“ Address: A66 Redhills / Penrith / Cumbria / CA11 0DT „
We'd already booked a holiday up near Penrith, but decided that we'd like an extra day up there to go and explore a bit more of the Lake District before we met up with our friends for our main holiday. So I was looking round the internet for a cheap hotel for the night. I came across the Travelodge Penrith which for us was ideally situated just a few miles from where we needed to be and at only £49 for the night, seemed a reasonable price to pay. The booking process was very straight forward I simply typed in the date I wanted to stay, the number of people, the number of rooms I wanted on the Travelodge website and it came up with a list of hotels in the area that I could choose from. I chose the Penrith one. It then gave me the option to add on "box breakfast" for an additional £4.95 per person if I wanted to. This looked like an airline breakfast box with juice and a muffin, which I declined as there's a Little Chef next door to the hotel which sells breakfast, which I have to say are quite tasty. Once I'd made my payment I was sent an email confirmation through with the booking reference number on. Simple. When we got to the hotel, which is really easy to find, it's on the A66 just off junction 40 of the M6, set slightly back from the road, but there is a large sign so you can't reall miss it. If you do you have to go to the next roundabout, go all the way round that and back to the motorway roundabout and go all the way round that as well as the A66 at that point is a dual carriage way with no crossing point. It's about 2 miles outside Penrith. Check in was really swift, I was simply asked for my surname and the first line of my home address. I was then given a key, yes a proper key, none of those key card things which have a tendency to not work and told that our room was in the annex building. Now don't panic, you're not put miles away from the main hotel, it's simple that this hotel is split into two small buildings which are side by side but have different entrances. I pulled my car round to the annex and as it happens parked it outside our bedroom window. The building is two stories and has 14 rooms, we were on the ground floor right at the end of the corridor which meant that we didn't get anyone walking past our door. The staff at check in were very friendly. The room its self was surprisingly spacious, there was a double bed, 2 chairs, a table/ dressing table attached to the wall which had the television on it and a large mirror over it. An open plan wardrobe with coat hangers on it and shelves. There was a small kettle, two mugs and a couple of plastic beakers and tea, coffee, sugar and milk so you could make yourself a drink. There was possibly enough room at the side of the bed to get another single bed in it or a cot it was that spacious. The room was clean and tidy and simply decorated in blue and white with a picture over the bed. Nothing special but just right for a couple of nights. The bathroom was basic but had everything you need, a bath with a shower over it, a sink and a toilet, but again it was clean and tidy. However there were no toiletries like you get in most hotels, there was just a thin sliver of soap, which looked like it would disappear after just one use. But seeing as I'd got my own toiletries this didn't worry me. There wasn't a hairdryer either, which maybe a disadvantage for some, but I sometimes prefer to let my hair dry naturally anyway, so it wasn't for me. The bed was very comfortable and the room surprisingly quite being as it was situated on a dual carriage way, the sound proofing definitely kept the noise out. The only thing we heard were the guests staying in the room above us, who had seemed to walk around rather heavily, but even that wasn't that loud. There were also plenty of lights in the room. Most hotels seem to put a light next to the bed and a couple in the ceiling, which don't seem to do much. This one had a light at either side of the bed, one near the door, one near the window and one either side of the mirror. This made the room very bright if you put them all one, but even with just a couple on, it was still brighter than some more expensive hotels that I've stayed in. Check out was surprisingly simple, you just popped the key into the box by the door, there was no need to go back to the reception desk and hand it in. We did have one small problem with the room, there were no towels in the bathroom and as there wasn't a telephone in the room my other half had to walk round to reception to get some. Not a big issue, it was soon retified and an apology given. I'd definitely go back to this hotel again, it was clean and tidy, the staff were friendly and it's a great base for exploring the Lake District. You can also take your pets with you. There is a £20 per pet extra charge to pay for the extra cleaning that they have to do to make sure that the room is fur free for the next guest, but if you can't bear to be parted from your beloved pet, it's a small price to pay.
