“ Addresds: Derwent Haugh Road / Swalwell / Gateshead NE16 3BL „
I usually travel to the North East of England with my daughter at least once a year - she is a huge fan of the Metro Centre for shopping. Even though the journey from Scotland isn't particularly long, we usually stay a couple of nights and make a break of things. This year I planned a trip for the second week of the Easter break and found a good rate at the Premier Inn property located close to the shopping centre - good enough for me to book as soon as I saw it. ~~Location~~ The Premier Inn Newcastle Metro Centre is located on the Derwent Haugh Road in Gateshead - like so many Premier Inn properties located on the fringes of cities it is erroneously named and should really be Premier Inn Gateshead if you ask me. The hotel is very easy to find as it's located just off the A1 road, making it perfect for those travelling to the area by car. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of public transport around here. The car park is large and we had no problem finding a space close to the hotel entrance. ~~Check In and First Impressions~~ Rooms are available for check in from 2.00 pm. We arrived around 4.00 pm and were greeted by a friendly receptionist who took some personal details from us including the car registration number, took payment for breakfast for us and explained the policies Premier Inn have. We were given a key to our room which was located on the ground floor. The lobby area is small but there are some seats available along with a vending machine selling snacks and drinks. My first impressions were therefore very good - the receptionist was very good at her job and made us feel very welcome at the hotel. ~~The Room~~ I had booked a family room for this stay as when I booked there was a possibility my sister would be coming too but she decided not to bother. To be honest however a family room was ideal for us as it gave us a second bed and meant my daughter and didn't have to to share the double bed. Entry to the room is via a traditional key which has a large key ring with a holder which has the room number clearly marked. If you are going out for the day it's best to leave the key at reception as there is then no danger of you losing it. The room itself wasn't particularly large but it was perfectly adequate for a two night stay. Like all Premier Inn rooms there was the obligatory purple runner on the bed and a painting on the wall which also made use of their signature colour. The bathroom is located on the right hand side of the door when you enter the room and directly ahead on the left is the open wardrobe/storage section Premier Inns seem to use as a matter of course now. On one side of this was tea/coffee making facilities and a bin, with the middle section housing the "wardrobe" with eight wooden hangers. There was a shelf above this which stored a spare pillow and spare towels were located in the wardrobe section. On the other side the TV was located on the top shelf with several spare shelves underneath. The TV was an LCD but it wasn't widescreen. This didn't particularly bother me but the screen was pretty small - it seemed around 19" to me. You get the full selection of Freeview channels and the picture quality was fine. The room also housed a desk and chair but the first thing my daughter said when she sat down was "that chair is wobbly" - and when I inspected it I realised it was the back which was loose. As a result we didn't bother to sit on it! The beds were made up on arrival which is something I appreciate after numerous stays in family rooms at Travelodges where I am expected to make up the second bed. The double bed was very comfortable but there were only two pillows on it. The single bed only had one. I gave the spare pillow to my daughter and just used the two pillows myself on the double bed but it would have been nice to have more than one spare pillow in the room. The beds were, as ever, extremely comfortable. I do find the beds in Premier Inns to be elevated a little more than my bed at home but it's not a problem to get into it and I suspect this is the case to house the second bed which is usually stored underneath when not in use. Neither of us had any problems sleeping on the beds and if I am honest I had hoped for this. In my experience only Sheraton hotels have comfier beds than Premier Inn. The room wasn't particularly bright with the main light situated close to the wardrobe area, leaving ceiling spotlights and one LED lamp to illuminate the main part of the room. Lastly, there was an electric heater in the corner of the room which was utilised via a thermostatic control on the wall. ~~Bathroom~~ The bathroom is small but functional, housing a bath with shower over. There is a shower curtain around the bath and a towel rail at the other end of the bath. There is both shampoo and hand soap available in the bathroom in wall mounted dispensers. ~~My Experience~~ I had only been in the room about half an hour when I went to the toilet only to discover it stubbornly refused to flush. I wasn't too concerned about this first time I flushed but by the fourth attempt I realised there was definitely a problem so I headed off to reception for some help. The receptionist was very sympathetic and said she would get someone who worked in the attached restaurant to come through and take a look at it. Within a few minutes he arrived and he took a look at the toilet only for it to flush normally on first attempt. I was a little bemused but was just relieved it was flushing again. This relief didn't last long - later on that evening the same problem became apparent and this time the water came up so high in the bowl I feared it was going to spill over onto the floor. Once again I headed to reception only this time to encounter a different receptionist. This one checked a book at the desk and mentioned the blockage to a colleague who said the toilet had been blocked in the room the night before. I was a bit irked to learn this - when I had made my initial complaint about the toilet there had been rooms free at the hotel should we need to move but now, at nearly 9.00 pm, the hotel was full. I suggested