On the internet trawl for a hotel in Dover we stumbled on the Best Western Dover Marina, attracted immediately by the location – right on the seafront with Dover Castle in the background – it sounded just the thing for us. The publicity blurb described it as a “recently refurbished seaside hotel with a fusion of 21st century comfort and 19th century decor and state of the art rooms.” In hindsight I would dispute most of that, the location though was spot on. Check-in was efficient, thankfully we arrived before a huge party of coach trippers descended – first worrying sign. The hotel is beautiful from outside, plenty of kerb appeal with a wonderful Regency facade on a gorgeous curved street. Inside the reception area did not disappoint – chandeliers, wooden floors and a real air of old fashioned glamour and luxury.
Once we got into the lift however things were not quite so stunning. Our room had a sea view but was somewhat tired and dated. There was a double bed and sofa bed for Son, a wardrobe behind the door and not much space for anything else. We had to strategically position the suitcase while we closed the door. The bathroom was old fashioned but clean, however water pressure was seriously lacking. Husband abandoned his bath and admitted defeat, not prepared to wait the eternity it would take for a trickle of water to fill up the tub. The whole room was also on a slant – an old building and quaint normally but here it felt weird. The decor of the room did not complement the “quaintness.”
The room temperature went from unbearably hot to stifling in the middle of the night. We opened the windows and used both fans they supplied but to no avail. The hottest, stickiest and most uncomfortable night imaginable – it wasn’t even hot outside. Relief when morning came and at a loss for why this would be. A clue may have been the pipes in the bathroom – red hot all through the night and in the morning but no way to change or switch them off.
The location was great – trying to look on the bright side, the hotel looks over the sea and is close to Dover and the port. We noticed as we drove away a Premier Inn just a little further along the road – next time…. We paid £150 for this room, definitely felt more than a tad ripped off.
We dined in Cullins Yard, a nearby restaurant we found on Tripadvisor. Just steps away, quirky and full of character we loved the look of this one-time boat yard. They had tonnes of bric a brac and interesting “stuff” to look at. A table outside overlooking the boats and marina was perfect, not so perfect was the service here. We queued at the bar to order drinks and food, inefficent would be the first kind word that comes to mind, as we stood for an eternity before ordering. The food though, when it eventually came, was so delicious, presentation was excellent and got a big thumbs up all round. Husband’s stuffed seabass was the star of the show, our monkfish and scallops weren’t far behind.
A stroll around the harbour afterwards and I found myself impressed with Dover.
Next morning we meandered into the town centre in search of reading material for our ferry crossing. Not so impressed here unfortunately, I got the feeling the centre was sadly a little bit shabby and had definitely seen better days. Back down to the sea and an hour on the shingle beach before it was time to head for our ship.
A short drive to the massive ferry terminal and soon we were onboard an absolutely enormous vessel with three decks, plenty to do and superb views. Sailing off past the White Cliffs and lighthouse we walked to the previous day was exhilarating. Having used the Channel Tunnel on other driving expeditions to Europe we were thoroughly impressed with this method of transport. Feeling somehow more romantic and a bit of adventure, excitement was already building for what was to come.