Thursday, 6 November 2014

Tune Hotels Newcastle Review

tune hotels Newcastle quayside
Outside of the Tune Hotel, Newcastle
So far, my morning has been spent catching up with Geordie Shore and I am already anticipating a highly explosive season.  Whenever I meet new people they always ask me about the programme and if it is a true representation of what we're like up in the North East.  For a start, many of the cast from Geordie Shore aren't actually from Newcastle itself but the North East as a whole is very friendly, folk generally enjoy a night out and we love getting dolled up for a night on the town followed by a kebab in the taxi home.

However to get a real taste of Newcastle, you really need to visit the city for yourself.  I've lived a short drive away my whole life and it is a city that I really enjoy going to as it has some beautiful buildings, lots of culture and great restaurants and that's before you've even started on the night life.

A couple of weekends back, I was at a popular bar in Newcastle called As You Like It to celebrate the wedding of one of my best friends.  The ceremony was beautiful and we partied well into the night.  By the time I left, on the arm on hubby WLL, I was certainly ready for my bed.

Rather than go to the expense of a taxi home, we headed back to the new Tune Hotel on the quayside who kindly offered to put us up for the night.  They've just opened you see and knowing how fond I am of the odd hotel stay, they wanted me to share my experience at their hotel.

ne Hotels are ideal for savvy travellers that want to be able to enjoy a comfortable bed and a power shower in a city centre location without the city centre price tag.  The concept is simple: pay for the things you need and not for the things you don't.

There are four different types of rooms to choose from at the Newcastle Tune Hotel, these being double rooms with or without windows, twin rooms with windows and accessible rooms without windows.  We were booked into a double room with a window and given the full comfort package of all of the amenities that Tune Hotels offer.

Tune Hotels operate a pay-as-you-use system of add-ons for energy-consuming facilities and amenities.  This helps to conserve the earth's resources as well as being purse friendly.  The idea is that you pay for the room and the standard amenities like air conditioning and then add on the extras that you need, including WIFI (per device £4 for 24 hours), towel rental and toiletries (£2), hair dryer (£2), in-room safe (£3), room cleaning (£8), TV (1 day- £4) early check in and late check out.  The comfort package includes all of these amenities.

Check in is at 3pm however I had organised an early check in so that I could get ready for the wedding in good time.  I arrived at the hotel around 1pm and was greeted by two friendly ladies on reception.  The hotel reception was clean, bright and very modern.  It had a relaxed buzz about it and there was a few work men sitting in reception, I'm not sure whether they were there working for the hotel or whether they were staying there as there accommodation and then going to work on other jobs in the city but either way, it reminded me that for the price, this would be a great hotel for those who are in Newcastle for business and are looking for an affordable place to rest their head.

I was offered a space to leave my bag until check in time but after reminding the receptionist that I had prearranged an early check in, she was able to give me the key to room 302 after making sure that a room was available.  I asked if she would be able to order a taxi for me which she promptly did to ensure that it would arrive on time to take me to the wedding venue.  Check in could have been a little more efficient and speedy, especially as I was in a rush to get ready however I do think that was just because the hotel had only just opened.  I was given a key card and some information about the hotel and my own personal code for the WIFI.  This was all of the information that I found I needed as everything in the room and hotel was pretty self explanatory.

The receptionist was very friendly and tried to help as best she could.  I was checking in on my own as Mr WLL was joining me later that evening.  I asked her if she could advise on parking nearby and she suggested the NCP car park around the corner which is 24 hours and apparently free after a certain time of night.  This seemed perfect to us however when we tried to drive into the car park later that night it was closed and we had to drive across the city to find an open car park, then walk around in the freezing cold to find a waiting taxi as the wait time to order one was 20 minutes.  This wasn't ideal after a long day so while it wasn't the hotels fault, I do think it would be worthwhile compiling a list of local car parks, opening times, etc before they are recommended to customers, especially as the hotel doesn't have its own car park to use. 

After checking in, I made my way up to my room through a door that I needed to use the key card to get through.  I really liked this about the hotel as security and feeling safe is important to me when I stay somewhere.