perhaps the toilet needed to be plunged so within a few minutes the same male member of staff who had come earlier appeared and this time spent a bit more time inspecting the toilet. He realised there was something blocking the toilet and this following some prodding about with a toilet brush removed a black plastic cap from the toilet which was the cause of the toilet blockage. I have to say I was surprised that this hadn't been checked out when the first complaint about the toilet was made the day before I arrived and while I was happy the situation was resolved I was annoyed that this hadn't been investigated properly when I first informed front desk of the blockage. To the hotel's credit they offered to refund the cost of breakfast to me - which seemed fair as I didn't expect them to invoke their famous "Good Night Guarantee" which refunds you the cost of your stay in the event of major problems in your room over something which had been resolved satisfactorily and hadn't caused me enormous inconvenience. I agreed to this and was just relieved the toilet was finally back in service. Our room was located at the gable end of the property and as a result it was quite cool. The electric heater was positioned under the window of the room and I have to say it wasn't particularly efficient. It was easy to control using the thermostat on the wall but it seemed to have a timer which would override any information I inputted leaving me a couple of times wondering why the room was so cold. The window was secondary glazed, with the net curtain positioned between both layers of glazing and on the first morning when I slid the window open so I could move the curtain to see what the weather was like I was immediately hit by a freezing draught. I couldn't see how you could open the external window to make the room cooler in summer however leading me to think Premier Inn may want to look again at the windows in this property. The room was spotlessly clean throughout or stay and we were impressed by this. Another thing I really liked was the fact Premier Inn give you bath sheets. Too many hotels still give out tiny little bath towels and it was lovely to have a shower and not have to jump about around the heater trying to dry myself, instead being able to wrap a large fluffy towel around me to dry off. We experienced no noise at the hotel at all although I do suspect that at weekends this may not be the case. Wifi is available in the room and in a new move Premier Inn give you 30 minutes a day free. Having used it and liked it in comparison to using my phone as a modem, I decided to buy 24 hours access for £3. I think this is a fair price to charge for wifi in a hotel and wish more hotels would do this rather than charge a minimum of £10 for just 24 hours access. ~~Dining~~ The hotel is located next to a Taybarns restaurant. These restaurants are buffet style "all you can eat" establishments. Breakfast is the typical Premier Inn affair with hot food available at the buffet including bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and a new addition - hash browns. I was a little disappointed with the bacon and sausages - they seem to have cut back a little on the quality of these products from my last stay at a Premier Inn. Also available is breads, cakes, cereals, yoghurt and a selection of fruit juices, coffee and tea. It costs £8.25 per person for breakfast although under 16s eat free if accompanied by an adult (maximum of 2 children per adult). We had dinner at the restaurant on our first night and it was a fair to middling experience. There is a vast array of food on offer at Taybarns - and I have actually reviewed this as a stand-alone restaurant in the past - but briefly there is an area with salads, a grill area, a so-called "Chip Shop" and a small carvery area along with small areas offering Chinese, Indian and Italian food. In theory there should be something for everyone but as I have learned over the years it can be hard to perfect the art of a good buffet and it seems to be an art we Brits have yet to master. Generally the food was mediocre with nothing standing out as being particularly good but to be fair there wasn't much that was particularly awful either. The dessert section was probably the best thing with a decent selection of cakes including carrot cake, chocolate fudge cake and apple pie, along with profiteroles. The only thing I couldn't bring myself to try was the ice cream as it came from one of those "softee" style machines and in my experience doesn't stay frozen for much longer than a minute after dispensing. Dinner cost us £7.99 each with drinks on top. Soft drinks came in at around £2.50 each but this includes free refills. The restaurant is family friendly but in light of the fact there are so many alternative dining options within a short drive of the hotel I would suggest if you want something a little more sophisticated take the car out in search of it. There is a bar area close to the entrance of the restaurant which seemed fairly busy but we didn't use it during our stay. ~~Finally~~ My daughter and I enjoyed our stay at this Premier Inn and certainly if we are in the area again we will definitely consider staying here. We paid £39 per night for our stay which I thought was an excellent price for the level of comfort in the room. The staff we encountered were helpful and friendly and while I still feel the blocked toilet problem could have been handled better when I made my initial complaint, the fact it was resolved to my satisfaction in the end and the apologetic and sincere reaction from the staff was appreciated. The hotel's willingness to accept my inconvenience and compensate me via the free breakfasts was a very nice touch too. The dining option is something I suspect you will either love or hate. Certainly if you prefer your dinner cooked to order, Taybarns won't be for you but I suspect if you are travelling with kids you will find that they at least will love it. What makes this worth considering is the close location to the main road and the Metro Centre, the staff who make you feel valued as a customer and the thing that I always love in a Premier Inn - those comfy beds.