“ Address: Queen Elizabeth Country Park / Northumberland NE63 9AT „
Ashington Premier Inn must surely be one of the most scenic locations Premier Inn have for one of their hotels. Situated in Queen Elizabeth II Country Park on the north edge of Ashington just off the A189 in Northumberland, the hotel overlooks a large 16 hectare lake and scenic park area which used to be the site of one of the biggest colliery spoil heaps in Europe, with the adjacent North Ashington Wood being another. Therefore the country park is a great example of restored industrial land after the closure of the colliery in 1981. Adjacent to the park, just a little further down the road you will find the Woodhorn Colliery museum, where the old colliery buildings stand. The museum is a popular place to visit and anyone who remembers watching the TV series 'Billy Connolly's world tour of England, Ireland and Wales' may recall he visited here. The Premier Inn itself overlooks the large lake and as well as the hotel there is also a Brewers Fayre pub/restaurant 'Woodhorn Grange' on the site. The hotel wasn't built as a Premier Inn originally. I first visited the hotel a few years back and it was not a Premier Inn back then. There were only a few rooms at that time and they were all situated above the restaurant. Since Premier Inn took over, they have of course refurbished these rooms but have also built an extension with more rooms. Having stayed at this hotel around 8 years ago, I was interested to see how it had changed since then. During a recent online Premier Inn Sale, I spotted rooms available at this hotel on certain Sundays during August for just £19 per night, which is quite a bargain when you can expect to pay from £70 to over £80 per night for a room at this hotel. Although we live only approx a 40 minute drive away from this hotel, I decided to book a room and take advantage of the £19 rate and spend the day in the Northumberland countryside which we love, then return to the hotel for a meal and a few drinks. The hotel has a large car park which is needed to accomodate the visitors to the hotel, restaurant and also the country park. As you drive in, you immediately see the lake which is home to a large number of swans and other birds. When we stayed here years ago you had to walk into the bar area to check in to the hotel, but Premier Inn have built a separate reception area now, so you no longer have to do this. Check-in was at 2pm but we didn't arrive until after 3pm having spent the day on the Northumberland coast. We were greeted warmly and check-in itself was quick and easy as I had already paid online for the room at the time of booking. There was another woman who arrived to check-in however, who expressed surprise when finding out my room rate was only £19. I explained that I had booked it a number of weeks back during the Premier Inn sale but she didn't appear too happy that she was paying a lot more than me. I left her discussing this with the receptionist as we went to find our room which was in the older part of the hotel above the restaurant. I had hoped that maybe we would be given a room which overlooked the lake but unfortunately we were given one on the other side of the corridor. Having said that, the view from the window was still nice as it overlooked fields and the wind turbines which feature heavily in Blyth. I find the turbines strangely fascinating and so still enjoyed the view. The only downside was if you looked down from our window the yard and kitchens were immediately below and the extractor fans could be clearly heard if the window was open, which it was as it was a warm, humid day. Once the TV was on or some music then the noise from the fans wasn't really a problem, however, there was the faint smell of food being cooked and hot fat wafting in now and again. Maybe I should have closed the window and used the fan in the room to keep cool but I preferred to have the window open and I lit a scented candle which masked the smell very well. Also we weren't planning to spend a lot of time in the room anyway, so whilst I would have preferred a different room away from the kitchen area and maybe overlooking the lake, it didn't really spoil our stay as the room itself was immaculate. Our room consisted of a large and very comfortable double bed as well as a sofa bed. There was a large unit just inside the door which housed a mirror with lights on one end, as well as open hanging space and shelves for clothes, a hair dryer, kettle, cups and sachets of tea and coffee, milk and sugar. At the other end of the unit a flat screen TV was attached which could be adjusted so you could watch it from the bed or sofa bed easily enough. The bed was extremely comfortable, which is something I have came to expect from Premier Inn as they do seem to have the most comfortable beds I have slept in at any hotel. A mixture of pillows were also provided. The room itself was decorated with the usual Premier Inn 'purple' theme which I personally like and it was spotlessly clean, as was the bathroom. We used the shower which is over the bath and it was powerful enough with plenty of hot water. Shower gel and hand wash is provided via wall dispensers and fluffy white hand towels and bath towels are also provided. We ate in the restaurant that evening which I thought was really good value and enjoyed a couple of drinks sat at the tables outside, overlooking the lake. There are also some tables inside the restaurant which overlook the lake too thanks to the large windows, as well as an outside children's play area and indoor soft play area. It is possible to walk around the lake, which we enjoyed after our meal and there are signs and notices which give you information on the wildlife. If you book a breakast at the hotel then you also eat this in the restaurant, but we didn't bother with this and instead opted for coffee before we left which I particularly enjoyed as they serve Costa coffee here. We paid £5 for two lattes but you can have unlimited refills - I practically had to be dragged away! We spent a comfortable night here at this hotel and the extractor fans were turned off around midnight meaning the noise did not disturb us, but I must admit they did wake me when they were turned back on early the next morning, but I was able to doze back off again. Also there was a fire alarm test which I had not been informed about and as it went on for longer than a few seconds we thought it must be real. A lot of hotels test the alarms on a Monday morning but they usually inform you of this on check-in and on this occasion I was not. Also a test only usually lasts a few seconds but this one kept going off and on and I jumped out of the shower and left the room only for a cleaner to tell me it was indeed just a test and I should have been informed. Check out was at 12 noon and I did inform the receptionist about the fire alarms and received an apology. I must point out that all dealings I had with the staff were fine and they were all friendly, particularly the man on night duty who we chatted to after going out to the car to get something. There appeared to be a lot of people staying at the hotel who were touring around Northumberland and this hotel is an ideal base for a stopover for anyone who is thinking of doing so. Niggles aside, we did enjoy our stay here and I would be happy to stay here again, especially if any further sale rates become available in the future, but I think I would request a room away from the kitchen area next time if possible. If I had paid £80 for our room then I think maybe I would have asked if we could be moved from that particular room. For £19 however, it was a bargain. Premier Inn Ashington Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Woodhorn, Ashington, Northumberland NE63 9AT Tel 0871 527 8034 or visit www.premierinn.com for bookings or more info.