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‘The Germans have a word for it,’ they say. Meaning that if you’re struggling to describe something precisely in English, there’s probably a German word that describes exactly what you mean – something like kummerspeck (literally ‘grief bacon’: the weight gained through emotional overeating), torschlusspanik (‘closing gate panic’: the fear that time is running out), the fantastic backpfeifengesicht (which describes – well, you know the feeling you get when you look at Michael Gove? Someone who elicits that feeling) and my personal favourite, kuddelmuddel (which literally just means ‘an unstructured mess’ but whose connotations remind me of how most parties I go to tend to end).
Disappointingly, there doesn’t seem to be a word in German to describe the particular feeling of fatigued déja vu you get when you travel a lot, particularly on business or on a budget, and lose track of which city you’re in because the hotels all look the same. Fortunately, while they may not have a word for it, German company Motel One do have an answer to it, and the opening of their newest UK branch in Newcastle gave us a chance to see if it was the correct one.
Founded in 2000, the Munich-based chain pride themselves on their concept of ‘budget luxury’, using good design and carefully-chosen materials to give travellers a unique, high quality experience at prices which won’t leave you out of pocket. Certainly the entrance to their Newcastle property, a triumphant arch composed of the restored bricks of their building on High Bridge Street, impresses as soon as you walk in.
This is the first indication that the designers don’t want this to be just another identikit experience, and that site-specific quality extends from the lounge/breakfast area, decorated with murals of the city’s seven famous river crossings, including the iconic Tyne Bridge; to the bar, subtly themed around North East railway pioneer George Stephenson; all the way to the reception desk, and its walls painted in the colour of the local football team, Newcastle United.
The signposts to the rooms are designed to resemble the city’s street signage: the rooms themselves, while obviously more uniform in appearance, display the same attention to detail shown downstairs. Great functional design ensures the space is used as effectively as possible, while not compromising on quality in areas where other hotels might skimp, like the quality of the hair-dryer, or the adjustability of the lighting.
The Loewe flatscreen TV with which each room is equipped is state-of-the art, and the availability of continental-style and USB sockets along with standard power points is a touch which is sure to please travellers looking to recharge their devices after a long journey.
As far as recharging your own battery goes, we found the spacious beds, with their 100% Egyptian cotton bed linen, provided an extremely restful sleep, and the monsoon rain shower in the granite and glass, Dornbracht fitted bathroom was an excellent way to blow away the cobwebs (my plus one enjoyed the shower so much it was hard to get her out of it, in fact).
The hotel’s continental breakfast selection is also unique to the location, with many locally sourced elements, such as the jams and Pumphrey’s coffee (based in the nearby Grainger Market). Eggs – charmingly labelled to distinguish between hard and soft-boiled varieties – are the only cooked item available, as the hotel doesn’t have its own restaurant.
However, with the premises located literally around the corner from beautiful, bustling Grey Street (regularly praised as one of the best views in the UK), there’s no shortage of eateries around. For those who simply must have the full English (kummerspeck be damned), we recommend Blake’s, a very short walk from the hotel. Whatever you fancy, with the hotel located in the centre of Newcastle, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
And spoiled is a pretty good description of how we felt after our stay. By the time we left, I wasn’t all that bothered about finding a word to describe identikit hotel déja vu: because when somewhere like this proves that you can give a hotel its own identity while still meeting the needs of the budget traveller, we don’t think we’re going to need a word for it much longer anyway.
Rooms start from £59 per night, and can be booked online.
Motel One Newcastle, 15-25 High Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EW. Tel. 0191 211 1090