“ Address: 2 Mill Lane / St Radigunds / Canterbury CT1 2AW / Kent „
~~~~~THE MILLERS ARMS, CANTERBURY, KENT~~~~~
~~~THE REVIEWER'S TALE~~~
~~IS THERE ANY ROOM AT THE INN?~~
I knew in advance the date of my son and his fiancée's graduation ceremony, which was to be held in the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral, but the actual times of the ceremony weren't sent announced until the date was drawing near.
My husband, myself and the graduands, decided we would like to stay the night in Canterbury after the ceremony. After all, this would be in January and there was a good chance that the weather conditions could be bad and so to save having to drive home in the dark, on possibly icy roads, we thought it would be prudent to book a room in the town. Also, this would mean we could enjoy a meal with my son's girlfriend's parents and my husband could enjoy a glass of champagne to toast the graduates and perhaps enjoy another drink or two as he wouldn't need to drive. The trouble was...we didn't know until near to the time of the ceremony that there would be so many students and their families filling up Canterbury. In fact, three graduation ceremonies were to take place on that day meaning that Canterbury would be a very busy place on this winter's day...and night. Because of this finding somewhere to stay on the Friday night of the graduation wasn't an easy task.
As my son had lived in this area for three years he knew which establishments were near to the cathedral. I have difficulty walking too far and so accommodation within close proximity to the cathedral was necessary. But little was available and our choice seemed to be very limited. We must have looked on-line at every hotel and bed and breakfast within a ten to fifteen minute walk from the cathedral. Very few had availability.
We ended up with a rather limited list of hotels and pubs/inns to phone and double check for vacancies. We crossed them off, one by one from our list, as we were told they were full. There really didn't seem to be any room at any of the inns in Canterbury for us. I was getting worried by now as we were looking forward to our night away. I was even considering asking a certain reviewing acquaintance, who lives in this area, if he had a spare sofa or two! We just hadn't anticipated quite how full Canterbury gets on graduation days.
But we had found one strong possibility when looking online and that was The Millers Arms Inn. My son remembered having a drink in here when he had a while to wait for his train at the nearby station of Canterbury. Although he hadn't seen the rooms he thought that the pub was of a good standard with a good clientele. We noticed online that there were a few rooms left.
I could have booked online through various sites or the Shepherd Neame website but as I wasn't sure about the parking here I preferred to telephone and ask for more information. So I did this and fortunately was told that two double rooms were available.
I gave details of my debit card which is standard when booking rooms and details were taken down. The rooms would cost £75 each which included full English breakfasts. As two of us don't eat meat we were pleased that a vegetarian breakfast was available. All necessary details were recorded and the booking process took no more than five minutes.
And so we were booked at last and all gave sighs of relief; we could now look forward to this momentous occasion, for us all.
~~ANY MORE ROOMS?~~
But then when full details of the actual ceremony arrived we found that the graduands had to arrive quite early in the day to obtain their hired gowns, mortar boards and to be in time to have professional photos taken at their former university. The ceremony itself was for two thirty p.m. When thinking about this I had a bright idea! Or not!
"Let's treat ourselves to two nights in Canterbury!Then we won't have to worry about getting caught in traffic on the Friday morning." Everyone thought this was a good idea and we felt that the night prior to the ceremony would be easier to find accommodation. But it seemed many others had the same idea as us and had planned to spend two nights in Canterbury. I again rang the Miller's Arms (and a few other places) asking for rooms for the night before the graduation but was told that they only had one room and it was the more expensive four poster room. Well, I only wanted a bed for the night plus a shower-nothing as fancy as this. We continued trying to find somewhere else for the Thursday night but without success.
Eventually we all decided that the best thing to do was for the younger couple to stay at another hotel for the first night, which was further away from the cathedral than the Millers Arms (but they are young and like to walk!) and my husband and I would see if the four poster room was still available. Fortunately, It was. The price for this room was £98 for one night with bed and breakfast. I asked for a discount and was given a small one. I was told that although we would have to change rooms on Friday morning, as the four poster room was booked, we could leave our luggage securely, if our new room wasn't ready when we had to leave for the ceremony.
~~THE INN ON THE MILL~~
Taken from the website: http://www.millerscanterbury.co.uk
'The Millers Arms was built in 1826 to serve local mill workers and overlooks the Cathedral and the site of the old mill on the causeway. The pub, which includes 11 en-suite rooms, has been fully refurbished with modern facilities while retaining its character.'
The inn is old and historical and as the rooms are named from Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' I feel the effect is even older. But then, Canterbury itself is full of history and for those receptive the past is evident in many a nook and cranny.