The hotel had the option of stairs or a lift and some of the corridors had beautiful original tiles on the walls.  When I reached my floor, I was happy to see how modern and clean the corridors were which is always a good start.  The rooms each have electronic key card door locks which, again, is great from a safety aspect.  You literally just touch the card against the box on the wall outside the door to open it.  There's no popping your card into a slot on the door like some hotels which I find to be very temperamental.

Upon opening my door I was greeted with a fabulous room- light, airy and very spacious.  I was expecting to have a very small, cramped room like another budget hotel chain that I have used in the past called Easy Hotel that was so small I had to shower with the bathroom door open as I felt sea sick as though I was on a boat and the room was so small it was difficult to even get dressed.  The the Tune Hotel was a million times better and I wouldn't have even known it was a budget hotel if someone hadn't told me.  In fact, I've stayed in smaller hotel rooms with a larger price tag!

I loved that I was greeted with a huge window when walking into the room and if you're into city architecture, it offered a great view onto the street below.  An office building faced directly onto the room which did feel a little like being in a gold fish bowl and definitely made me more aware of my lack of privacy but that is often to be expected of city centre hotels.  The windows did open as well to offer some fresh air but most of all I liked the window because it made the room feel even bigger and provided LOADS of natural light.  If you're going to stay in a Tune Hotel then I'd highly recommend paying a little extra to stay in a room with a window.  It is only a small amount more and I really think it is worth it.

The view that you're looking at in the photo above looks out onto a bar restaurant called Babucho which is a great place to visit whether you're looking for some Italian food, drinks or as it is directly opposite the hotel, you could head there for breakfast.  The Newcastle Tune Hotel is situated in a gorgeous listed building called Proctor House on Side, right next to the quayside.  The location of this hotel is fantastic as it is bang in the heart of the city which is perfect if you're in the mood for a bit of nightlife.  Newcastle has lots of areas to go to on a night out, for example theres 'the scene,' 'central,' 'the bigg market,' 'the Gate,' 'the quayside' and 'the Diamond Strip' which is where the Geordie Shore cast tend to party on the show.  There are so many other areas of Newcastle to enjoy but this hotel is ideally situated for the diamond strip and the quayside.

There are plenty of restaurants directly outside of the hotel and the shops are only a short walk away.  There is also the fabulous Newcastle quayside which is a must to walk along if you're staying in the area.

The bed was a comfortable double that was up against the wall with the window on which isn't ideal if there is two of you sharing it as you can't walk around either side of the bed.  However the room didn't feel small or claustrophobic at all because it was a really spacious room, particularly for the price that Tune Hotels charge, and there was more than enough room to move around at the other side and the bottom of the bed.

The bed itself was very comfortable to sleep in thanks to the high quality spring mattress that Tune have in all of their hotels.  We were really snug in the bedding which kept us warm all night; we definitely needed this after being out in the cold waiting for a taxi!  The mattress beds, pillows, pillowcases, bed sheets and 250 thread count duvets are custom-made for Tune hotels by bedmakers who also supply 5 star hotels so you know that you're getting high quality and comfort at an affordable price tag.  I do think, however, that the option of a second pillow should be given in the room as not only do some people prefer to sleep with two pillows but some also have neck and back problems that require them to sleep with two.

Next to the bed was a desk area that also served as a bedside table.  I don't know about you but it really annoys me when I stay in a hotel and there isn't a plug socket by the bed to be able to charge my phone however this wasn't the case at the Tune Hotel as there was a double socket as well as a light and switches to be able to turn off the main lights right next to the bed.  The desk chair was a good size and comfortable to sit at whether you would be doing your make up at the desk or working on a laptop after a meeting in the city.  There was ample space underneath the desk to store my bag and overnight case as well as a proper sized bin.  Another thing I get annoyed at in hotels is when they give you a tiny bathroom bin as the only rubbish bin in the room.  I have often been shopping when I stay in hotels so I like a full size bin to throw all of the packaging away!

