Sunday 2 August 2015

Stuck in the Snow with a Newborn - Why I Love Novotel

I have a bit of a soft spot for Novotel. It is not that I have stayed in lots of their hotels or even in just one of them but many times, it was the circumstance I found myself in when I stayed at the Novotel, Stevenage back in early 2004 that means the brand still tugs at my heart strings.

I had my first child JJ in October 2003 and he was a good little baby, he fitted straight into our lives and we continued to do all the things we loved. So one day when dh was off from work I asked if he fancied going to the Harvester in Stevenage for lunch. We love the salad and spit roast chicken so it is a fairly healthy meal out we can enjoy. As it was a weekday daytime we knew there should be room for our 3 month old JJ to sleep in his car seat whilst we ate.

What a great meal we had and so nice to be out as a couple and catch up on what is going on in each others lives. So busy in conversation were we that we didn't spot the snow that had started to fall and it wasn't until we got outside to find a few inches that we even realised we might have an issue. I felt quite panicked as about nine months before I had been driving home from work in similar snow conditions and got stuck in deadlock traffic from 6pm until 2am. Eight hours for a normally 45 minute drive with a baby in my belly bouncing up and down on my bladder - it was no fun!

Dh quickly assessed what might be the best way to leave Stevenage and we avoided our normal back route through Knebworth due to the steep hill we would have to climb and started to head towards the motorway junction. It became clear really soon that Stevenage was pretty much in gridlock, the British snow had struck again. After two hours I had to climb into the back of the car so I could feed JJ, thank the Lord I was breastfeeding or things could have been very different.

It took us two hours to get to the motorway junction and we could see the M1 was at a standstill so in a split moment I said to dh "pull into the Novotel and lets get a room and sort JJ out". of course dozens of people had the same idea and the Novotel reception was overrun but they were excellent providing tea, coffee and blankets for cold drivers. I asked about a room and was told they were fully booked with some arrivals still due to come but I could put my name down in case anyone called to cancel. At this point I mentioned I had a newborn with me and I shot up the wait list.

They annonced that all guests were welcome to sleep in the lounge if a bedroom could not be provided and they really did rally around and make sure people were OK. Luckily within about half an hour we were given a room at a fair price and we were able to settle. They made sure JJ had a travel cot and luckily I am the organised sort and had all his spare clothes, nappies etc.

We had a wonderful meal in the restaurant that night and a chilled morning before setting off back home about 10am once the world had started to move again and the snow was melting. It still amazes me how snow causes so much chaos in the UK but I'll be forever thankful to Novotel for being there when we needed them back in 2004.

Novotels Family Friendly Provision
I've been in touch with Novotel recently as my husband and I are going to review their flagship Blackfriars hotel in London later in the year (can't wait for that) and I was super interested to hear that they have formed a partnership with award-winning pram and pushchair manufacturer Quinny. From now on when you go and stay in any one of the 33 UK Novotels you can borrow a Quinny YEZZ buggy for the duration of your stay for free and in case your have a discerning toddler you can even choose from a choice of three colours - red, purple or grey.

The Quinny YEZZ is an ultra-lightweight, compact buggy that is easy to handle, lightweight and especially manoeuvrable making it the perfect city stroller for those families looking to explore new locations.

The Quinny partnership is just one of the many great things that Novotel have on offer for families when they stay.  Just take a look at all these great offers and facilities -
  • Two children (under 16 years) can stay free of charge sharing your room and they will also be offered complimentary breakfast when the adults eat breakfast. 
  • Don't fear if you need more space though as you can book a second room for your children at half the regular price
  • Modern and colourful dedicated kids area to help keep kids entertained with fun Kapla construction toys, and many hotels feature X-Box play zones and Microsoft Surface tables.
  • Late check-out on a Sunday (5pm) subject to availability
  • Free wi-fi in rooms and public areas
  • Cartoon TV network in the rooms
  • Kids menu available in most restaurants but not just featuring kiddie foods, it is full of freshly prepared and tasty child sized portions
  • Swimming pool and outdoor playgrounds at many of their hotels. We are looking forward to using the pool at Blackfrairs as it has state-of-the-art digital art on the walls
  • Professional reception staff with excellent local knowledge to help you plan your time in the local area. There are also Kids Voyage guide books available for 7-12 year olds in many major cities of the world.
I'll tell you something else I spotted with Novotel that seems quite unique and I've not seen before is that children go free when staying with Grandparents' too, It is not just with their parents that the promotions are available - isn't that fabulous?

Disclosure:  I have been offered a complimentary nights stay for my husband and I in November so we can attend a conference in London. There was no expectation for me to write this post but I thought the new partnership with Quinny is a great one and something my readers would benefit from hearing about.

Images - all from Novotel
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