New Central Guesthouse
144-146 Heywood Street, Manchester, United Kingdom
www.newcentralguesthouse.co.uk - +44 161 2052169
New Central Guesthouse Rates and Deals
New Central Guesthouse Manchester Reviews
Comfortable, clean but ................................. Aug 16, 2010
Before I start this article I think it is important to make a couple of things clear, due to a number of unpleasant confrontations with the proprietor I have split this review in to two parts. The initial actual review of the guest house, and then I will describe the events of the final twenty four hours of our stay after our hostess discovered I was writing this review.
The main reason for deciding to stay at this establishment was because I have a sick friend who is currently ill, and this guest house was close enough to allow me to visit her twice daily, check she was coping and to walk her dog. It was booked by a close friend and we arrived early in the evening to check-in, this was conducted with businesslike efficiency. We were shown to our room, which was average size, but the double bed took up the majority of the room, with very little free space around it. The room furnishings included a sink; wardrobe television with freeview and a chest of drawers under the window, the shower and toilet were shared facilities with two other rooms. However the room appeared clean and relatively comfortable, plenty of light coming through the large window and was perfectly adequate for our stay.
The room had cost £225 for the five days, which works out at £45 a night, which was not especially cheap but considering it also included breakfast, not really bad value. It turned out however that breakfast was from 7.30 to 8.30am on weekdays and apparently 9.00am on weekends for thirty or forty five minutes depending on how busy the guest house is. These timings are of course fine for contractors needing an early start, but probably a little early for guests such as ourselves who might prefer a bit more of a lie in. In fact we only had breakfast on two mornings, and this due solely to my need to write a review. Initially there were not any towels provided, it appears the policy is that these are only provided if requested, slightly unusual for a guest house even in this ‘budget’ class but no real reason for complaint.
The overriding impression we were left with however, was of our landlady, she did appear efficient, and was helpful providing some useful information and advice regarding visiting the city. Her manner though was a little abrupt and neither of us were left feeling especially welcome.
We spent awhile in our room and then made a trip to Cheetham Hill to enjoy a pizza and bought a couple of DVDs to watch on my laptop when we got back to the room.
We enjoyed a pleasant night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, and I decided to give breakfast a try despite the early start so that I could provide a complete review. It was too early for my friend however, she remained in bed whilst I went for a perfectly adequate, hot shower, breakfast and then off to walk a dog!
I tried the full cooked breakfast, which was advertised with a choice of beans or tomatoes and fried or poached eggs. I was not actually given a choice of either of these options, but when my food arrived it was well cooked and tasty, it initially looked a trifle small, but in the end was more than adequate, and I left very satisfied. The proprietor had made some small talk, asking where my friend was and I began to warm to her a little. I enquired about and received the details for using the free WiFi, including the password, I also received a warning that it was strictly for accessing emails and was not to be used for other activities such as downloading, no problem. However I did not gain access and the signal was weak at least in the dining room, so I decided against using the internet for the remainder of our stay.
During the time we were staying there we visited the city, which was easily reached by bus and Heaton Park which is a large local green area again within easy reach of our guest house. Our hostess had also seemed to become a little more friendly, warming up during our stay, the only slightly annoying aspect was each time we left or returned she seemed to appear, as if checking up on us. I am sure this was not the case and there was a perfectly innocent reason for this. Perhaps she had a need to speak with another guest, but it did have the effect of making us feel a little uncomfortable again, and not exactly welcome. This feeling might have been avoided if she had taken the opportunity to have a chat with us each time, but usually it was just a simple greeting and she disappeared once more.
The guest house is described as family run; we did not see a great deal of the other family members, although we did see the cleaner twice, whom I assume was the daughter. She seemed very pleasant, providing us each time with a broad smile and a genuine and welcoming greeting. There was not any real evidence of the room being cleaned however, but to be fair there was not really any area of the floor available to be cleaned. The bin was emptied, but the bed only appeared to be made up on one occasion, and the bedding did not get changed at all during our stay. The towels were not changed either until the final day and glasses that we used daily were not cleaned or exchanged at all. These of course are not really the kind of standards we expect from an establishment charging these sorts of rates, but again to be fair, were not especially serious and did not really prove detrimental to our stay.