Is there anything as grim as a Travelodge? No, seriously: even a tacky seaside boarding house has its own dated personality. Each time over the last few years that I've stayed in a Travelodge I've promised myself that it will be last and each time I go back. It's not that I've had a bad experience; on the contrary, I've always found Travelodge to provide exactly what I need for a low cost overnight stay. However, these days I find their no frills style a little too austere and want something that is a little more human. Penrith's Travelodge is situated no more than two miles outside the town centre, on the busy A66; it's popular with people visiting the Lake District (Penrith is known as the gateway to the Northern Lakes), especially those into outdoor pursuits such as cycling (as the number of cars carrying bikes would indicate). It's a fifteen minute walk to the town centre but part of that is on the footpath that runs alongside the A66 and the traffic does thunder past you as you walk; fortunately after 100 metres you leave the A66 and walk along a quieter road. I imagine most guests that stay at this hotel come by car; there's ample parking on site. The reception staff can arrange a taxi into town if you need one but do check about the cost because we were told that the fare can be anything from £5 to £15 depending on the company and the time of day/evening. We booked in advance, securing a £19 room for a Saturday night. Check in was smooth and we found the receptionist very friendly and helpful; there's a lot to be said for hiring older people and I do think we experienced a level of service that's these days less common with the budget chains, which tend to employ young people from other countries who are often not familiar with the local area. Our room was on the ground floor of the second building, reception being in the first building. Even with two buildings this isn't a big hotel and the building plan is such that you don't have loads of people trooping past your room to get to theirs. The sound proofing is good so that even though we were on the front of the building, we couldn't hear any traffic noise. Like so many other Travelodge rooms I've stayed in, you could only describe it as 'alright'. It was clean and everything worked; there were a few minor scuff marks on the walls, the grouting could have done with a freshen up in places and the toilet could have been just a little bit cleaner. The worst thing was that the lampshades were filthy - not dusty but the sort of dirty that comes from age; someone had scraped a finger across one of the shades at some time to prove a point. It made me wonder whether this had ever been a smoking room though certainly there was no otherwise evidence of it having been that. The bed was comfortable enough but would have been more so had the pillow been thicker, or there had been extra pillows; we both folded our pillows in half. Usually I find hotel rooms far too hot, even in winter. Himself fiddled with the heater and got the room to an acceptable temperature though in the early hours it became too cold; the heater also regulated itself with a loud and irritatingly click every twenty minutes or so. The hot water meanwhile worked just fine though the shower was a little feeble. Make sure you bring your own toiletries, only a tiny sliver of soap is provided. There was only one hand towel but the two bath towels were larger than any I've had in a Travelodge (not as big as a bath sheet, but getting there) so I didn't feel too much like moaning. I've noticed recently that Travelodge disconnects the heated towel rail 'for your safety': this makes me wonder why they ever bothered to install them and brings me nicely to another issue about this room. The coat/clothes hanging area is as far away from the heater as it's possible to get and there's only one chair that you could drape a wet garment over; if you'd been out walking or cycling and had been caught in the rain, the chances are your clothes may not dry overnight if very wet. Although this hotel seems popular with cyclists and walkers, it isn't really geared up for their needs; if you're only away for a weekend this may not be an issue but for a longer trip it's probably not suitable. The hotel shares the site with a Little Chef which is open from 7.00am until 9.00pm daily, with last orders taken at 8.30pm. A Travelodge continental in-room breakfast can be ordered from reception and there's a vending machine selling snack items too. The nearby Rooster café and restaurant situated on the way into the town centre is attached to a petrol station and offers much cheaper breakfasts than the Little Chef. Alternatively you could try Café Oswald which is just across the car-park from Rooster: it's the café-restaurant of the Cranston Food Hall which sells quality food and drinks from local producers. This Travelodge is very much a 'motel'; if you want to be close to Penrith town centre then it's not really the hotel for you. On the other hand it is cheap and assuming you got a cheap rate, you could still pay for a taxi to/from town and pay less than you would for a hotel in the town centre. As usual the in room amenities and level of facilities generally were of no great importance to us as we used the room only to sleep and wash. It's not the sort of room you'd want to spend much time in but for £19 we really couldn't find very much to complain about.