An experience if nothing else...
This was my first visit to a Best Western for many years having previously been a regular visitor to the brand in both the UK and the states. I was therefore eager to see if anything had changed with the Business Model that was 'Best Western'.
In truth, I already knew that as each establishment is privately owned and run, the question was in effect redundant as consistency will by implication, always be variable as it’s essentially a franchise. In which case, you never really know what you’re going to be presented with, just that it will have the Best Western branding and logo attached.
The Best Western Broadfield Park is located next to both a school as well as a pleasant looking park. However, appearances can be deceptive and whilst the school is no doubt a very good school, the park as I later learned, was gifted with a very different reputation. To borrow a well-known rhyme, best NOT to go down to the woods today as you never know what you might find…
Let’s just say dear reader, I was strongly advised and by more than one person, NOT to use the park as a short cut into town. It would seem that there are allegedly, individuals of a salubrious disposition who might like to engage in more than just simple conversation with me. Hmmm, nuff said!
Whilst I’m certainly no architectural historian, the large, monolithic type building was I felt in some way’s, rather quaint if not serene looking. Reminiscent of an old church or country house from years gone by. This impression was further reinforced by the plethora of dark and aged wood which assailed both the eyes as well as the senses as you creakily entered.
The reception was small and largely bare of identity, sufficient in space for but two team members standing side-by-side. I was greeted courteously and duly processed as per normal. It soon however became clear that not everyone within the BWBP Team, was familiar with the in-house booking-in system as adding a card for further payment proved a mite too difficult for the smiling receptionist.
I gently asked said receptionist if the hotel was busy that evening and was told without hesitation or waiver, that "it was full!" Unusual I thought for a Tuesday. Having done some small research on the hotel before arriving, I had already gleaned from these pages that they were often very busy at the weekends, with weddings in particular.
As I wandered around getting my bearings, I noticed the attached bar was deserted of both staff and guests, this at approximately 18:30. The large Restaurant was however manned but again, no guests. It later became apparent that our server Dean, was busily flitting between bar, restaurant and kitchen in order to cover Service. No small endeavour given the size of the establishment and one which would certainly reveal shortcoming's in staff/guest ratio, if any existed.
If I was perhaps asked to choose the very worst room in the whole hotel to be allocated, then my vote would probably go to room 203, my room. Imagine this dear reader. You ascend the creaky stairs to the second floor and then, you stop. You stop because your room is on the actual stairwell, but a couple of feet from the Fire door which leads to the second floor proper. Expectation was therefore high as regards footfall and accompanying noise. The reality was however not as bad as anticipated as very clearly, the hotel was NOT full and subsequently, apart from a couple of guests departing early, I was hardly troubled by the various movements outside during my brief stay. Nevertheless, were I staying for longer than just the single night, I would certainly have sought a move immediately, if not to another room then to another hotel.
I mentioned this to the still smiling young lady on reception who very kindly instantly offered to move me. Whilst certainly appreciated, it did rather underscore the fact that I had clearly been misinformed earlier as to the hotels utilisation. I also rather wondered why I had been given such a room in the first place, if not full. Perhaps 203 was the closest key on the board when reaching for an available room for a pre-booked guest? Who knows as I certainly don't!
On the plus side, the grounds were nicely kept and well groomed. There is ample parking available which for security reasons alone, is always a bonus for a road weary traveller.
Room 203 was generally clean if cramped. Nothing special and nothing really wrong with it. Although small for a double, they had managed to cram in a small desk, chair and wardrobe. There were also plenty of power points for recharging tired old mobile phones and laptops.
Now dear reader, I feel I have to make mention of the following if for no other reason than I believe it's pertinent to my review and of course, any potential visitor. I therefore respectfully state for the record, the following is my interpretation of events as witnessed and experienced. It is certainly not my intention to negatively implicate any individual (s) directly at Broadfield Park; it simply is, what it is.
My reason for being at Broadfield Park was solely due to business. I am neither responsible for the booking nor the choosing of my temporary place of abode. That particular responsibility rests with my esteemed colleague back in London who always tries to look after me, (thank you Beata!).