We both tried the breakfast on the Saturday of our stay, and gave the ‘continental’ option a try. We both found this to be quite enjoyable and satisfying. A choice of cereals (varieties of cornflakes), toast, choice of jams and cheese, there was only one yoghurt available but it was not a concern as I did not really want one anyway. The landlady was again efficient enough, although again seeming a little distant. I had brought my camera down to take a few pictures for this review, and perhaps this was the cause of her manner as it proved to be the start of a large amount of unpleasantness of the next twenty four hours. As I have already indicated I will cover this in greater detail separately.
Basically for the first four days we had a fairly reasonable if not totally pleasant stay in an average guest house. Initial impressions are of a clean and efficiently run little establishment, it represents acceptable value and although it lacked a feeling of ‘cosiness’, and daily room servicing, it is however relatively comfortable, breakfast is very good and it is fairly well located near the boundary of both Manchester and Salford. It is probably best suited to contractors working nearby and looking for a bed for a few nights.
I have deliberately given myself a little time and space since departing this guest house to write this review. This is due to strong the emotions I experienced during the final twenty four hours of our stay and the day or two after, I wanted this article to appear as factual and objective as possible, and for that reason needed time to enable me to get my own emotions under control and my thoughts in order.
As I have indicated we found our final day in the establishment to be very unpleasant. I should first explain the reason why I have a policy of not initially informing the proprietor of my intention to write a review, and only doing so if they ask directly, as I will not deliberately mislead them. This is usually the way the publications that I submit articles to prefer me to act, that way they get an honest review and not a ‘false’ impression of an establishment, with all the staff on their best behaviour, treating me differently purely to obtain a good write up.
The root cause of the terrible way in which we were treated, was my explanation to the proprietor that I was taking photographs for the purpose of this article. She queried which publication I was commissioned by, and I replied giving her the general details of the media group involved and making her aware that I was freelance though. She informed me this was not usual, and she only normally had reviews from publications that she advertised in, all of which I am sure were favourable.
At our next encounter she required further details and explained she was annoyed because I had ignored her earlier. I did not really understand this, she asked why I was taking pictures, I informed her about the review, she enquired about the publication and I gave her the details of the media group involved. Even so, I did apologise for leaving her feeling that she had been ignored or disrespected in some manner.
This however was far from the matter being resolved, during the next twenty four hours she constantly hounded, harassed and harangued me. Almost every time I entered or exited the establishment, she appeared requiring me to provide further information, regarding my ‘employers’, my name, address and identification. Her view is that it is a private property and I was required to ask before taking any photographs. Now whilst I can appreciate her view, I am a little sceptical of her motives. I however attempted to remain polite, answering all her questions and provided her with any information which she requested that I had available.
She assured me she did not have any concerns regarding the review, and was purely concerned that unauthorised photographs had been taken, even intimating that this was for security implications, in other words my friend and I might actually be terrorists! I do not wish to comment on her concerns, but her actions seemed to belie her statements. She offered me the opportunity to photograph another guest room, which I declined as I wanted to complete the review based purely on the room we had been given. She also asked me if our room needed cleaning and exchanged our towels, neither of which had been done up to this point.
After making this offer she then confronted me yet again, demanding to view the photographs I had taken and that I return to her the front door key. The reason for this being that it was policy for only the person that booked the room to be able use the room. Let me clarify that policy; we could only leave the establishment together, I as the guest of ‘the guest’ was not entitled to have this key in my possession at anytime! I have stayed in a great many hotels/guesthouses/hostels, many of which I have also reviewed and I have never encountered such a policy. The main question being; if this was policy, why was it not implemented sooner? I was leaving twice a day to walk the dog, and usually on my own, using the key to regain entry, but it was not until she became aware of the review and I declined her offer to photograph a bigger, better room did she invoke this rule.
At all times I provided her with the reassurances and information she required as best as I was able, eventually agreeing to delete all photographs, which I did in front of her, hence there are no accompanying pictures to this review. I was however badgered on at least seven separate occasions, including several late night appearances at our room, the latest at 10.50pm. At this juncture I enquired if I would be able to regain access the following day when I returned from walking the dog, I was then informed about the ‘policy’ regarding the entrance key. I did not however receive any assurance that she would be present to open the door for me.
