Price: Rooms available from around £30 a night.
Age Range: n/a
Manufacturer’s Description: Our central located Cambridge Newmarket Road Hotel is the ideal base for those looking to explore the quaint, historic university town. This is a new hotel with our fresh new look and features Travelodge’s new room design complete with Dreamer Bed so you can be sure of a great night’s sleep.
Rating: (3/5 stars)
Review: We stayed at this Travelodge a few weeks ago on a Saturday evening, and our experience unfortunately left a lot to be desired.
The hotel was easy to find, although the entrance is to the rear & on a different road completely, with not much clear signage to tell you where to find the car park entrance or even the main hotel entrance. We were able to drive straight around to the hotel entrance as I had read the website parking information ahead of time, but the very small car park (51 spaces according to the website) was already completely full, and the road lined with parked cars.
The back roads behind the hotel weren’t very large & mainly residential roads, making it difficult to find a nearby parking space – a bit of a pain when we had a tired baby and toddler on our hands, in the dark and with miserable weather. The Travelodge website does ask visitors to park in the “nearby” Grafton East car park but you can bet that a lot of visitors don’t bother to read this information or, like us, don’t fancy paying out 70p an hour overnight plus daily charges past 8am.
Our parking charge would have been over £10 if we had parked there, and the half a mile walk (across a busy dual carriageway) would have taken quite a while with our tired two year old – it took her long enough to walk the distance from where we did park, a fifth of that distance away!
We arrived at the hotel at around 8:20 pm and were impressed by the appearance. The new Travelodge style is clean, modern, and attractive. There are quite a few steps up to reception, with a ramp for pushchairs and disabled visitors. As you enter the hotel reception is straight ahead of you, and the bar/cafe to your left.
Upon arrival we went straight to reception where I said hello and tried to give my reservation number. I was interrupted by the receptionist asking for my surname, which I gave. She found our reservation for a family room and when I asked if the travel cot had been put in as requested she told me there wasn’t a cot on the booking… not a great start.
Things got even worse as, despite confirming that we had a family room booked, the receptionist informed us that our “reservation didn’t have a room allocated to it” and “we have actually run out of family rooms” – I didn’t think 8 pm was that late to arrive, really – and no rooms left despite having one reserved?!
I was not impressed. I mentioned that it was a press reservation, and faced with the possibility of being turned away from the hotel, I have to admit I did say “you do know we are here to review this hotel, don’t you?” After a look of panic and a “oh no it’s all going wrong!” from the receptionist, we were ushered to a table in the bar as she mentioned something about a group of students who checked out a day early meaning we may be able to have one of their booked rooms, but that a manager was required to approve it.
We were given a coffee (which are free from the machine anyway) and waited to see if we would be found a room. After a short wait a member of staff came over and let us know they were trying to sort us out a family room, with a travel cot as requested. I checked that there would be a single bed as well as the cot & our bed, and after getting a blank look I pointed out that we had a toddler with us and the cot was for the baby in the pushchair – and Georgie needed a place to sleep too! Another look of slight panic and she left to tell them to make up a bed for Georgie too.
I have to admit, at this point we were really not too happy. Georgie was getting seriously bored and was overtired after a long day, so keeping her quiet and under control was a challenge. Lydia just wanted to have a feed and go to bed, so she started getting crochety too. James and I finished our coffees and were still waiting to find out where exactly we would be sleeping.
Next, one of the staff members came over and gave us our room key, telling us what room we would be in and warning us to wait another five minutes before heading up, as they were still finishing the preparations. We headed up after our instructed delay… and got into our room almost half an hour after our arrival to the hotel.
Despite repeated interactions with the staff for that half hour, trying to sort out a room for the night, we never got a proper apology for the delay or inconvenience. It would have gone a long way to repair the damage if they had offered us breakfast the next day to make up for their mistake, but they didn’t even say sorry.
We got up to our room and immediately started making preparations to put the girls to bed. We were alarmed to find that Lydia’s travel cot hadn’t been put together properly (the mattress hadn’t been secured correctly), and then surprised to find we had been given a double sized sheet for it instead of a cot sheet! I promptly put my shoes back on and headed back to reception to ask whether they had any cot sheets… 5 minutes later there was a knock on our door with a delivery of cot bedding including a blanket and spare sheet.
Finally we got the cot put together right and the correct sheet put on, and started getting the girls into their PJs and ready to sleep. Next, we noticed that the head of Georgie’s single bed had been put up against the end of the desk. This would have been absolutely fine, if the end of the desk didn’t have a solid metal bottle opener fixed to it. A solid metal bottle opener that looked like the perfect thing for a two year old to break their head open on in the middle of the night whilst wriggling about. Cue some rearrangement of furniture so that Georgie would sleep safely without losing her pillow off the end of the bed!
Eventually, we all managed to get some sleep.
The room itself was quite pleasant, if a little bit cramped for a full family. Ok for one or two nights though. It felt really hot and stuffy when we arrived, despite being a cold day and the heating not being on. We ended up having to open the window a little, as after some investigation we discovered that one of the two small window vents was either broken or installed incorrectly as it wouldn’t stay open – explaining the complete lack of air movement in the room. James ended up waking up in the middle of the night cold and had to close the window.
The family rooms all come with a bath in the en-suite bathroom, which is ideal for small children. We were given plenty of towels & I took a shower in the morning – it was fine, with a decent water pressure and temperature control. There were only two mugs and two plastic cups for water so Georgie had to share with us when she wanted some water.
Decor-wise it was very nice; not quite my personal taste but well done, with all the different elements in the room working well together. The artwork above the bed was pretty and relaxing. The building was very smart with a good colour scheme and I particularly liked the brick effect tiling in the bathroom which added a splash of colour to the otherwise boring white room.
Our bedroom was fairly clean and the bathroom was fine too. There was some dust and hairs along the up lighter headboard bit which was a bit disappointing, being so close to where our heads were as we slept. The bedding was all clean and the beds very comfortable – apart from James waking up cold we all slept really well.
We would give the hotel itself 4 out of 5 stars for it’s physical appearance & the comfortable sleep we got… but a measly 2 stars for the room over-booking and poor customer service experience, and that’s being generous! An overall 3 star rating for the good night of rest we had… eventually.