“ Address: Callerton Lane Ends, Woolsington, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear NE13 8DF / Tel: 0871 527 8798 „
When I booked tickets for a concert in Newcastle in December 2010 the plan was to drive down from Scotland on the Saturday, go for dinner and see the concert in the evening and then stay in a hotel overnight before heading home again on the Sunday. I was looking for a basic and reasonably priced hotel room for the night so started browsing the various hotel chains to see what was on offer. There was a football match on our chosen date and even booking in October many hotels were full, one of the hotels which did have rooms and also ticked the free parking box was the Newcastle Airport South Premier Inn. It is a few miles outside the city centre but as I was driving that was not really important and the fact that they had a £29 room convinced me to book, a normal room rate is from £59. I've stayed in other Premier Inn hotels before and was hoping for a comfy bed in a clean and quiet room and a good breakfast but unfortunately this was not to be.
There are two Newcastle Airport Premier Inns and unfortunately neither of them have signs outside letting the customer know which hotel is North and which is South. We arrived at the North hotel first and after squeezing the car into the impossibly tiny space in the car park went inside only to discover we were at the wrong hotel and we were given directions to the South hotel which is a few hundred yards along the same road. There is loads of parking at the South hotel but it looked like nobody could be bothered treating the ice on the car park surface. I had my walking boots on and felt unstable walking over the ice with a backpack on my back, luckily the paths were clear.
We checked in at around 11:30pm and the receptionist was really nice and friendly. Because I paid in cash rather than by card I had to provide my driving license as proof of who I am and it seems that they ask all guests what their nationality is which seems a bit unnecessary. I was handed a single keyring with two keys on it, unfortunately the door key was snapped in half so a new key was provided. We were then directed to an annex of the hotel with its own separate entrance containing a dozen or so rooms. I was alarmed that the entrance to the rooms was unlocked so I didn't need the key to open it, after trudging up the stairs and through a couple of corriders we found our room. I stuck the key in the door and it refused to turn, after fiddling around with the key for a while I admitted defeat and went back down to reception.
The receptionist was really apologetic but was unable to give me another key as the only other key was the master key. I offered to pay or leave my driving license as a deposit for the key but he would not budge. I also complained about the front door to the rooms being left open allowing anyone to walk in and he said that it should lock automatically when it is closed and there was no note in the maintenance book about there being a problem.
The receptionist came over to the room to open the door to let us in, as he did so he apologised for the slight smell of paint in the room. When the door opened the paint fumes hit us fully and he then said that the paint smell was stronger than he thought it would be and apologised yet again. I asked for another room in the main part of the hotel but none were available. I considered driving home but it was almost midnight and both me and my daughter were exhausted and needed some sleep but by that point I was almost in tears. The receptionist apologised again and said to complain to Joanne in the morning.
When I have stayed in other Premier Inns with my daughter there has been a double bed with a fold out sofa bed but this time our room was made up as a twin room with single beds. The room was a good size with bedside cabinets, a phone, a desk containing coffee making facilities, a hard backed and easy chair, a small CRT TV with freeview channels and an open fronted wardrobe with several coat hangers fixed into place and plenty of shelf space.
The décor was the typical Premier Inn style, cream walls with a single purple themed picture and white bedding with a purple runner on the bed. While the décor may be fairly bland the room is still welcoming and everything is lovely and clean. The room was a nice temperature at 19 degrees and you have the ability to change the temperature of the room using a control panel. The windows were painted shut with a thick layer of fresh gloss paint, I have no idea if this was deliberate or just sloppy painting and they intended to unstick them later but this meant we couldn't open the window to let in some air to get rid of the smell of paint and I can imagine that this will lead to the room smelling a bit yucky over time if it cant be aired out properly.
The beds were comfy enough, my daughter fell asleep within a minute or so and slept all night. I found the bed slightly too hard for my liking and the pillows ridiculously soft so ended up tossing and turning a bit before dropping off. I did not sleep brilliantly, I was really nervous due to the front door being left unlocked and would jump up at every noise and there were a lot of noises during the night. The toilet flushes were ridiculously loud so when a neighbours toilet flushed it was really loud in our room and I also had the delight of listening to a couple noisily making love in an adjoining room. In the morning there was a baby wailing in another room which was audible through the door and the air conditioning unit for the pub was on the flat roof outside our bedroom window so hummed all night.
The bathroom was fairly small but nice and clean. There is a bath with an overbath shower and I enjoyed a nice long soak in the tub, there was plenty of hot water and nice fluffy white towels to dry off with.
Breakfast is something which I always enjoy at Premier Inn, the meal is not included in the room price but costs £8 extra, kids under 16 eat free when you buy an adult meal which makes it fantastic value for people like me travelling with a teenager. Breakfast is served in the Fayre and Square restaurant attached to the hotel meaning you have to go outside in the morning to get there.
There is a vast choice of foods on the self serve buffet. Cereals, granola, fruit salad, muffins, croissants, juice, coffee, tea, bread and a toaster are laid out for you to help yourself and hot food is cooked to order. I had sausages, bacon, mushrooms, tomato and a poached egg and my daughter had sausages and a fried egg, baked beans and scrambled egg are also available. The sausages were a bit cheap and nasty but the rest of the food was well cooked and very tasty.
Check out should have been painless as you simply hand the key back to reception but as advised by the receptionist the night before I decided to talk to Joanne about the problems we had experienced. She was really dismissive for example saying that it was our own fault for not locking the front door despite the fact that the receptionist had told us it was meant to lock automatically when it closed. There was no apology for the key problem and when I said the room stank of paint she said I would have received a phone call telling me that they were doing renovations and she only apologised for the smell of paint after checking the computer and seeing I had not received a phone call after all and then offered to refund the room price under the good nights sleep guarantee. Because I paid by cash they sent this out by cheque.
All I knew we would be spending minimal time in the hotel all I wanted was a basic room where we could bed down for the night but our stay was marred by a number of problems. It was the first time I have felt vulnerable in a hotel room due to being in the annex with the open door and if I had been told I had not been in the main hotel would not have booked there at all and add that to the smell of paint and noisy room and I did not have a good nights sleep at all. It may be that I was just unlucky in the timing of my stay to have the stinky room but the problem with the key was not good and it could have been resolved by giving me the master key for the night. I did not have a good experience at the Newcastle Airport South Premier Inn and therefore could not really recommend it as a good place to stay.