This is not the first establishment to find out at a late stage I was there to write a review, on all but one occasion the proprietor/manager have been excited and pleased to have the opportunity to have some free advertisement for their business.
The other occasion the management were less than pleased; I had received less than great service, and the management team were aware that the subsequent review would be less than favourable. Even so, they basically accepted this with good grace, attempting to subsequently improve the standard of their service in the hope of a more favourable write up. They certainly did not make matters worse by attempting to harass me into dropping my article.
On the day of check-out, in common with every other day I had been a guest of this establishment I left early to walk the dog, taking a spare bag with me. I was immediately accosted by the proprietor on my way out, requiring me to write and sign an affirmation that I would not use any photographs of the premises, provide her with a copy of the review and suggesting that she should receive a percentage of any profit I made from published reviews. To be perfectly honest my patience was wearing a little thin with her constant pestering and informed her she did not have any such rights and whoever was providing her with advice was doing so poorly.
I returned a little later and my friend popped down to open the door for me allowing me access and to collect my other bag. Once again she appeared and this time was quite confrontational and antagonistic, she claimed I had already checked out and should depart immediately. I protested, informing her I had not done so at all, my friend was still present and so was my bag. We would be leaving as soon as possible, and she should not worry we would not be returning ever.
We collected our belongings from the room and then made our way back downstairs to the entrance, only to find the front door had been locked and we were unable to leave. I was enraged by this, in effect we were being held against our will, even if it was for a relatively short period. When she appeared again, I demanded she unlock the door and allow us to leave.
She refused and insisted she had some formalities to complete. She then refused to speak with me any further and directed all her attentions towards my friend, she was very polite towards her, attempting to ingratiate herself. This was however to no avail, as my friend mentioned immediately afterwards
‘That was the only time she has been pleasant to me all week!’
She asked my friend for the debit card with which she had made the booking, I asked her why she needed this and as she refused to answer me, so I suggested she inform my friend the reason for this instead. This she did not do, but also did not actually take any details from the card, returning it to her immediately. She enquired if there had been any problems, and despite my friend in her eagerness to leave suggesting there had not been any, I could not agree mentioning a few of the general problems.
She advised my friend that she was unhappy about the conduct of our stay and would be making a report regarding it, in the same sentence she pointed out that she had not checked the room for damages yet. At this point I decided something was amiss and requested that the room be checked while we were still present. She refused at first but when I insisted she eventually relented and had the room checked by her son, I advised my friend to accompany him. I had earlier agreed to provide her with the email address of the media group involved before departing, but by this stage I was so frustrated I decided not to do so.
She was just about to allow us to leave when she suspected I had been recording the proceedings, she then refused to open the door. I was totally exasperated by this and decided to call the local police, my patience stretched to its limit and I had given up attempting to appease her. I informed the police of the situation, she ‘sang’ throughout my conversation, they requested to speak with her, she informed them she had merely been completing the formalities of check-out. We were however allowed to leave immediately after this.
As we made our way across the road I could hear her thanking God that we were leaving, such terrible guests we must have been!
The guesthouse is advertised as a family run establishment, usually such hostels pride themselves on their cosy, friendly atmosphere. Our hostess was unaware of my name until after I had informed her about the review, and did not ask my friends name until the morning of check-out, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions from this.
Incredibly however the story does not end there, I received a call from my friend the following day who had just spoken to a police officer on the telephone after a complaint from the proprietor. I was given his number and immediately called him back, he seemed a little bemused that he was being required to even speak with me. He did mention that I should have requested permission regarding taking the photographs. I pointed out that people celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in public houses and restaurants and take photographs all the time, are they also required to receive permission first? I also explained the front door key policy and he conceded that I had a point with the photographs and that the key policy seemed; in his words ‘a little strange.’
There is an old adage; ‘any publicity is good publicity’ it seems our hostess for the week does not agree. The sad truth is however that her attitude has ensured that her review is much less favourable than it would have been. It is now twice as long was intended, the original review would have been a neutral one about an average guest house, which was clean and comfortable, few redeeming features but an acceptable place to stay for most.
I leave it for you to make your own minds up regarding the New Central Guesthouse, of course neither of us will return there, not if it has the only bed available in the whole world!
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