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My review of the Park Inn hotel, Southend on Sea

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This is my review of the Park Inn Palace, Southend on Sea, hotel.

I have never stayed in a Park Inn before.  I have ‘stayed’ in a Park Inn, on a mattress run for the purposes of accruing 50,000 Radisson Rewards bonus points (and you may soon be doing the same if you take part in the new ‘Free Friday’ promotion) but I’ve never spent more than 20 minutes in the room.

We were invited to a barbeque in Southend on Saturday.  Finding decent quality, sensibly priced accommodation in a seaside town for a Saturday night in late June was never going to be fun.  The Park Inn Palace seemed to fit the bill.

Park Inn is a three star brand owned by Rezidor, who also operate Radisson Blu and Park Plaza.  If you needed to rank these brands, I would put Park Plaza up against Crowne Plaza, Radisson Blu against Hilton and Park Inn against Holiday Inn Express.

The Park Inn by Radisson Palace Southend on Sea, to give it its full name, looked fine:

For a start, I could book it using my existing Radisson Rewards points, topped up via an American Express Membership Rewards transfer.  No cash required!  (As I wrote here, Radisson Rewards is arguably the best value Amex Membership Rewards redemption.)

Secondly, the location was great

Thirdly, whilst I was pretty sure they had some poor rooms, I hoped my Club Carlson Gold card (free via my American Express Platinum card) would get me something pleasant

Lastly, it is a conversion of a massive Edwardian seaside hotel (The Palace) and, like many people, I have a soft spot for those.  There is a plaque in the lobby commemorating a stay by Laurel & Hardy back in 1932!  Going even further back, here is a BBC clip showing it as a hospital during World War I.

The Park Inn Southend hotel home page is here.

Southend Park Inn Palace hotel review

We had two standard rooms at 38,000 Club Carlson points each.

The cash rate was £166 when I checked last week, although it may have been a little less at the time we booked.  This works out at 0.43p per Radisson Rewards point which is excellent value.

If I had booked entirely via a conversion of Amex Membership Rewards points at 1:3, I would have received an impressive 1.3p per American Express point.

At this point, I have a confession to make.

I really wasn’t expecting much from the Park Inn Southend hotel, even though I had seen decent reports.  I was already thinking about how I could write a Fawlty Towers-style review on how it lived up to all of the cliches of British seaside hotels.

But it didn’t.  We really liked it.

Here is the view from our balcony, which was on the third floor.  It is probably the best sea view I have ever had from a UK hotel, although that isn’t saying much!

My kids have been around a bit, but they have never been more enthusiastic about a hotel room than when they saw that we had a balcony overlooking the sea and a massive fun fair and the longest pier in the world:

Park Inn Southend review balcony

Here is the room itself.  This is a twin bedded room because we did a ‘1 adult 1 child per room’ set-up – you might find the twin beds a little close together in other scenarios but it was fine for us:

Park Inn Palace hotel Southend review bedroom

… with a decent desk:

Park Inn Palace hotel Southend review desk

… and an acceptable bathroom with a shower:

Park Inn Southend on Sea review bathroom

The Park Inn Southend was all perfectly fine.  There was honestly nothing to complain about.  Not everything was perfect – the aircon was noisy, for example, but not needed anyway – but for the star level I was very happy.

There was also minimal external noise, despite the funfair, due to good double glazing and the fact that the Southend Saturday night pub route does not seem to take people past the hotel.  The fun fair closes at 10pm on a Saturday anyway:

Park Inn Southend review balcony at night

My Radisson Rewards Gold benefits kick in

I have Gold status in Radisson Rewards due to my American Express Platinum card.

It isn’t entirely clear what I received at the Park Inn in Southend due to my status and what is ‘normal’.  However:

both of our rooms were upgraded from ‘car park view side’ to ‘sea view side’ (reward nights do not seem to be bookable in sea view rooms) 

whilst there were dispensers with ‘3 in 1’ shampoo / shower gel / conditioner in the bathrooms, we were also given individual bottles of Dove-branded products

we got a free chocolate brownie, Bakewell tart and bottle of water in each room

There would also have been a 15% discount on food in the restaurant if we had used it.

