Playa park Corralejo hotel review (7.5/10)

Playa park hotel review – (Room 315) (7.5/10)

Good
” Great onsite facilities including pools, self service restaurant, pleasant landscaping and a gym”.
” Friendly and helpful staff which made my stay thoroughly enjoyable”.
” Plenty to do and a great local area for shopping and the beach all just a walk away”.
” Weather was hot, yet bearable and consistently good”.
” Clean room and slick service”.

Bad
” Dodgy WIFI which had to be logged into every time”.
” Bed not made and sheets just left folded”.
” No cider included and a lack of lager choices”.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere was consistently relaxed with a fairly consistent music playlist throughout the day and evening. The pool and weather were ideal for sun bathing and relaxation. The outside courtyard area complete with sun beds, music, bar area shaded and sunny seating provided a picturesque and ideal setting for relaxing. Parents could relax while children enjoyed the table tennis table or enjoyed a dip in the pool.

Staff all seemed fairly attentive and friendly and the restaurant service was seamless. The free bar drinks and buffet style dining catered for most palettes including health options for the more health conscious. Food quality was variable although the bread, variety of meats and diverse selection were key strengths.

 

Tea provisions

Tea was supplied at the allotted breakfast times with options for green or breakfast. Hot milk was supplied. For the room, a kettle was provided with just 1 litre capacity. This was a little small and impractical although having hot water on tap at mealtimes made up for this.

In general, the drinks available were diverse and catered for almost all tastes. It was great having free cocktails in the evening which were made skilfully and professionally. The choice on offer had a range of options including the popular “sex on the beach” as well as blue lagoon and tequila sunrise. The Pina colada and local Playa park cocktails were also nice.

The range of diet or sugar free drinks however was limited to water or Diet Coke which seemed a little restrictive for a relaxing holiday.

These were included in the all inclusive for every afternoon which was very pleasant which we got a lot of use from, at and between mealtimes.

Community areas

The pool was kept clean first thing every morning to minimise disruption and all walkways seemed clear. The restaurant was mostly clean if the cutlery tray seemed a little sticky on one occasion.

For the more adventurous table tennis, a squash court and small gym were available for use which was good. The stairwells to the rooms were tiled and suitable for barefoot walking.

The bar area had pool tables and social seating as well as a few arcade machines. The venue was very open yet compact and easy to negotiate which was very appealing.
The restaurant was of pleasant size with a good presentation of mains and desserts inside to allow space for many guests to simultaneously select and serve catering options.

The sun bed number outside was mostly sufficient although they were all taken on occasion suggesting a few more would be pleasant.

The gym was quite primitive with creaky equipment and an air con system which did not seem to work. This made me very hot within a short time on the cycle machine. The treadmill worked better and didn’t suffer from data inaccuracies and the creaking sound.
There was however a multitude of settings on the machines which if they were explained could make the experience better quality. TV’s were in the gym which played music to accompany your workout which was good.

As it stands, swimming in the outside pool or table tennis appeared to be the best forms of exercise on site for keeping cool. Air conditioning would have made the gym far more useful.

Price

At around 800 euros for a 7 day stay per guest, the price was great considering transport, food and a great location was provided. Nothing was a problem. The coach transfer was quick and efficient with only a slight departure delay. The Thomas cook airline was pleasant with a few good travel magazines to read. The pilot landed very softly which was great. The place did seem good value although I had not previously stayed in an all inclusive.

Washing and cleaning

The shower worked well with a lever style on switch for pressure which could be easily rotated to adjust temperature. Whilst it wasn’t the most sensitive, accurate or powerful as seen perhaps at Double tree by Hilton in Lincoln, it was sufficient and serviced to cleanliness. Plenty of towels were provided between the 3 of us.

There was no hairdryer provided which was a little disappointing although in the heat this was not strictly necessary.

Chilling in your room

My sofa bed was of moderate comfort despite on arrival a lack of obvious indication that it was geared up as a bed at all. The staff could have moved the back cushions to clear more space for sheets and placed some there ready for myself to sleep.
Once set up and the cushions were removed it was reasonably comfortable and of adequate size for one guest. So much so that the only difficulty sleeping I had was due to the music outside which continued to play till late at the bar.

The evening entertainment was great with disco lights and announcer for those outside having fun but the room could be soundproofed a little better perhaps so that this didn’t cause disruption to my sleep. That said this was only a very minor issue with the atmosphere making up for this considerably.

When relaxing I enjoy watching online programs and listening to music. My music had a significant level of wifi interruption and the logging on with password reentry every single time was repetitive and a little tedious. That said free wifi which was unlimited was a good thing and appreciated by myself and other members of the family.

One wardrobe between the 3 of us was okay considering generous drawer space. that the 8 hangers provided was definitely a good number compared to other places I had previously stayed at.

Adapters for plug sockets could have been offered especially since these are necessary for U.K. gadgets to be charged. I understand this is not an issue for locals but for a holiday resort this could be considered. The number of plugs was just about sufficient although a couple extra in the lounge area would have been welcomed.

Customer service

The receptionists gave accurate directions to the gym and our room which was great. They were polite and enthusiastic with a real passion shown by their voice. Our stay was very welcomed despite being unaccustomed to the Spanish language except the odd “Gracias”.

This was very pleasant and I could not fault the speed at which plates were cleared in the restaurant at mealtimes or the consistency of food and drinks provided in the all inclusive. I never felt without anything … Perhaps if I was being critical a few more diet drink choices as well as diet cola and wine on tap at the bar in addition to the restaurant would have improved things.

For my taste in alcohol, San Miguel with no options for cider or other lagers meant I was left without my usual choice. Bar staff were generous with cocktails and I felt at ease when ordering which was great.

