Hotel Review – Felbridge Hotel & Spa, East Grinstead, England

Dear reader, it’s time. There are various reasons why this article has not flashed up on your screen until now, but I do worry that at least part of me wanted to keep this place a secret a little longer.

‘Advice for the post-backing generation – which we’re not going to tell you’. That would somewhat diminish the appeal of your website, no?

Quite. I’m sure I worry for no reason but it certainly feels good to finally tell you all about one of England’s best hotels.

Another swanky central London joint?

Actually no. Situated on the outskirts of one of England’s oldest towns, East Grinstead, the Felbridge Hotel & Spa is an ideal base from which to relish the delights of the Great British countryside. The hotel is just 15 minutes from Gatwick Airport and about half way between London and Brighton with excellent rail connections to both from East Grinstead, too…

Felbridge Hotel & Spa

Felbridge Hotel

London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 2BH, ENGLAND +44 (0) 1342 337700

Website: http://www.felbridgehotel.co.uk

When?

Late March 2013, then again in May 2013

Vital stats:

Four stars. Originally built in the 1920s but the new owners carried out a GBP 6 million refurbishment in 2007. 120 rooms over two floors

Location, location, location?

The hotel is actually close enough to Gatwick (about 15 minutes in a taxi) to be considered an airport hotel but is located in the more pleasant surroundings of Felbridge, a suburb of East Grinstead. On the borders of Sussex, Surrey and Kent, East Grinstead is one of the best-preserved towns in the UK and is approximately half way between London and the South coast. This is where you can enjoy some of the most beautiful countryside in the South East of England including the vast Ashdown Forest at the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

You can puff along on the steam trains of the Bluebell Railway (the star of many a film and TV show which now runs all the way to East Grinstead) or with your own wheels visit the historic sites of Hever Castle, Standen, Chartwell and Wakehurst Place. Oh and I nearly forgot…the Felbridge Hotel is an easy taxi ride (or a slightly more difficult but healthier walk) from the best pub in England* – the Wiremill (review coming next.)

* clearly this is a subjective opinion, but it is based on many, many years of research and countless visits during my formative years. I realize I have a limited representative sample for this conclusion so if anyone is willing to sponsor an exhaustive survey I would of course be willing to test every pub in England

What about parking?

Not a problem. There is a large car park on the hotel grounds, and it won’t cost you a penny.

Why choose this place?

It must have been karma or something. To keep a long story relatively short through no fault of our own we missed our flight back to Norway after a brief Easter break in London. Instead of getting on the next available plane that night we decided to extend our stay in the UK by a few days as we were in no rush to get home. Rather than return to London we chose to stay locally and I thought of East Grinstead. I grew up (hah!) not far from here and was often cycling, hiking and driving in the area and knew there were several hotels along the main road south.

Some quick online research from my laptop at Gatwick and it didn’t take long to settle on the Felbridge – especially given the appeal of the indoor pool to keep our daughter happy, the reputation of the restaurants and yes, the proximity to my fave pub…

Room

Four main types of room – Standard Double, Superior Double, Junior Suite and Luxury Junior Suite. We stayed in a Superior Double as a family and I also tried out a Luxury Junior Suite when travelling on my own. Both rooms were modern, stylish and spacious. The beds were excellent with quality mattresses and linen.

Felbridge Hotel

Other amenities include: Flat-screen TV with 17 free channels and pay-per-view, work desk, luxury mattresses, Elemis toiletries, fridge, in-room wired internet access (extra charge – free slower access for one hour), hairdryer, iron, safe, tea and coffee making facilities. All rooms are non-smoking.

Carpets?

Yes. We prefer wood, but the Felbridge’s status as a classic British hotel essentially means that carpets are the norm. These were clean so no complaints there.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are bright and modern and the quality Elemis toiletries were a bonus. I had a few minor niggles – in the Superior Double we had a combined bath and shower which was a little small to use as the former and the “roll top bath” in the Luxury Junior Suite was also far too shallow; however there was a separate shower cubicle. The water pressure in both cases was excellent so no complaints there.

