The £12 million Boulevard Hotel opened in June this year on the edge of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, joining an existing hotel on the park, Big Blue. Both hotels are managed by Amanda Thompson OBE, also MD of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which was founded by her great grandfather William George Bean in 1896.
What’s it like?
Set between the beach and the theme park, the hotel’s location is a real surprise. The entrance faces the theme park, rather than the beach, and turning the corner from the main road, I was delighted to see that we were almost in Blackpool Pleasure Beach itself, with the Big One and other rides swooshing about overhead.
Yet, for the most part, the hotel’s sophisticated interiors are a world away from its whimsical setting. Doors open into a light and airy lobby, which leads onto the bar and eventually the restaurant. Amanda Thompson took a personal interest in the interior design and that attention to detail is immediately apparent – the hotel exudes a sense of warmth and care that comes from being a family business.
A warm welcome is also provided by the large reception desk, literally, as it is backed by a fire feature. Check-in was straightforward and I was asked if I’d like to order a newspaper for the morning. Staff were friendly and professional during every interaction, enthusiastic about the town, the hotel and the Pleasure Beach.
Interiors throughout are in a palette of muted greys that is both relaxed and smart, with interest added by mixing textures on walls and fabrics, and through artworks that reference Blackpool itself, many of which made me smile. The quality is clear – furnishings, upholstery and wallcoverings come from the likes of Ralph Lauren, Designers Guild, Tetrad and Andrew Martin, while elegant lighting is by a local supplier.
The hotel aims to cater to both leisure and business visitors drawn to the many conferences the town hosts, and I’d say a very good fist has been made of this.
Where is it?
On Ocean Boulevard, between Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park and the beach. The centre of Blackpool is 20-30 minutes’ walk, though a tram service runs from outside the hotel every 15 minutes or so and takes around ten minutes. Virgin Trains serves Preston from London Euston, from where trains take passengers on to Blackpool North and South.
There are 120 rooms, including 18 suites of various sizes, some of which have balconies overlooking the beach (and thus enjoying a fine sunset). The rest of the rooms are organised into Executive (22 sqm), Deluxe Executive (28 sqm) and Family rooms (28 sqm and with both a super king size bed and bunk beds in a separate children’s area).
All rooms have at least a super king-size bed or twin beds, 55” television with freeview, air conditioning and superfast wifi. Plug sockets include a USB charger, there is a safe large enough to store laptops and more, the mini fridge is stocked with complimentary sparkling and still water for arrival. All rooms also have an ironing board, iron and hair dryer, air conditioning, bath and shower (separate in the larger rooms), and 24-hour room service is available.
I was in an Executive room with twin beds, which was decked out in Designers Guild fabrics. It was all very plush – thick carpets, upholstery bordering on sumptuous and lamps and overhead lighting of all shades (there are both bedside lights and adjustable reading lights so you don’t disturb your bed companion at night). Pillows and duvets are plump, and white bedclothes soft. Light wood and neutrals are invigorated with dashes of brighter colours.
As elsewhere in the hotel, artworks reference either the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool’s setting or the sea. My room had an expressive black-and-white photograph of a performer. It was a lovely touch but more transfixing was the sea view from my window. Many rooms have sea or park vistas and you’d be hard pressed to pick between them. Watching the rides from the picture windows on the stairwell is great fun, but as Blackpool faces west, sea views offer an exquisite sunset.
There was a comfortable chair and a table beside the window and a good-sized desk – more than adequate should you have some work to catch up with. Next to the desk was a kettle with tea and coffee and biscuits. Hooks beside the door offer space for hanging coats; something regularly overlooked in hotel rooms.
The bathroom was luxurious, with marble surfaces, dark wood and a large mirror. The over-bath shower was powerful and responsive.
Overall, it was a well-appointed, generously finished, comfortable and inviting room – the sort of space you want to spend time in.
Food and drink
The spacious bar and restaurant are on the ground floor with windows looking out towards the coast, so that guests can enjoy that sunset with a drink. There is a mix of comfortable seating and stools at the bar.
The restaurant feels like a standalone venue. There are ornate wooden screens offering more private dining space, though much of the room is open-plan. There are comfortable banquettes along the edge of the room, alongside antiqued mirrors and padded walls decorated with studs. So far, so sophisticated, but the sense of fun continues with original artworks in pastels depicting visitors on rides in the theme park. A stylish mix of lighting is from a local supplier and lends an opulent note.
The restaurant serves an all-day menu and an evening a la carte menu. A monkfish scampi in a light, crisp batter with wasabi and lime mayonnaise is particularly good. Mains of steak and pan-roasted chicken breast with duck fat potatoes, onion puree, braised leeks and crisp skin are also delicious. There is a comprehensive dessert list, with a dark chocolate parfait, milk sorbet and hazelnut tuile of note. I’d certainly eat here whether or not I was staying in the hotel.
An excellent buffet breakfast of hot and cold items, including eggs, sausages, hash browns, pastries, cheeses and cold meats, cereals and fruit is also served here as part of the room rate.
As the hotel is part of the same group as the Pleasure Beach, guests get free entry to the park in their room rate. Rides cost extra or a wristband for access to all rides can be bought. There is a decent gym, not huge but very well-equipped. And, of course, the beach is just across the road, with the famous Blackpool Tower just a 30 minute walk along the coast or ten minutes on the tram.
The hotel has an impressive conference centre, which has its own welcome area featuring a bar and a variety of seating for delegates. Three break-out rooms lead off this area to provide private meeting/working space, with two larger rooms that can be joined to create space for 200 delegates. All equipment comes with the space, including the Samsung flip, a digital flipchart that allows delegates to connect and interact via their smartphones.
I was really impressed with the Boulevard Hotel. The location is great, staff are friendly and warm, rooms are luxurious and comfortable and the restaurant is excellent. Everything has been carefully considered and the business facilities are top-notch. Fun, practical and stylish in one package.
- Best for Combining business and leisure in a comfortable, sophisticated setting – meeting facilities are excellent
- Don’t miss The views and exploring Blackpool Pleasure Beach itself
- Contact Ocean Boulevard, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY4 1PL, +44 (0)1253 336073; boulevardhotel.co.uk