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Choosing a Hotel for any occasion can be a bit of a uphill struggle, choosing one that fits the requirements of a traveller is all the more difficult given the fact that they have to entice you in with what they have to offer in the first place. So we chose the Ramada Plaza for a simple reason, we had a Christmas Dinner being held there as apart of a company do and for the weekend we had also booked a room at the Hotel, so that meant we didn't have the trouble of getting a cab anywhere and forking out silly money to get home.
The building is very elegant from the outside and modern in appearance, for some reasons it reminds me of building that I have seen in films that are on Miami Beach or even Las Vegas, guess that's down to the terracotta colours of the stone and the glass finishes on the outside that make it easily noticeable when passing, with a large car park surrounding the building there was more than sufficient space to park.
We arrived at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, the place itself was busy. Busy because a lot of the guests were checking out to get early evening flights from Gatwick, the airport is three miles away and so the various cabs and coaches were awaiting their travellers outside. Being this close to the airport it's expected that the Hotel will be busy anyway, and it did seem we had hit traveller central. Inside the decorations are extravagant to say the least, polished marble floors give the exuberantly sexy sounds of the female cabin crew walking in their heels a slight touch of echoing that definitely makes the male heads turn, whether leaving or entering the sound mixes in with the low key music being played and overall makes for quite a pleasant yet busy ambiance. The Reception area is big in itself; at busy periods the Reception desk can easily handle four separate queues and can handle the traffic quite quickly. For me the Customer Service is easily one of the keys to an experience and I was not let down at all with what I received, a bright professional smile that welcomed me to the Plaza, I checked in and we went to our room using the lifts next to Reception to go up to the 7h Floor.
We had booked a double as we usually do and yet when we opened the door it seemed that we had been given the Bridal Suite given the size of the room, easily three times as big as a Travelodge. We stood at the doorway and looked at the sheer size of everything; the window was ceiling to floor, edge to edge and didn't have a frame at all, and gave us views of the South Downs towards Brighton and if we had wanted to do any shopping is only 1.5 miles from Crawley Town Centre. The Bed was classed as an Emperor in size and I thought for a second that it was two large beds put together and checked for the gap down the middle, there wasn't one! Decorated in pastel colours the room was cool with the air conditioning on, but wasn't on the chilly side. Besides if we didn't like it then we could simply change the thermostat as required. The bedding was nice and clean and so tight against the bed. I still have no idea as to how they do this as it felt like the bedding had been vacuumed pack to the bed! I have always found the bathroom to potentially be the weak spot, however the bathroom here was again spotless and clean with a both and shower combo, again a nice neutral colour that made you relax with what ever you needed to do, the toilet being whiter than white with none of the loose hairs or stains that I have seen before. There is a flyover outside the hotel that goes across the road from the M23, however the building is located in such a place with a border of trees so the noise from the flyover is never heard, mainly due to the fact the windows are superbly glazed as well as the height of where we were.
To say that I was impressed is an under statement! The event went well and the food delivered only backed up what we had seen so far, the area that the Dinner was held in was the conference area within the Hotel and straight away you could tell what the room was potentially for, however the staff had made a very good effort in decorating this in a Christmas fashion and laying a dance area, the dance floor seemed to change the whole gravitas of the room and it took on a different vibe. Just outside the room was the ice machine and each room has an ice bucket so if you have a celebration then this will keep your wine or beer nice and cold in your room.
Even when we left and went to the rather impressively well stocked Bar, which was open far longer than any normal pub and gave moderate sized spirits at a reasonable price, the whole professional approach was never dropped whether in decoration or service. Even in an attempt to catch the Barman out with his knowledge of Cocktails, he never showed anything but good customer service, although some of the others definitely were trying to catch hi out by confirming the ingredients on their Iphone! It was fun and the Barman knew he was good at his job anyway and so the men in the group knew that. By the time we got to bed it was nearly 1 am, the influx of cabin crew and guests were still incoming even at this time of the night.... Morning due to the night flights arriving and a few of our party went off to another party with the crew, so we didn't see them till morning. The Reception became the overfill area and people were using this as a place to talk away from the Disco, the room where the event, which easily managed to hold 150 people was hot mainly due to the lights of the Disco and the impromptu use of the smoke machine so people simply spread out. Although we knew we were on CCTV and having an eye kept on us while we were in Reception no one said anything at all and everyone was rather chilled out to say the least.
As a guest we have full use of the Leisure Centre and this was the perfect thing to wake ourselves up on Sunday morning before Breakfast, the whole complex includes a gym as well and really does make the stay a special one. Breakfast was a hearty meal on this Sunday morning, basically put it's one of those "eat as much as you like" set ups that you simply take what you want. Other than the obligatory Eggs and Bacon there is also a wide choice for Yoghurt and Fruit as well as Cereals and Toast. I have to say the food was quality and filled us up for the day let alone the morning.
As we checked out we filled in a feedback form and was more than happy to give this a 9/10 rating overall, what I thought was a little bit of a downer was the room was next to the lift entrance and so we heard a nice gentle ping every now and then. Okay I'm a light sleeper anyway and this didn't disturb me as much as it could have done but it was simply annoying as this was a sound that was required for Health and Safety and yet the Hotel would look into it, looking back it should have been a 10 straight off as I feel a little guilty about dropping a point.
As I said earlier the Hotel is located just a few miles from Gatwick Airport, it is extremely handy for the M23 motorway as it just 1.5 miles from the M23 and only 15 minutes from the M25. Situated on the outskirts of Crawley in a place called Three Bridges. It really is a Hotel that should be fully recommended, the prices do tend to change depending on who you book through however if you go to the Ramada website the prices are true to the Hotel. We paid £120 for a night here around Christmas time and thought it was well worth it as this included parking and Breakfast, the room itself was more like a small flat then a room, well equipped with the obligatory tea making facilities and trouser press. It is a continuous hub of activity and has the facilities for both businesses in the 15 room conference centre and for a small break, as well as Weddings. Besides seeing as my other half won one of the competitions at the do, we have won ourselves a free meal in their restaurant, so with good service we will be returning as I dont mind paying for the quality experience again.
Bottom line is Ramada have tapped into something quite astounding, first of all they offer an excellent package aimed at a scope of different people and secondly the standards dont drop at all throughout your stay.