Summary

A great service and range of facilities provided. Plenty of food choice and opportunity for family fun. Fitness activities could be enhanced and broadened and TV could have been better with signal and range of channels. As a clean, family friendly, relaxing holiday resort though it seemed idyllic.

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Double tree by Hilton Lincoln (8.5/10) ” Spacious and clean with good facilities”.

Double tree by Hilton hotel review – ( Room 408) (8.5/10) ” Spacious and clean with good facilities”.

Good
” Complementary cookie”.
” Comfortable and spacious room”.
” Great-sized TV and reliable Wifi”.
” Easy quick walking access to high street and train station”.
” Iron and board provided” .

Bad
” No hairdryer in room”.
” Who wants an optional deposit ?”.
” Drawer with mind of it’s own”.
” Staff a little eager for sales”.

Atmosphere

The room was of great size with a comfortable carpet. On checkin the staff were very friendly and welcoming and highly professional in conduct and dress.
A free cookie on arrival was a great treat after a long day at work.
The reception area was generously sized and on reception, breakfast was offered with a price which was good even if this price was 12 pounds !!!

I didn’t like the idea of an optional deposit however to claim back the remnant of at the end of my stay since this felt like it was being forced upon me. The keycards were explained to me a.k.a which one was for power to my room and which one was for entry access. This system worked well.

Tea provisions

The tea provisions were great along with reasonable size mugs. It was a shame the kettle capacity was only 1 litre and with the dial inside the vessel. This felt a little impractical. That said the presentation of tea spoons, tea biscuits, sugar and tea and coffee selection were second to none. The familiar Border tea biscuits as seen in Bristol were back which was great to see. Equally a choice of brown or white sugar was nice, 8 semi-skimmed milks could have been altered to include a combination of full fat milk also, although the count was sufficient.

Twinings everyday and Twinings earl grey were the 2 tea offerings which was refreshing compared to the usual PG tips. 8 were provided for me and my room mate which was a good number at 4 each. With 9 sugar sachets and a choice of decaf or normal coffee, the tea provisions put on a great display.

Community areas

Downstairs on entry there was a seated area and on site was apparently a fitness suite.
The corridors required keycards for access which was helpful for security purposes. Unlike most other hotels my key cards did not wear out during my stay which was a great relief.

There was a seated area with buffet style catering which was nice and key historical features of the building were conserved despite the modern ambience which was respectful and appreciative of the city.

Price

With price hovering around £80 per night the hotel is not cheap. It does come with those luxury touches that would be expected for a pricey stay such as great comfort and cleanliness which makes value reasonable.

Washing and cleaning

A shower with 2 nozzles 1 for bath/shower and the other temperature was great since good pressure was easy to achieve and for bath or shower preference, the washing facilities worked well.
Conditioner, body lotion, shampoo and body wash bottles were provided which appeared a great range and well presented on a metal tray. They were a little small however. Presenting the soap on a separate tray made it look the part. The brand verbena and lavender was used consistently suggesting quality.

2 quilted toilet rolls were provided which was good and a small litterbin in the en-suite.
The shower had a textured floor to prevent slipping which was nice.

Over 5 towels were provided in the bathroom space which seemed plenty.
Lots of mirror space was available with a 3/4 mirror in the bathroom and a full height one directly outside. And there was a great size mirror beside the wide TV. The room therefore appeared very spacious yet benefitted from a boxy shape for pleasant TV viewing.

Whilst you were provided with an iron there was no hairdryer which was a bit of a letdown, compared to many other places I have stayed previously.

Chilling in your room

The carpet was comfy to walk on bare footed which lead up to a great sized LG TV. This almost dwarfed the roomsize yet was great for entertainment. The remote was provided alongside next to some useful information. No intermittency was suffered in signal for TV or Wifi.

Free Wifi was provided throughout which only required an email for registration. No fiddly password searches or code entry were required which was very refreshing.

Plenty of drawspace and hangers were provided (7-8) for 2 guests. Only criticism with storage was that the drawer wanted to open on it’s rollers so had to be properly closed. A safe was provided in the wardrobe which perhaps should be the case for wealthier guests possessions. Not that I was privileged enough to benefit from this personally.

Customer service

Room service was very good and everything was kept clean. Staff seemed friendly and helpful and respected placement of tea provisions. These were left out of a confined draw on room service suggesting staff respected how we liked things.

Staff seemed approachable and mostly relaxed if a little pushy to promote sales at times.

Summary

Great centrally located hotel with facilities including fitness suite and historical features. Comfort and cleanliness with pleasant extra touches were apparent at every turn. Whilst a little pricey for stay, breakfast and offered deposit the stay reflected a refined experience close to perfection.

compare hotels at https://www.hotelscombined.com/?a_aid=181799

 

Henry Westons’ ” Medium dry” oak aged vintage 2016 – (8.25/10)

Henry Westons “Medium-dry” oak aged vintage cider 2016 (8.25/10)

The Good

” Great value and distinctive branding”.
” Pleasant warming aftertaste and carbonation”.
” Full-bodied with an enjoyable tang”.
” Balanced drink without astringency”.

The Bad

” Lack of fruity flavour and sweetness”.
” Not medium dry as described”.
” Lack of blurb or backstory”.

Packaging

Straight away from the golden-fonted label, surrounding an image of Henry Weston himself you can see that Westons is proud of it’s history and founder. The design seemed appropriate for this as it did with the steamroller of old Rosie and the classic scene depicted on the scrumpy cloudy bottle.