The public areas of the Park Inn Southend were equally attractive.  Here is the rather funky hotel lobby:

Park Inn Palace hotel Southend on Sea review lobby

Here is the bar area:

Park Inn Southend review bar

Here is the restaurant / breakfast room – this is an ‘official’ hotel picture:

Park Inn Southend hotel restaurant review

Someone has put real thought into this hotel.  The imaginative way that the buffet had been laid out and presented was the sort of thing I would have expected in a five-star hotel, not a three-star.  It was miles away from the Holiday Inn Express approach to a breakfast buffet.

You need to time your breakfast, though, as they don’t have enough tables to cover the flow at peak times on peak days.  Staff were very efficient at cleaning tables and resetting them as people left, although they were a little slower at refilling buffet items.

Irrespective of the view from your room, you will get a great view over the pier, fun fair and sea / estuary from the glass-walled dining and bar area.

Looking at the photos at the top of the page, you might think that the Park Inn Southend is huge.  It isn’t.  The modern floors on the roof are apartments and not part of the hotel.  The building also contains a casino which is totally separate.  The hotel only has 137 rooms so it isn’t too busy.

Conclusion

The Park Inn hotel in Southend is one of those hotels that had always interested me – I have been using a photo of it to illustrate articles on Park Inn every since HFP started – and it was great to finally review it properly.

I was genuinely impressed by what I found, and Park Inn has done a great job given the 3-star level it is aimed at.  Southend on Sea is only a 45 minute train ride from Liverpool Street, Fenchurch Street, West Ham, Limehouse, Upminster or Barking and, if the sun is out, it isn’t a bad place for a day out if you have kids.   With a train every 10 minutes or so, you don’t get the overcrowding that you find on Brighton services on Summer weekends.

The Park Inn Palace, Southend website is here if you want to find out more.

Earning Radisson Rewards points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, you can earn Radisson Rewards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These include:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points (= 30,000 Radisson Rewards points) sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points (= 90,000 Radisson Rewards points) sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – 5,000 Membership Rewards points (= 15,000 Radisson Rewards points) sign-up bonus

It is worth noting that holders of The Platinum Card receive free Radisson Rewards Gold status for as long as they hold the card.  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:3 into Radisson Rewards points which is a very attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Amex point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 3 Radisson Rewards points.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (55)

  • Kathy says:

    I live in Southend. I’m afraid whoever told you it takes 45 minutes on the train from Liverpool St was telling porkie pies – it’s a little over an hour on a good day.

    Still, the town does pretty well on a sunny day! The Cliffs Pavilion is a pleasant 20 minute stroll along the cliff gardens from the Park Inn, so it’s handy for a stay after a gig/show. If you’d been there in spring you could have re-lived your cherry blossom experiences from Japan – there’s masses of the stuff!

    • Rob says:

      45 minutes from West Ham on the fast trains which don’t go via Grays.

      • Kathy says:

        Liverpool St isn’t West Ham, though, is it? As a commuter I *wish* it only took 45 minutes! It was nearly an hour and a half this morning.

  • William Avery says:

    From a design viewpoint – that looks like a huge waste of a stunning building but I’m hoping it was the only option. Depressed with the interior looks like it could be plonked on the side of a motorway somewhere rather than the Southend prom.

    • Rob says:

      They could have done more with the original features inside – there is very little there – but the balconies etc are all intact as you can see. I also get a feeling a lot will have been junked during its previous incarnations. It was derelict for a while, was a hospital in both wars etc. There was some Government money behind the conversion which may explain why Park Inn can afford to operate it, because they are not on the hook for the full capital cost of the rebuild.

      • Will says:

        tbf – I haven’t seen the full scope including lobby etc so can’t qualify comment. Imagine costs to retain original features/convert to a luxury hotel (which would presumably have limited occupation) would be stratospheric. also surprised they didn’t convert to luxury flats so intrigued by the local politics. Just weird to see that decor in that environment. Govt money explains a lot.

  • Leo says:

    I think that all looks rather jolly!

  • Chris says:

    Is the casino attached to the hotel open?

    Company I used to work for won the licence for it just as I was leaving and it was to be attached to this hotel iirc.

  • Machatter says:

    It’s definitely open!

  • Mark Priest says:

    I’ve lived in Essex all my life and actually spent a good few of my DJ years as one of the residents of TOTS2000 or Talk Of The South as it was later known.

    Lots of great memories.

  • Felix Flyer says:

    The theme park is Adventure Island which is a clubcard redemption and worth it in my view. Very little queuing at times and my nine year old loved it. Their evening tickets are also good value.