Raddison Blu (Manchester) – Left me feeling blu

To me what defines a hotel is it’s ability to offer you a home away from home; somewhere you don’t mind being away from your own bed.

It’s not often we stay in 5-Star hotels in a month  so when we do we expect it to be better than we are used to.

I am not unrealistic but what really is the key for a great hotel I think are these five key components :

  1. Great bed as described – double or king as booked, reasonably firm with soft sheets and good pillows
  2. Bathroom – which is well maintained and as clean as a new pin
  3. Controllable heating and lighting
  4. Accessible plug points
  5. Breakfast better than I would have at home

The Raddison Blu had 1 out of 5.

From the beginning there were warning signs – check in was slow; I have boarded a jumbo jet faster, checked into several Vegas hotels faster (possibly one of the busiest cities in the world)  – so why was this so slow?  Probably due to a lack of concierge; as there appeared to be a lot of chat about other stuff by the reception staff.    James, who checked us in, was charming but missed out a key fact – read on to find out about his blunder.

Bedroom: the room was a good size with a good view of the city.  The television did not represent the room size (I can’t find my photo, but trust me it was really small) and yet again we had two singles pushed together!  I do not understand why hotels of this calibre cannot offer couples a bed to share rather than pushing two twins together.  We use the Premier Inns and they can offer double beds as standard.  Again we paid and booked a double room so very disappointed.

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Bathroom : was just ok, yet again evidence of mould/mildew – not cool.The shower was effective and easily controlled. The dresser area was good with the exception of the stool; which was quite old and frayed around the edges. Something you may accept in a low-end B&B but in a 5-Star hotel?

Radisson Blu Dresser
Radisson Blu Dresser

Cocktails : We were dining at James Martin’s so we had some pre-dinner cocktails in the Champagne Bar – that is after the 15  minutes that it took for the waiter to take our order. Why offer a waiting service when it would be quicker to stand at the bar as we witnessed (we were seated by a Maitre’d so no excuses) – the cocktails were good but the choice was not as expansive as compared to other hotels of a similar standard.

Breakfast : we turned up for breakfast around 830am only to be asked by the Maitre’d if we had booked for breakfast (something James had omitted to tell us was advised for this hotel upon our arrival).  It was clear the compact area they serve breakfast in could only seat a small percentage of the hotel capacity. We complained, explaining to the hostess that this was never mentioned at check-in. Under some duress she found us a table but only after telling us several times “we are really busy this weekend”. I would imagine most city hotels around the world are very busy most weekends!

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Breakfast queue

We were served our tea, which after some considerable time would not brew a deeper shade of warm milk.  I am sure Newby of London is an excellent brand but it was just not to my taste or maybe it requires two teabags per pot!   I made my way to the breakfast buffet and really wished we had not bothered.  We were greeted by greasy potatoes, overcooked sausages, cremated bacon and  dried up scrambled eggs and luke warm baked beans.

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Enough was enough.  We abandoned breakfast and sought out the duty manager as I had to share my feelings and disappointment. I was genuinely offended that the Radisson Blu think this standard of breakfast for (£15 / person) is acceptable from such a prestigious brand.   We had a conversation about all of the above and the outcome was we were refunded for our breakfast as a token gesture.

I cannot not recommend the Radisson Blu Manchester. The staff were underwhelming in the face of any adversity they claimed.  The overall offering we experienced was substandard compared to other 5-star  hotels within the City.  Especially, those that offer better prices with better breakfasts that do not have the mantra “we are very busy this weekend”.

 

Bill’s Breakfast Breakdown (Dale Street Manchester)

This has always been our go to place when travelling around the UK.  So far we have been to Bill’s at Brighton, Cheltenham, Durham, York, Leeds and now Manchester.

We went here for breakfast on Sunday morning instead of having the £20 full English at the Lowery Hotel; we just could not imagine how they could deliver such an outstanding breakfast when the hotel is lacking in its former glory, but that is another review.

We arrived at 10am and were promptly seated.  The restaurant was very quiet; we must have missed the Sunday rush!

We ordered a pot of Tea for one, an Americano,  two of Bill’s Breakfast £7.95 (one with a side/extra of Crispy Potato at £1.25 and one a side/extra of Black Pudding at £1.50) which we would  share.

Drinks arrived soon after with our breakfasts following about 5 minutes later.

When we first started going to Bill’s I am sure you got two of each of  your extras with regards the potato and black pudding (and David assures me it was the case and my memory is not failing me). I’m not sure that at £1.50, a slice even with overheads that is a fair deal for a slice fat!  Especially if it is killed through overcooking!

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The more I think, the more I do not see Bill’s as being good value.  If you took off the black pudding we are paying £8 for two eggs, effectively one sausage, 3 pieces of streaky bacon (the cheapest cut of bacon) the smallest tomato  half, and two pieces of small-ish toasted bread (the eggs are small; so use this as a guide if you require more evidence).

We regularly have breakfast at two beautiful farm shops in Yorkshire that have won awards for their quality and they charge £9.00 for their full english – with no extra’s to pay for (see picture 2).

Quality is hit and miss. Sometimes you get crispy bacon and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get soft eggs and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get a soft and juicy tomato and sometimes you get an unripe under-cooked version but most of the time you do get overcooked Black Pudding!

On a positive note the staff were friendly and the toilets are generally spotless.

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Picture 1 Bills Breakfast and Picture 2 Farm Shop Breakfast the latter is cheaper.

My final observation we always have to wait for a table at our local establishments (they both hold about 50 covers) unlike Bill’s which in the last year I have not seen busy at breakfast…now that may be coincidence but I doubt that considering how many branches we have been to.  What is consistent is Bill’s inconsistency which is quickly relegating this from being our  go-to place for breakfast.

 

Cost £22.70 (before service) as at March 2016

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