Brook Hotel - Best Western
Our Son was getting married that day at Norwich Castle and we booked a room at this Best Western Hotel so we didn’t have the 2.5hr drive home in the dark afterwards. My Son is in the Army and due to the dreaded COVID issue it was only us (his parents) attending the wedding; we also are unable to have them over for Christmas this year, so we suggested they meet us in the hotel car park to pass some time before the wedding, taking some photos, swapping Christmas presents and opening their wedding gifts - well that was the plan anyway.
We left home extremely early that morning because we didn’t know if we were going to be stuck in traffic at all anywhere along the way, but it was a nice clear journey and we arrived at the hotel very early at 11am. The car park is very big with a few disabled spaces to the front of the hotel. Once we had parked, I immediately set to work arranging and decorating the parcel shelf of the car with garlands and faux flowers - fit for the bride and groom, before we went to Reception.
As far as we were aware, We were far too early to check in, but we needed to ask Reception if my Son would be able to leave his car in the car park while we all went to the Ceremony in our car. I also hoped that I’d be able to to use the toilet - afterall we thought we had a long wait sitting in the car outside before the wedding that afternoon. It looked so pretty once we’d got inside the hotel; The Christmas decorations were everywhere, the tree was up and there was a lovely festive Garland around the Bar Room entrance - it all looked very pretty. We explained to the man behind Reception that we had come a long way and was very early because we didn’t know if we would get stuck in miles of traffic; we chatted with him for a while about our Son’s wedding, and he suggested a route to take and how long to give ourself to get there. We also asked if the Restaurant was open later, he said it would be open from 5pm, so we discussed having a meal with them there after the wedding.
As we were chatting we asked him the earliest time that our room would be ready, and were absolutely amazed when he kindly found us a room that we could use immediately. We were absolutely thrilled and to be honest, that Man MADE the wedding day as special as it was because we honestly thought we were going to be doing everything we needed to do beforehand outside in the car park! I cannot praise and thank him enough, but unfortunately we did not catch his name, and didn’t see him again throughout our stay!! (To confirm who this staff member was - we checked in between 11-11:30am on Sat 12th December. It was NOT the really tall man from the bar/restaurant who made us feel like we were putting him out with whatever we asked him over the course of the evening!).
Unfortunately, much as we were extremely appreciative of the early room, the room we were given wasn’t too great - room 105! As we opened the door it was absolutely FREEZING cold in there. I am disabled and suffer with a condition that causes me to be very warm all the time - we had literally just driven for 2.5hrs on this cold foggy morning with the cold air blowing directly on me the whole way, whilst Hubby’s heat was on full blast at 85!!! Wherever we go, I have to stay away from any radiators because it blocks my sinus and makes me sick, so a cool room is perfect for us.....but this room was beyond cool - it practically had icicles hanging everywhere!! We found a control panel on the wall under the heater which we weren’t sure was working as the screen was blank (off!), but we pressed a couple of buttons which turned it on and warmed the room up for half an hour. Unfortunately the lowest setting on the control was 16degrees - which is still far too hot for me, so we turned it back off completely. Unfortunately the unit continued to make some strange gargling noises, which we thought would stop once it settled down - BUT IT DIDN’T - EVER - THE WHOLE NIGHT!!!!!
The carpet in the room was quite dirty with lots of stains, hairs and bits on the floor - it obviously hadn’t been hoovered; the top drawer was missing in the desk, which wasn’t too much of an issue - we just had to make sure there was nothing in the middle drawer when taking the wedding photos because whatever was in that drawer was clearly visible; there was no lid on the toilet, which was not only extremely unhygienic, but meant we had nothing to place our clothes on when showering/washing/changing! But WORST of all, there was an extremely loud whirring noise from outside which also DID NOT STOP! It sounded like an aircraft was outside with it’s engines running waiting to take off - THE WHOLE NIGHT 24/7!!!!!
We were still extremely grateful for the early room, which also had tea/coffee facilities and a hairdryer. There was also a really useful bench next to the wardrobe; The lights all worked fine except one of the two under the curtain pelmet. Hubby went out to meet Our Son and soon to be Daughter-in-Law in the car park at 12:30pm. They came to our now slightly warmer room for me to add the finishing touches to their outfits - I’d made the Bride’s bouquet and all of our button holes (all of which I thought would be happening in a wet car park!) We took lots of photos before then leaving 2hrs early for the wedding. Again, we were not sure if we would be stuck in Xmas shopping traffic - afterall, we had not long been taken out of the 2nd lockdown and here we were with just 2 weekends left before Christmas!
The room made those finishing touches and the taking of our photos absolutely perfect - Room photos were so much better than car park photos!
After the wedding, We were able to use the two chairs and the bed in our room to sit comfortably socially distanced (we have not seen any of our family since Covid reared it’s ugly head causing the lockdown in March). We took more photos, They opened their gifts and we had a cup of tea and coffee before going to the bar room for a meal. We were all very comfortable spending time in our room.
The restaurant was empty in complete darkness when we got there just before 5pm, and the (really tall) man who came to seat us asked if we wanted to sit in the restaurant or the bar, saying that if we preferred the restaurant, then he would just need to turn all the lights on, but we didn’t want to put him out, it was only us four afterall, so we chose the Bar - which turned out to be like a jungle - IT WAS SO HOT!!!!