The oak aged statement and year of vintage gave a suggestion of a lengthy maturation process and perhaps a stronger alcohol content.
This was affirmed on the front at 6.5% alongside the bottle capacity of 500ml.

On turning the bottle, the units at 3.3 was revealed which kept things sensible assuming only one bottle was consumed for the evening. This is regarding cost and alcohol consumption level.

The place of origin is labelled as the Much marcle farm near Ledbury as is the case for other Westons’ ciders. The establishment year was clearly labelled as usual on the bottleneck with 1880. This supported this traditional cider producers heritage.

What was somewhat surprising was the lack of blurb from a cider producer so seeped in tradition. Old Rosie by contrast, had a fairly lengthy backstory and many other ciders do have a description of the sensory characteristics expected from the drink.

Whilst that appeared as a slight let down, the classy bottle appearance with reasonable cost and practicality; Priced at just £1.39 from Aldi (whilst on special-buy), meant that this still exuded a positive impression. It appeared as the only Henry westons available from Aldi at this price however with others such as ” Extra dry” “Medium sweet” and “Vintage with variable years”, appearing currently more elusive.

There is also a family reserve addition but this seems to be exclusively available on draught.

On inspection of the website it announced expectations for full bodied and traditional character aswell as ” special character and flavour”. The latter was mostly attributed to the maturation in oak vats. The bottle announced medium dryness suggesting this was also expected.

A non-watery, flavoursome and slightly dry cider was expected therefore. Wether it lives up to this expectation, I was soon to find out.

Smell

On opening, a small collection of bubbly froth was present on the cusp of the liquid. The scent was natural and fruity yet not oversweet giving an impression of acidity. The head slowly dissipated but still left this familiar yet weak scent lingering for many subsequent breaths.

Taste

The feel in your mouth was highly pleasant with full bodied character and a satisfactory level of carbonation. The aftertaste quickly began to give some warmth suggesting the strength of the alcohol was reasonable. The cider didn’t appear to give much artificial sweetness although there was certainly an appealing essence of sweet apple in the flavour.

The level of acidity was very nice and certainly noticeable, yet not overpowering.
There appeared to be a slight lack of character to the flavour except a tang and aftertaste to partially disguise a little disappointment. The scent of fruit did not appear strongly reflected in the flavour and there wasn’t anything with finesse in the main taste. The warming aftertaste however also had an impression of maturity which was positive but only emphasised lack of other positives except tang and carbonation.

With stronger ciders, there is sometimes an element of astringency ( bitterness) although thankfully this appeared absent here. This suggested good balance since sweetness may well have cancelled this bitterness out.

Summary

A pleasantly carbonated, tangy drink with an enjoyable, characterful and warming aftertaste. A full-bodied, non medium dry without the tasting rigours of a unique cider.

Sources

Www.westons-cider.co.uk

Sxollie golden delicious monovarietal cider ” Hip, sweet and fruity, if expensive”. – (8.5/10)

Sxollie cider -( Mono varietal golden delicious) review (8.5/10) ” Sweet, hip, fruity but expensive”.

The Good

” Brilliant branding and logo with (urban meets rural) “.
” Natural, fruity and sweet flavour”.
” Well balanced carbonation with subtle acidity”.
” Full-bodied drink”.
” Good bottle design”.

The Bad

” Costly to achieve close to the limit”.
” Acidity too subtle”.
” Blurb with a backstory is not written on the bottle … Be proud”.

Packaging

There was nothing on the Sxollie website to indicate history or tradition yet mostly a combination of hip, young and fun. I did manage to locate an article though on (probably an unreliable website) with the brand founders Karol and Laura.
Laura had written this article which claimed her and her partner had established the brand following their previous life in Australia. This happened 3 years ago suggesting Sxollie as a company was established in South Africa in 2014.

The only African cider I had previously sampled was Savannah which was fairly enjoyable. My expectations were therefore not lacking for a different, yet satisfying drink. Savannah in my review scored an 8/10 for it’s acidity and subtle carbonation yet was a little lacking in sweetness. This was however a solid score so I was certainly ready to sample this brand and all it had to offer.

With Savannah apparently being established since 1996, this made Sxollie it’s younger cousin.

On the website, Sxollie was instantly described as possessing a playful and opportunistic spirit. The same spirit that it’s origin in urban Africa possesses. It goes on to describe how you should release your inner rebel suggesting a youngsters fashionable cider product.

Stay focused and be bold with ambition is also suggested promoting being outgoing and getting the most out of life. This creates the impression of energy, fashion and active enjoyment. Not the storyline you’d expect from anything dull or watery.

On scrolling it describes itself as a single variety craft cider, and the word Sxollie to mean scallywag in English. It discussed the apples used and sourcing from the orchards of Elgin in the Cape Town region.

The prominent ‘X’ logo present on the bottle is suggested to be a traditional pottery design used ubiquitously across South Africa. It also appeared to attempt to bring rural agriculture and natural quality to an on-trend, more urban setting which sounds good.

The sensory traits were described as light carbonation with elegant, fruity flavour. These attributes were grounded in maturation with the steel tanks used and champagne yeasts; Whether these make a difference I am sceptical, although I will be looking for a comparison with the pleasant complexity and tang of Capel road blend No. 5 which also claims the use of steel tanks.

The golden delicious monovarietal segment of the page added the words floral, balanced and the first that was produced, suggesting this cider was a fitting one to review initially.

Whilst I managed to purchase on offer from Waitrose, Sxollie would typically cost £1.99 from there for just a small 330 ml bottle. At 4.5% strength and just 1.5 units per bottle this is not great value and rather expensive considering not many supermarkets appear to stock it. Additionally 2 would be required to fully satiate, for the lower end of the 3-4 unit daily recommended limit. If indeed Worcester-stocked cider is anything to go by.

