“ Address: Malkin St / Chesterfield / Derbyshire / S41 7UA / England „
I wouldn't normally book a room in a hotel in Chesterfield since I live less than 15 miles away but I was attending a friend's 40th birthday party recently and after checking out the cost of a taxi I decided to book a room at The Chesterfield Hotel. I lived very near to Chesterfield for many years (much nearer than now) so it's a town I know very well and The Chesterfield Hotel is a large well known hotel less than 5 minutes walk from the town centre. It also has free parking, and parking in the town centre is often difficult and expensive.
The hotel is a large Victorian building almost directly opposite the railway station so it's easy to find but when I arrived I was unsure where to park as the car park is a pay and display car park that appears to be belong to the adjacent leisure centre. I parked there anyway and the receptionist assured me that they owned the leisure centre so as long as I had a reservation it was fine to park there without a ticket. The hotel entrance looked clean and bright with a small bar to the right. Check in was quick and simple and both of the women behind the reception were friendly so first impressions were good.
Unfortunately things went downhill from there so I was thankful we were only staying for one night and that we we wouldn't be spending too long here. The only lift was out of order so we headed off up three flights of stairs. We'd booked a double room without breakfast for £59 as a last minute online deal but the hotel's website implies that the standard rate for a double room is £89. I wasn't expecting much in the way of luxury but the first problem was a peculiar smell. It wasn't a nasty putrid odour but it was everywhere. It seemed to be a mixture between the faint musty smell of a static caravan that I remember as a child and strong perfume, possibly over used to try and disguise it. Without wishing to sound rude it was like the awful rose petal perfume that my nan used to wear. The next problem was that the floorboards creaked with every step and I actually now wonder with hindsight if this building has a serious problem of dry or wet rot.
Anyway, odd smell and creaks aside we found our room and although this was of a reasonable size and clean it was ridiculously hot, not a bad thing in December you might think, but even after opening all of the windows (large bedroom window and bathroom window) it still felt like being in a sauna and we were to discover that there was no temperature gauge on the radiators and therefore no way of regulating the heat. The room itself was quite well laid out with a much larger bathroom than many hotels of a similar calibre I've stayed in and there was a bath and shower and complimentary toiletries. There was a kettle with tea and coffee and a TV but everything looked very old and dated, with a dark wood side. The view was towards the busy dual carriageway directly beneath us.
We quickly showered and changed and went off to the birthday bash but when we returned we heard the floorboards creak every other second (people seemed to be walking up and down the corridors all night long) and it was so hot that we ended up having to sleep with the windows wide open. We also found that the TV remote control didn't work, even after I changed the batteries myself. The receptionist said she'd get a replacement but this never happened. We were leaving the next morning so we didn't kick up a big fuss.
I didn't experience any of the facilities at this hotel but there were a few people in the bar each time I passed. Our booking didn't include breakfast but this was available at an extra cost of about £8 per person., but we didn't bother with that. On the plus side guests can enjoy free access to the leisure centre next door, but we didn't have time for that and there was a decent connectivity to wifi in our room.
The Chesterfield Hotel has 73 rooms and a 3 star rating but I'd suggest that it's more like a 2 star and its ratings are boosted no doubt by its facilities (there are conference/meeting rooms as well as the leisure centre). I'm sure it was once one of the grandest hotels in Chesterfield, but sadly it desperately needs a refurbishment and with the exception of the lobby area it doesn't seem to have had one in the last 30 years. I'm afraid I can't recommend this hotel at all.
The Chesterfield Hotel
Tel: 01246 271141
Fax: 01246 220719
I don't normally do this, but this time around I am going to try rating different elements of my stay. To keep it simple, I'll use a five star scale. Hope this helps.
I found this hotel randomly via Lastminute.com, when I realised I had nearly a week of annual leave left to take and did not want it to be wasted. The deal I got was 4 nights in a single room with breakfast, for £140. Wow, what a deal, I thought. It sounded good, but I did not really research it too well before I went through the checkout, as I was conscious that the deal might not last. Only a few days before I was due to leave, I discovered a couple of websites with predominantly negative, and not just a bit negative but poorly rating reviews of the hotel. My heart sank. It was too late to turn back, and I still wanted to have some sort of break, so with very low expectations, I went ahead with the trip.
