Why we loved Hilton St George’s Park at the National Football Centre

Two weeks ago, immediately after my children finished school, we headed off to Thomas (the Tank Engine) Land as a treat for my three year old.  This article is my review of the new Hilton St George’s Park – better known as the National Football Centre – which we made our base.

Thomas Land is based at Drayton Manor theme park near Tamworth (which is near Birmingham).  Drayton Manor is ‘Alton Towers-lite’ – there are a number of high-end rides for teenagers and adults but the site is surprisingly small.  You can walk from end to end in 10 minutes.

Because we would be coming up from London, we decided to make a long weekend of it.

Hilton St Georges Park aerial review

The Football Association spent £100m developing St George’s Park.  Because the hotel is an integrated part of the complex – visiting players need somewhere to stay, and as you read this Messi and his Barcelona colleagues will be training there – it is not run on a commercial basis.

You could not build a hotel this impressive (in Burton upon Trent) and charge the modest prices that Hilton asks if you were trying to make a sensible return on your investment.  It was, by far, the best Hilton-branded hotel I have ever visited in the UK.

Hilton St Georges Park lobby review

This is a BIG hotel in every sense.  Some of the photographs in this review are library pictures because my iPhone camera couldn’t produce anything decent given the scale of the rooms and the lighting issues that come from huge amounts of glass!  I also forgot to take photographs of our room before our kids had trashed it …..!

Above is the Hilton lobby.  You can see what I mean by ‘big’.  This is the suite we booked:

Hilton St Georges Park suite review

The sofa became a sofa bed for our 6-year old and we had an additional rollaway bed for our 3-year old.  It was well equipped – there is a big working area to the right out of shot, two TV’s and two bathrooms (and two sinks in the main bathroom).

Hilton St Georges Park bathroom review

Our suite looked out onto open countryside (the top left part of the aerial photograph at the top):

Hilton St Georges Park view reivew

Rooms on the other side of the corridors overlook the central courtyard.  You should be aware, though, that whilst this hotel is IN the countryside, it is NOT a countryside hotel.  If you are expecting country pursuits, you’re in the wrong place.  I’m not even sure how much of the surrounding countryside is accessible.

This is what passes for in-room artwork!

Hilton St Georges Park picture review

Hilton St Georges Park breakfast review

This is just part of the breakfast buffet at Hilton St George’s Park.  Because the hotel is being permanently used for Football Association events, you have an impressively healthy spread.  My wife – brought up on a German breakfast regime far healthier than the traditional British one – thought it was the best breakfast variety she had ever seen in a UK hotel.  This includes places such as Four Seasons Hampshire!

What you don’t see from this picture is the glass curtain wall that runs the entire length of the breakfast room (restaurant in the evening) and which offers huge amounts of light and views over the countryside.

Hilton St Georges Park pool review

This is the hotel pool.  Whilst there is no childrens pool, it not too deep at 120 cm.  There is also, out of shot here, a jacuzzi which is part of the main pool – being at normal water temperature, it is OK for kids to paddle in if no-one is using it.  Children are allowed in the pool between 9am and 7pm at weekends and between 9-12 and 2-7 during the week.

It also had something that I have never seen before in a hotel.  In the photo above, to the right of the central pillar, are a series of jacuzzi foot baths!  There are three of them in a row, each has one cold bath for the right foot and one hot bath for the left foot!

The two showers you see above are also not standard showers. The one of the right is actually full of ice should you want an ice ‘rub down’.  The left hand side is a traditional shower, albeit one that plays birdsong as you shower!

The hotel also an executive lounge, not pictured.  This is only open for two hours each day, between 6pm and 8pm.  The positive news is that there is a decent selection of snacks laid out and a lot of alcohol – on the Thursday night they had left out 11 bottles of wine!  We went there one evening on a day when we had a large lunch and there was enough to keep everyone happy.

In terms of pricing, we paid £167 per night for our suite.  This included lounge access.  Because the hotel does not serve breakfast in the lounge, you are also entitled to free breakfast in the restaurant.  (As Hilton Gold, I would have got breakfast for at least two of us for free anyway.)

The total bill was just over £500 for three night.  I got £100 cashback from American Express via their current ‘£50 cashback for £250 Hilton spend’ promotion by splitting the bill over two cards.  I also get 25,000 Hilton HHonors points, worth about £80.

If you want something cheaper, there is also a Hampton By Hilton at St George’s Park but I didn’t visit that.

Apart from Drayton Manor / Thomas Land, the hotel is VERY close to the National Forest Adventure Farm (literally five minutes drive) which we visited on our first afternoon.  The National Memorial Arboretum is also within 15 minutes drive – it is free to visit and has a decent self-service restaurant if you want to pop in for a meal and a stroll..  Lichfield, an attractive medieval city with an impressive cathedral, is also close.