Smell

On opening the primary scent was rather pungent and definitely fruity and sweet. It had a pleasant natural freshness supporting the elegant, fruity and natural attributes reported by the website.

Taste

On swirling, significant bubbles were released promoting the subtle carbonation suggested which appeared rather pleasant. On a subsequent sip there was definitely a fruity burst of apple. The flavour was pleasantly sweet yet not sickly. A subtle yet pleasant acidity was apparent which left a sharp tangy aftertaste keeping interest sustained.

The drink was certainly not watery and could be safely described as full bodied. The lack of dryness expectations announced on the bottle or website left me eagerly anticipating this product sensation. It was pleasantly moist and was not a dry cider. This was not claimed however suggesting comfortable brand loyalty.

Summary

A pleasantly fruity and sweet drink with a great natural and organic feel. The branding for young enthusiasm and excitement was great and certainly came across when consuming a natural product intended for an urban market. The cost was rather high and the lack of information or backstory on the bottle was a little disappointing. Dryness was pleasantly low yet acidity was a little subtle. Carbonation was sufficient to balance the fruity taste however.

 

Sources
http://www.sxolliecider.com
http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/news/sxollie-cider-qa-2/
http://www.africapewines.com.au/savanna.html

Westons’ scrumpy cloudy cider ” Fruity and tangy without dryness or branding”. – (7.5/10)

Westons’ Scrumpy cloudy cider review (7.5/10)

The Good
” Great level of tangy acidity”.
” Pleasant full bodied and strong flavour”.
” Natural and fruity taste”.
” Great value”

The Bad
” Not enough carbonation”.
” Astringency in the aftertaste”.
” No dryness as is claimed”.
” Sweetness a little lacking”.
” Average branding”.

Packaging

The packaging revealed the beautiful murky and pale yellow liquid with a scene of a horse and plough. At a glance it appeared almost identical in appearance to old Rosie which was also classed as a scrumpy.

The place of origin is the same; The Much Marcle farm near Ledbury in Herefordshire. It is clear to see this is a Westons’ product which is usually a positive for the drinking experience. The year 1880 was stamped as always on the bottleneck.

On closer inspection you can detect some difference however between this and Old Rosie such as 3.8 units from the souped up 7.5% ABV vs the 7.3% ABV of Old Rosie for the same 500ml bottle size. The scene on the bottle front included an apple cart in addition to the horse and cart previously mentioned instead of the Aveling and Porter steamroller shown on old Rosie.
The traditional element and cloudiness from the blurb stands out in both products however although the scrumpy cloudy does not seem to have the same quaint backstory.

While stories are great, whether it is worth the extra 55p hike from this £1.25 from aldi bottle versus the £1.80 for old Rosie we shall see. At this price it blew Savannah out the water at £2.40 for the required 2 to achieve the recommended limit and was only slightly pricier Capel road.

Expectations were based on the label which stated dry, full, fruity, cloudy and sparkling. It did not state the strength in the same way old Rosie did but other than this, the description was much the same. It just lacked the story. Comparing these drinks is perhaps like comparing free range eggs with an old family raised, chicken produced, free range egg. The product is perhaps the same but the story entices you in more with the latter.

Perhaps then the branding could be improved and the packaging certainly was not as striking as Old Rosie so perhaps needs work.

Smell

After a short strong fizz, amongst a steamy mist lay the smooth and fresh smell of sweet apple. This was very pleasant and did not feel artificial in any way.
After a while this was no longer apparent, although a weaker aftertone was still there for a good 30 seconds. This encouraged me to take a sip.

Taste

The taste was rather acidic with good tang without any real dryness early on. There was highly limited carbonation. The aftertaste was not highly pleasant and a little astringent. I feel sweetness was a little lacking to balance this. There was however a pleasant warmth perhaps due to the high alcohol content. As for being full-bodied, I would have to agree with this since the drink was in no way watery. It did possess a pleasant feel in the mouth and had a strong flavour as a result. Dryness did not develop throughout drinking which was slightly disappointing since this was claimed to be the case.
The drink did possess a very natural flavour which, whilst more tangy than fruity, did certainly resemble a field more than a factory, which was good.

 

Summary

A pleasantly fruity and tangy cider which was full bodied. It was great value but lacked the sweetness and dryness expected and required. There was no carbonation to enhance the tang. It was strong and natural in flavour however.

The Mountford hotel (Room 29) (8/10) – “Luxurious and clean stay with a few impracticalities”.

 

The Mountford hotel (Room 29) (8/10)

The Good

“Spacious room and comfortable bed”.
“Generous tea supplies”.
“Great value and well-humoured staff”.

The Bad

” Lack of milk, tea bag or sweetener options”.
” Stern staff and technologically basic setting”.
” Why is the WIFI password not in the room manual?”.
“Slippery bathroom floor with no bathmat”.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere felt clean and pleasant, if a little routine and technologically dated. The staff made the atmosphere nice if a little serious and could have benefitted from being s little more relaxed. Some did have a great sense of humour though. With good weather the downstairs seated area alongside the pool table felt like a real holiday utopia.
There was a good view set back from the road of an upmarket street. Hotel location wasn’t perfect but you can walk to town quickly in about 30 minutes.

Tea provisions

There was a kettle in the lower area of my room down some steps but I had to disturb my room mate to make a cup of tea which wasn’t great. That said the tea supply layout was good. Well organised in a tray and provided were 6 sachets of Demerara sugar as well as white. If I was being picky I could state that the sachets were of different shape, but the main thing lacking for me was selection of tea bag types, sweeteners provided or milk. There were no extras such as tea biscuits to make up for this.