When I arrived at the station and walked up the road to find the hotel, I was surprised to find that where I'd thought it was a long, steep uphill walk, I had walked right past it. The hotel was nearer and much bigger than I had imagined, clearly entitled "The Chesterfield Hotel," which even lights up when it is dark making it more obvious! It is literally by a highway bridge, so outside it is not very attractive and it seems like you will be subjected to constant loud traffic noise.
Check In **
My check-in was brief. I did not even need the voucher I printed from my email confirmation, just to sign some papers and confirm my address details. I was offered a wake-up call and papers. I asked for a paper (not realising you had to pay for it, unlike in most hotels) - he said they had pretty much "anything". The receptionist then told me my room was on level 2 and I could either take the stairs or the lift - pointing each out. However, he then went off into the office behind reception, not to remerge that day. Another couple came in and were seen to by another woman in reception. I called the lift, which had the old-fashioned style door that unlocks for you to manually open only once the lift has stopped at your floor and the inside door is fully open. It came but the door would not open. Then it left, so I called it again. It went straight past. I asked the receptionist. She told me, patronisingly enough, to press the call button. I said I had and tried again. Then she witnessed for herself the lift going straight past. Finally she murmured something about housekeeping taking linen down. Fine, I thought, it can't be far, I'll take the stairs. It was a bit of a struggle getting up the first flight with two big bags, and I decided to try the lift one more time. From the first floor, it was fine. I later realised the downstairs one was just a bit dodgy and got used to having to try to open it twice, but it was more the lack of willingness to help that somewhat worried me, especially after the reviews I'd read!
The receptionist also proved useless when it came to asking about the local area. The hotel had advertised - on posters etc. that staff were more than happy to help give us guidance on places to go etc. so I took them up on it. I asked about transport - getting to places like Matlock. The receptionist abruptly replied "I don't know what you're asking me for, I don't drive." All the funnier, as I replied "nor do I!" Well, instead she basically directed me to the tourist information centre, who were very helpful, but I didn't bother asking for anything else from them. She wasn't nasty or rude, but a bit blunt and unprofessional for my liking. I guess this may explain some of the things I was warned about...
There are generally alternative slopes wherever there are steps, or the mini lifts, although they appear to require supervision for use. Only exception I could find to this was that on my floor some of the bedrooms were split onto two half-floors and I could only find steps to these. There are other accessible rooms though, but I can only assume these are equally good. The passage ways are reasonably spacious, but the lift is a tad cramped and probably tricky to use for disabled persons.
The Room **
I got into the room, and was instantly hit by a very strange smell - something I had been warned about from other reviews. It was unpleasant, but not unbearable, and after being in the room for about 5 minutes, it was not noticeable, although it had left me conscious enough of it to open the windows. Admittedly, the decor was not great; in fact I wondered if I had been put into a home by mistake, because it had that feel. Frankly, though, I could not see why this should matter. Yes, I am usually wowed by great looking rooms and enjoy my stay for it that much more, but not having that was not really so off-putting. Plus, for what I paid, what could I expect?
I was impressed to find that although I had booked a single room, this had a double bed and was still of a comfortable size. I'll also add now that the mattress was comfortable, the pillows a bit thin and the sheet/blanket too thin and annoyingly over-tucked in. I wish cleaners wouldn't do this, but I guess you get this in all hotels.
There was plenty of space for storage, inluding a wardrobe and large chest of drawers.There is a small hairdryer, but it is not very powerful and you have to hold the buttons down to keep it on. There's a trouser press and iron, but I did not need either. There's also a fan. There are tea and coffee facilities, and the teas given are various, include fruit/herbal teas and are also plentiful. The kettle takes ages to boil though, so you might not want the drink by the time it's done! I suggest put it on early. You can always keep the water as cool drinking water anyway!
I was disappointed to find that there was no minibar/fridge facility, especially as the room got so hot this would have been ideal. I guess this is an extra luxury that would have bumped up the price, though.
