When I worked in finance I used to travel a lot. Really a lot. The worse was one three month period when it seemed that I was on a flight every Sunday evening, getting back late on a Friday. It was relentless, draining, tiring and there was nothing fun or glamorous about it.
When I bought the Fuss Free flat over 10 years ago, I didn’t spend more than 5 nights in a row there for about 3 months. As I said not fun. The occasional business trip is quite enjoyable, but endless, relentless nights in hotels, hours at airports waiting for flights and evenings spent hunched over a laptop are miserable. The worse is not being able to cook the food you want to eat, or even being able to make a cup of coffee exactly as you like it. Never again. Consequently I am quite critical of hotels.
That said I now quite like the odd night away, and when Asda asked me to attend a pie masterclass at their Leeds HQ I eagerly accepted. 2 hours of knitting time on the train on the way there, 2 hours back, and a night in a large bed sleeping like a starfish – plus a hotel breakfast!
The Hilton Doubletree is brand spanking new. So new that if you look at the satellite view on Google Maps it is a building site. The location is next to the station, on the canal wharf. Due to the canals it is not as easy direct walk to it as you might think.
Rooms and beds are large and spacious. Decor is neutral and tasteful – an attractive collage of sepia photos of Leeds hung on the wall, the bedding was pristine white. On arrival you are given a cheery welcome and handed a freshly baked cookie. Every room has an iMac with Apple TV. There are lights in the wardrobe. Every mod con.
However, for me, and I suspect most people, the most important thing about a hotel is a good nights sleep! The bed was comfortable, but the pillows were distinctly solid, one too thin and the other too thick. The duvet was very warm, very thick and very very heavy, so heavy it was almost physically hard to pull it over you. Even allowing for my dreadful insomnia I did not have that good a night. Curtains had good blackout linings and the windows were triple glazed so the room was quiet and dark. Air con was relatively silent and effective.
Other niggles were that the Wifi (free) was not very good – super slow and intermittent – there is no excuse for this in a city centre. There was only an electric socket on one side of the bed. I would also like to be able to make myself a decent cup of coffee when away; if I ran the country I would make it the law that every hotel in the country provide a pod coffee machine in every room. For me a sachet of instant does not cut it.
The bathroom was bright with excellent shower (no bath), nicely tiled in white and charcoal, non misting mirrors (were they heated?). Lovely Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries – isn’t checking the toiletries the first thing everyone does when getting to their room? No slippers or bathrobe, but you do not really need them for one night.
Breakfast was OK – the standard buffet – cooked English, continental (meats, cheese and smoked salmon), cereals and fruit – but dreadful coffee.
Verdict – a good modern city hotel, but perhaps more concentration on the quality of bedding, speed of wifi and the quality of coffee rather than the gimmicks such as the iMac and cookie (not that good – I took one bite) would not go amiss.
Room and breakfast was about £100, I was the guest of ASDA.