Torbay is not short of a few good hotels, with choices from budget to luxurious. But if you’re looking for a family friendly break in the English Riviera, you might spot the TLH Resorts hotels, including the Derwent Hotel.
We took a trip to Torquay to see for ourselves whats the deal with TLH Derwent Hotel, and whether you should pack the family off for a trip there.
Read on for our TLH Derwent Hotel review.
What is TLH Leisure Resort?
TLH Leisure Resort is a complex of neighbouring hotels in the heart of Torquay. The Derwent Hotel is actually the oldest of the group, first opening in 1947. The Derwent Hotel is linked to the Victoria, Toorak and Carlton Hotels, which are all part of the same block.
One of the benefits of this is that guests at the TLH resort hotels get to enjoy the same ameneties, including the large Aztec spa and pool, an outside play area and swimming pool, a very impressive leisure complex and outside terraces for when the weather is good.
So if you book into TLH Derwent Hotel, you’ll be able to enjoy all the ameneties.
Visiting the TLH Derwent Hotel with Family
When we arrived at the TLH Derwent Hotel, we were checked in very quickly and efficiently by the front desk staff at the reception. In fact I would go so far as to say it might be one of the fastest check-in experiences I’ve had at any hotel.
We had out keycards, pointed in the direction of the car park, and we were on our way.
A quick word about the car park: It’s big. Lots of space to park your car and easy access to the entire TLH complex.
We found our way into the hotel and to the lifts in the TLH Derwent Hotel.
Now this is where I need to point out that the Derwent Hotel is the oldest of the TLH complex hotels, and there are a few places where this really shows. The lifts are one of them.
From the reception area there are two strangely place lifts. They are slow – like really slow. And they’re small too. At peak times you had to wait a while for your turn in the lift, usually at breakfast or check-in/check-out time.
Anyway. We got in the hotel, the whole family of 4 plus bags and made our way to the room.
Again the age of the hotel does slightly show in the corridors. There is very much a creaky floorboard sort of vibe, and the corridors are thin in the way that older buildings tended to be. None of that wide Marriott Hotel hallways with swish lighting here.
To be clear I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all. It is an old hotel and it has modern elements, but there is definitely a feeling of vintage vibes.
What are the rooms like at TLH Derwent Hotel?
On arrival in our room, we were actually quite pleased with the quality and layout. Although the room was quite small, there was ample space to lay various bags and for the kids to jump on the beds and find space on the floor to play. It’s probably on a par with a Premier Inn or Travelodge in terms of size.
Our room had a view across the car park to the terrace and play area, with a view of the sea just teasing us in the background.
The beds themselves were actually perfectly soft and comfortable, with clean bedding. We had a family room with a double and two single beds, which was absolutely ideal for our needs.
The bathroom was also of a good standard, with all the fittings feeling quality, including an old style high sided bath with shower attachment behind a curtain.
There was also a fairly old style wall mounted flat screen TV – and I feel like there was a small fridge in the room… I might be mistaken though.
While staying at the TLH Derwent Hotel, we didn’t find the rooms too noisy. Although you could hear sounds from other rooms, you couldn’t hear people talking clearly or the sounds of TVs or music. And although the hotel is next to a road, it’s not very busy and is pretty quiet at night.
Enjoying the facilities at the TLH Derwent Hotel
We actually chose the TLH Derwent Hotel for it’s family friendly facilities, which gave it the edge over a few other higher rated properties in Torquay. And actually, we were very happy with the choice because… The kids were very happy!
The entire leisure complex is named ‘Aztec Leisure’, with a sort of pseudo Aztec vibe. I say pseudo because its not always obvious how the Aztec bit relates, but thats the name they have.
The Aztec Leisure Complex straddles the entire complex, although the pool is situated within TLH Derwent itself, as is the Aztec Bistro (restaurant).
The Aztec Pool
The pool is actually pretty cool, and the Aztec theme is very clear here. When you enter the pool from the changing rooms, you come into the large Olympic sized swimming pool, with grown ups swimming lengths. There was also a pool aerobics class on one of the days.
