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The Hythe Imperial (Folkestone)

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1 Review

Star Hotel in the Folkestone region of Kent, United Kingdom. Prince's Parade, Hythe,
Kent,
CT21 6AE

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      23.08.2003 06:45
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      There's little doubt that DooYoo will play up and destroy my grammar in the first few paragraphs! It keeps happening. I'll soldier on! Here, anyway, are my views on the Hythe Imperial. Enjoy! I did! I just adore Hythe. It's barely 20 minutes from where I live and there's something, I confess, completely and utterly daft about spending a night in such a very local hotel. Call it stupidity - call it research - call it whatever you like. I've coveted this hotel for a while and it was certainly time to put it to the test. It was the first day of Amanda's holiday and I reckoned that a perfect way to mark it would be by having a night away. Love her to bits, but she's not always punctual, so it seemed sensible to keep it fairly local. The Hythe Imperial seemed to be the perfect treat! Hythe is a quaint seaside town on the Kentish South Coast. It's convenient for Canterbury, the Channel Tunnel and for Dover; the gateways to the continent are certainly well covered and there is much to see and do in the locale. In my humble opinion, it's the perfect place to wind down. We visit often and enjoy a bracing walk along the seafront. The problem is that you inevitably have to drive home. By staying overnight, you can enjoy yourself without fearing the consequences of the breathalyser. In my book, that's a real result! There are various places to stay in Hythe; there are two hotels operated by the Marston Group. One is the rather downbeat "Stade Court". The other is the "Hythe Imperial". Marston Hotels were nominated by the AA as UK Hotel group of the year. A small, independent hotel operator with an impressive portfolio, this is clearly quite an achievement. The AA, incidentally, is not "Alcoholics Anonymous", but the "Automobile Association". After yours truly, they're the most respected hotel inspectors in the UK. And this hotel earns 4 of their coveted stars a nd a rosette for the restaurant. I'm absolutely sure it used to be a five star establishment. Four seems about right nowadays, but certainly no fewer! The rack rate for the room we had was £130. I booked via www.laterooms.com, where the advertised rate was £43. For £60, I got a Bed and Breakfast rate - against a rack rate of £152. A superb deal, if I say so myself! We arrived and parked the car in the hotel's free car park. A short walk found us in the luxurious reception area. The public areas of the hotel are very well maintained and traditionally and luxuriously decorated. It's clearly a clean and luxurious hotel with excellent conference facilities and has the ability to hold its own with the demands of that market. It is surrounded by 50 acres of grounds, including a 9-hole links golf course, beautifully-maintained gardens, putting green, tennis courts, well-tended lawns and - just in case - a helipad. It's also right next to the beach. We arrived at reception and check-in was both friendly and efficient. Alex, the duty Manager, could not have been more helpful and really hit it off with Josh - whose name, importantly, was remembered throughout our brief stay. We were assigned our room on the second floor and, choosing not to accept help with our bags, we were soon on our way to see what awaited. Our first impressions - and these are always very important - were certainly positive. A short ride in the mirrored lift brought us to the second floor (out of four) and, thence, a short walk brought us to our room. For a change, we were carrying a real key. A piece of metal, attached to a piece of plastic with our room number (215) etched on it. No keycards here - it's tradition, through and through. And if you leave the hotel (as we did, for supper), you're asked to leave your key at reception. The nice touch was that, on our return, we didn't need to identify ourselves. Alex recognised us immediately and had our key ready. It was a really nice touch. Travelling with baby Josh, we tend to spend a little more time than most people might, ensconced in our room - so it's especially important to me that the room is of a high standard. It also means you get a thorough review of the room! Everybody's happy! Here goes! Most hotel rooms are L-shaped. Admit it! You enter and there's a short corridor with a door leading to the bathroom before you're hit with the bedroom proper. Not so here. The room was square. All 100 rooms are en-suite, but the bathroom is accessed from the heart of the room, not the entrance. I looked around. The room was clean, immaculately maintained, pleasantly decorated. Just not "luxurious". Certainly very adequate and it accommodated every need. There was a colour TV, a large wardrobe, two armchairs, glass-topped tables, desk and chair, telephone, modem point, adequate lighting and superb tea / coffee making facilities with a very good selection of ingredients. Not luxurious, as in "opulent", but certainly very comfortable. I felt like I was in a rather traditional English seaside hotel. It was then that Amanda reminded me that I was, indeed, in England and that we were right by the seaside. We didn't have a sea view, but our view over the well-kept gardens and tennis courts was superb. The bed was large and extremely comfortable. A firm mattress afforded a good night's sleep and additional blankets and pillows were available. We had ordered a cot for the infamous baby Josh and, I am happy to say, this was in situ when we arrived. Having settled in, we decided to go exploring, even though we know Hythe pretty well. The hotel has a delightful and highly acclaimed restaurant, but we'd set our hearts on "Fish 'n' Chips". An enjoyable walk along the sea front brought us to the "Hythe Bay Fish Bar". We were on a mis sion for traditional fish-n-chips, so that's what we had. Far more upmarket meals were certainly available. It's good, but it's not cheap. I'd stick my neck out and say that it wasn't particularly good value. Still, it was ideally located, and a pleasant walk from the hotel. We returned to the hotel, picked up our key and retired to our room. Having read "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" to Josh, he fell asleep. I woke Amanda - obviously my story-telling is superbly effective - and pointed out that the hotel operates a FREE baby-listening service. This is how it works: (a) you put your baby to sleep (b) you shut up for five minutes and pray that the peace will last (c) you 'phone reception and leave the 'phone off the hook and then (d) disappear to the bar whilst reception make silent contact with your room every ten minutes, letting you know if anything's wrong. Josh, bless 'im, made it unnecessary for us to be disturbed. Which was great, especially when you consider that the only reason I visited the bar in the first place was to give you, the lucky reader, an idea of what it was like. I like to give you a full picture of the hotel, and it wouldn?t be complete had I not popped down to the bar. We enjoyed a superb drink in very relaxing surroundings. Classical piped music was relaxing and not intrusive and the service was second to none. Prices were not necessarily cheap, but were not too bad by hotel standards. We were, to a certain extent, against the clock, so only tried one of the bars. I believe that there are three. We didn't try the pool, the sauna or the Jacuzzi, but these facilities are all available, as is a children's playgound, tennis courts, putting green and 9 hole links golf course. They even have a 100-acre wood available for team-building exercises such as paint-balling. Morning came. Our newspaper was delivered to our room and, having glanced throug h it, we were ready for breakfast, as included in the very good value room-rate. I'm not really a "breakfast person", but this really was a superb spread. The eggs were fried to perfection on delightful fried bread, and there was plenty of fruit juice, cereals, tea; you name it! In keeping with the rest of our experience at this hotel, the service was very good. We checked out effortlessly and drove home happily knowing that we'd had a really great stay. I had forgotten my jacket and it was thus not long before we returned. It was waiting for us at reception. Nothing, it seems, is too much trouble. If you're in this neck of the woods - or even if you're not necessarily intending to be - this hotel comes very highly recommended! Andrew

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