There was no tea bags except PG tips although at least 4 were provided which seemed reasonable between 2 guests. The selection of milk could have been broadened beyond just full fat type however.

The kettle capacity was just 1 litre which was a little disappointing and there was only a scale to identify this inside the vessel which wasn’t typical although I suppose sufficient while filling.

Community areas

Public community areas at first glance were good. The bar downstairs was cosy, if a little compact, and it was a perfectly comfortable space to relax. The pool room with additional dining seating was very luxurious although a comfy sofa would have been nice. That said the bar had a good selection of most drinks except cider. drink price was also not ridiculous at £3.50 for a bottle of cider.

The pool room opposite was of good size. Whilst considerate, it was a shame not to be allowed a game of pool after 11pm due to disturbance of guests with rooms nearby.

Price
With typical room price at£40, with a great downstairs community pool room, good humoured staff and a great sized room it seemed very good value. Some do have pools and fitness suites in other hotels at this price although many lack the homely atmosphere found here. Overall great value.

Washing and cleaning

For washing, 2 300ml bottles of “Out of Eden” were provided and placed on the sink opposite the shower/bath. One was a hand wash and the other a combined shampoo and shower gel product. It was nice to have 2 separate products on either side of the sink as it felt uniform and organised. It also meant nothing was in my way on entry into the shower which had the potential to fall down.
In the toilet, there was a plastic banner across the surface stating “sanitised for your protection”. This got in the way and felt tacky which was clearly a negative.

The shower had one hot and one cold tap which both controlled pressure and the temperature of the water. This wasn’t as practical as having a twist knob for temperature and another for pressure however in my opinion and felt a little dated and tricky to adjust. That said, the water pressure was great.

There was also a nice size of mirror in the bathroom which managed to accommodate my entire frame making it useful following showering. The top half mirror above the bathroom sink was also of adequate size.

The shower worked well with good pressure and a hairdryer was provided in the top drawer beside my bed which was nice. The bottle of shampoo however was difficult to dispense without removal of the cap which was a little inconvenient.

Removing litter was not ideal as there was only 1 small bin in the bathroom meaning I could not dispose of food wrappers and tea provisions without a walk from my bed. Obviously this was only a minor inconvenience however. The small litterbin size ,although similar to most hotels, was a little small.

Chilling in your room

The charging facilities for my top shelf of the penthouse suite were adequate since there were 3 plug sockets provided in that area.
Television viewing would have been difficult however since the TV was situated in a different room compartment down a staircase meaning you would have to disturb another guest significantly by invading their sleep space to watch TV. The communal area downstairs in the pool room however could be used instead, although this would mean potentially a shared channel choice which could be tough to agree.

The bed was highly comfortable if a little creaky and the duvet was quite thick for the time of year. I slept well, if a little warm though …

The room was clearly not from a chain of hotels which made things characterful. I cannot complain about the ample space which was provided. It felt like more of an apartment than a room due to the adjoining large bedroom and decently portioned bathroom.

This character was accompanied however with a lack of posters or labels stating useful information such as check-in/out time, WIFI password and a breakfast menu or time. This limited practicality for the stay since this information (excluding the WIFI password) was supplied in one manual beside the double bed. For my part of the room this was not supplied. Posters near the door would have resolved this.

On the top level by the door, a wardrobe with the capacity for 6 hangers was provided. These seemed a little plasticy and budget yet the number was reasonable compared to many other hotels I have stayed at, between 2 guests.

The decor felt a little dated with a slightly lairy red carpet, not that this really had any significant impact on the enjoyment of my stay.

Customer service

On check-in the staff seemed polite if somewhat regimented. It was nice to have ID checks though as it made things feel secure and the system worked okay without too much of a wait or stress from the manager. This was refreshing to not have a member of staff get stressed or flustered from a queue of guests.

At the bar a member of staff had a great quirky sense of humour which lightened the mood after work at the weekend.

The room keycard was provided in an envelope labelled with room number. This was a nice touch as it prevented the keycard from wearing out and guests forgetting room numbers.

Summary

A slightly dated luxury hotel with a sophisticated downstairs seating area situated in a games room. The room was spacious and comfortable and staff were well-humoured and professional. The hotel was great value and I would thoroughly recommend with a few minor tweaks.

 

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186337-d7881209-r507796344-The_Mountford_Hotel-Liverpool_Merseyside_England.html#

Bulmers’ orchard pioneers cloudy Apple (6.5/10) “Slightly unnatural acidity and sweetness- not unpleasant”

Bulmers orchard pioneers cloudy Apple cider review ” A bit of unnatural acidity and sweetness and not unpleasant” (6.5/10)

The Good

” Lasting weak acidity”.
” Significant sweetness with no unpleasant bitter taste”.
” Almost medium bodied as advertised”.
” Not a dry cider consistent with branding”.

The Bad

” Nothing natural about the sweetness or flavour”.
” Expensive for what you get and clearly commercial”.
” Limited carbonation and lack of strong acidity or tang”.
” Lack of refreshing, natural aftertaste”.
” No uniqueness or natural impression”.

Packaging

Bulmers cider is brewed in a factory in Hereford, Herefordshire. It is typically accused of not being a real cider and just an alcoholic apple juice made synthetically, although it still contains alcohol and apples so I will count it.

Previously, as you may remember, I reviewed the standard “Bulmers’ original” which I gave a 7/10 and described as “Tangy Appleade”. This cider appears different since the bottle features a man named Kier. He is depicted lassoing a Granny Smith type apple, perhaps to get it’s sharpness for extra tang.

