Rather than dashing up to Birmingham and back in a day we decided to make a weekend of the Photography Show and our “Press tickets”. Well as much as you can at the NEC in Birmingham and check into the Premier Inn. As if I haven’t seen enough of Lenny Henry during all our Comic Relief shenanigans we thought we might catch up with him somewhere on the M6.
Sadly he wasn’t there but that was the only disappointment about our trip.
Premier Inns are what they are, and I love them for that. They aren’t pretending to be luxury, or destinations, or THE place to be for a romantic weekend away. They are good, clean, reasonably priced hotels, generally in places where people need to stay for something else. Airports / conference centres / the centre of town /motorways. And the one we stayed in this weekend was no exception, on the periphery of NEC car parks, and just off the M42.
Check in was easy, and whilst there was no queue to do this face to face with the receptionist, at busier times there is the option of doing it with the self service counters using just your booking reference or credit card. A great facility if you are in a hurry. We were slightly baffled by the parking charges and how to pay so asked the receptionist who immediately told us not to worry she could sort it out for us. Excellent, keying number plates and debit card numbers into keypads whilst juggling our cases was always going to be a recipe for disaster with us.
Within ten minutes we were in our room which was bright, clean and just what we needed. Again, it is what it is for the price. There is no mini bar or room service menu, and in the bathroom there are no toiletries to nick. There are soap dispensers on the wall, and you don’t need a mini bar when there is a bar downstairs next to the restaurant.
Soap dispensers on the wall can make for interesting methods of operation though if you are in a hot bath and can’t be bothered to move, as Mr B demonstrates:
What Premier Inn get right is the beds. When people are away for a night ahead of an exhibition or early flight they want a decent night’s sleep in a comfy bed. And that is exactly what Premier Inn deliver. Huge comfy beds, a range of pillows, and a clean ensuite bathroom, that’s all your really need.
I also love that there is 30 mins of free wifi a day for customers, and if you choose to pay for more it is not extortionate. In fact it is the cheapest I have found in a hotel. We paid just£5 for three devices for 24 hours which I thought was a bargain. I get really cross about paying £16 for 24 hours when I have a three hour meeting in our local hotel. That is more than I pay for a month at home! So a fiver for Mr B’s phone and my laptop was great value for money. It was super fast too which was a bonus.
We did also try the restaurant whilst we were there, well rude not to really isnt it? The menu was extensive and reasonably priced but there were also loads of great deals on food. But because of that it was rammed. Thankfully the receptionist when we checked in had warned us we should book as it gets busy, or we would have been stuck! Deals include ones such as this:
Two courses, a drink AND breakfast for less than £25, you can’t go wrong for that kind of money, can you?
Mr B couldn’t be bothered to look at the menu so just said “order for me” and the temptation to be mean and order him coleslaw with a side dish of coleslaw was overwhelming. I went for the bacon and rarebit burger, which was enormous, and a bargain at £11.25. I do have to be honest here and say we thought the kitchen might have been struggling as there were people on other tables who had been waiting nearly two hours for their meals, but ours was delivered promptly.
Again if I am being brutally honest I didn’t like the fact you had to go up to the bar to order drinks mid meal, it just didn’t seem right be leaving a plate of hot food to go and get more drinks. And the restaurant is missing a great opportunity to sell more drinks by not having maybe just one more member of staff taking drinks orders. We also weren’t asked if we wanted dessert. There was no way we could have eaten another thing but it seems a shame that people generally weren’t being asked the question but were being hurried out. And then to the bar to pay, not being able to pay at the table.
Breakfast the following morning though was a different story. We were greeted with the biggest smile by a lady called Sheila who explained how breakfast worked, that it was an unlimited buffet, could she get us anything else etc. She also made sure that every table had sauces and salt and pepper (something that had also been hit and miss the night before). She was so fabulous that I felt the urge to tweet Premier Inn and ask that she be complimented on running a great service that morning.
I love a hotel breakfast, it is often the best bit of the stay for me. And this didn’t disappoint. All you could eat sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms, hash browns and tomatoes. Or cereal, yogurts, pastries (so I am lead to believe, I don’t acknowledge their existence when the above is on offer). It was fantastic. We ate so much for breakfast that we didn’t eat again all day.
So all in all, it was a great stay and great value for money.
We were offered a complimentary night in the hotel. All other expenses such as wifi, drinks and dinner were ours.