The view from the window was terrible, I guess because I had a room in the middle of the building, but on the other hand I did not have to put up with traffic noise, and anyway I did not spend that long in there.
The one thing that did bother me was the creaking floorboards. They were pretty bad and made me self-conscious just walking around. Luckily I am not a light sleeper, or at least I have no trouble getting back to sleep if disturbed, but this could be a major problem for others because people wandering about at night can be heard really well, even if they are trying their best to keep quiet, which, let's face it, most people do not.
The television had only the basic (actually 4) channels. The reception was poor, but I didn't bother to complain as it was enough for the small number of times I wanted to watch it. For Sky, you would have to use the bar television - and in that case you're watching whatever everyone else will watch.
The bathroom was clean and fairly spacious. I was glad I brought my own shampoo & conditioner, because the bath stuff, as well as being in those tough sachets that I can never open and offering very little for the long-haired person, were frankly rubbish. The bath was extremely slippery, even with the rubber mat down. The window was right next to the toilet, although it did have frosted glass, I needed it open most of the time because it got so hot, so kept pulling the blind down when I needed to use the bathroom. The weird smell from the room did spread into the bathroom, and so that was another reason to keep the window open. It didn't really make a difference to it, though.
On the first morning I was very disappointed. Everything I fancied seemed to have been absent. The only sign of a continental breakfast was a sorry slice of cheese on a plate. There were no pasties, very little cereal and the fruit looked lonely. I was offered cooked breakfast but didn't fancy it so had toast instead. I had cereal and juice then rushed off, hoping the next day would be better. Thankfully, the next day I came earlier and found that actually the spread was not so bad if you catch it in time. They had mini croissants and 'pain au chocolat's - no muffins, mind. I was offered cooked breakfast and went for porridge and toast again. Apparently there is a vegetarian cooked, but to be honest I'm just not into that stuff any more and it's usually far too greasy for me. The choice of juices was good, although the fruits still left much to be desired. The food was all good and the porridge was particularly tasty. The hot drinks offered were tea and coffee. I always had coffee, but I did ask for hot water with it as I prefer mine weak, and this was fine. The portions of cooked foods looked generous, but as I did not eat any, I'm just going by my nosing and can't say how good it was. As there was little choice of cereal and those there were not very well laid out, I can't highly rate breakfast.
I hadn't planned on eating any of my evening meals in the hotel, in fact I had a very awkward moment where I'd asked reception about any good restaurants nearby and her reply started with an offended "apart from out restaurant?". The hotel restaurant is called "Steaks 'n' Stuff", not really the best name for a restaurant in the first place. After finding that everything in town was closed and I was too tired to travel out, I decided one evening to just try it out.
I found a seat and ordered my drink. The waiter was friendly and the service not bad; perhaps a little slow. I decided quickly to try the garlic bread and vegetable fajitas with cheese. I asked what cheese it was and he didn't know but said it might be cheddar and did offer to ask. That was ok by me. The food came eventually, but it was worth the wait. Everything was cooked nicely, still quite hot and tasty. The wraps were not covered, but they were slightly crispy and didn't get so dry and chewy as you might expect.
As I wasn't too full, I decided to have to have a pudding - the chocolate fudge cake to be precise! Now, as I have come across places where animal fat or gelatine or something, whatever, is used that means it is not vegetarian, so I asked (I might be okay with fish but I religiously avoid meat or other animal products). The response I got was a sarky "well, there's no meat in it!", but I just persisted explaining why I had asked and insisted he check. I don't think I should have had to explain myself though, and I felt a bit bad about that. However, when the dessert arrived, it was worth it.
The overall price was about £17, and for a good three course meal, with good quality food, especially in a hotel, I think this was fantastic. The atmosphere was quiet, but comfortable and had I the time I would have happily eaten there again. It was also very convenient to be able to eat a good meal without going out.
Leisure centre ****
I took my key on its embarrassingly big tag/keyring and went down to the leisure centre with my swimsuit underneath my clothes (always come prepared!). The guy down there was very friendly, asked me to sign in and took my key, which he replaced with a locker key. He warned me that it might appear I need to use a pound for the locker, but actually I don't.
