“ Address: M6 Southbound, Todhills, Cumbria, CA6 4HA. Tel: 0871 984 6127 „
We booked two double rooms online at this Travelodge, as it was located between two places we were visiting on our short holiday up north - Edinburgh, which is about 100 miles north-east and the north lakes to the south. Typically, Travelodges are easy to find and located by a motorway - as was this one. It was also open all hours with someone always available and appearing keen (even if not so keen) to help.
We tried to book non-smoking rooms but still got smoking rooms. I guess hotel rooms were not included as public working places despite the fact cleaners have to go in there. Fortunately since then, the hotel did go completely non-smoking, but unless they also replaced all of their linen, curtains and carpets, the former smoking rooms will still have that awful stale smell. The guy in reception gave us a Bio-hygiene spray to take away the smell but it didn't really make much of a difference. There was no extractor / fan in the bathroom, so the only way to air it out was to wait until we went out for the day and leave the windows in the bedroom open. They are obviously restricted by how far they open (health and safety) but it still felt a bit risky to leave windows open at all with all our valuables in there (no safe) when we were on the ground floor as well. We tried leaving the windows open at night but this just attracted beetles and daddy-long-legs, and at night someone must be using manure as that was the 'fresh air' we got! Fortunately, the room temperature was never too uncomfortable, so apart from in hot weather this should not be too bad.
The guy in reception when we checked in had told us that the next day they would be fully booked and so there was no way we could get a non-smoking room. Although the smoking/non-smoking thing no longer applies, the fact that Travelodge are clearly still overbooking and then letting down guests that had booked well in advance is disappointing to say the least. The next morning my dad made a complaint to the manager. Suddenly and quite miraculously, two rooms became available and we were moved. The rooms were much cleaner, with nicer facilities (except the kettle, which was smaller). I have to say that as we walked along the corridors, the toilet stench from open rooms being cleaned, was sickening. I thought they were meant to be cleaning, not making it worse?
To give you an idea of how bad the cigarette smoke smell was in our room, after just one night, we were all left with throat/breathing problems and the clothes in my suitcase/laundry bag at the end of the holiday absolutely reeked even after we left the hotel to stay at my great aunt's place. As long as the hotel is in that same building, I think a lot of work will be needed to clear the smell!
There are vending machines in the reception area for snacks, drinks and things you might have forgotten e.g. razors and toothbrushes (about £2.00 each). These things are all quite expensive, so you are better off bringing snacks with you (they are not provided in the room) or picking some things up from the local supermarket. We had to buy a bottle of water and ask for plastic cups (that smelt funny - probably kept with cleaning things) as nether water nor glasses were provided, although we did have mugs.
The rooms have a big sofa (sofa bed) that is very comfortable for relaxing or just dumping extra bags on, as my sister did grr. There is a large dressing table with a TV on, big mirror with lights either side and drawers as you would normally expect in a hotel room. The TV remote (first room) had faded keys and was useless, the second (second room) looked brand new and did not work at all. The channels available are some basic, some freeview I think, but most of the channels other than BBC1 that we would have liked to watch were not available. You get a kettle that may vary in size, two mugs (different shapes and sizes - helpful when sharing as cleaners do not seem to clean them, they either take them or leave them) and tea and coffee by popular brands. Then you have a leaflet explaining the lack of facilities (lol). Some of the reasons seem quite fair, but I am not sure providing a cheap hairdryer in rooms would not dent their finances that seriously. Or else perhaps having at least enough for a tenth of the rooms or something available for lending..
On the shelves, there are two bath towels (no hand-towel etc), spare pillow and in our second room we also had two sets of spare duvet and sheet, which are for the sofa bed if used. There are a couple of drawings on the wall although in my parents' room these had been stolen. I never really take much notice of these things anyway so if they are cutting costs why bother? All the curtains had lots of holes in them. There is also a heater, you need to turn it on and adjust the settings manually but it is easy to use and warms up quickly.
The bedding is quite comfortable. I have skin problems and was not irritated by the sheets. I did, however, find that on the colder nights the duvets were not quite thick enough and I had to keep switching on the heater.
I had left my passage about our breakfast experience, but please note that since I have stayed in other Travelodge hotels and noticed some now offer a proper buffet breakfast, the previous packaged snack breakfast may be phased out. I checked the website again recently and there is no mention at all of breakfast, so if you need, it is worth phoning in beforehand. If you do stay at this hotel and the package breakfast is still on offer, I would suggest that you are better off going into a nearby cafe in town (or the pricier Little Chef/service station facilities if you are in a hurry).