Consequently, part of the attraction of these trips is my usual walkabout in the town or village once duties are over for the day. It's the local people I find interesting, the rest is just geography.
Imagine my surprise then when having literally just arrived, I found myself in conversation with a very nice lady in their car park who was kind enough to give me a low-down on both the Hotel, as well as the area in general. I later learned she was in-fact a member of staff.
It's probably worth mentioning here that one of the questions I always ask when first arriving at a new establishment is; Is there anywhere I shouldn't go?
To be fair and equal, whilst no specifics were voiced as regards venturing into town on a walkabout, I was nevertheless left in absolutely no doubt that it may not be the most sensible thing to do once the sun had descended.
Put simply, as a Southern visitor to Rochdale, unless I was determined to explore and go walkabout, then I would be much better served and safer, by staying local i.e., within the hotel and grounds.
As it was getting late by now and having taken on board the comments as relayed above, I decided that a bath and a bite to eat in their restaurant was my best option for the night.
And so it was that refreshed, scrubbed and hungry, I entered the deserted restaurant at 20:47. Unable to locate any staff, I moved to the bar and navigated through the hoards of guests, all 5 of them, in order to order a drink and some food.
Dean is efficiently serving drinks as well as taking food orders. I had taken the precaution earlier to confirm with him the operating times of the restaurant so I knew that food was still being served.
He was very polite and even suggested that as the restaurant was empty, I might like to enjoy my meal at one of the bar tables. This I quickly agreed to as an empty restaurant is no place to enjoy a well deserved and anticipated evening meal.
The Restaurant as a destination of choice, has received rather mixed reviews from these pages. From what I can glean, most of the unhappiness appears to stem from the temperature, or lack of it, of the food when served, i.e., it was cold when meant to be anything but!
Fortunately, this was not an issue for me as my Lamb Shank and side salad were both hot & cold, if a little limp, respectively. It was however just a shame that my 'Garlic Mash Potatoes', were devoid of anything resembling garlic. Furthermore, if you're old enough to remember the Ad', 'For Mash get Smash', then that's what I reckon was served to me (other brands of deconstructed potato are available!). Not inedible but without the garlic, it was supremely bland and boring.
In stark contrast, the Ice Cream Sunday was absolutely FAB! I even managed to find a few real strawberry's at the very bottom of my Sunday glass. The highlight of my evening then. Lol!
Overall, the meal was reasonably priced. Service whilst intermittent, was always polite and courteous and the food was perfectly acceptable given the price charged. But, and it's a big but, I do wonder what would have happened if all 28 rooms were occupied and everyone decided to eat-in that night? The very idea of one person coping with both the bar and restaurant is just a no-no! Unless this staffing issue is properly addressed, I can only foresee problems in the future. This observation may well answer the question of why previous guests have complained about the temperature of their meals.
Moving onto breakfast, which was charged at the not inconsiderable sum of £8.00, this for the Full English.
Overall, well presented and courteously served in the restaurant, again by a single member of staff. No buffet here, everything was cooked to order and better for it. My only real criticism would be that the poached eggs were rock hard and not gooey as specifically ordered. Generally though, I felt the experience was certainly worth the investment and would therefore have to recommend it as, 'the way, to start the day'.
Paradoxically, I rather liked this hotel, even with the creaky stairs, unbelievably badly located small double room and intermittent bar and restaurant service. All the staff appeared to try hard to accommodate guest requests and all were uniformly polite and courteous when attempting to do so.
Recommending though is difficult as it requires a few proviso's.
If you're NOT visiting at the weekend when there's a wedding taking place, then...
If you're NOT given room 203 and summarily told they're full but, can move you instantly when you complain, then...
If you're NOT going to expect lightening service from either the bar or restaurant, then...
If you're a Soft-Southerner and NOT planning to go walkabout to meet and greet the locals when the sun begins to set, then...
And not forgetting...
If you're NOT going to order the Lamb Shank with garlic mash and actually expect the mash to contain garlic somewhere within it's midst's, then...
I can heartily recommend the Best Western Broadfield Park as a place to lay your head.
Happy and as always, safe travelling.