I love a modern, clean lines, contemporary hotel, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy some beautiful old fashioned charm and spectacular historical décor in a hotel. We’ve stayed in a few old fashioned spectacular architecture hotels in the past – Queens Hotel Southsea and The Grand Eastbourne – and I was pleased there was a room at the Imperial Hotel Blackpool for our latest stay.
Most of these hotels in seaside towns are set overlooking or right near to the sea, and are usually in walking distance to the town centre. If you’re after beautiful immaculate hotel rooms that won’t be what you get. Our experience has always been that they’re a little run down and crumbling, but have beautiful lobby and entrance areas that make up for the basic and sometimes a little quirky rooms. And of course, don’t expect air conditioning.
I only ever stay in hotels which have parking available for guests, so they’re good to use for a base, as well as being handy if you need to return to the car to get bits and pieces out during your stay.
Facilities at the Imperial Hotel Blackpool
The Imperial Hotel is a couple of tram stops up from Blackpool’s North Pier, or about a 10-15 minute walk. It’s across the road from the sea and there’s a reasonable sized car park. A large hotel, it was built in 1867 and is a large Victorian brick building.
There’s one large restaurant, lounge where you can have afternoon tea, health and fitness area and swimming pool. You do have to pay for car parking at £7 a day, but that’s a bargain compared to most hotels that charge, and cheaper than a day parking in the town. They have large conference facilities so the car park might get busier during the week. It was fine when we were there overnight on a Friday.
There was a bit of a wait to be served at reception as it was quite busy, but the staff were friendly. They weren’t as forthcoming with additional information as other hotels are on check in, but I’m sure if we’d had any questions they’d have been happy to answer them.
N was determined to try out the swimming pool. It’s functional and quite small, but fine for a bit of a splash about and some short lengths. There were a few of us in there when we were there and it’s not that warm if you’re not actually swimming. The jacuzzi was waiting to be fixed when we were there, and there’s a few seats and loungers around the pool. The changing rooms are old fashioned wooden style benches with lockers. Children have set times they’re allowed in the pool but this wasn’t too restrictive – it’s only lunch time and later evenings that aren’t accessible for them.
Palm Court Restaurant and breakfast at the Imperial Hotel
After staying at Lake District hotel, Low Wood Bay the days before our stay in Blackpool, and having good breakfasts there, breakfast at the Imperial wasn’t great. The scrambled egg had no flavour and was watery (when I mentioned it to a work colleague afterwards, they suggested it might have been powdered rather than fresh eggs – bleurgh), although N said the sausage was fine. The orange juice wasn’t pleasant either. The mini pastries were tasty though. You could order additional a la carte options, but there was no trendy avocado on toast option at the Imperial.
It was a disappointing offer, and was a surprise as we’ve always had good breakfasts in hotels.
Rooms at Imperial Hotel
I knew we weren’t having a fancy room. I’d had a nightmare booking the hotel – attempted direct, the hotel website kept defaulting the date I’d chosen back to the day I was booking it. First attempt I got charge for booking a room at 8.20pm that evening just for myself and no child, when I’d chosen the correct date. I didn’t trust the hotel booking website, so booked via a 3rd party, but to get my refund I had to cancel that and rebook with the hotel. If I’d had other options at a late stage I’d have looked elsewhere because of the faff.
Our room was fine. It did the job, although our window did overlook a roof right in front. There was still enough natural light in the room, and the windows opened which is important to me as I’m always hot in hotel rooms. We had twin beds which were fine – the beds were very soft though. If you wanted different or more pillows or duvets, you’d have to ring reception to ask as there were none in the room.
The one good thing was that it was a really dark room when the lights were off at night. N had no problems falling asleep quickly. There were also 3 available plugs to use, although none near the beds.
But there were things that were a little annoying for me:
- Only 1 bedside light worked – typically not mine!
- Only one comfy chair but no table.
- The dressing table was high to work at with the chair provided so I had to sit in the comfy chair with my legs on the bed to use my laptop in a reasonable position.
- The tv remote had the battery back missing which made it awkward to change channels.
- Only 1 glass for water
- No information provided about the wifi at reception so had to look through all the hotel information to find how to logon.
- Nowhere to put a suitcase if you don’t want to unpack everything. We were only staying 1 night so just wanted to have our suitcases accessible. It would have been nice to have one rack to put it on. Both had to go on the floor.
Our bathroom was tucked away, so was an awkward shape. The sink was a huge old fashioned one which took up a lot of room opposite the bath, and the toilet in comparison was small and a bit cheap with a plastic lid, round the corner behind the bath. I could put the blind down next to the toilet which is good.
The shower was over the bath. I never expect much from hotel showers because they have to pump so much water through so many rooms at once. It was ok but nothing special. In an old building, you’ll get functional bathrooms and that’s what it was.
It was a shame I couldn’t find a button to turn off the heated towel rail. This just made the room too hot, so it would be good to be able to turn it down or off. But great to have the option for drying clothes or swim gear before heading home.
We both slept well though, and didn’t hear too much noise outside our room from people walking past.
As a base the Imperial Hotel worked well for us. The downstairs is pretty spectacular if you’re a fan of old grand buildings, so I probably would stay again….but only if the breakfast quality is improved.
Do you prefer old traditional hotels, or modern ones?
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