laptop-sized room safe, a small minibar, and of course a kettle with tea and coffee. I didn't need any of these things but it was good to know they were there.
The bathroom was a bit surprise. I don't know if it was because the room was set up for a family or whether it's standard at this hotel, but the toilet and shower were separate. The toilet was in a small room and didn't have a hand basin. Maybe I'm just a bit picky but if you put the loo apart from the main bathroom - so presumably someone can have a shower whilst you have a pee - then there needs to be a basin to wash your hands or there's no point in separating them. It's just not hygienic. The shower room was light, bright and had an excellent rain-shower head. I prefer to have the choice of a shower or a bath but if I have to have only a shower, at least it's good if it's a nice one.
Unfortunately I had a nasty surprise in the sink. My first impression was that it was a newer, funkier sink design than normal but after I cleaned my teeth I was frustrated to not be able to drain the water from the sink. I wiggled the lever but nothing happened and the plug didn't pop up. I resorted to tugging it out with my finger nails and was rapidly disgusted by a stinky rotten eggy miasma of nasty vapours. I can only assume that the sink had been blocked for a long time and things were getting rotten and stinky down in the pipes. It was really unpleasant. My other annoyance with the bathroom was the challenge of trying to find the light switch to turn the bathroom lights off. I eventually found it on the master switch but I feared I would have to sleep with the lights on.
~Even at 5 am I was spoiling for a fight~
As a result of not being able to reach the curtains to close them properly, I was left with a gap in the curtains and light streaming in all night long which interfered with my sleep. The bed was comfortable enough though obviously I'd have slept better if I didn't need to get up at quarter to five in the morning. I got dressed, packed and headed down to reception to get my invoice and leave.
I complained to the guy that I thought it was silly to ask people to pay and not give them an invoice and he launched into a monologue about 'overnight print runs' or some such rubbish. I stopped him and told him that their service should revolve around what customers want and not how their computers work and if they can't do invoices 24 hours a day at an airport where more people need that than in most 'normal' hotels, then they shouldn't offer to let people pay up front. I think you could say we 'agreed to differ' on that point and I stomped off to get my plane.
I like Novotel and I normally get great service, friendly and professional staff but I was very disappointed by the Birmingham Airport branch. The nonsense with the payment put me into a paddy even before I got to the room. The sofa bed hogging half the room raised my ire and the stinky sink was the last straw. One bad Novotel won't change my overall loyalty but I won't return to this one in a hurry.
My new husband and I stayed in this hotel prior to an early flight to Turkey from Birmingham International Airport. My husband was in charge of sorting out a hotel for us to stay in and the airport parking. The Novotel was the first hotel he found after doing an internet search and he promptly booked a night in a double room for us at a price of £69. This price I felt was rather expensive but we were in honeymoon mode and didn't really care!
My husband hadn't looked to see exactly whereabouts the hotel actually was in terms of the airport, he just decided it couldn't be too far away and we'd be able to walk to it from the long stay NCP carpark (he had no idea where this was either). Once we parked our car we really didn't have a clue where the hotel was so we rang up whilst still in the car and the receptionist told us it'd be an 8 to 10 minute walk or we could simply get the park and ride bus which does regular circuits around the long stay NCP carpark at the airport. The receptionist informed us that the hotel was right in front of the airport terminal and as we looked over in the direction of the airport, we saw the Novotel, a tall building with smart looking black glass windows.
We got the bus and were dropped off at the rear of the hotel and we saw an Ibis and another similar hotel right next to the Novotel. I wondered whether these hotels would have been cheaper to stay in but the Novotel looked much nicer than the others from the outside and, having stayed in a Novotel in Manchester previously, I knew something of the standard the hotels have.
We eventually found the entrance to the hotel and we were pleased with the modern, minimalist look of the hotel. Very clean with funky artwork on the walls. As we approached the reception desk I noticed two stations with iMacs at them to be used by customers. I didn't look to see whether internet access was free (although I did try the wifi access but I wasn't prepared to pay for it). We checked into our room quickly with the friendly guy on reception and went to find our room. As we went up in the lift and along the corridor there was a smell of new carpet (I love that smell!) and fresh paint and there was polythene sheeting on the floor indicating a bit of decorating being done which was nice to see. Things were obviously being kept fresh and up to date.
