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To Hull and Back

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What is it? A four-day break on a family-friendly hotel package, with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Where? At the Royal Hull Hotel, located in – you guessed it – Kingston-upon-Hull.

Description: Fancy a holiday in Hull? Most people wouldn’t. But when Wendy Sloane and her family were offered the chance to sample some of Hull’s alleged delights, they couldn’t resist. Amazingly, they were very pleasantly surprised…[hotel.jpg]

To see whether Hull really lives up to its (not so great) reputation, and visit one of the UK’s most maligned cities.

We loved Hull. For us, the top daytime attractions were the shopping facilities within a short walk of the Hotel, the Monkey Business indoor play centre, the cinema within the St Stephen’s shopping centre, The Deep aquarium, and the old town. We also spent a fantastic day out at Spurn Point (see About Our Stay).

Hull has lots of nightclubs, restaurants and bars, much as you would expect from any large city. The Hotel has two main restaurants, one of which was rocking on the weekend with pre-booked wedding parties (ask for a room away from the noise if your ears are a bit sensitive). If you fancy a night in, there is a sex shop directly across the road!

The hotel does not offer baby-sitting.

The hotel does not have a gym or pool, but guests are invited to use the gym at the adjacent St Stephen’s shopping centre. You can get a one-day or five-day pass (for just L19.99), and fitness classes are included as part of the deal. Best of all, it’s open 24/7.

Local activities: See Daytime Fun.

Wish we had known: That you need to pre-order a packed lunch the day before.

Our top tip: Be a bit pro-active if you want quick service in the restaurant. The staff were lovely, but you’ll need to tell them if you want a quick meal (which at the end of the day is important with overly tired children) or your dining experience may be a bit longer than you anticipated.

Kids say: “The hotel lobby was really beautiful and I loved the breakfast,” says Josie, 10. “Monkey Business was the best,” says Clementine, five. “I liked the aquarium at The Deep,” adds Tilly, eight.

Getting There: The Royal Hotel Hull is within easy reach of M62 motorway, and is right in the centre of town, adjacent to the main railway station. Guests can park out front so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to put your car. Focus Hotels is offering two, three or four night packages from L160 based on two adults and two children under 12 years sharing. The package includes: accommodation • full English or continental breakfast • light lunch or packed lunch • three-course dinner with half a bottle of house wine and unlimited draught soft drinks • early check in and late check out • free parking and Wi-Fi • use of on-site leisure facilities (where applicable). Subject to availability, valid until 31 October 2010. For more information and full terms and conditions please visit www.focushotels.co.uk. To book please call 0844 225 1625

About our stay: Hull does not rank as a top worldwide holiday destination, and it doesn’t even make it into one of the UK’s top ten (or top 50). So when I was offered the chance to try out a new family-friendly package at the Royal Hotel Hull, smack dab in the city centre, I wasn’t sure whether to accept. Our friends were amused when they heard where we were going; my husband Duncan wasn’t. But as we and our three girls were on our way to spend a week at our friends’ house in West Yorkshire, stopping off in Hull on the way made a lot of sense. Surprisingly, the iconic Royal Hotel Hull turned out to be a majestic Victorian landmark, one that unfortunately suffered a rather severe fire about 20 years ago. It has been restored magnificently, however, if not back to its former glory than at least with great taste and style. The main lobby is perhaps the jewel in the Hotel’s crown, with huge art deco lamps and unusual fish wallpaper that, crazy as it may sound, seems to work. Two main restaurants give hotel patrons a bit of a choice – one literally looks out onto the main railway platform – along with a lobby bar that serves soup, sandwiches and desserts during the day. The main downside was that the Hotel has no family rooms, or even inter-connecting rooms, so we had to make do with two rooms adjacent to one another. That said, our family-friendly package included three meals a day, with lunch being either from the lobby bar or a brown bag affair we could take with us. Breakfast was buffet-style and dinner was from an a la carte menu, sadly with no children’s menu. The chef, however, was happy to accommodate my three daughters, cooking up chicken and chips one night for the little ‘uns, pasta another. Although the service was a bit on the Acorn Antiques side, the kids were more than happy. Happy to be out of London, our days consisted of wandering, shopping (there is a huge mall complex next-door) and visiting the cinema (we went three times – lots cheaper than London!). Several afternoons we used the town as a base, travelling out beyond the city limits. Hull is on the doorstep of pretty Yorkshire towns such as Beverley and not far from the beautiful Yorkshire coast, so there is plenty to do. One fantastic day was spent at Spurn Point (also known as Spurn Head), a remote strip of land overlooking the sea that is only five miles long and about 45 yards wide, in some spots. We walked along the barren yet incredibly beautiful beach and admired the now defunct lighthouse, which once beckoned sailors to Yorkshire shores, and the girls trudged happily through the sand dunes and collected pebbles and shells. [spurn.jpg] Another afternoon we visited The Deep, Hull’s famous aquarium that is built overlooking the Humber estuary and can keep the kids entertained for hours, with plenty of interactive exhibits. That morning we had wandered through the Old Town for a few hours, where we happened across a street fair where the girls were taught a variety of circus skills, from spinning plates to juggling. And the girls adored the enormous toads that were dotted around the town as part of a charity event – eventually they would be auctioned off to the highest bidder. [toad.jpg] Hull may have a bad reputation, but it’s one we found entirely undeserved. In the summer, at least, there is a lot to keep adults and children alike busy in Hull, and we found the people friendly and inviting as well, from the restaurant staff to the local shopkeepers. What’s not to like? Wendy Sloane is the Travel Editor of entertainthekids.com, a freelance journalist for many other publications and websites, and a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at London Metropolitan University. Her free time is spent looking after her three daughters.

Created: 2010-09-18 13:01:38.280

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