Underneath the bed, there was lots of room which could be used to store a larger case to save on space in the room, particularly if you were there for more than one night.

There was also a safe that was really easy to operate and set up my own memorable number to unlock it.  This is, again, a feature I really appreciate in a hotel as even if the hotel is very secure in itself, it gives me peace of mind that my belongings are safe when I am not in the room.  I think an in-room safe is a pretty rare occurrence in many budget friendly hotels so I was really happy to see one at the Tune Hotel.

On the opposite side of the wall to the bed was a TV with a great selection of free view TV channels.  When I stay in a hotel I usually like to have the TV on in the background and I like to watch it first thing on a morning with a cup of tea.  The room didn't have any tea/coffee making facilities but we bought a couple of bottles of water from a late night shop and a breakfast bar so we had those when we woke up.

I also liked the print on the wall underneath the TV as it had local landmarks like the Tyne Bridge and the Angel of the North (which arguably was the biggest waste of money on a rusty landmark but that's not for me to judge) on it which is a lovely personal touch to the North East.

Before I got dressed to leave for the wedding, I did try to connect to the hotel WIFI but I couldn't get the code I was given to work.  This didn't bother me as I had really good signal and 4G on my phone but if I had paid for the WIFI to use on my laptop, for example, then I would have asked for help with the internet at reception.

There was also a full length mirror on this wall which is a great addition to any hotel room as when I stay in a hotel it is for a purpose because I have somewhere that I need to go and therefore I want to check my outfit before I leave the room.  The hairdryer was there too so when I dried my hair the next day I just pulled up the chair from the desk and was able to sit there to blow dry my hair.

On the wall to the side of the bed was an open wardrobe style area with two hanging hooks and hangers to pop my clothes onto.  I think this would be good especially if you were coming to Newcastle for a weekend away, shopping during the day and then going out on the night as you could hang up your dress to let any creases fall out that have settled into the fabric while it has been folded in your bag.

Above the door was the air conditioning with the box to operate it on the adjacent wall, next to the bathroom.  This was SO easy to use and again, is a great feature in a budget hotel especially.  I paid a lot more money to stay in a hotel in London last December and that didn't have air con or a radiator so we were freezing all night whereas the air-conditioning in the Tune Hotel in Newcastle heated up the room really quickly which was very welcome when we arrived back late and freezing cold and it cooled the room down perfectly when we needed it to.  The room always felt fresh, never stuffy or over heated.

One thing we did find with the room was how light it was on the night.  The large window had huge black out curtains that pulled across with ease to block out all of the light however there was a little box in the corner of the room shown in the photo above that shone this bright green tinted light that lit up the whole room that defeated the purpose of having the black out blinds in the first place.  Despite being afraid of the dark (can't believe I'm admitting that on the internet!), I like the room to be dark when I go to sleep and both me and Mr WLL found it hard to get to sleep as the room was so light.

The door was able to be double locked from the inside which made us feel safe and secure in our room.  This was a very welcome feature as when we arrived back at the hotel on the night, the street outside was still busy at around 2am but the front doors to the hotel were not locked.  I'd read online that access to the main lobby could not be gained without a keycard after 12pm at night however when we arrived this did not seem to be the case as there was a very mortal drunk girl at reception talking to staff to try to get a room for the night and a very creepy, suspicious looking man who was with her, standing over by the ramp that we needed to walk up to be able to gain access to the rooms.  He was very unsettling as he was noticeably hammered and stared at us as we walked past.  This didn't make me feel particularly comfortable at all.  However access through the door that takes you through to the lifts and stairs could only be gained with an electronic key card so we were able to quickly get past and up to our room.

Arriving late at night meant that our room was pretty cold when we got in however it very quickly heated up thanks to the brilliant air conditioning.  We found that the room was very noisy at night which was something else that prevented us from being able to get to sleep easily, despite the comfortable bed.  We have stayed in many city centre hotels before but this one was particularly noisy, although some noise is to be expected given the location of the hotel and I do think that sometimes when you select a hotel for the location, you do have to compromise on other aspects like noise at night.  The noise came from inside the hotel as partygoers returned from nights out however they could not be heard in their rooms, just up and down the corridors, talking and shouting and the slamming of doors but it didn't last for a prolonged period.  Usually in a hotel if there is a lot of noise then we would call down to reception however there wasn't a telephone service in the room and the noise from inside the hotel wasn't loud enough for long enough to warrant getting fully dressed to waltz down to reception to make them aware of it.