The year of establishment is announced as 1887 making it slightly younger as a brand than Westons’ which was established at the turn of the decade in 1880. It is still a brand which, by this time, you would expect to stand for something. It announces on the blurb that it is from the next generation of apple growers who are as good as the founders of the brand. This perhaps implies on the way to this bottle some brand identity was lost over the 130 years since founding but has supposedly been restored.

The story is described with a guy named Kier Rogers who has a farm called Colcombe house with orchards surrounding the river Wye. The blurb takes a quote from him including mutterings of the finest apples and an artisan cider maker with a passionate and refreshing cloudy cider.

Supposedly this has medium body … An unusual concept considering most ciders are either watery or syrupy with not much inbetween and this seems like the first bottle I have observed advertising this. The dryness level is not announced nor is the acidity, although refreshing tends to suggest a moist dryness level and the previous Bulmers original did posses bite so I was expecting some acidity.

As for sweetness, it states “caramel sweetness” suggesting a high level of sugar aswell as “fresh apple juice flavour” which wouldn’t be a surprise for this appleade-style brand, albeit it can be nice to taste natural apples in cider.

The bottle is 500ml at 5% ABV making it pretty standard size and strength for a canned cider, yet weaker than many bottles especially those with a vintage. With the bottle costing £1.80 from the Co-op for 2.5 units this made it more expensive for a night’s drinking than Savannah, Capel road, Old Rosie, Kingstone press and Merrydown. Yes the list goes on … £3.60 for 5 units isn’t a great alcohol level for practicality, value or staying within limits. Bit of a shame …

The huge production volume with 36,000 employees and company ownership by Heineken appears to hint of Amsterdam more than anywhere else, although this is so international it does not scream small orchard to me…

I was therefore a bit sceptical of a heavily globalised product possessing the same natural feel as other ” Artisan” producers but sincerely hoped these doubts were ill-founded.

A sister product from Sarah dubbed “Red apple” is also available in the new range although was not stocked in the Co-op when I visited. This may be something to test in future for comparison. As sources suggest this cider is produced using Katy apples mostly. I scored a Thatchers’ monovarietal product featuring just this apple variety a 7.5/10. This seemed a little watery and lacking tang however, so hopefully this won’t be the only variety used.

My expectations then for this rather dull looking Bulmers’ bottle were not too great. I expected sweetness and apple but as for dryness, carbonation level, acidity and body I was a little dubious and reluctant to expect much … Let’s see.

Smell

The smell on opening was followed by a pretty weak fizz to be perfectly honestly. That said, the scent, whilst a little feeble, was quite acidic suggesting some acidity in the flavour. It didn’t possess much of a natural smell and the smell didn’t remain. After a short while there was no further scent emerging.

Taste

The taste was pleasantly sweet and not especially carbonated. The drink certainly wasn’t dry but didn’t overwhelm with moistness. The acidity was a little weak and there was no real emphasis on any characteristic during the taste experience. In terms of the medium body, this was perhaps fairly accurate although it did heir on the side of too watery. The best thing about this cider was the slight tang from the acidity although their was no real fruitiness to back this up.

On leaving the drink in your mouth the acidity remained at the same level for a reasonable length of time but no other effects were noticeable. It was not especially mature, dry or warming. There was no carbonation, tang or perry impression. No real excitement or uniqueness to the experience was present. It didn’t cut off abruptly but just faded and died much like the smell and fizz on opening.

Summary

A not unpleasant cider with very subtle carbonation. No strong acidity, full body or natural fruity sweetness is present. There is sweetness and no bitterness and a lasting tang which is perhaps the main strength. No real dryness is apparent as expected.

Sources
http://imbibe.com/news-articles/ciders/bulmers-launch-orchard-pioneers-range-2017/

Westons’ Old Rosie cloudy cider ” Excellent full-bodied medium-dry lacking fruity sweetness”- (9/10)

Westons old Rosie cloudy cider review ” Excellent full bodied medium dry without fruity sweetness” – ( 9/10)

 

The Good

” Reasonably priced and practical”.
” Accomplished medium dryness as advertised”.
” Excellent branding with a pretty bottle”.
” Full-bodied and has a strong flavour”.
” Pleasant and lasting yeasty scent”.
” Soothing aftertaste”
” Light carbonation with good acidity levels”.
” Nice level of complexity and maturity as desired”.

The Bad

” Not fruity or sweet enough for my palette”.
” Carbonation slightly too subtle”.

Packaging

The packaging, as was the case with Wyld wood, announced the westons’ year of origin as 1880. Despite arising from the same farm at Much Marcle near Ledbury it did not specify organic which seemed a little silly seeing as the farm could quite easily use the same waste system for all orchards.

P.s It is this system which enables Wyld wood to claim this …

For the ” Old Rosie” name, the story arises from a 1921 Aveling and porter steamroller which had this name. Despite my rather primitive knowledge of cider production, I believe a steamroller isn’t generally the tool of choice for blending apples into a fermentable mixture.

The purpose of this as suggested by the blurb on the label is actually to show strength and reliability. This lead me to expect a full bodied, tasty drink which could become a regular “reliable” favourite without getting boring. Perhaps then this branding supports the idea of a fairly complex drink experience to prevent this boredom forming. The traditional designs complement the notion of slow maturation as mentioned on the label. Leaving unfiltered as stated supports that rustic approach that would perhaps be expected from a traditional production process.

The label certainly supports strength, with the steamroller clearly visible and “old Rosie” written in traditional gold font with bold lettering. This is perched upon a rural scene with a sunset to complement the yellow colour of the drink yet contrast with the black ground below. This is clever and good for the branding by helping things stand out. I like how this has been translated on the label to a few languages keeping things inclusive for other nationalities.

