It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hotel Review : Premier Inn, Leamington Spa, UK

This was my second stay at this property, and this is the only Premier Inn I've stayed at, so this review might not be applicable to the entire chain.

UK hotels are known the world over for being madly expensive, but chains like Premier Inn have figured out that if they provide good basics, they can get great occupancy repeatedly.  You will average around £70/night at most of their properties, but of course those rates do increase when events and things are on locally and they can make more money.  You can even get rooms as low as £25 from time to time, but I've never managed that!

I stayed for two nights on each of my visits and I can say that the Leamington Spa Premier Inn has the friendliest staff I've experienced at any hotel anywhere in the world, and I'm talking friendlier than 5* star properties.  They are all just so nice, cheery and helpful - nothing is too much trouble for them.

This property is in an old renovated shopping centre space, though you wouldn't know that if you hadn't been told.  It looks like it's part of the terraces along The Parade in Leamington, and it fits in very well and is in a great location for visiting the area.  It's clean and modern inside - I don't think it's been open for too long.

There's a self check-in desk in the lobby, but there's always a happy staff member around if you need help getting through that - though it's pretty basic stuff, and the machine spits out your room number and also your room key.

The property is only on two levels and the rooms are very generously sized.  Each basic room I've had has a king sized bed (remember the post I did on bed sizes - UK king is smaller than US king) and a chaise lounge, plus a desk and chair, and TV on a set of shelves.  The bathrooms are a good size too, with a shower over the tub.  The towels are rather large and soft for a budget chain, but there's no dinky bottles of shampoo etc., just a dispenser of "hair and body wash" on the wall - yucko.

The beds are very comfortable, and Premier offers a "sleep guarantee" - they will actually refund your bill if you don't sleep well!  My only quibble with their beds is that their duvets are so incredibly thick that you could take them along on an Arctic expedition and not get cold.  This would probably be okay if you could open the window, but all of the windows are locked closed for safety reasons (grrrrr, hate that!).  You have to keep the air conditioning on all the time at about 19c or you will get too hot.  If you think you're going to boil whilst you sleep, ask the friendly staff for a sheet that you can use instead of the duvet if you don't want to sleep in the air conditioning.

I had breakfast there each morning and even the catering staff are really friendly.  The cook happily put my bacon under the grill each morning to give it a "crisp up" as it was a bit pallid looking and their sausages are scrumptious.  I love a good UK fry up, but there's also a cold selection (breads, cereals, yoghurts) and a really yummy Costa coffee station with bottomless refills - their cappuccino is lovely - all for the breakfast price of £8.75/person.  It is really good value.

I think Premier Inn in Leamington Spa is great value and I'll stay there again if I'm in the area.  My only quibbles are the madly thick duvets and the note in the shower asking you to consider the environment and re-use your towels if you wish - if the duvets were thinner or if you could open the windows, you wouldn't need to have the air conditioning on 24/7 and that would be a hell of a lot better for the environment!  Rant over.

There's great parking behind the hotel in a council car park for £4/24 hours - you can't beat that.

154-156 Parade
Leamington Spa  UK  CV32 4BQ
Phone:- 0871 527 9380

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My New Fave Drink

One of the many perks about doing so much travel is that I get to try lots of new food and drinks.  When I was last in London I got to try Stella Artois Cidre Pear - it's so YUMMY!  I don't like normal cider so much, but this stuff is great.

It's a perfect summer drink, and even though we're going into the colder months now, I'm going to try and get some into my fridge.  If they sell it where you live, or you manage to get your hands on some whilst you're travelling, please give it a try.

Has anyone seen any Stella Artois Cidre over here in Germany?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

UK Pub Of The Year!

The Good Pub Guide 2015 has just named The Rose & Crown, in Snettisham, Norfolk, as the UK pub of the year.

We were lucky enough to stay there two years ago, and I reviewed it on my blog HERE.  It was a gorgeous little pub with so many awards already, and everyone was so friendly.  The UK newspaper, The Telegraph, also recently reviewed it HERE.

If you're in Norfolk, and looking for somewhere fab to stay or a lovely bite to eat, check it out.

The Rose & Crown
Old Church Road
Kings Lynn
Norfolk  PE31 7LX
Phone:- +44 1485 541 382

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Taste Test : Walkers "Ranch Raccoon" Crisps

I get it, different strokes for different folks, I really do understand that, but whoever came up with the idea of Walkers Ranch Raccoon flavoured potato crisps needs to be committed to some sort of facility.

Walkers is a huge UK potato crisp (chip) company, it's called Lays in the USA, and both countries have some sort of mad new flavour competition going on.  My friend Beth in Michigan bought and tried the Cappucino flavour ("so very wrong") and when I was recently in the UK I saw the Ranch Raccoon flavour and felt that I had to take one for the team.

Now that I've tasted the full horror of Ranch Raccoon, I can safely tell you to steer well clear.  It's seriously horrible and I still can't figure out what they taste like.  On the package there are images of figs, basil, chilli, limes and star anise (why, why?) and Walkers say that they're flavoured with Dorset sour cream, but they don't taste like any of those things.  Maybe they actually taste like raccoon?  If so, that's put me off eating raccoons for life …

I love crisps and trying different flavours (I even tried choc-mint Pringles at Christmas - DO NOT DO IT), but these are moving into a whole new realm of wrong.  Stick with the tried and true flavours if you don't want to end up throwing a 90% full bag of crisps in the bin.