Review: The Telegraph Hotel, Coventry
September 4, 2022

[I won a competition for an overnight stay, dinner and breakfast at the Telegraph Hotel. It wasn’t for the purposes of this blog and I wasn’t required to write a review]

I’ll admit, I’ve had a rocky relationship with the Telegraph Hotel since it opened in May 2021. Like everyone I was excited that Coventry wasn’t only going to get a brand new 4-star hotel, but that its home would be the former Coventry Telegraph newspaper building.

For someone who has worked as a journalist their whole career, seeing the former home of one transformed into lovely place to stay, whilst still retaining much of its newspaper history, was a real treat.

Yet the first time I visited, those historic features and the way they’ve been carefully preserved amongst a revamped hotel interior were masked by a poor experience service-wise on the rooftop Generators Bar. I won’t tell the story here, but it prompted me to complain to a manager on my way out.

Telegraph Hotel Coventry exterior
IMG_5363

My second visit was to an event where, again, service seemed lacking. And on the third I took a colleague for lunch and was again left disappointed by what seemed to be a running theme of poor service, despite the lofty aims and aspirations of those behind the hotel. It prompted an email voicing my frustration that somewhere that could be so good just wasn’t, and questions as to how things could be improved.

Credit where credit’s due – I received a reply. It addressed my concerns, outlined some plans to improve, and promised things would be better. So when I saw a competition to win an overnight stay, dinner and breakfast, I entered.

I won. Hence going back for the full experience. And I have to say, I’m rather glad I did. Because while it wasn’t absolutely flawless, it was pretty darn good and world’s apart from my previous visits.

The Rooms

Considering the building housed a newspaper for 50 years, the fact it’s been transformed into some rather lovely bedrooms is pretty impressive. There’s a slightly utilitarian feel to the interior, but it almost feels in keeping with the building’s own story.

The rooms range from doubles and twins to split-level suites and I hear there’s a rather lovely suite that has its own terrace and hot tub.

Telegraph Hotel room
Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel

Ours was one of the split-level room that also happened to be one of 11 Winter Garden bedrooms that open out onto a bright, private indoor terrace that’s only accessible from these rooms. A clever way to give you access to some natural light if the dimmed, moody room gets a bit much, though you could find yourself sharing the space with one of the other rooms that opens onto it.

A downstairs seating area, complete with coffee station, sofa and desk offered the curtained door out onto the terrace or a staircase up to the cosy bedroom and well-equipped bathroom.

There were all the touches you’d expect in a four-star hotel, from mod cons to soft towels and welcome chocolates, plus a nod to the building’s own history and the city it sits at the heart of through various framed front pages and mementos.

telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel

Upstairs, a comfy king-size double bed and air conditioning, plus a nicely-done, spacious en suite shower room, again with everything you could need. The overall feel is cosy, but well thought out, and for somewhere that I felt was lacking attention to detail on previous visits, the rooms certainly didn’t have this issue.

Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph hotel
Telegraph Hotel

The Restaurant

You don’t need to be staying at The Telegraph Hotel to eat there, and if the weather’s right you’ve got two choices – its Forme & Chase restaurant housed in an impressive glass atrium next to the lobby, or the rooftop Generators Bar. Just make sure you check the latter is open as it’s been closed on several occasions when I’ve been.

The rooms may have been impressive, but given it was food and service that had let the Telegraph down on previous visits, the restaurant was where my scepticism lay. The menu is a ‘play it safe’ affair, and I don’t say this as a criticism.

Telegraph Hotel

Telegraph Hotel

When you’re inevitably catering for everyone from people staying over on package deals to those coming for a bite before a show at the Belgrade Theatre across the road or people looking for a ‘special occasion’ place, it’s a mixed crowd to please.

To cater for that mixed crowd, there’s a range of popular choices from nibbles and starters featuring the likes of salt and pepper squid, soup and pate, to salads and lighter meals, then main courses that span from bogstandard fish and chips to steak burgers and a few other dishes attempting to be a bit more refined.

Is it innovate and groundbreaking? No. Does it claim to be? No. This is just a place trying to turn out decent food in a lovely setting and – at least when we went – it does the job. A baked camembert oozed amid a generous stack of bread, Jamie’s steak main was good quality and well cooked, with a well executed peppercorn sauce.

My attempt at a healthy choice – a Mediterranean-style chicken breast with a simple, fresh tomato salad, flatbread and guacamole – again wasn’t particularly refined but was simple and tasty.

Camembert

Telegraph Hotel

I’ve bleated on a lot on here about service being a significant part of a restaurant experience and what swung us into positivity – and markedly different from my previous visits – was service that managed to be efficient, attentive and warm despite it being a busy Saturday night. Would I return for dinner alone? Maybe not. But I would happily book in for what I know would be a reliably decent meal if I stayed over again.

There’s a lunch and bar menu if you want something more casual, and as mentioned, Generators has its own menu to complement a rooftop cocktail or two (maybe wait for summer for that).

The drinks

The Telegraph Hotel’s long, imposing bar that greets you as you walk in through the entrance is reason enough to stay. As are the cocktails. We tried them before, during and after dinner and while not the best I’ve ever had, they are decent and made with care and precision.

The bar area has plenty of comfy sofas and nooks and crannnies for a quiet tete a tete, and it’s also worth making sure you take a trip to the toilets just off the restaurant for some art deco joy. En route stop off and read more about the Telegraph’s history and check out some of its best-known editions. A journo’s dream maybe, but interesting for everyone.

Cocktails

Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel

The Breakfast

We all know the highlight of a hotel stay is possibly the breakfast. After a coffee in bed we headed back down to Forme & Chase for breakfast but I’m sorry to say we were a tiny bit disappointed. There was a fairly extensive cold buffet of pastries, cereals, yoghurt and juices, as you expect.

But while I’m a big fan of a ‘help yourself to the hot buffer’ in a Premier Inn, I was hoping for something a bit more special at a four-star hotel than the lacklustre selection that seemed to have been sat for a little while on the hot plate.

Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel

It turned out you can order a few cooked items – something I ascertained from spying jealously on other guests rather than actually being told – so my scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast was pretty good in the end. But I always think if a hotel nails breakfast they’re significantly upping their chances of you going back. It is, after all, your lasting memory.

The verdict

As I said at the top, given my past experiences of The Telegraph Hotel, I was somewhat cynical as to the rave reviews I’d heard about it. But I’ll confess to being swayed by our overnight stay. The place is unique, the rooms well thought-out, clean and well-equipped  – not to mention pretty different from your bogstandard hotel room.

The history of the building itself and the way it’s been woven into a new hotel rather than wiped away into oblivion, adds to that unique feel. You’re in Coventry and there’s a pride about that that permeates through it, including in the grand bar area and glass-roofed restaurant.

While that pride may have been lacking in the service and food, our last visit felt like it was building. The food was consistent and while not necessarily packing the wow factor, I’ll take simplicity and decent flavours over a hit-and-miss approach that tries to knock your socks off then fails miserably.

But it was the service that had most markedly improved. From several incredibly poor experiences to service that seemed attentive, professional and eager to please, it did feel like some work had been done to address issues that seemed to be dragging down what really could be a highlight of Coventry for locals and visitors alike.

I know one visit doesn’t prove anything, but for me it was enough to persuade me into giving the Telegraph Hotel another chance. Here’s to seeing things get even better and it living up to the greatness we all want it to be.

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