Unfortunately they had the heater blowing at full speed in there!! We were the only people in there and when the man came back to ask for our orders, I asked him if the heating could be turned down at all or even off. Again he acted as though we were putting him out, and replied that he would open the side doors - which obviously did NOT help at all, so I went to sit outside on the chair that he had placed to hold the doors open until our meals arrived! The meals were very nice. We had a bit of a wait, but they were cooked fresh, well worth the wait and reasonably priced.
Our Son and Daughter-in-Law left shortly after the meal and we put the TV on, but the remote which didn’t have a battery cover didn’t work. It turned the TV on, but the buttons were not working to change the channels or volume. We did everything to get them working, to no avail! Hubby went to Reception to get some new batteries, but it still didn’t work!
We also noticed now that the bedding seemed a little grubby, it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned and the pillows were pretty gross too - they were terribly stained, had pile bobbles and were full of black/brown hairs! Before we had noticed this issue, we had requested extra pillows from reception after our meal, and when the (tall) man who had served us in the bar room brought them to us some time later we asked how else we could turn the TV up as the remote wasn’t working. He was masked but said he wasn’t allowed inside our room. We are strict mask wearers, so we would have put ours on if he came inside; but he repeated that he wasn’t allowed in. He told us there was a control on the side of the TV that we could use, which Hubby eventually found, but it was very difficult to use! The man asked if we wanted him to go get us a new remote, but again he sounded like we would be putting him out, what with already bringing the extra pillows, so we said not to worry!
We only wanted to turn the volume up, but because it was a tiny weeny joystick kind of control which you couldn’t really access or see easily, the channel was constantly changing. We managed eventually, catching the last half of Strictly, but gave up watching anything else afterwards 😂
Unfortunately the pillows the man brought were not proper bed pillows - they were grubby small rectangle sofa cushions stuffed into normal sized grubby, threadbare pillow cases! We also checked the bed covers and sheets which did turn out to be dirty with stains and had black hairs everywhere. We got the impression that maybe this room was a spare room, perhaps used by staff members if they ever needed to rest.
The walk in shower was absolutely great. It had a huge waterfall type head and the complimentary smelly’s were wonderful - it topped the whole day off nicely, although then getting into the grubby bed that night didn’t feel too great!
When we were going to bed we realised that we didn’t know what time the dining room was open for breakfast; There was no Information sheet or binder in the room to inform us of anything at all, so we had to call the hotel from our mobile phone - they told us the restaurant was open from 7am-10am. There was a phone on the bedside table, but we didn’t have a clue how to use it - again, no binder of Information sheet!
Unfortunately I did not get a wink of sleep that night! There was an extremely loud constant noise 24/7 from what we could only work out from a bit of detective work in the morning may have been from the generators for the kitchen which kept me awake the whole night, along with the aliens chatting inside the heating system! Literally ALL NIGHT the heating system up on the wall was making loud clicking noises every half hour or so and was whirring away all night, it sounded like a family of aliens were having their Christmas get-together chatting the whole night through - which to try to help me sleep, Hubby said to imagine were bubble noises from a fish tank - that certainly did NOT help! I even downloaded an app on my phone to play wave and campfire sounds, which helped slightly drowning out the aliens, but the kitchen generator noise was unbearable. It was an absolute nightmare - and I sleep with earplugs, but the noise was THAT loud it was as though I didn’t even have them in!
After an absolutely awful night because of the 24/7 loud noise, we were looking forward to breakfast in the morning. Unfortunately I was forced to get up at 4am because the constant noise and the crappy pillows were torturing me, so I had a cup of tea and played the radio on my iPad, looking over all the wedding photos I had taken the day before.
We went to the breakfast room at 7:45am, and on our way out of the corridor we found what could also have played a huge part in the 24hr extremely loud whirring noise - three huge Samsung generators - obviously to run all the room heaters (‘Alien homes’)! It was very spacious and the tables were set at a decent social distanced position. There were more Christmas decorations and a pretty little tree. The lady took a note of our room number when we arrived and we chose a small table. The lady served us drinks and then explained that we can go up and help ourselves to the cold food, but that someone will serve us our hot breakfast when we were ready. We asked if they had vegetarian sausages and she went to request them from the Chef.
We were now the only people in the restaurant and went up to put our (2x cling filmed wrapped slices) bread in the toaster and then the Chef came out. He said he’ll bring the sausages over to us when they were ready. He was very friendly and had prepared and served his food beautifully. Every single fried egg was beautifully runny, the hash browns were brown and crispy, I had half a tomato and a spoonful of beans too. Hubby had mushrooms with his and said his sausages were absolutely GORGEOUS - THE BEST SAUSAGES HE HAD EVER EATEN!!! My Vege sausages came out, which if I’m honest I could have done without - unfortunately they are those awful sloppy ones like mashed potato with green & orange bits inside that actually spread on toast! But I couldn’t fault anything else - it was a lovely treat.
The chef came out when we had finished and we told him that his breakfast, especially the meat sausages was the best we’d ever eaten, which he was very appreciative of. He said how happy he was to hear that explaining that they used to get so many complaints when he first took over the kitchen about the crappy (meat) sausages before he managed to get them changed! He was a very nice man.
We left the hotel just after breakfast and unfortunately there was no-one at the reception when we left our key for us to ask the Man’s name who helped us when we arrived the previous morning. Although the room was awful, and I didn’t get a wink of sleep, We will never forget this act of kindness that the Man did for us because it literally made the wedding day great for my Son and Daughter-in-Law. They certainly don’t need to know that unfortunately unless there was a way to stop the 24hr invasive noise to get some sleep at night, that we won’t be able to come back to this hotel again.
I took plenty of photos and recoded the horrendous noises too!