It was the noise from outside, that couldn't be helped by the hotel, that kept us awake for longer through the night as drunken partygoers could be heard well into the night.  The road outside the hotel is for taxis only which does make access difficult for cars especially if you have a lot of luggage but it also means that during the night, this is where people congregate to get a taxi home which creates a lot of noise   However it was the sound of bottles being thrown into bins as the bars closed that was the loudest and made us jump on several occasions… usually as we were just dropping off to sleep.  Waking up with a bang isn't the greatest, especially when you're tired after such a long day.

The next morning, I must admit, we woke up feeling very tired and ready to go to bed rather than to wake up.  However after opening the curtains and letting the natural light flood through the window, we felt a little more awake.

We both had a shower and used the toiletries and soft towels provided by the hotel.  The room had a really spacious, super clean, ensuite private bathroom with a high-pressure power shower that was amazing to use.  Especially after a big night out, I just want to freshen up in a nice hot shower the next day and I was certainly able to do this at the Tune Hotel.  I was expecting the bathroom to be really small and cramped but it wasn't at all, with a full size sink and lots of space to store my toiletries and to get ready in.

The hotel gave me the towels and toiletries amenity add on which consisted of plenty of fresh, soft towels, a bar of soap each and a shampoo.  I don't like to use soap to begin with and I don't usually like to use the hotels own shampoo but I did for the purpose of the review and it was just the standard stuff you tend to find in hotels, nothing to write home about and if I were to stay in a Tune Hotel in the future, I would definitely take my own products to use.  I would still pay for the add on though as I wouldn't want to have to take my own towels to the hotel, especially if I was staying somewhere for a night in the UK as it would take up too much space in my small overnight suitcase.

This sounds a little strange in a review by a 26 year old but I think it is worth noting that the toilet was quite high up to sit on which I think is great for those with mobility concerns and elderly people as it will enable them to get on and off the pot with ease!

Check out time was at 10am and we made our way down to the reception just before hand and the check out procedure was quick and simple- simply pop the key card into the box.  The hotel was so quiet on the morning and the reception staff were happy and smiling which was quite an achievement for that time on a Sunday morning!  All of the staff that we came across at the hotel were friendly, from the maintenance people to cleaners and the reception staff who were constantly on reception.  The whole quayside had a really calm silence about it.  We had a lovely walk along the river back to the car park that we had found in the early hours of the morning to leave our car in.

In my opinion, the Tune Hotel is ideally suited to those who are coming to Newcastle for a night out as it is a great place to party any night of the week.  The 10am check out seems a little early, especially after a big night out and although you can pay to check out later than 10am, I do still think the standard check out time is too early for the type of hotel that this is.  If you're coming to Newcastle for a night out with the girls or on a stag or hen do at the weekend then I think it would be an ideal hotel to stay in as it is so affordable and bang in the middle of everything that you need.  I also find that when I've had a good drink, I tend to fall asleep quicker and fall into a deep sleep so I don't think the noise outside would bother me as much as it did when I stayed and was sober!  It is a great, contemporary hotel and the rooms were very comfortable but the noise and lack of parking would put me off staying there with my hubby again.  For the price, I think the hotel is great and I would definitely stay in the Newcastle Tune Hotel again with friends after a night out and I would certainly stay in a Tune Hotel if I was travelling to London as accommodation there is so expensive.  I also think that the Tune Hotel in Newcastle would be ideal for those travelling on business through the week when it is quieter as the rooms are very spacious and ideally located for food and drinks after work and for catching up on paperwork in the room afterwards.

You can visit the Tune Hotels website here where you can find out more about the Newcastle Tune Hotel and all of the other places to stay in the group as they're all over the world!

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