We entered our room which had everything we needed for an overnight stay. We put our keycard into the slot to make the lights work and after a while, they flickered and went off, sporadically coming back on and off again. This was no good as we had to be up at 4am and so lights were a must. My husband went down to reception while I sat in the dark and a member of staff came to solve the problem. She found that the switch kept being tripped by our lights and so she promptly moved us to an identical room on the floor above which had working lights!
In the room we had a very comfortable double bed, a sofa, dressing table and chair, bathroom with bath, a very snazzy sink and a shower and a separate toilet room. The wardrobes were spacious although we didn't need to use them, there was a safe, tea and coffee facilities, a VERY expensive minibar (£1.30 for a Mars bar! We just sniffed it in its wrapper, that cost us 50p!) and a telly on which my husband watched the England match after we'd had dinner!
We ate in the restaurant which was decorated beautifully and the service was very good. The food was simple, yet rather expensive. We were brought a bread basket with a selection of breads and some butter which was well received after a three hour drive down from Carlisle and we ordered our food. Jon had a burger and chips with salad and I had a goats cheese tart with green beans and new potatoes. We drank a beer and a diet coke. Both meals cost just under £30 altogether (phew!). The same menu was also available to have in the bar if you didn't want to sit in the restaurant.
After our meal, we sat in the bar for a while which was comfy and then we retired to bed. We looked out of our room window and saw, right in front of us, terminal 2 of the airport and a hive of activity.
The alarm woke us up at 3.45am and on looking out of the window, the same hive of activity was there - the secret world of airports! We noticed that the windows were double glazed with about a foot of space between each pane, making the rooms so very quiet considering we were right next to a very busy airport!
The time came to check out and the girl at the desk was very helpful. I don't think she liked our joke about having a sniff of the Mars bar but hey ho, it was probably a rubbish joke anyway! We walked a couple of hundred yards to the airport terminal and eventually got on our way to Turkey.
Although the Novotel was expensive, it was lovely, staff were friendly and helpful and the beds were comfy, what more do you want?!
I have stayed here once and I had a very early morning flight and even though work was paying for it I felt the price was extortionate and vowed never to stay there again. For the amount of time I spent in it it was not worth it. From comfort and luxury point of view you cannot fault it - literally a hundred yards to the terminal.
Rstaurants are high end and expensive I avoided the breakfast and went into the terminal just to get a coffee and a croissant. It is a place to go to start off a luxury holiday but not if you are on a budget try the ibis just around teh corner at a fraction of the cost. Rooms are immaculate and look as new. Bathroom as you would expect spotless with a nice range of goodies which the other half loved - normally she throws them out when I bring them home. check in and out was smooth no delays and the bill was correct . Overall even though work paid I hated paying so much for seven hours sleep
Probably the best hotel i have ever stayed in. The hotel is modern and appears very new. My room was in great condition and the bed was extremly comfy - I have a bad back.
The hotel actually made a mistake with my reservation but on arrival quickly corrected it with no fuss and no disruption to myself - What a relief.
The bathroom contained a large bath which i used most nights and it had a variety of complementary soaps and shampoos which I of course took home with me!
The restarant provides top quality food at a good price - the staff are very helpful although they lost my luggage taking it up to my room! But they promptly found it and gave me some money off vouchers to make up for it!
I called room service during the night because I was hungry and they made me a Pizza! Now thats what I call service!
The TV in my room was top quality which is unusual for a hotel and even had freeview digital channels!
If I had to nit pick and choose a bad point I would say that the room was kept rather too warm but I suppose its better to be too hot than cold!
This review is from my trustedplaces.com account (Cricketer)
We stayed here for one night in December 2007 before flying to Mexico from Birmingham international airport for christmas, we have started doing this recently as it adds another night to your holiday really. We live in blackpool and normally fly from Manchester but this was the only flight we could get on as we booked last minute and annoyingly we had to take of from Birmingham and land in Manchester to refuel as the runway at Birmingham is not long enough for a long haul flight to take off fully laiden with fuel!!! Anyway this is my review of the Novotel situated on Birmingham International Airport, opposite the main terminal building.