Free internet I hope?

Not really – there is free high-speed Wi-Fi in the public areas of the hotel but not in the rooms. If you want to go online in your room fast wired internet is available at a charge – you’ll need to borrow a cable from reception or better still bring your own as they have a limited supply. There is a free option for an hour of slower access. Neither will help smartphone or tablet users though and this is a major inconvenience.

In this day and age WiFi should be free, fast and available all over the hotel. Now we do support the idea of metaphorically cutting the cord from work etc. when the prime objective of your stay is to get away from it all, but at a hotel like this it just seems wrong not to offer wireless internet access. It’s a place that will appeal to business travellers stopping over at Gatwick after all.

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Hotel Review – K West Hotel & Spa, London, England

London. We just can’t get enough of the place. But with well over a thousand hotels to choose from you’re probably going to need some help narrowing down your choices…

True. The old ‘throw the dart at the map on the wall’ method hasn’t worked so well for me recently.

No…the thing to do is to decide on a few main criteria such as standard, location and facilities and then get looking. Or read reviews on sites like this…

Hah! Nice plug. So what if I want me some luxury, I want to be staying in easy reach of the city and I want to see what all the fuss is about with these spa things?

Wow, that’s uncanny – you’d almost think this conversation was all in my mind. These were my goals when booking an Easter break for the family in London. I ended up with quite a long list of potential places to try (all of which offered me a reduced media rate in return for an honest review) but decided on this one:

K West Hotel & Spa

K WEST HOTEL SHEPHERDS BUSH

Richmond Way, Shepherd’s Bush, London W14 0AX, ENGLAND +44 (0) 208 008 6600

Website: http://www.k-west.co.uk

Email: bookit@k-west.co.uk

When?

Late March 2013

Vital stats:

Four stars. Opened in 2001, 220 rooms over 7 floors

Location, location, location?

The hotel is located in a very trendy part of West London, not far from Holland Park. The Shepherd’s Bush area has undergone a huge transformation in recent years with the addition of the superb Westfield Shopping Centre which is within walking distance. For more traditional sightseeing the big three Kensington museums are within a couple of miles (the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum) as are Harrods and Hyde Park. With the Shepherd’s Bush Central Line tube station just a few blocks away you can reach the rest of the city very easily yet benefit from the peace and quiet of being out of the West End. There are other overground/underground stations within walking distance and plenty of buses pass close by. It’s only eight miles to Heathrow Airport too.

What about parking?

London is never easy on drivers, but if you do make it this far you can let the hotel take car of your wheels. K West offers full valet parking for £1.50 per hour (subject to a minimum charge of £5.00; overnight parking £25.00.) They’ll wash the car for you for an extra charge too.

Why choose this place?

As previously mentioned I was offered a media rate at several London hotels for this particular short break with my wife and daughter but wanted to try something different. I’ve stayed in plenty of chain hotels but also a number of ‘design’ and ’boutique’ places too. Having read some very favourable reviews of K West it seemed an appealing prospect – and it was about time to try a real spa experience too. Given that K West was awarded the top rating of “5 Bubbles” in the 2013 Good Spa Guide, UK it seemed I would be in safe hands…

The problem with a lot of ‘design’ hotels is that they appear to have focused on design rather than practicality; we were keen to see if K West had managed to avoid this problem. The location also intrigued me; I wanted to stay in an area of my former home town that I was not already familiar with and with the easy access to the museums we would have plenty to keep us all occupied. All in all the brief for this stay was a little luxury for the whole family – a splurge, if you will. My review is based on the rates available to the public despite my paying less for the room on this occasion.