I have not previously noticed this…

 

In terms of practicality the drink isn’t bad with the 500ml capacity and at the same percentage as the Jonathan Blair premium vintage of 2015. This is also a Westons’ cider which is not the weakest. 7.3% with this capacity provides you with 3.7 units. This number is good since it is well within the government recommended drinking range of 3-4 units.

I thought I would be sensible and actually only consume one bottle of this for the evening.

For all intents and purposes the price was quite standard from the coop at £1.80 for the bottle. This made it more expensive than Capel road (£1.00), and Blackthorn gold (£1.75) slightly, yet considerably cheaper than certain ciders such as Savannah (£2.40).

From the bottle then, the taste experience expected should be strong and bold like the branding. The blurb announced light, crisp, dry, lightly carbonated, cloudy and the slow production process as previously discussed. This lead me to expect a strong, fruity cider lightly carbonated with a few bits of apple floating to avoid transparency.

On research, the website added the word scrumpy, stated medium dryness and confirmed my expectation of a strong tasting cider.

Overall then I was impressed with the branding and practicality of the drink. The expectation for light carbonation, a tang for strength, medium-dryness and fruity complexity were clear. It only left the level of sweetness to the imagination.

Hopefully the cider lived up to this great story …

 

Smell

Prior to opening, a generous head for a lightly carbonated drink could be seen. On opening, a short but confident burst of fizz emerged suggesting that carbonation expected with a couple of bubble pops. The scent on first sniff was subtle, yet gave an impression of yeast similar to Stowford press, yet with greater subtlety. This did not last long on the nose however and cut off abruptly. On many subsequent whiffs this was still apparent though, albeit ephemeral, suggesting strength.

Taste

On tasting, the flavour was highly distinctive. At first sip, you could definitely detect a tang from the acidity in combination with a strong, yet smooth taste. A bittersweet flavour was certainly apparent providing good balance to the drink that persisted into the aftertaste. The sweetness was not quite sufficient for my palette and the dryness was subtle but definitely apparent. The cider was not watery in any way and was therefore full bodied as anticipated. The flavour itself was not of apple in my opinion but of spirit-like alcohol. It possessed a level of warmth seen in many other strong ciders such as Jonathan Blair and Henney’s.

Summary

For a medium-dry cider this certainly lived up to the level of dryness it should possess. The carbonation was sufficient and the acidity was not overpowering but definitely apparent. The drink was full bodied and strong but didn’t quite have enough sweetness for my sweet tooth. That said, for the bittersweet apples, the impression was well balanced.

Overall then, a very pleasant drink which would benefit from a greater taste of apple.

Twisted tree vintage cider (7.5/10) “Mature and complex yet not sweet or fruity”

Twisted tree vintage cider review (7.5/10) ” Mature and complex but not sweet or fruity”

The Good

” Mature and complex”.
” Medium-dry as advertised and full bodied”.
” Pleasantly carbonated”.

The Bad

” Limited acidity and tang”.
” Not enough sweetness or fruitiness”.
” Not the cheapest for a canned cider”.

Packaging

A rather traditional looking can featuring a tree with roots twisting their way through the letter “S”. The branding seems appropriate for a cider which is quirky therefore; Perhaps like trees which are leaning in an orchard.

Those which don’t quite fit in with the crowd which grow straight…

The price was reasonable at Aldi with a price tag of just £1 for a 330ml can of 7.4% ABV. This certainly made it one of the stronger varieties I have tasted; Even stronger than recently reviewed Westons’ old Rosie at 7.3% and the premium Jonathan Blair vintage also at this percentage.

Whilst not quite as strong as white star (but this cannot be called a cider as mentioned in that review) Per can you still receive 2.5 units which is frustratingly close to the 3-4 recommended amount but not near enough for you to be truly satisfied with just the one can. Bit of a shame really. This means you would have to consume 2 putting the price up to £2 for a drinking evening. This is still cheaper than Savannah yet twice the price of capel road putting it amongst the better tasting ciders on cost.

The blurb, other than describing English apples and stating this as a medium-dry drink does not go into any depth with the varieties of apple used. That said neither does Capel road and this is a very good cider in my opinion.

It does not boast with a striking appearance which allows it to fade into the crowd even with Aldi’s limited selection. This does leave you not expecting much but this may result in greater surprise value for an appealing drink.

The story then doesn’t really do much at all. The blurb doesn’t state why a twisted tree is used and barely mentions where it is produced or how old it is except the word “vintage” and high alcoholic strength. This potentially leads you to believe it has been produced using oak vats or using a traditional process as is the case with many westons ciders which are vintage.
This word in relation to cider labelling refers to the year the apples have been harvested and means that vintage cider only uses apples from a single, usually specified, year. This product does not specify the year though which is again a little disappointing.

This is not however a westons’ product and in the small print does mention a site of production in Warwickshire. Those of you with elephant-like memories may remember how another cider called pure hopped was also rooted in Warwickshire in calla oration with westons’ company which tasted quite horrid … unless you like beer.

I sincerely hope this is nothing like that and perhaps this similar production site is why I have taken till now to take the plunge with the review.

As for the website then … It doesn’t seem to have one !

So there we go. Expectations have to be for a medium-dry. A drink with a vat-matured impression of prestige. Sweetness, acidity and carbonation has not even been mentioned so therefore I am not expecting much except dryness and character.

Let us see how good the drink was …

Smell

On opening, a sharp crack followed by a rather enthusiastic symphony of bubbles emerged. The smell was very pleasant. Natural and smooth and certainly not artificial with a certain element of apple sweetness.

