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Holiday Inn Reading West – Hotel Review

For some reason, on the night I stayed here, most hotels in the area were fully booked so my options were limited.

First things first, this is not in West Reading. As somebody else said, it is west of Reading. On the subject of location it is also miles from anywhere on foot so once you get here, unless you have a car, you will not be leaving the hotel again until the morning.

The hotel itself is quite small (about 50 rooms).

Check in was OK. At no point was I acknowledged as a Platinum Priority Club member so was not offered any of the perks or upgrades that the status normally attracts. The staff at check in seems a little disengaged and unapproachable so I didn’t feel inclined to question this.

The room was on the 1st floor (2nd floor if you are American) up a set of stairs and down a maze of corridors. My room had a great view of the main road outside but the triple glazing kept the noise down so this wasn’t a problem.

The room was not that large but big enough however it was very very tired. Indeed this was theme of the whole hotel (including the reception) and whilst I am sure they were going for some old world charm (or similar) the fact my window ledge was actually falling apart due to the wood being so rotten does not make things “rustic”

Considering they have a captive audience the restaurant menu unsurprisingly looked, rather uninspired and very expensive so rather than face a Holiday Inn burger I got in my car and drove the 5 minutes down the main road to Aldermaston Wharf where i found the Butt Inn and had an amazing evening meal

Upon return, I had a couple of drinks in the bar before retiring for the night.

Breakfast (which was not included in my room rate) is cooked to order. This really cheered me up as you normally get death by heat-lamp. Whilst service was a tad slow my order was eventually taken and I requested a fried egg, sausages, bacon and tomatoes. Again it took a while (20 minutes) to arrive but when it did, what I got was one fried egg, a single sausage, a single rasher of bacon and half a grilled tomato!!! For £10 I was expecting more but by now I had been in the restaurant for over half an hour and was running late so there was no point saying anything and to be fair, nobody had actually asked me if everything was OK anyway

So i have to put this stay into context. The following night I stayed 10 minutes up the road in Thatcham in the Regency Park Hotel in a nice room, with really friendly staff for £100 including one of the best hotel breakfasts around. Wonderful

The night before I stayed in the Millennium hotel in Reading. Again a good breakfast (indeed an excellent breakfast with loads of fresh fruit and choice) and change out of £120

For the Holiday Inn West (of) Reading I paid £135 for the room plus an additional £10 for breakfast and got a neglected hotel, with a rationed breakfast and lacklustre staff.

I stay in a lot of hotels in the Holiday Inn chain. Indeed so far this year I have spent 49 nights in IHG group hotels and we are only in September. I thought hotels like this had died out. I especially thought that there were no more hotels like this in the UK with a Holiday Inn badge above the door

Either refurbish the place or shut it down but don’t make wild claims about the location, charge top dollar, skimp on things like breakfast and leave woodwork rotting for all to see,

Hotels like this deserve to go out of business.

The last days of summer – Wells Next The Sea

Summer 2014 is rapidly drawing to a close. In the evenings it’s getting dark sooner and the leaves are changing colour on the trees.

But it’s not winter yet and this weekend as a prime example has seen temperatures of 23 degrees.

So not one to miss such an opportunity, we decided a trip to the coast was called for but not the brash, loud Lincolnshire coast. Today we headed out to the North Norfolk coast and to the small town of Wells Next The Sea where life is a little more laid back and chilled.

The sun on our backs was warm and a light breeze really made the whole day rather nice especially as we stood eating fish and chips whilst watching the locals fish for crabs. Theres something about eating fish and chips at the seaside that makes them taste so much better.

So with a nice drive through the surrounding countryside and considering Wells is only 90 minutes drive from home, it’s a wonder we haven’t been here before.

Here are some photos for you enjoyment but if you get the chance, the North Norfolk coast is certainly worth visiting in person.

USA Holiday 2014 – Part Four – San Francisco

Las Vegas done and we are on a Southwest Airline heading further West to the City By The Bay

I have been here before on business so had a rough idea of the lay of the land.

We stayed in the Intercontinental San Francisco which is a new hotel in the downtown area of the city. It proved to be well placed for the few days we were in town.

On our first evening we just wondered down to the waterfront and grabbed a bit to eat taking in some of the sights as we went.

We then retired for the night in need of a good nights sleep.

Unfortunately California had other ideas and at around 3:20am the area was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake centred not too far away in Napa. Up on the 25th floor of our hotel things were certainly getting lively for the 20 seconds or so it rumbled on.

IMG_2144

It certainly kept the local media busy the following morning.

So for our first full day, we booked ourselves onto an all day bus tour with Dylans Tours. This gave us a chance to put our feet up and let somebody else do the thinking for a change. As the tour only had 13 people on it, we were able to stop and explore and unlike some of the big bus tours, we did not feel like we were being herded around like sheep all day.

The tour started in downtown San Francisco before heading out through various suburbs up to Twin Peaks before heading back down into the city, down towards the waterfront by the Golden Gate Bridge and then over the bridge up to Muir National Monument to admire the giant redwoods. Another stop to admire the bridge on the way back before ending up back at the bottom of Lombard Street about 6 hours later. A brilliant tour with lots of information and local knowledge

Another good (and uninterrupted) nights sleep followed before we spent another full day taking in the sights including the waterfront (again), some cable cars (and the cable car museum), Chinatown and the seals on Pier 39

For our last night we took in a baseball game at AT&T Park. For the life of me I can’t work out how a game where not much seems to happen and where nobody seems capable of hitting a ball can last for over 3 hours but perhaps it’s an American thing. In any case it was a nice way to spend our final night in the USA.

And then we were on a plane heading home.

We had a great time exploring may different sides of the USA this summer. Wall to wall sunshine helped although arriving at a very wet Heathrow airport soon brought us back to reality.

The USA is a huge place and we know we have only just scraped the surface. Unfortunately it’s a long and expensive flight so it’s not somewhere you can visit every year however I am sure we will return soon.

 

USA Holiday 2014 – Part Three – Hoover Dam

Another hot day in Vegas but we still had our hire car so this time we headed out to see one of the areas man made wonders. The Hoover Dam

I don’t need to explain the history or the significance of this place and we didn’t see Superman fly past whilst we were there but it is still quite something to see it in the flesh

USA Holiday 2014 – Part Two – Zion & The Valley of Fire

After a few days in Vegas we had seen the sites and were itching to get out of the hot city and into the countryside so armed with a Ford Escape (Ford Kuga for you brits) from Avis, we headed East through the Nevada desert, into Arizona and then finally into Utah.

Once we cleared the desert and started climbing up through the mountains, every time you had recovered from one awe inspiring view, another appeared round the corner.

After a about 3 hours driving (we did stop for breakfast in Mesquite) we reached the Zion National Park and the views certainly stepped up a gear.

The park is closed to cars so you park in the entrance car park and a bus then takes you along the canyon floor and deep into the park itself. There are several stops so you can jump on and off to admire the view knowing that the next bus will be along in five minutes.

Towards the head of the canyon there were dozens of squirrels that whilst not tame were certainly not afraid of humans

As we left Zion, we stopped off for a late lunch at the Zion Pizza & Noodle Restaurant. Whilst the food was great, what will stick in the mind is the amazing view we had whilst we ate. Simply stunning

View from Zion Pizza & Noodle

But we hadn’t done yet.

On the way back into Las Vegas I wanted to reach the Valley of Fire State Park before the sun set for the evening. We only just made it but I’m sure the photos will explain why I wanted to beat the sunset.

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