Here is what we had at the time:
It costs £4.50 and is made up of some cheap mass produced packets (what you get varies):
- Long-life milk - small cup ful
- Corn flakes - can be bag, box, plastic bowl thing...
- Nutrigrain bar - we always got strawberry one
- Yoghurt pot by muller - we got alternating peach, strawberry and vanilla flavours - very watered down
- Carton orange juice - smooth or with bits, you won't know until you get it
- Sponge cake
- Pieces of fruit - usually this was a packet of dried apricots
When my dad went to ask about breakfast, he was first told about the Little Chef menu in our rooms (which apparently used to be the place breakfast was served) he first told us yes that's where breakfast is, then finished by saying, just show them your key and you will get a 20% discount. He then realised we wanted to know what we had paid for, so pointed to a list of things, saying we would also get toast. On the first night, we did not get any toast, nor were we offered.
On the last morning, instead of toast we got one croissant each, but instead of the kiddie-cartons of orange juice we got small bottles. As well as the dried apricots, we got a banana each, so I suppose apart from the lack of toast, breakfast got better each day. The milk came a bit late that day and cleaners had taken my mug and my parents mugs plus not replaced our teabags (we drink a lot of tea). I had to go and ask about these but they were brought promptly.
Ahh... room service
Rather than knocking, on one day our breakfast was left at the door. I would not have been bothered but the night before, despite the fact the cleaners had just been - or maybe because the cleaners had just been - there seemed to be dog hair all over the carpet outside our room. This annoyed me, firstly because I am allergic to dogs, secondly because I regard dogs as the second dirtiest creatures (after humans and before komodo dragons) and thirdly because what the hell did the cleaners actually do if the floor is still dirty - don't they vacuum? Our toilets were not cleaned (I think they wait until guests leave), our mugs etc. were taken and not even replaced! They do not even have a proper system for lending hairdryers etc. (see below) It seemed to me that at this hotel a lot of the staff were simply very lazy.
The hairdryers (argh)
For the whole building, (check number of rooms) there were 2 hairdryers, both lent out, or at least missing and the guy in reception could not (be bothered to) find them.
The staff still could not locate the hairdryers on the second day and even knocked on mum's door asking if she had it, even though it was me who asked for a hairdryer and never got it. We later saw a family hand in two hairdryers. It was a father and son who, frankly I can't understand why needed a hairdryer in the first place (both had short hair - no women went out with them so I presume it was for themselves) and even if they did, why two? Surely if they are in short supply they should not be kept for use by only one guest?
The next day I was lucky enough to get a hairdryer and selfishly took it hours before my shower because I was scared someone else would get there first. The rooms are far too cold for people with long hair to let it dry naturally. I tried and was sneezing for ages after. When I finally got to use the hairdryer it was of fair quality.
You also have to borrow irons if you need one - I saw some on the shelf as I suppose they are less needed (but more in supply) but if they were I'm sure the same headache would occur.
Was it worth it?
The truth is, we only stayed here because another hotel we had tried to book with a special offered ripped us off by revoking the offer, by the time we realised what they had done, we were too late and pretty much every hotel was fully booked. I wonder if this one only took our booking because Travelodge are still using their overbooking policy (Watchdog reported this some time back) and perhaps someone else was left out in the cold - or that smoking room. It is only fair to mention this, as we had been looking forward to a proper hotel or at least B'n'B with all those nice little things that make hotel stays different. Possibly this made me view our stay from a more negative perspective, but the facts I have given are no less true - so hopefully this review will still prove helpful enough if you come to your own conclusions about what you expect from Travelodge.
To be honest, I was quite looking forward to leaving this place by the time we left. It was not all bad and I have stayed in far worse, but I just think Travelodge is much more suited to brief stopovers for no more than two nights at a time and not for holidays. It also worked out quite expensive, considering for 4 of us for the three nights, we had to pay nearly £55 for that cheap breakfast. That is the amount for one night's stay in this hotel, which was still also more than I felt was fair for the service etc. you get.
Unless you book far in advance, you won't get particularly cheap rooms or necessarily the rooms you want, but even if you do book in advance, you still might not! Frankly it is better to spend a little more and go somewhere decent.