~~LOCATION OF THE INN~~
For our needs this was in a great location within easy walking distance to both the university and even nearer to the cathedral. Our car was able to have a nice rest in the car park for the time that we spent in Canterbury. Shops, pubs and restaurants were close by.
On arrival at The Miller's Arms we paid five pounds for a car park pass and were asked to sign a registration form. It was mid-afternoon and our room was ready for us. We explained that our son and his fiancée would arrive the following morning and would need to leave their luggage in this hotel early so to arrive at their graduation (before the check in time) as they would by then be checked out of the other hotel. We were assured that staff at The Millers Arms would try to get a room ready early and if one wasn't ready in time then their luggage would be kept securely. Also, the young lady on reception wrote a note requesting that our room for the following day also be prepared early enough for us to move our things into it before leaving for the ceremony.
We were shown to our room which was up a small flight of stairs and along a narrow corridor. It was apparent that this was indeed a very old building and I loved it! The door was opened upon a lovely room which, I thought, looked nicer than it had appeared online.
'He thought he was Henry V111 but I still have my head.'
The Millers Arms has eleven en-suite rooms.
~THE MILLER'S TALE (Four poster room)~
This was the room we spent our first night in. I was surprised by the size of the four poster bed-it was as wide as it was long. It must have been super king size. After the long drive my husband sank upon the bed and looked quite comfortable.
"Get up!" I exclaimed, "You look like Henry the eighth!"
Immediately I noticed the warmth of the room (it was cold outside) as the radiators were switched on in the bedroom and also in the bathroom.
I fell in love with this room immediately. I thought it looked much better than it had in the on-line photos I'd viewed. But then, I admit I'm a sucker for quaintness.
The Millers Tale (rooms are named from The Canterbury Tales)is a large corner room with two windows showing different aspects-one was of the road and car park opposite (nicer than it sounds) and one a lovely view of the weir opposite. It was fairly busy outside with people going about their business but it was interesting and, in my opinion, quite charming.
The bedside tables each had reading lamps but these were a little awkward as they had to be switched on and off at their sockets which were behind the bedside tables.
The room was furnished with a leather sofa, table, chest of drawers/table, dressing table and wardrobe (with further drawer space) which held extra bed covers.
The bed had a mattress topper on, pillows and cushions. The natural fibre duvet felt luxurious but on account of it not being synthetic may not appeal to everyone. I didn't sleep that well; it was a little noisy in the very early hours of the morning, I think perhaps due to staff arriving and things being moved around. But I was still comfortable.
A flat screen television with remote control was in the room as was a telephone.
The dressing table housed a hairdryer, lamp, a further spotlight lamp and a box of tissues.
The hospitality tray was well equipped offering tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar, milk and a choice of biscuits.
To move quietly in the room was impossible; the old floorboards creaked easily. But I loved this as it reminded me of the history and character of this inn.
The sash windows were single glazed and could be opened.
The floor was carpeted.
The bathroom was large and contained toilet, basin, radiator, heated towel rail, large corner Jacuzzi bath with an attractive shower above. The shower was good with plenty of hot water.
I liked the supply of toiletries; two small bottles of all-in-one shampoo/conditioner, two shower/bath gel, two shower caps and two small soap tablets.
The bathroom had an automatic extractor fan but no window. The next morning the walls and floor were wet with condensation-a drawback of a building as old as this I think.
~THE SQUIRE'S TALE~
The room we moved into on our second day was called The Squire's Tale and this was very close to our first room. We were given a choice between this and The Pardoner's Tale. The Pardoner's was nicer, in my opinion but up a further (short) flight of stairs and it was easier to simply walk a few steps with our luggage and we were sorted. Also, we thought after the lovely room we had stayed in on the previous night it seemed only fair to let the young couple have the superior room.
This room was a standard double and markedly smaller than the four poster one but still perfectly adequate and with plenty of storage. The view wasn't as nice, showing rooftops, but was as expected.
The bed was comfortable. The room clean and well heated.
There was an over bath shower in here and it gave a lovely constant hot spray.
The toiletries supplied were the same as in the first room.
Both rooms had a good supply of fluffy white towels.
~~BREAK YOUR FAST~~
When researching this hotel on-line I was impressed with the vegetarian choice of food on its menu and also saw that a vegetarian breakfast was supplied.
When my husband and I entered the dining room the first morning of our stay, we were told to help ourselves from the selection of juices, cereals yogurts and bread. We were then asked if we wanted tea or coffee by a waitress and were asked what we would like for breakfast. The menu offered:
Full English breakfast, vegetarian full English breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled egg, eggs Florentine muffin, smoked salmon and smoked salmon and scrambled egg on a muffin or pancakes with banana and bacon.