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. I think you may be undervaluing the hilton points. I stayed at the Doubletree Newcastle Airport at the weekend and got a room on part points, part cash for £23 and 4,000 points. That was versus the cheapest cash rate of £56.

    BTW – the Doubletree was a very good hotel and as a Hilton Gold member I also got two drinks & two breakfast vouchers thrown in!

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Depends on your flexibility, I think. There are definitely redemptions out there at 0.5p/pt – but you definitely can’t wake up one day and decide to redeem your HHonors points and still get that sort of value. If you’re happy to wait for the right opportunity to come along (such as your example), then I agree. I am getting ~0.5p/pt on an upcoming redemption (although that’s with fifth night free as well – so there’s a point at which you need a large balance to maximise value as well).

  2. Also close to visit Alton Towers. They are currently developing plans for the future of the site which they hope will include an extension to the hotel and more parking as it can get congested on very busy days. Often though, the car park is quite empty! I drive past every day on my way to work and at the moment the gates are down and there is security checking each car entering the site whilst Barcelona are there!

  3. Weird the exec lounge is only open 6-8pm, must the worst availability in the UK, if not Europe, v bizarre!

    • Feel the quality, not the quantity!

      Technically it is not a lounge. It is on one the balcony areas not a separate room, slightly odd layout.

  4. Felix Flyer says:

    I know the area well as my parents live near by and the hotel looks impressive. Surprisingly, the National Brewery Centre in Burton is worth a visit even with kids as is Conkers in the National Forest.

  5. Thanks for this post which turned out to be more useful than I expected.

    Our 3-year-old (Swiss) nephew is Thomas-mad and will no doubt be visiting before too long. I would never even have dreamed of staying at a Hilton. Your review, insight and other helpful comments as well as those of other HFPers mean we will know where to start looking when the time comes.

    • Don’t go during school holidays!
      The quests are horrendous, more so than the increase in prices they levy to make you stand in the queues.
      The time raffles went is just about bearable although there are lots of school trips then, but fortunately thomasland stop any teenagers, without adults, entering TL.

      • We were clever – our kids finished school very early (8 July) and we went straight away whilst the locals were still in school. There were a lot of teenager end of term coach parties though.

      • Singing Dwarf says:

        Avoid Christmas – and if you ignore that warning, avoid Santas Grotto!

        We were given a timed ticket (included in the entrance price) for the grotto when we visited, expecting to enter the grotto quickly at that time. Despite arriving 5 minutes prior to the time on the ticket, we ended up queuing for almost two hours!

        Of course, we didn’t know that was the queuing time when we joined it – the elves kept that very quiet. We would have had two upset children had we left the queue – as it was, I held the place, whilst Mrs Dwarf and the children enjoyed Thomasland.

        Never again…

    • Drayton Manor does have a hotel on site as well, non chain, but my wife likes to keep a distance from the park!

  6. ankomonkey says:

    Is the Hilton St George’s Park available when using the HH Visa free night certificate?

    Went to Thomas Land last Friday (using Tesco Clubcard vouchers) and the longest we waited for anything was about 15 minutes, and this was on a good weather day. My daughter’s 4 so we split the time across the Thomas Land rides and the Drayton Manor rides (as she already has an appetite for slightly more exciting rides). Managed to fit in loads and kids had a great day!

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Select ‘use HHonors points’ when looking at a date. If it shows 40,000 then you can redeem your free night certificate.

  7. Erico1875 says:

    The MacDonald Burlington Hotel, Birmingham would make a cheap stop over too. Currently getting 4x value of Tesco CC vouchers

    I have booked a 2 night stay at Loch Rannoch. Cost me £42 in vouchers

  8. Raffles – you mentioned the following:

    “we paid £167 per night for our suite. This included lounge access. Because the hotel does not serve breakfast in the lounge, you are also entitled to free breakfast in the restaurant”

    I am Hilton Silver – are you suggesting that if I booked the exec room (with lounge access) i would therefore get breakfast included ? It is offering me a B+B rate for slightly higher price

    thanks
    Mark

  9. Sat on the Exec Balcony writing this, our second stay here, stayed just after it opened and we had a suite with balcony, the exec lounge was unavailable but we were given vouchers for drinks and nibbles in The Crossbar.
    This time we booked an Exec room however no upgrade was available to a suite was available on check in (have gold status) but in the room was a voucher for a couple of free drinks in the bar.
    Exec nibbles inc Tempura prawns , chicken wings and curry bites along with the usual cold and cheese. The wine was from Argentina, quite ironic, but towards the end of the evening a few bottles of French wine appeared.
    We travel from up north to down south to visit our daughter and like to stop over around Birmingham, and tbh the Hilton NEC is a contender for our money, although I can not fault St George’s it is a little out of the way.

Trackbacks

  1. […] did a nice review with some pics for those tag at don't follow his blog: http://www.headforpoints.com/2014/07…s-park-review/ Worth a read, will have to try this gem out when next in the area, sounds great. […]