“ Address: A449 Southbound / Shorthill Nurseries / Hartlebury / Kidderminster / Worcestershire / DY13 9SH / Tel: 0871 984 6079 „
I should start by saying that, though I like a bit of luxury as much as the next person, I'm no hotel snob. I've stayed in some varied places in my forty odd years on this planet, from hostels in Prague, to tents and even a Greece bound ferry deck; I'm not too fussy, as long as I can sleep generally I'm happy and I'd go back to most places, though perhaps not that memorable hotel in Casablanca with the bed bugs...
So when, in typical fashion, I'd left it too late to find a family room for an overnight wedding stay, and the only choice was the Travelodge Hartlebury, I wasn't too worried even though I knew the brand has a reputation of being more cheap than chic. All we were looking for was a place to crash, and our demands were few. Surely, at £45.95 for 4 things couldn't go too wrong? Nonetheless, I did have a quick look at tripadvisor pre-booking, and was mainly reassured, though I did find it strange that the most positive review came from someone who lived a stone's throw away from the hotel. On arrival I was soon to find out that I'd have done well to research further, our stay, albeit short, was to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
I don't know, but I suspect, that all Travelodge rooms and facilities are pretty standard - this one is situated handily off the dual carriageway between Kidderminster and Worcester. Those not attending family functions might well choose to stay here to visit the West Midlands Safari Park or Severn Valley Railway in nearby Kidderminster. Kiddy, as it is affectionately known to locals, is a town rich in past glories - it once had a huge carpet industry and Sir Rowland Hill, who invented the stamp was a resident, but nowadays full of retail parks. The Travelodge itself is about 4 miles out of Kidderminster, nestled between a Little Chef and what appeared to be a caravan open air showroom - there's nothing particularly wrong about the location for a short stay and parking is ample and free.
In an endeavour to be a little more organised we checked in early in the day and, despite a warm welcome at the desk this is where things started to go wrong. When we arrived in our ground floor room with our key in hand (no flash card thingy here), the room smelled a little musty. I was glad we had been a little organised in checking in before the function as we soon realised that there were only enough, sheets for two and there was no bedding for the sofa bed that was, in theory, to be our off-springs' place of slumber for the night. Traipsing back to reception earlier than planned I was, eventually, given more bedding, for some reason the man on the desk didn't actually believe me when I told him that there were only 2 pillows and no, there were no sheets. I'd like to hope I don't look like someone in need of making off with extra hotel pillows, but he took some convincing. Staggering back to the room with a pile of bedding in my arms (no offer to bring them to the room) it was like bedsheet change at uni, circa 1988 all over again.
The room itself was a little tired looking, but this was not so much of an issue as the thing that was to plague our stay and render any other detail of our room meaningless - the smell. If you can imagine sticking your head into a plastic bag containing a damp swimming kit that has been festering for a while - that was our room. It was a horrid, cloying odour that got worse the longer you were in the room and no amount of airing changed anything - in any case the windows didn't open far. In retrospect we should have been a little less British about it and asked to move, I know that this was only a problem in the rooms as you turned left at the entrance as another member of the wedding party was also on the ground floor and their room was absolutely fine. I don't know, but I suspect that if you book in early you are more likely to get a smelly room - I don't think this can have been a momentary problem as that stink was ingrained.
As if it actually mattered, given the main problem, the room itself was, for the price, absolutely fine in other respects, it could have been a bit cleaner but it was ok, though the bathroom definitely had retro tiles and tired looking fittings going on but it was all right, and everything seemed to work, though I didn't have a shower as that would have lengthened my stay. There was adequate storage, a TV (non lcd) and tea and coffee making facilities. I've got to be honest and say that we spent as little time as possible actually in the room, being the designated driver I mainly spent the time we were in the room wishing I could have drunk more so that I might have got to sleep more easily. The smell wasn't one you could get used to or overlook, it was so bad that I could still smell it on our clothes when we got home, and the worst thing was I couldn't be 100% what it was exactly that smelled. Given that I was the one that ended up sleeping on the pull out bed, the kids having decamped to the more comfy double early on, all in all it was a pretty miserable stay and we left as soon as we could in the morning, ignoring the delights of the Little Chef and the vending machines in the entrance and heading for home with me vowing never to return, and feeling ever so slightly ripped off.
Overall I can't complain about the staff and the hotel wasn't particularly noisy but staying at this Travelodge was, in all honesty a pretty grim experience. Should you wish to stay here there are 32 rooms in all (one per parking space) with some having twin beds, and all having an ensuite bathroom, pets are accepted and it's wheelchair accessible and non-smoking. The Little Chef across the car park by all accounts does a good breakfast - no food is included at the Travelodge.
This establishment was, I felt at the time of my visit in late 2010 well overdue a refurb, and I can't recommend it. If you do decide to stay there try and get room in the right "wing" of the building, but whatever you do - don't turn left.....