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Hilton Manchester Airport – United Kingdom

Picture of seating areaThis review is part of a series about my experience of my first ever package holiday – a trip to Lapland. You can find out more about the trip here.

I was flying from Manchester to Kittila (for Lapland) very early the next day and decided to drive down the night before and stay at the Hilton Manchester Airport.

I had booked the stay well in advance and had arranged for 2 connecting rooms to be assigned to us (MrsTravelFreak, myself and the 2 JuniorTravelFreaks). The cash rate for each room was £109 but the same room was also available for only 20,000 Hilton Hhonors points which I thought was much better.

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St Giles Hotel, Norwich – UK

PlungerI worked for this client some time ago and due to my “unique style” I was asked back to help them again.  How could I refuse?  Most of this work was based in London however there was one week when I was based in sunny Norwich.

I asked a few people I was working with where to stay – Norwich is a bit of a strange place when it comes to hotels; they have very few known names.  The Hilton at the airport was sold some time ago and is now a Holiday Inn Express and aside from a Marriott in the countryside, no other major brands have a presence here.  I was told that I “simply had to” stay in St Giles House by a colleague and as I didn’t know any better I did as I was told.

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Park Inn – York, United Kingdom

Angry Cartoon TVHaving decided I needed a couple of nights away on my lonesome, I used the Avios website to book a two-night stay at the Radisson Park Inn in the beautiful city of York.  The philosophy of this hotel chain is to provide guests with a ‘vibrant and lively’ atmosphere, offering a fun environment and a friendly, welcoming service. The hotels are mid-priced, aimed at business travellers and holidaymakers.

The hotel is ideally situated on the River Ouse, near the city centre.  All the major attractions are within walking distance, and the railway station is five minutes’ walk away.  I started to feel slightly anxious when I saw a group of frankly manly women sitting on the front steps of the hotel smoking and adjusting their underwear.  I politely side-stepped these ladies, avoiding eye-contact, and entered the reception area. It was dark and cheerless, not at all like the bright and happy pictures on the website.  Two receptionists were having a whispered discussion at the end of the reception desk.  While they pretended I was invisible, I quickly twigged that there was a mix-up with a booking for the group of elderly ladies sitting in a corner behind me.  It was five minutes before one of the receptionists said she would be with me in a minute. (No apology for keeping me waiting.)  Eventually, she checked me in, while on the phone to someone else.  My key card was almost thrown at me.  No eye contact, no helpful information, no smile.  Nada.  Where was the ‘friendly and welcoming hospitality’ raved about on their website?

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Carbis Bay Hotel – Cornwall, UK

Check out our first post from the latest member of the Travel Freak community – Mrs Control Freak!  Welcome to the gang!

I’ve just spent a week pottering around Cornwall with my husband and 11-year-old son.  Despite the changeable weather, we found lots to do in this lovely part of the country.

We stayed in a self-catering apartment owned by the Carbis Bay Hotel, which nestles in an idyllic cliff-side location overlooking its own beach.  This three-star luxury hotel is family-run, and has been for over 100 years. The 47 rooms are of a high standard, the reception area and hallways clad in elegant marble and lit by impressive chandeliers.

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Hilton East Midlands Airport – Derby, United Kingdom

I stayed here last year for almost a month.  I didn’t bother to review it here because it was a bit sort of… dull.  The standard used-to-be-Stakis, UK regional Hilton, that is more than a bit tired.  However all that changed with a business stay recently.

I had flown down from Edinburgh to East Midlands early (there are two flights, 08:20 and 18:40) and taken a cab from the airport to the hotel (£8).  Yes – despite the hotel being called the Hilton East Midlands Airport and despite the fact they have a shuttle bus I had to get a cab.  The shuttle bus needs to be booked and unless you are on a stay which includes parking costs £8.  I know.  Don’t get me started.  It truly is an outrage.  Anyway, I digress.

I presented myself at the reception around 10:00 and smiled.  I was way too early for my room but I knew that the bar / lounge here gets so very busy (the M1 is less than five minutes away which makes the hotel a good choice for business meetings) and I was hoping that the hotel hadn’t been full the night before.

I was, of course, informed that my room wasn’t ready, however as I had asked very nicely, I was given another room to use until my room was ready for me.  I thought this was a really nice touch and off I went to catch up on some work.
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Hilton London Metropole Hotel – London, UK

The Hilton London Met is a huge hotel.  I mean really huge.  This is a big hotel for international conferences from everything to defence (yes, guns) through to sex toys.  It is also a big group hotel with a large number of school parties.

This is definitely not the hotel to visit if you are looking for individual attention and service – it’s simply too big.  The hotel is located pretty close to Paddington and is handy for the Heathrow Express if, like me, you can’t afford the Hilton London Paddington (£200 plus per night).  The London Met is a 15 minute walk from Paddington station (or less than £5 in a cab).  The nearest tune is Edgware Road which is a five minute walk from the hotel.
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Stracey Hotel – Norwich, UK

I find Norwich a bit of a strange place.  There doesn’t seem to be very much to it; however every major insurance and finance company seems to have a regional office here.

I flew to Norwich from Edinburgh and was pleasantly surprised to land a few minutes early.  I was then a little disappointed to wait almost 45 minutes for a taxi to town!  Once the taxi eventually appeared the journey to the hotel took about 20 minutes.

The Stracey hotel is situated just up the hill from the train station which is a 10 minute walk away at most.  I was slightly dubious about the hotel as I had been informed that it was a B & B and may not have the facilities I would expect.
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Hilton Islington Hotel – London, UK

A few years ago I lived in this hotel. I mean I stayed here 4 nights a week, every week for 10 months. Thanks to the Hilton Islington, I was a Hilton Hhonors millionaire!

The contract finished and I never found myself being close enough (or having a big enough budget) to stay here again…until now.

The hotel is situated just off Upper Street, about 10 minutes’ walk from the tube station. The hotel is fairly standard Hilton really although they have recently lowered their prices in the bar / restaurant to match the prices of the plentiful local competition.
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Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel and Spa – London, UK

I had never heard of the Pestana group before however I understand that they are big in Portugal. The Chelsea Bridge Hotel and spa is their flagship property outside of Portugal.

The hotel is situated right next to the old Battersea power station which is a 15 – 20 minute walk to the nearest tube station (Sloane Square). The walk is nice, taking you over Chelsea Bridge, past the old barracks and past the hospital where the Chelsea Pensioners live. You can catch a bus outside the hotel that will take you to Sloane Square (5 minutes) or Victoria (about 10 minutes).

Once I knew the name of the hotel I was staying in, I had a look at the hotels website; the pictures are fairly accurate too. The picture of the lobby looks enormous in the picture and in reality is barely functional. I suspect the same of the pool but didn’t try it.
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The Re London Shoreditch Hotel – London, UK

Hotwire had this hotel advertised (hotel name excluded of course) as a four star property in trendy Shoreditch. Shoreditch is a trendy area of London with some really cool bars and clubs. Shoreditch also borders Hackney which is a dodgy area of London. The Re Shoreditch is on Hackney Road which is a very long road linking Shoreditch with Hackney.

The hotel is around a 10 – minute walk from the nearest tube (Bethnal Green) although you can get a bus which drops you off right outside. This isn’t down town Harlem however the East-end of London does have its share of crime; keep your wits about you if you are walking back to the hotel from the tube. Better yet take a cab.
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