In the last year we've been more adventurous in our days out, extending the days to staying over in hotels and making weekends of our outings. As The Boy is getting older it's easier to do with less things to pack, particularly a travel cot!
Last Summer we ventured up to Manchester to see a recording of Justin's House for CBeebies, and a friend helped me to find accommodation as she knew the area well. She suggested Premier Inn and I initially turned my nose up, having a preconceived idea based on my inability to tell Travel Lodge and Premier Inn apart. However, I turned to my trusty Trip Advisor and was pleasantly surprised to find that the specific hotel has 5 stars on customer ratings. We checked in and discovered that the West Trafford hotel had two double beds in the room with plenty of space for The Boy's travel cot (which we still needed at the time). The room was spotless, the breakfast excellent and the housekeeping meticulous, with the lady who attended to our room making The Boy's travel cot up each day and arranging Oliver Monkey in different positions each day!
This was when my little 'love affair' with Premier Inns started. Since then we've stayed there to go to In The Night Garden in April, Silverstone, LolliBop and Thomas Days Out in August, and a fortnight ago on our way down to Coombe Mill. In between Thomas and Coombe Mill we ventured down to Southampton to see how Peppa Pig World is doing a year and a half after it first opened, and stayed in the Southampton West Quay hotel courtesy of Premier Inn.
We arrived at 11pm on a Thursday evening, having found the hotel very easily using sat-nav. Surprisingly there isn't a car park attached to the hotel, so in the interim while we checked in we left the car in the staff car park. I'm going to come back to the car park situation later.
Check in was via one of the new automated machines and incredibly simple: type in your last name, confirm your stay and it prints the receipt, encodes the room keys and pops them out for you to use. The whole thing took less than a minute, very efficient and easy to do, albeit lacking the personal touch I felt.
The family room is as comfortable and familiar as the spare room at your mum and dad's. I find the rooms reassuring in their facilities, layout and comfort. Every room is meticulously clean and tidy, beds are firm and comfortable, the bedding is thick cotton, the bathroom is spotless and the towels are fluffy. Add to that the bonus that the storage unit offers a place for luggage, shoes and hanging clothes, and also has a vanity mirror, hairdryer, kettle, and a flat-screen television.
In a family room, Premier Inn turn the sofa into a proper single divan bed by removing the backrest and making it up as normal. The Boy sleeps brilliantly on it, so much so that every time he's woken up in one of Premier Inn's beds, it's been later than at home (I have considered moving in permanently, but I'd still have to pay the mortgage here!). As an aside, when we stayed in the Slough hotel in April I wasn't sure if The Boy would need a travel cot or a bed so booked both; the travel cot was made up beautifully in the corner of the room and there was plenty of space for us.
We usually have the breakfasts in Premier Inn, and this stay was no exception. Often in the hotels there is the option for a continental breakfast for approximately £5.00 or a Premier breakfast (including the continental and hot breakfast buffet) for £8.25 per adult. Children eat free for every adult booking a premier breakfast. The continental breakfast range is excellent including approximately eight cereals, Yeo Valley yoghurts, fruit, croissants, crumpets, toast, preserves, hot drinks, juices and the full quota of milk. The hot buffet includes scrambled eggs, fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and they can also prepare poached eggs, omlettes and vegetarian sausages to order.
Premier Inn stays are stress-free and enjoyable, we all like staying there which is why we keep going back. The prices of the rooms can vary depending upon the location but typically a family room costs between £55-75 which is excellent value for money.
When it comes to the Southampton West Quay hotel I have mixed feelings. It's a modern hotel with air conditioning and plenty of facilities. Central to the harbours for cruises, seven miles from Peppa Pig World and a few more from Marwell Zoo, it's a good place to stay if you're seeing sites in the area. Unfortunately, I can't get over the parking issue, especially as we have a young child.
The lack of car park for guests is a problem. Parking options in this specific hotel are two nearby multi-storey car parks. At the time of night that we arrived both had closed at 9-10pm. The nearest car park was an open-air one in a retail park, a ten minute walk away. I refused to park there and yes I admittedly pulled the review card to get us a space in the staff car park overnight. Had I not been reviewing, I probably would have demanded a parking space there anyway; I've got a young child and it is not practical to lug him and all his belongings from a multi-storey car park. I also resent paying for parking when staying in a hotel. The area of the car park is plenty big enough for around thirty-forty cars as there is a big grassy section doing nothing apart from looking green. This is the only negative about this hotel.
If anyone else is looking to book a Peppa Pig World short break then I would definitely recommend Premier Inn, but I would probably suggest Southampton West which is only one mile from the park and has on-site parking.
I was provided with two nights accommodation and breakfast for the purpose of this review. My opinion is honest and unbiased regardless of this fact, because I really do love Premier Inn.