Value Score No Data
Good For Couples
Something For Everyone
The Durrant is a place I've passed many a time and sort of know it by reputation. A reputation which has seesawed, sometimes quite violently, over the years. This time round my usual preferences were more expensive than I wanted to pay and when a www.booking.com search offered a £35 per night prepay deal here, including breakfast, I thought I'd give it a go.
This is a large hotel, with 125 bedrooms, along with bars, dining room and various function rooms, which seems to have always struggled to find its niche in the marketplace. The grandiose 19th century building, a former private residence of Admiral Sir Richard Keats, has some obviously modern additions but retains much of its original character, especially its tranquil inner courtyard and wood-panelled ground floor public rooms.
The spacious bedrooms have been all been brought up to a good 3-star standard, with comfortable beds, large screen televisions, tea and coffee making facilities and wifi internet access. Bathrooms are a bit hit-nor-miss despite the Italian marbling and smoked glass hand basins - my room's bath had filled holes where there had been handles and its plug was one of those cheap rubber, one-size-fits-all, things. But everything was spotlessly clean and so I'll assume such minor idiosyncrasies are just work-in-progress.
As well as the standard rooms the hotel also offer Estuary View rooms at the back and some rather plush luxury suites.
Staff were unanimously friendly and helpful, check-in, having pre-paid, simply a matter of
showing ID in exchange for my keycard along with instructions for breakfast, which itself is well-worth getting up for.
Unique Quality: Although out of town, the hotel has bus stops in both directions immediately outside its main entrance and with buses running at least every 15 minutes during the day, and only a 7 minute journey time into town, it's very easy to get backwards and forwards. And then from Bideford you can get pretty much anywhere around North Devon including catching the Oldenburg from the Quay to Lundy.
So no complaints whatsoever, certainly not at the rate I paid.
Directions: Just before the top of the hill on the Bideford to Westward Ho! road, just before the Appledore turn-off.
Worst hotel visited on a trip to Devon & Cornwall
After a tour of Devon and Cornwall, it appeared from the information given that this hotel might be the best of several hotels I’d stayed in. Although I’ve given all the others positive reviews, I cannot do so in this case.
The hotel is certainly in a convenient location, near to the bridge over the estuary, but the picture of a beach on the hotel webpage might mislead – in all the time I was in the hotel I saw no sight of such an estuary beach – I guess those in upper rooms facing in the right direction might get a distant view of the river and Instow on the other side. At least Appledore is only a couple of miles away.
The staff were aloof – I didn’t even get a “good morning” at breakfast, and the acoustics in reception are dreadful, so I struggled to hear what was being said - not helped by the presence of several tour groups that appear to be a major focus for this hotel.
The hotel has the latest in “don’t trust the guest to manage their own power consumption” tactics, with the door entry chip card needing to be inserted the correct way around to get any power in the room – even for the sockets, so the usual dodge of using a credit card in its place doesn’t work if you just want to leave a laptop charging whilst out of the room.
The worst thing is the shower. It has a fairly standard size cubicle, but this is dominated by a huge fixed shower head about 6ft 6in above the shower tray. You can’t angle it away from you, and there in no room in the cubicle to move away from it – so if you are tall there isn’t much clearance and it’s a challenge to use without resorting as I did to standing on the bathroom floor and approaching it from there.
When I was trying to point this out after checking out the receptionist appeared interested in what I was saying up until the hotel phone rang - which she answered, and then could not quickly get back to our conversation.
Looking at their website it’s clear they focus on the luxuries – whereas I’m more interested in the basics. Their cancellation policy was the most onerous of all of the hotels / guest houses I visited on this trip too.
Unique Quality: Free parking - a boon after you've suffered so much motorist fleecing in Devon and Cornwall.
Directions: In a residential area - not far from the bridge over the estuary, but quite a way from the sea facing coast.
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