Taste

On tasting, the cider was very smooth yet not quite as appley as anticipated. It was highly smooth and mature and didn’t possess the acidity or tang of Capel road. The sweetness was highly subtle and hardly noticeable suggesting a well balanced drink. The carbonation as heard did not manifest strongly and was kept at a low level throughout drinking. The body of the cider was good without any real worry of watery ness as can be the case with ciders such as the Cornish rattler.

On waiting, the aftertaste was not moist and was pleasantly warming. It left me swallowing suggesting a certain element of dryness although this was not as noticeable as some types suggesting a good level for a medium dry. What i did like was a lack of bitterness which can be present and off putting in stronger ciders.

That kept things rather pleasant.

Summary

Overall then twisted tree is a subtly carbonated warming drink with a full bodied character and complexity. It would be nice to taste more of the apples and the sweetness was a little too subtle for my palette. It is a medium dry as advertised and seems clearly quite good value, albeit not good enough to be twice the price of capel road.

Norwich holiday Inn ” Spacious and clean if basic and confused”. (7/10)

Norwich holiday inn North review ( Room 229) (7/10)

The Good
” Spacious room and welcoming staff”.
” Good size of mug and TV picture quality”.
” Nice plug number for charging and good clothing ironing facilities”.

The Bad
” Tea provisions a little disorganised with lack of selection for tea or coffee”.
” Lack of hairdryer or shampoo provided”.
” Location quite far out of town”.

 

Atmosphere

The atmosphere, due to the friendly welcome and quirky bar was very nice. The hotel itself was not located in a great place for noise levels since it was situated directly beside an airport and busy motorway-style roads. The spacious room size and well working TV kept things enjoyable however with no power-cuts or lack of broadband access to spoil things.

The location however was not ideal since it was an hour walk from town and not in an especially scenic location. This is perhaps difficult to help so can be forgiven.

Tea provisions

The kettle at 1 litre was not huge in capacity although the mugs more than compensated for this with generous size. The tea bag selection was not that imaginative with 4 sachets of exclusively Tetley. That said 4 tea bags, 4 coffee sachets, 4 brown, white sugar and sweetener made things quite uniform. These were replaced on request and organised neatly on a restock. The number was mostly sufficient. It was also good to see sweetener sachets not present in all hotels.

All looked good in terms of selection but the provisions were placed in a disorganised heap on arrival and could have benefitted from using the tray provided for better organisation. There were 4 semi- skimmed UHT milk tubs to accompany the all four theme. Again it would have been nice to have a mixture with full fat and semi skimmed if I was being picky.
The location of the kettle in the cupboard may have been tidy but since there was no access to power in the cupboard it meant that the kettle had to be moved away from all the tea provisions to be used resulting in slight impracticality.

Community areas

On entry, the bar seemed to have plenty of quirky designs and appeared a great space to sit and socialise. This was made welcoming by polite efficient staff on entry which made a refreshing change from the disorganisation at Ipswich.
The hotel also had a swimming pool which is always a good feature.

On sitting in the bar area, staff were very accommodating enabling own product consumption in addition to drinks ordered. The TV in the bar seating area was a nice touch with subtitles and no background music to keep the atmosphere tranquil.

Price

At 80 pounds for the night the room rate was not particularly cheap so perhaps a few more nice touches would be pleasant to make value ” good”. That said the room space was large and there was a bar and pool. The menu prices as is often the case was far too overpriced to tempt me to order. A bit of a shame really.

Washing and cleaning

The shower had 2 nozzles; One for pressure and the other for temperature which was nice.
There was a wide, full height body mirror in the main living area by a wardrobe with sliding doors. The bathroom also had a mirror which was helpful.
The body mirror was not quite high enough to include the top of my hair and bearing in mind I am only slightly over 6 foot this wasn’t ideal. The distinct lack of hairdryer was not ideal although plenty of clean towels were provided well organised on the bathroom workspace.

The hanger number of 6 between 2 guests was just about adequate although 10 would have been a better count in my opinion.
The ironing facilities including iron and board was good to see and storage in the wardrobe made them easy to spot. No shampoo was provided however which was a little disappointing with a couple of hanging body washes which just aren’t the same.

Chilling in your room

There were 2 seats; One was a wheelie office chair and the other a green, upholstered sofa-style seat,
One was facing a bed by the window and the office chair despite being at a desk was too low to work with. This made seating arrangements rather impractical. The bed had 2 thin pillows which seemed like a comfy setup.

The bed was comfortable although a little far from the TV. The other bed however was located to the side of the headboard making it’s location right next to the window a little impractical and confusing. The TV was simple to operate using the remote but did not have any excess luxury such as the touch screen buttons present on the TV at the Radisson blu in Leeds. There was no excess luxury as seen in Stoke such as en-suite fridges or a kitchenette.
The room was spacious however. Perhaps a little too much so for the size of the TV although picture clarity and size was certainly adequate.

Charging facilities were not too bad although plug sockets were not that common they were accessible and not hidden behind furniture as it often the case There was at least 5 present in the room which seems like a good number between 2 guests.

It was also a bit strange to have a bible and a yellow pages provided in the cupboard.

Customer service

On entry checkin was quick and slick with even a welcome message on the key card booklet. This was very nice. To improve potentially an intro talk or walk to the room as was the case at the lymedale suites at Stoke would have been perfect although this was not any real fault.

Summary

A spacious room in a slightly noisy location. Facilities were basic but there were no real problems. On request the keycard was replaced although this was extremely sensitive to wear and tear so therefore impractical. Some parts of the organisation of furniture and accessories for the room were either basic or a little confused.