Room

Four types of room – Junior Double, Superior, Deluxe and Executive and two types of suite – Embassy and K Suite. We stayed in an Executive room with two single beds; the room was large and well planned with plenty of space and a proper desk to work at as well as an additional sofa bed. Instead of being colourful and overly ‘hip’ it was more subtle and subdued – which I liked. ‘Sophisticated elegance’ is more the style here.

Executive Room - K West Hotel & Spa (medium)

Flat-screen TV, DVD player, iPod speaker connection, Bose speakers, work desk,  LLK London toiletries, customized mini bar (chargeable), in-room internet (extra charge), bath robes and slippers, hairdryer, iron, safe, tea and coffee making facilities. All rooms are non-smoking.

Carpets?

Yes and no. The hall area including the desk space was tiled, but the main area of the room was carpeted. As mentioned ad nauseum in our hotel reviews we think the time has come to chuck out the carpets – wooden floors are the way forward, especially for guests with allergies. Fingers crossed…the carpet was clean though (which it really has to be).

Bathroom

Modern but small bathroom with underfloor heating and spa quality toiletries. Our room had a bath with shower and there wasn’t a great deal of space otherwise. It was good to have the bathroom round the corner from the sleeping area so that early risers don’t have to disturb late ones.

Free internet I hope?

No, and this was the only real let-down. It’s time to drop charges for internet, hotel-owners! No room for discussion here; even if it still is common practice to charge in London somebody should lead the way. The public areas, K Lounge, Kanteen and K Library do offer free internet access, plus there are three computers with free internet located in K Library. But it should still be free in the guest rooms…

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Hotel Review – Best Western Time Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden

The Swedish capital is absolutely one of our favorite Grown-up destinations and we never tire of singing its praises. It is of course not cheap; and finding good mid-range accommodation can be a challenge.

You’re not one to shirk from a challenge though, are you now?

Certainly not, and the last time I visited I stayed at the Best Western Time Hotel and found that it ticks most of the right boxes.

Okay, let’s have the low-down then…

Coming right up:

Best Western Time Hotel

Vanadisvagen 12, Stockholm 11346 SWEDEN +46 (0)8 545 473 00

Website: www.timehotel.se

Email: info@timehotel.se

When?

Mid-September 2011

Vital stats:

Four stars. Built in 2007. 144 rooms over 7 floors

Location, location, location?

The hotel is located in the mostly residential Vasastaden district of Stockholm. It is a little way from the city centre and the nearest metro stop is about a 10-15 minute walk, but there are regular buses that stop close by. During the warmer months you can (and should) make use of the city bike scheme and there is a cycle stand just round the corner from the hotel.

What about parking?

There is a garage under the hotel.

Why choose this place?

I was arriving on a Monday and found a deal online through a third-party site – Stockholm mid-week can be a real killer, so it pays to hunt around on a weekday. Best Western claims it will match and beat any rates but as with most of these guarantees there is a lot of small print. But read our tips page and try calling the hotel directly. So it was the combination of a reasonable rate along with modern facilities that swung it for me.

Room

Five different types of room – Standard, Superior, Executive, Terrace and Junior Suite as well as studio apartments. I booked a Superior room but got a complimentary bump up to Executive on arrival, which was nice. Pretty stylish and modern with trendy colour schemes.

LCD TV, work desk,  hairdryer, parquet flooring, complementary wireless internet access. All rooms are non-smoking rooms.

Carpets?

Nope. Lovely clean wooden floors. I cannot stand grimy carpets in hotel rooms, and I don’t understand why every hotel doesn’t go with parquet instead – not least for hygiene and allergy reasons.

Bathroom

Modern bathrooms with underfloor heating and the usual complimentary toiletries. My executive room had a bath (which is the main step up from Superior) but it was clearly designed for those at least 30% shorter than myself, so wasn’t such a great perk. Hair-dryer provided.

Free internet I hope?

Yes, but it was excruciatingly slow in my room at least, so I ended up using my mobile internet USB stick. Clearly the hotel needs to boost its signal in some areas.

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