In a previous post, I talked about where we stayed in our first week in our Christmas Holiday. This post is about the last 10 days we had which included New Year’s eve and beyond. We stayed in 2 accommodations in the previous post and here I am discussing the other 3 accommodations we stayed in for the last wonderful part of our holiday in Surrey and it’s surroundings.
Accommodation no. 3:
Holiday Inn Leamington Spa/Warwick €92 per night
We wanted to visit another area of the UK and we chose Stratford-Upon-Avon as Jamie had studied something about Shakespeare. Warwick castle which is close by, just looked great for the boys to experience. My boys love medieval stories of knights and duelling. It seemed like the perfect place.
I needed to keep to our budget and this was hard. Being Christmas season, prices in actual Stratford were too expensive. If I had to go again, and I will go back again, I would pay that little extra to be in such a beautiful place.
So accommodation no1 was not my favourite choice but it was in budget. As to distance between it and Stratford and Warwick, both were at a 20 min distance by car. So, all seemed ok. Little did I know that we were in an industrial zone which was under construction. The actual hotel was not bad but outside was a big let-down. I’m so glad nobody was too sick that we had to stay in this hotel, like did in the beginning of our trip.
The room was a bit on the small side and the window was way too high to enjoy (there was nothing to enjoy anyway) but the bathroom was modern and well equipped. The room is not central heated but heated with an air conditioner so it took a while to warm up and left the window with a lot of condensation dripping in the morning. We had the normal tea facilities but the space was so small I didn’t have place to put two suitcases.
We were also a bit upset by the service of the staff. The welcome was done well as the kids were given a chance to ask for a surprise and given a VIK (Very Important Kid) bracelet as they both had their birthdays. We then set out and didn’t get back till late. Breakfast on the first day was good but the area somehow felt cold as the restaurant, lobby, bar and everything else is in the same area.
Up until then, everything was good. The next day we asked for the kids’ free gift, they didn’t ask for much, just some strawberries and strawberry ice-cream. The staff came out with two bowls of ice-cream. When I told them that my son doesn’t like ice-cream they said that they didn’t have strawberries. 2 things I did not agree with in this system: you can’t ask kids for any gift, you need to write what you are offering. Secondly don’t come out with the assumption that all kids like ice-cream, ask him what else would make him happy! My eldest was very upset after that. On that day, breakfast was also a little slacking; bread was scarce and the only cold cuts that were offered was Chorizo (picante). When I asked for some simple ham or just some cheese they said they didn’t have. I did complain there and then and after some minutes she came out with some. Why say you don’t have when you do?
So, the hotel was not nice but please do read about Stratford upon Avon in my blog as I fell in love with the place even if it was freezing outside, it showed me it’s warmth. The Warwick castle was also worth the sacrifice of staying in that Hotel, but I won’t stay there again. We booked this hotel through booking.com
Friend’s house in Gloucester
On this I cannot complain! We were welcomed like family, it is so nice to catch up with friends that you have not seen for years. I am so grateful for this family for the memories that we had and thanks to these visits, the memories that we continue to share. Gloucester is a special place for me check my post about it (coming soon) as it is worth a visit.
Old School Apartment, Croydon €100 per night
For the final week we decided to stay in an apartment so that we can calm down and get our kids back into some kind of routine. We normally go through Airbnb when we hire an apartment but because of the budget we found it very hard to find an accommodation that was good for a whole week. We didn’t want our kids to sleep on a sofa-bed anymore we wanted a proper room. We wanted to have enough space for us adults to have some privacy too and many apartments would either be a studio or just one bedroom with extra beds in it. Our friends live in Tadworth and Surrey is slightly on the expensive side due to the proximity of London. So it was hard to keep to budget.
When I came across this apartment I had to book it. I didn’t read the small print, not a good thing, do read all the small print especially if you have to pay the whole amount up front and no cancellation fee is discussed. Luckily we didn’t need to cancel, and luckily the place was up to the standard of the photos.
In a description it was said to be a penthouse but from the photos it was clear that it was a ground floor apartment. We were a bit anxious until we met Sarah our agent from Hyde and Rowe. Sarah was extremely kind and helpful. She answered all our questions before and during our stay. While we were there we actually requested to change the spare beds’ mattresses and Sarah immediately made sure that they were changed the very next day…and it was New Year’s Day!
The place needs to be made a bit homey and I’m glad I got my Christmas decorations with me that lightened the place up. After setting up with toys and Christmas stockings, the place felt like home. The size of the place was just right, it had a box room where we kept our coats and muddy boots, it had two bathrooms; one en-suite shower and a normal bath (came in handy when the kids suffered toilet problems), a perfect size kitchen including a washer/dryer and it even had an electric fire place.
The apartment was not only functioning from the inside but also the area was perfect; it was a residential area and very quiet. There was a green park just 2 min walk from our door where we could go for a jog in the morning, the kids could play in the playground or just take up the open space that we lack so much in Malta.
Apart from the Surrey sights surrounding Croydon, it is perfect for commuting into London. Only 20 min away from Central London by train and you can use your Oyster Card as it is in one of the zones. Croydon in itself is not a pretty place, but it had what we needed. This apartment made us feel that we were actually living in England not just on holiday. It was in this apartment that we spent a whole morning not doing much at all. Kids did some school work and I needed to rest from my chest infection that I had picked up along my travels.
Car Hire by Avis
As you can see we travelled to various places and we couldn’t have done it without hiring a car that made you want to drive. Avis were our Car Hire agent and honestly it was very smooth. Although we didn’t order an automatic the person at the desk at the car-hire village did a great job in giving us a special price to upgrade our car. To get to the car-hire village from the airport of Stansted was very easy too. Don’t book your upgrades online, ask at the desk. Normally the price at the desk can be negotiated.
I would travel again to Stansted airport and hire a car from there as it didn’t take longer than 30 min to do the whole trip, sign the papers and get the car. Even when we had to drop it off again, as soon as we parked the car an assistant came out, checked it and off we went as the bus had just arrived. Giving us more time to enjoy a lovely lunch at the airport. There are a few restaurants and we chose the one with the enormous Giraffe infront. The service here was fast and helpful too.
Yes, can’t complain about much on this holiday except that we were sick most of the time. We had it under control though. Can’t wait for another visit to England. Just remember to take your European Medical Insurance Card. The next few posts will be about the things we did and saw. Hope you enjoy your read, if you do please leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think.