Facilities And Services
Some of the facilities at this Novotel include: Restaurant, Bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, Newspapers, Non-Smoking Rooms, Rooms / Facilities for Disabled Guests, Elevator, Express Check-In / Check-Out, Safety Deposit Box, Soundproofed Rooms, Luggage Storage.
And the services provided include: Room Service, Meeting / Banquet Facilities, Business Centre, Dry Cleaning, Breakfast in the Room, Currency Exchange, Shoe Shine, Packed Lunches, Fax / Photocopying.
Booking And Cost
We booked through an independant website that deals with airport parking and airport hotels and paid an amazing £79 for fifteen nights parking coach from the car park to the hotel and back to the car park again and one nights accomodation for two. This we felt was an amazing deal especially as we would be away for christmas and new year, we had stayed in a Novotel before and thought we knew what to expect but this low price worried us slightly I think.
We parked at the car park just off the motorway and were transfered to the Novotel by coach. On arrival we realised just how close we actually were to the terminal building, we would literally just have to cross the street in the morning. We walked up the steps to the main entrance (there is a slope also) and were very relieved to find a nice modern and very clean and well kept entrance, we entered the modern lobby and found the check - in desk and bar / resturaunt. We were checked in very quickly and effitiantly and directed up to our room.
We entered the room and found exactly what we expected from a Novotel, having stayed in them before, the room was modern with a double bed LCD tv a chair and plenty of wardrobe and drawer space if you needed it we were getting up at about 4 am for our flight so did not bother unpacking. The bathroom was also very modern and had a bath with shower over, sink and seperate w/c. There was also internet access, sky tv, movie channels etc at extra cost and even an Ipod connection, we were very pleased with the room even though we would only be spending a short time in it, it is still nice to have a nice room I feel. The bed was also extremely comfortable and the room like the rest of the hotel was very clean and well kept, the furniture was either quite new or very well looked after. There was also tea and coffee making facilities.
The Bar And Restaurant
Having dumped our stuff in the room we decided a drink and something to eat was in order, there was also a football match we wanted to watch, so we went back down to the bar / restaurant and took a seat next to one of the plasma screens, we asked if the match could be put on and it was and then we ordered some drinks from the very polite waiter.
We then had a look at the menu and were excited to see that it was a very good one with lots of choice, there were some ordinary dishes that you would expect to see on any menu and then there were a selection of mouth watering dishes, each of which could be ordered in three different sizes. A starter size, snack size or main meal size, allowing you to pick one or a selection of two or three different ones. This looked good to us and we ordered a selection of about five different dishes in various sizes.
The food and drink was all waiter service, the bar offered a brilliant selection of non and alcoholic drinks and when the food came it was really good, probably the best we have eaten in a restaurant of this type from the choice on the menu to presentation right down to taste.
As I have already mentioned all of the staff we came into contact with were extremely polite and very helpful, it was almost as if they had been brought from a better hotel, this is not to say that there is anything wrong with this hotel but it is an overnight stay hotel on the airport really and everything, including the staff, is so much better than you would expect.
The Nights Sleep
Having eaten and drunk enough and watched our football match, we decided to retire to bed fairly early as we had to be up early for our flight. We went up to the room set the alarm and snuggled up in the comfy double bed, there was no noise at all, considering we were on a busy airport and we slept like logs until rudely awoken by the early alarm.
Checking Out And Conclusion
As we left our room with our luggage we discovered that the lift was out of order and we were on the third floor, this was a bit of a pain as we had all the luggage and we struggled a bit down the stairs but this was not really the fault of the hotel these things happen sometimes and the girl on the desk said they would have sent someone up for the luggage had we asked and we noticed that they had done for someone else, so even this wasn't a problem either.
Checking out was as easy and politely done as checking in and on leaving the front door of the hotel we had about a thirty second walk to the Terminal building - what a good way to start your holiday!!
To conclude I would say that I would definately recomend this hotel to anyone flying from Birmingham International Airport, in fact I would say don't even look anywhere else. Also try to find the site we used for some really good deals including parking if you need it, I'm afraid I can't remember the name of the site for the life of me and can't find anything like a reciept anywhere either. And if asked would I stay here again the answer is YES it is almost worth driving past Manchester to fly from Birmingham airport for!!
Thanks for reading.........John May 2008
A convenient stop-over point also for holidaymakers, with your airport check-in just 100 yards away.