“Who says you can’t have a mini luxury break just a stones throw away from London?”
– The Location –
Dover Priory is a town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England, many know it as the town from the famous song ‘The White Cliffs of Dover” or through making a short passing on route to the Ferry. Known as the ‘Gateway to England’ the small-town faces France across the Strait of Dover and although it’s not many’s first thought when selecting locations for a quick UK getaway, Dover might just be the UK’s best kept secret with plenty to offer including a wealth of heritage, history, countryside, coastal views and luxury accommodation.
– The Hotel –
Located in sight of Dover’s famous stunning seafront and just 1 hour from London Kings Cross St Pancras, Best Western Plus, Dover Marina Hotel & Spa is a Victorian build with an ambient fusion of modern meets old time boutique.
Whether you are visiting as a quick stop before journeying across the Channel to France, or yourself and a significant other or friend are seeking a mini luxury getaway but don’t want to get on a plane, Dover Marina Hotel and Spa is the perfect mini luxury that you deserve.
– The Rooms –
As you would expect there are a range of rooms to suit every budget, with a grand total of 8 room-types uniquely designed to suit your party size and comfort requirements, there is something for every vacationer/visitor. The room choices include: Single Rooms, Double Rooms, Twin Rooms, Family Rooms, Seaview Rooms, Superior Seaview rooms, Deluxe Double Rooms and Deluxe Seaview Rooms (Also known as the Bridal suite).
Our stay was a short weekend of Friday – Sunday but we had the pleasure of staying in both the Superior Seaview room and the Deluxe Double Room. Having a selection of 2 rooms was perfect to gage what would aid the perfect stay for the purpose of a relaxing mini getaway, whilst still maintaining the affordability of staying in the UK. Both rooms were furnished with an old time Victorian elegance, in a similar theme of many of the hotels within the Best Western chain. However, it did not make you feel as if you had stepped into the 1960’s but instead offered a warm comfort and refreshingly authentic feel of timeless grandeur. I favoured the Superior Seaview room among the two because it seemed to strike the perfect balance of past and present.
The Superior Seaview room carried a classic theme of Eggshell walls with floral accents. The back wall had floor to ceiling curtains and windows opening up to a large balcony overlooking the stunning view of Dover’s seaside and also Dover Castle. One feature I typically look for when selecting a Hotel for my stays, is a Balcony. I believe it adds so much to your stay as well as value for money, so it was indeed a plus to have coastal views to match as well as outdoor tables and chairs to take in the awe of the sunrise and sunset if we so chose.
The Superior Seaview room included a Queen Bed, a flat screen Smart TV with complimentary Netflix, YouTube and Spotify apps, as well as a desk, iron, a hairdryer, tea making facilities and biscuits, bottled water, a door mirror and a medium sized wardrobe.
The bathroom may have been my favourite feature of the room, featuring a large modern rain shower and a generous selection of free amenities including, a variety of beautifully scented Gilchrist and Soames toiletries; hand soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and a personal grooming kit (Dental kit available upon request).
– THE SPA –
The Spa is one of the hotel’s best-loved features. Having been refurbished in the last 18 months, it had plenty to offer including a relaxation room, massage and treatment rooms, changing rooms, a Sauna, Jacuzzi and also a Steam room.
Located on the basement level of the hotel, although rather small in size it was sizeable enough to feel lavish with a well-equipped adjoining gym. The theme obeys familiar spa shades of deep browns and sedative blues thus facilitating the peaceful atmosphere you would hope for from a spa.
On arrival, the receptionist greeted us with a smile and checked us in for our pre-booked massage treatments. We were handed a health and safety form to complete in their cosy seated area, detailing any health concerns, and of course the desired pressure preferred, as well as an option of a verbal or non-verbal massage. This inclusion was a nice addition to the form and a necessary detail which not many spa’s offer.
The treatment room followed a minimalist design, with a massage table central of the room, treatment solutions on a trolley in the right-hand corner and a rare tear shaped incense burner on the marble side table. The room also included a notepad and pen, to leave any comments or suggestions once the treatment had finished. This experience was complemented by calming background music which instantly brought a feeling of relaxation.
My back massage lasted approximately 20 minutes and although it began well, I would say that the massage was progressively harder than I would have liked for the level of relaxation I desired. However, massages are often dependant on the individual so my personal recommendation would be to go for the soft massage as opposed to a medium one if you’re not used to this level of intense concentrated pressure. Positively, the masseuse gently eased me out of the massage as it came to a close with a soft voice and a comforting warning of potential lightheaded-ness. I was ensured I could take my time getting dressed and ready. I did indeed feel like I was floating once I rose from the massage table. We were then given a brown robe and slippers and shown the relaxation room facilities which had lounge beds, a range of teas and jugs of water. I am an avid tea lover and was more than impressed with their wide selection from Earl Grey, to Peppermint to my personal favourite of Green Tea. The only thing missing from the relaxation room was a selection of fruit and sweet snacks. This would have been a nice addition to the room, but I would label it an overall pleasant experience for the price and location.
– Food & Drink –
As previously mentioned, the food selection is highly important part of selecting any hotel worth it’s stars. I must say to begin that we dined like Kings at Breakfast and royalty at Dinner and honestly is there anything more one can hope for?
