A few months back my wife and I were watching a program that mentioned Blackpool, it's illuminations and it's popularity as a holiday destination. It turns out Marcia had never been, and my one and only visit was over twenty five years ago.
So that was settled then, a trip was planned. Accommodation is always a concern. Disabled access and facilities, and easy parking is a must. I used Trivago to search for a hotel. It's easy to use unless you have specific needs. I didn't want to just book any room. It had to be the disabled access room. So I contacted the Imperial Hotel. They were very helpful and I paid the same price as I would have going through Trivago.
It didn't occur to me the August bank holiday would be a bad time to travel. I don't travel far these days. So second guessing road works and other travelers is no longer second nature.
The weather report said very warm, may be even the warmest August bank holiday in a long time. So another thing I hadn't thought of was okay.
What wasn't okay was how long it took to get there. Ten hours including a brief stop for food. That's around 27 mph average speed. Only one set of road works. The delays were all caused by poor driving. I won't bore you with the details, except to say. When driving on the motorway, leave bigger gaps and we wont all be reduced to stop start progress for hour after hour.
First impressions of the Imperial were good. We were both tired and more than a little irritated. So we needed the check in to be trouble free and easy. It was.
The hotel is 150 years old this year. So it had a lived in feel to it. But that's not a criticism. It was what you would expect of a grand hotel. Confident and at ease with itself.
We rarely get up in time for breakfast when we are away, after such a late arrival, even with breakfast service ending at 10:30. We didn't make it this time. So I used Tripadvisor to find a cafe. The Promenade cafe is only a short walk away. A number two sized cooked breakfast had it all and we really didn't feel like eating much for the rest of the day.
Our end of Blackpool was very quiet. I thought it would have been much busier on a bank holiday. We walked down to the first pier. It was the North Pier. It's a traditional looking structure. Definitely the forgotten Blackpool pier. I hope they get the money needed to finish renovation works.
That was it for walking on the first day. Still not busy though for a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Sunday saw another a visit to the Promenade cafe, this time for the small breakfast. We had seen a second pier in the distance on Saturday. So decided to walk to it, thinking it would be the South Pier and be close to the rollercoasters of the pleasure beach. When we got there we discovered it was the Central Pier. It was a lot busier here, much more as I had expected Blackpool to be. And in the far distance, another pier. And beyond that the pleasure beach. We continued a little further, but it was very hot by now, and we had traveled over 2 miles. So we turned around and started looking for some fish and chips. We couldn't see what we would call a traditional looking establishment. Finally we bought some from a booth on the North Pier. I wouldn't recommend buying fish and chips from them. Greasy is how I would describe it.
Back at the Imperial, we went to the bar. Number 10 it was called. Pictures of past prime ministers were on the walls, along side mirrors engraved with their names. It as then that I started to notice how many people work in the hotel. There always seemed to be someone close by. A big difference to other hotels where you are on your own most of the time. We didn't need any help, but it was nice to know it would have been very easy to ask for.
On Monday we did make it down to breakfast. Again, it was a well staffed occasion. And the dining room was very impressive. The whole hotel, as I have said before was a nice, relaxed place to be. Wood paneling, stained glass rooves. Old fashioned maybe. But not in a bad way. The experience felt like going back to a time when good manners and respect for others was still common.
And the drive home? Seven hours. Still too long, but it was a bank holiday.
The Imperial Hotel