Whenever I think about childhood holidays, there’s only one place that comes to mind – Torquay. We spent the majority of our summer holidays here and it almost came a home away from home. We were always lucky that 90% of the time we got good weather and I’m a big advocator for holidaying in the UK. I genuinely believe if you’re lucky enough to get the weather, it can be just as good, if not better, than holidaying abroad.
When the my eldest son was born were we decide to relive my youth and go back to Torquay for our family holiday. Sadly, we were completely disappointed in the hotel we stayed at. They didn’t, despite what they claimed on their website, cater for children and we were treated as a nuisance for having the audacity to ask for a high chair for our one year old.
It put us off completely and we didn’t return to Torquay for a few years. By this point we now had three kids so we were limited to where we could stay. There’s not many hotels that can fit us all in the same room. We came across the TLH Resort online and were pleased to see the Derwent could accommodate us all and so we took the plunge.
The TLH Resort consists of four hotels, The Carlton, The Victoria, The Toorak and The Derwent. They’re all interlinked and you can choose to use any of the hotels’ services and bars. The Derwent has prime location on Belgrave Road, just a short walk from the beach and harbour. Torquay is a pretty hilly place so we were thankful we didn’t need to drag three kids up a steep hill!
The Riviera Centre was practically next door which has it’s own cafe and indoor pool and slide. Activities such as tennis, crazy golf and putting are also right on the doorstep.
The car parking outside the Derwent is pretty limited but you can park on any of the hotels carparks providing you get a pass when you check in.
Our room was very spacious despite the number of beds in there! You could potentially sleep six in the room, providing the youngest is happy to sleep in a cot. We had a double bed, bunk beds, a single bed and a travel cot should my daughter wish to sleep there instead. It didn’t feel cramped despite all the sleeping options, and there was enough wardrobe and cupboard space to fit all our things. The rooms also have a tv and tea and coffee making facilities as you would expect.
The room was situated at the far end of the hotel on the second floor so it was a bit of a trek! There were also two sets of steps to navigate even after using the lift which isn’t ideal when you’re lugging suitcases or a pushchair if you have younger children. Thankfully our kids are a little bit older so it wasn’t too much of an issue.
We stayed during Britain’s heatwave and the room was almost unbearably hot. The hotel provided a small desk fan which didn’t provide much comfort so I was thankful of my husband’s foresight to bring our own fan! I don’t think we would have survived the week without it!
The rooms, though clean, could do with an update. The bathroom in particular was dated and the bed also wasn’t the comfiest. Staying in more modern hotels such as Legoland Hotel perhaps has given us an unrealistic expectation of how the rooms should be.
We were very impressed with the housekeeping staff. They were always friendly when we passed them and they always made a point of arranging the kids’ teddies nicely on their beds. My son was unwell on one of the days so we spent until early afternoon in the room so he could sleep it off. We put the “do not disturb” sign on the door and when we eventually resurfaced after lunch there were clean towels and tea and coffee left outside our door. We thought this was a nice touch. It would have been easier for them to miss us out completely. They even returned to the room when we went out and made our beds and emptied the bins.
The main selling point of the Derwent and the TLH Resort in general are the facilities.
If you fancy a dip, you have the choice of going indoor or, if the weather is kind, outdoors. We were lucky to be able to experience both. There’s actually two pools outside, a regular sized one and a smaller one for younger children. There’s plenty sun loungers around the pool area and slightly further back there’s a kids play area and a bar.
There are also two pools indoors situated by the hotel spa. The kids pool is heated to a warmer temperature and has both a shallow end and a deeper end. The second pool is larger and aimed more at adults, though children are welcome. There is a designated area for those who just want to swim laps and there are also loungers if you wish to sit back and watch.
The resort has it’s own kids club with varying activities throughout the day. Parents need to stay with the kids but they do offer an hour in an evening where the children can be left unaccompanied.
TLH has it’s own bars (with Sky Sports!) cafe, shop and even arcade amusements and a bowling alley! There’s also a soft play area for the little ones.
There’s entertainment in the evenings in each of the individual hotels. In The Derwent there was kids entertainment with games and dancing before family bingo. We even won £125 one night (we never win anything so were delighted!)
We paid for dinner, bed and breakfast and as part of our package, the kids stayed and ate for free. This was fantastic value especially for three of them! The food was good quality (other than the ice-cream – yuck!) There were three courses with a good choice for each. Along with the regular options there was a fish dish, a vegetarian option along with salads and jacket potatoes. The kids could choose from the children’s menu or request a smaller plate of something from the adult’s menu.
There was also complimentary tea and coffee (when they remembered to offer it! More about that below!)
Breakfasts were very good. There was the choice of cereals, fruits, yoghurts and a full English breakfast.
The majority of the staff were polite and friendly. We really liked our server in the restaurant. We had the same waiter for the first four days and he was very efficient and kind to the kids. Sadly a large coach trip arrived on the fifth day and the majority of the waiting staff were sent to attend to their needs which was disappointing. We were left without a designated waiter and the service standards dropped considerably. I’m not naive enough not to realise additional staff were needed to serve the new party, but it was disheartening to see them receive preferential treatment while my children sat waiting for their orders to be taken.
There also seemed to be a bit of friction between the waiting staff and who we presumed was the restaurant manager. It was quite uncomfortable to be witness to the mutterings and murmurings. The presumed restaurant manager was actually one of the members of staff we were disappointed with. He made a great show of being obliging but would forget even the most simple of requests such as a glass of water or our complimentary coffee.
Having said that the rest of the staff were very polite and obliging which really does make the difference, especially with the children. The entertainment staff in particular were very good.
The communication between the hotel and it’s guests was great. There were plenty of notices around the hotel detailing the days activities and entertainment, along with leaflets that could be taken away. That evening’s meal choices were also available to view from mid afternoon.
While it isn’t perfect, the Derwent’s facilities and entertainment make up for any negative points. There’s always something for the kids to do, regardless of the weather. Would I return without children? Probably not, but while we have young kids it’s hard to criticise! Happy kids means a happy mum!