Served between 6:30am-10:30am in the ground floor restaurant, The 4-star breakfast did not leave us unsatisfied, with more than enough options for whatever you fancied on any given morning of your stay. We were greeted at the restaurant door by a friendly waiter who took our name/room number and allowed us to pick a table of our choice, our choice being the window seat onlooking the Port. We were then offered table-service hot drinks to wet our pallets before beginning the first meal of our day. At this particular hotel they serve Starbucks finest. Major brownie points for this. We were then left to our own devices able to select from the extensive continental buffet spread on offer. They had a selection of juices from your normal soft juices like Apple, Orange and Red Berry to an assortment of unique fresh blends to tickle any health-junkies fancy. As we walked around the buffet, there was also a selection of fruits, cheeses, meats, cereals and pastries galore. Spoilt for choice? Understatement. There were also English breakfast favourites, including sausages, scrambled eggs, (Desired preference available upon request) mushrooms, beans and hash browns. Everything tasted fresh and flavoursome, just what you need for a great start to a good day. I was also impressed by the waiter’s delight to help us with any questions or requests we had, one being a side of Hot Milk. 5-star service for a 4-star hotel. Brilliant.
“I can’t have dessert; I am too full said no rightful minded human ever.”
Dover Marina is also home to Michelin famous restaurant by ‘Marco Pierre White ‘Mr. White’s English Chophouse’. Celebrating its one year anniversary just recently, it has said to have been a great addition to the hotel, so I was definitely excited to see if the meals matched the household name. Unfortunately, during our stay, the restaurant was occupied for a private event so sadly we did not get to experience the Chophouse dining in its entirety, but we were able to access the full menu at the neighbouring restaurant in the Pierre chain ‘Wheeler’s Fish & Chips’. A very casual restaurant and takeaway concept, traditionally serving up well-loved British favourites including lightly battered, flaky cod and Marco’s renowned fish cake. The front of Wheelers seemed a little busy for the size, having a plenitude of bijou-esque tables for 2-4 positioned quite closely together but as we were led to the back of the restaurant the ambience favoured an amorous and casual but yet intimate setting with candle lit tables and less people, somewhat resembling an upmarket cafe with a sociable element that Michelin star restaurants often miss.
For my three-course meal I chose the following from the Chophouse menu:
WHEELER’S CRISPY CALAMARI
SIRLOIN STEAK 8OZ
BUTTERED LEAF SPINACH
MR COULSON’S STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING (With Butterscotch sauce and caramel ice cream)
I was pleasantly surprised by all three courses. As a recent Calamari fan this was cooked to perfection, with a generous portion at that. It was also lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper which pleasantly enhanced the taste. I requested my steak be cooked medium to well done and the chef indeed cooked this faultlessly to my liking. The size was rather small in true Sirloin style, but the cut and thickness of the steak made up for this and certainly satisfied both my taste buds and appetite. The peppercorn sauce was also a much-appreciated addition to the steak giving it the kick that it needed to truly tip the flavours over the edge. To accompany this was a portion of thickly cut chips and evergreen buttered spinach. I washed this down with a mouth-watering fruity cocktail and of course dessert.
My third and final course consisted of sticky toffee pudding and caramel ice cream, generously layered with a beautiful butterscotch sauce. This was honestly phenomenal, what a wonderful way to end an already impressive meal. ‘I can’t have dessert; I am too full said no rightful minded human ever. A fine choice at a fine restaurant, well done Marco Pierre I must try your other deserts and remainder of your menu soon.
Dover Marina is also home to Michelin famous restaurant by ‘ Marco Pierre White ‘Mr. White’s English Chophouse’ Celebrating it’s one year anniversary just recently, it has said to have been a great addition to the 4-star hotel so I was definitely excited to see if the meals matched the household name. Unfortunately during our stay, the restaurant was occupied for a private event so sadly we did not get to experience the Chophouse dining in it’s full splendour but we were able to access the full menu at the neighbouring restaurant in the Pierre chain ‘ Wheeler’s Fish & Chips’. A very casual restaurant and takeaway concept, traditionally serving up well-loved British favourites including lightly battered, flaky cod and Marco’s renowned fish cake. Although smaller in comparison, the ambience restaurant was rather casual at front of house with a plenitude of bijou-esque tables for 2-4 sprinkled but as we were led to the back of the restaurant the ambience favoured an amorous and casual but yet intimate setting, candle lit tables and less people, somewhat resembling an upmarket cafe with a sociable element that Michelin star restaurants often miss.
– Final Verdict –
Overall score: 9/10
When choosing Dover Marina Hotel, the main questions I asked myself was the following:
- Is it located close to the station?
- Is it value for money?
- Are there things to do nearby/is there a town with shops within walking distance?
- Are the meals on offer recommended?
The answers to the above were a resounding yes and it was confirmed when we arrived. The hotel was a 5-minute walk to the nearest town and newly built shopping complex of St Marks. It was also a 15 minutes’ walk or 6-minute cab ride (£5) from the nearest railway station Dover Priory and within walking distance of Dover’s Landmarks including Dover Castle, The White Cliffs and The Museum.
If you are looking a getaway just a stone’s throw away from London, offering you time-old luxury, breath-taking views and a cosy spa then you may have just found a winner. Whether you’re stopping by or just in need of a well-deserved break, you definitely will find it here, in fact you might not even want to check out by the end of your stay – you’ve been warned!
This gets the ChanSpeaksUK mark of approval. I wonder if others within the Best Western chain do just as well? Maybe I’ll find out soon.
Dover Marina, you pleasantly surprised me. Perhaps I will see you again.
For booking and more information on Dover Marina Hotel and Spa, check out their website here: https://www.dovermarinahotel.co.uk/