But you simply walk under the arches and you’re in the more family friendly pool, surrounded by faux-palm fronds and a cascade. There are a very limited selection of loungers, but this isn’t really a lounging sort of pool.
The kids enjoyed jumping into the pool and exploring the walkways and smaller pools in the family pool area.
Some parts of the pool looked a little run down, with some cracked tiles and moss growing here and there. But overall, the pool was perfect for little ones.
Aztec Gym and Spa
Being in town with kids, we didn’t get to enjoy the adult facilities of the gym and spa. But we did poke our head into the gym, which looked well equipped and laid out, if a little small. However in my experience, hotel gyms rarely get busy anyway.
Another draw for kids is the huge games area beneath the hotel. This includes a gaming arcade, bowling alley, adventure soft play and toddlers softplay.
The soft play area got hectic very quickly, and as we had a 2 year old in tow, she quickly got overwhelmed even in the toddler area. Bigger kids tended to come running in from the neighbouring adventure softplay area, and there were even other slightly bigger unruly kids throwing themselves down the (softplay) stairs.
We did come back when it was quieter, and it was great. But avoid rush times such as just after check in and just before dinner times.
As well as the indoor play area, there is also a nice outdoor play area just a stones throw from the outdoor terrace and pool. This included swings, slides, climbing frames and grassy areas for them to run around.
One thing we definitely felt happy with was the amount of play area for the kids at the TLH Derwent Hotel.
Bars and Restaurants
The TLH Derwent Hotel has several options for dining and drinking. There is a large restaurant on the front of the hotel, a scattering of bars, and a bistro behind the swimming pool.
What is the food like at TLH Derwent Hotel?
Breakfast was included as part of our stay, so we got to enjoy the full hotel buffet. The food on offer is a fairly standard, but perfectly decent, full English breakfast spread. You can help yourself to eggs, bacon and sausages, beans, toast, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, a choice of cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit and spreads. They even had a pot of porridge simmering away.
The breakfast buffet is served in the restaurant next to the reception, which is huge. We were led though two massive rooms before we were seated, which gave us an idea of the scale of the restaurant.
In the evening this becomes the main restaurant for the hotel, although we felt some of the menu was quite pricey.
We opted to dine at the Aztec Bistro one night, which was a fairly standard pizza and burger style menu. Nothing to write home about, but fine for what it is.
On the second night we dined out, which I’ll explain in more detail in a moment.
But in general, we found the breakfast buffet to be great value.
TLH Derwent Hotel is situated just a short walk up the road from the waterfront of Torquay. In about five minutes you can be on the beach, or in a nice park on the seafront. From here there is a nice walk into the town centre which takes you past the Princess Theatre, and several areas to stop and eat on the seafront.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, this waterfront walk takes you past a number of popular chains such as Las Iguanas, Beefeater, Appleby’s and Visto Lounge, run by the popular Lounges chain.
Keep heading past Princess Theatre and the Gardens and you’re in town, and then you have all the choice of town centre dining. The walk takes probably 15-20 minutes if you don’t have dawdling kids.
We headed the other way one evening, heading north up the Belgrave Road, and found a nice cheap and good quality fish and chips cafe (take away only) and an excellent kebab spot, Kebab Revolution.
Both top choices for some take out food.
Is TLH Derwent a Good Hotel?
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our 3 night stay at TLH Derwent Hotel, and we definitely made the most of the facilities. And with kids, I would say that TLH Derwent is a good quality hotel which also has enough to keep adults occupied.
Although the hotel is a little run down in places, we found that generally the rooms were in good condition and comfortable and the hotel itself was well run. This is not a luxury property, but if you’re just looking for somewhere nice to take the kids for a few days, with the added bonus of a beach down the road, the TLH Derwent Hotel definitely fits the bill.
Staff were all very friendly and helpful, and in fact there seemed to be a lot of staff everywhere.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable stay we highly recommend checking out whats on offer at TLH Hotels in Torquay.