I was glad I'd come prepared because there are no private changing cubicles!! Also, the showers are all open-plan. I wouldn't fancy changing in the loos, although they do look clean enough, but I guess that's an option for those who'd rather not bare all or cower behind a towel!
As you are given a locker key, you are allocated a locker number, and often enough your locker will be next to someone who is already in there changing! There are a few lockers, but I suppose it is easier to take a key from the same shelf or something. There's not really enough room to comfortably change. There seemed to be a floor wiping device sitting neglected on the floor most days, but I can confirm that it is used. The changing room showers are nice and warm, but there never seemed to be enough soap so bring your own!
The sauna is reasonably hot but a bit on the small side, so it is a bit cosy with three people, and a bit cramped with four. The steam room is much bigger, yet seemed to be empty more often! It was not hot enough, I think, but it was good for spending more time in. I do wish they'd make the seats more comfortable in these things. The cold shower is far too cold for me and impossible to adjust temperate-wise. That can be harmful, so it is worth noting.
The pool is a good size and has a proper deep end - not to suggest I'd recommend jumping in. It is set in very nice surroundings with tropical-type plants and the Jacuzzi bubbling away in the corner. With big windows and nice décor, it was pleasant as could be in winter. There are also some sunbeds, which are comfortable but would take more effort than I cared to use to adjust.
Whilst I was there, I spent most of my time relaxing, therefore did not use the Gym. To be honest with all the uphill walking I did, I think that I would have ended up with an injury if I did. The Gym never looked busy, was surrounded by mirrors and always had music telly on quite loud. There was a variety of machines, but as I did not try them I'm afraid I can hardly comment.
WiFi and Bar **
The WiFi is free, but I am still evaluating it as if it were paid for by us, because I took this into account when booking the hotel, where I could potentially have decided to take a cheaper hotel or one with other features then used Internet cafes. So I still expect it to be good. The convenience of nearby Internet access is valuable today. At this hotel, the access is only really available in one room, at the bar of the hotel. The bar are was crowded most evenings, funnily enough with other people like me being all nerdy with our laptops out (plus those watching the cricket/footie on the telly)! There are sockets down there, but you might have to share when it is busy. The connection, once in the bar area, is good. But the Internet is fairly slow, and being in such a public area you lack the privacy. I'd have to admit someone else was watching something on YouTube (no, you would NOT watch rude stuff in public), and I was peering over his shoulder at times, in spite of his headphones. Also as I was on my own down there, I felt conscious of the others. Most people were very friendly, but there was this one really weird bloke who kept staring at me until I couldn't stand it and got up and left. I've been stalked before, it's not nice and it is certainly not worth standing your ground just for the sake of checking your emails! So really, it's not a proper WiFi service, but it is there just in case you need to use it.
Check out ***
I took the key to reception and the guy printed off my bill. I was only expecting the meal bill, but was also billed for the papers (as I've only ever had complimentary papers, this was surprise enough, but I discovered later I was also overcharged for them, cheek!). Luckily there were no other charges, so I paid up and asked if I could leave my bags with them. After suspcisiously checking my bag and asking how long I'd be, he agreed. I collected my bags hours, later that day as I spent the day out, so for this I was grateful. Makes up for the paper charge methinks!
Considering I was expecting this to be a nightmare stay, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be alright. Frankly, if you go on holiday to look at carpets and ceilings, and sniff hotel rooms, you won't be impressed. Refurbishment may be going at snail-pace, and the decor is quite outdated in some areas. But despite creaky floorboards and some mild unprofessionalism, I think the place is not bad, far more comfortable than some places I've seen and not unfriendly. For the price, which was fairly low, I felt that I got a really good deal, but I was disappointed in the extra things I tend to enjoy, like a decent telly and Internet, and a more professional service.
For short trips, particularly for business purposes and when you are in the company of people who know the area, this is a very good, budget hotel, but for longer holidays or lone trips like mine, it is merely acceptable. I don't regret staying here, but I've learnt of a few things I will look out for in future, particularly to read more reviews!
Also on Ciao.
The hotel is conveniently located at the gateway of the Peak District National Park, and within sight of the world famous Crooked Spire