I requested the vegetarian breakfast and my husband requested the full English. We were asked how we wanted our eggs served- poached, fried or scrambled.
The waitress went away but soon returned to inform me that they didn't have vegetarian sausages. I was offered something extra from the menu so I chose an extra hash brown. I later heard another guest ask for a vegetarian breakfast only to be disappointed and someone else asked for haddock and was also disappointed. I'm actually not that bothered if I have a vegetarian sausage or not but do think if a vegetarian breakfast is offered then catering staff should ensure they have a few vegetarian sausages in their freezer; if they run out then someone should quickly get some in, after all I did inform them when checking in the previous day that I (and my son's fiancée) were vegetarians. But I must stress that this did not detract from my stay. My breakfast was enjoyable but I do feel that many hotels/inns should try harder when catering for vegetarians. I feel vegetarians are often treated as an afterthought and this needs to be addressed. Vegetarian sausages weren't available the next morning either.
Yes, breakfast was lovely. In fact the scrambled eggs I ate at The Millers Arms were the best that I have ever tasted- I think they must have been made with cream.
The standard of the food was very good and so was the service. Food was cooked in a reasonable amount of time and the waitress was attentive.
From the dining room could be seen a pleasant looking outdoor area with seating. This would be lovely in warmer weather.
The bar was quaint and had a 'real' and very welcoming inglenook fireplace within. There was a generous amount of candles flickering on tables adding to the 'old fashioned' ambience. The bar itself was long and the room narrow. The bar offers traditional Kentish cask ale.
There were toilets off of the lounge bar and further toilets off of the restaurant. I found these clean and well equipped.
I asked staff if the hotel could cater for physically disabled guests with a view to reviewing it and providing any relevant details. As I had thought, I was informed that because the hotel building was so old, that it was difficult to accommodate guests needing wheelchairs. There are no lifts and all rooms are accessed by some stairs. However, if walking difficulties are moderate then there are first floor rooms which can be reached by only having to ascend a short flight of stairs. Wheelchairs users, I believe, would find this hotel unsuitable.
~~HELPFULNESS OF STAFF~~
The staff of this small inn greatly added to our pleasure of staying here. We found reception staff knowledgeable regarding the area and very helpful. We asked them to call us a taxi a couple of times which they did. Staff were polite and accommodating at all times.
Maids preparing the rooms were extremely helpful and as they knew we wanted to move our luggage into our new room before we went out they ensured that our next room was prepared as quickly as possible.
The room was available for our son at 10.30a.m. This was rather than 2.00p.m. (Normal booking in time) which helped to make things run smoothly and to schedule.
I felt staff here showed flexibility and a willingness to help. I believe they showed pride in this hotel. Even when we were checking out on Saturday morning and the rooms were being cleaned we weren't rushed at all.
The Inn doesn't have its own car park but for the cost of £5.00 a twenty four hour pass is given for the car park opposite. This however, doesn't guarantee parking if spaces aren't available but it does ensure that parking is a reasonable option in regard to cost.
While we were here we noticed that there were always a few available spaces in this car park, although car parking in Canterbury isn't easy and this was an especially busy time.
~~PILGRIMAGE TO CANTERBURY~~
(How to get there)
Canterbury is in the county of Kent (the garden of England) which is in south east England.
Canterbury is on junction 7 of the M2 motorway.
Canterbury is served by two rail stations, Canterbury East and Canterbury West. The Miller's Arms is nearest to Canterbury West.
2 Mill Lane
Telephone: 01227 456057
~~TO END MY TALE~~
I thoroughly enjoyed staying here. I found the food good and the rooms comfortable with good storage space. I read several reviews of the Miller's Arms before booking and was a little worried about staying here when reading a few unfavourable reviews, but I know form past experience that people look for different things in accommodation. Of course we didn't have much choice in where we stayed as the city was so full, but I would stay here again. I have to say that I cannot understand how anyone could find it dirty. I had a good look in our rooms when first being in them and can honestly say that the three rooms I saw whilst staying here were very clean. I also witnessed both mornings of my stay the chambermaids' cleaning-polishing, vacuuming and changing sheets.
This is a very old listed building and for me and my family staying here was a treat.
It was worth paying the extra for the four poster room yet I also felt the Squire's was comfortable and perfectly adequate for a short stay. I would be happy to stay here again.
This inn is not best suited for those wanting ultra-modern accommodation that perhaps lacks character. Yes, the floors did creak but this is a very old building. For me, well, I prefer to stay in inns and hotels that have something more than sterile rooms on offer. Give me the history anytime.
I would say The Millers Arms inn was better than I expected.