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mygreyhound66

request for an update on Portsmouth hotel (John Bull)

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Greetings, for some reason, I cannot send a message, my account say 'you can send 0 messages per day' - hence my reason for starting a new topic.  John Bull had specifically said that he would be staying at the Maritime Club in Portsmouth, and I am eager to hear of his opinion.  It is my understanding that there has been some refurb'ing of the hotel.  If necessary, you can answer to me at my account (I believe)..........

As always, any information or response to request is totally appreciated!  regards........

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I don't even know whether or how to send a PM. :classic_blush:

 

Yes, we stayed at the Royal Maritime Club a couple of saturdays ago, following a brilliant "Pickle Night" (google HMS Pickle) dinner on HMS Victory -  drummed aboard, cameo ghost of Nelson, rum ration (had to be downed in one), drinks in the wardroom, drums & bugles of the Royal Marines, dinner on the lower gun deck interspersed with dispatches from Trafalgar, patriotic songs and sea-shanties and the like.

 

All of which is irrelevant to you - except that after an evening of drinking on a naval scale it was great that the Royal Maritime Club was just 300 yards from the dockyard gate. :classic_smile:

 

So ten out of ten for location.

 

I guess an American would find it historic - re-built in 1952 after the original building had been destroyed in the Blitz, it has a classic  (or out-dated, depending on your point of view) style & layout. 

A distinctly naval atmosphere and decor, and a home-from-home for naval visitors. But civilians like you or us are welcome.

Room was fine, again out-dated but perfectly acceptable. Good size by European standards, en-suite bathroom (bath with shower over), TV, tea & coffee makings, in-room wi-fi. Decent English breakfast buffet-style. It has a pool, jacuzzi, billiards room,  bar & bistro but we didn't make use of them. Friendly and approachable staff.

I'm pretty sure our room wasn't one of the refurb'ed ones but it was fine

https://www.royalmaritimeclub.co.uk/our-history

 

I'd rate it a decent 3-star hotel, and if we'd booked thro booking.com I'd have given it 8.5.

The average rating on booking.com is 8.3.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/royal-maritime-club.html?aid=304142

 

You do really feel part of the local scene here, so it's very much the sort of place I'd stay at, rather than a cloned international hotel. In the same vein we've chosen to stay at an Ottoman house in Istanbul, a rondeval in South Africa,  a chateau in France a log cabin in Montana, an art-deco south beach hotel in Miami, a Parador in Spain.....well, you get the drift.

 

Hope this helps

 

JB :classic_smile:

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1 hour ago, Cotswold Eagle said:

Private messaging is not permitted on Cruise Critic, hence the zero message limit. 

If you want to notify a particular user type @ followed by the beginning of their user name, then select the name from the drop down menu. (The more letters you use the fewer names you have to scroll through.) For example @mygreyhound66 came up after typing @mygrey. The message is still public, but you can direct your message to a particular user this way.

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Many thanks to all on the messaging!  and as far as the Maritime Club, let me explain a bit!  I am/was British, I came to the US many years ago - however, you just can't beat it (the British) out of me!  so obviously, we do tend to visit the UK.  This trip is many legged:  we will arrive to visit family in Kent, we will then come to Southampton for a Celebrity Baltic cruise, upon our return to Southampton, we will spend a couple of days in Portsmouth (more on that in a minute) and then take a ferry to France to tour the Normandy beaches and area.  We will then return to Portsmouth/Southampton to board QM2 for a transatlantic crossing to NY and then home to the NJ Shore area!  

Husband is a retired mariner.  Merchant Marine professional - therefore, the love of the sea.  We frequently holiday in areas offering a rich maritime history.  The Maritime Club, when I first came upon it, sounded very much like the Mariners House located in Boston, MA.  The Mariners House has a rich history, but nowadays is a very low cost, very modest hotel (with a terrific breakfast) located in the most ideal spot in Boston, the big HOWEVER is that you must be within the industry to be able to stay there which is fair enough.  So that was why I had the interest in the Maritime Club in Portsmouth. I prefer that style of hotel/accommodations to the standard Holiday Inn, etc.   I have absolutely no reason not to book it and shall do very promptly. I was really interested in the latest opinions since John Bull frequently offers heaps of invaluable help, here on Cruise Critic.

We have not had the opportunity yet to really spend a good couple of days in Portsmouth, and this is an ideal time for it.  I also plan to buy the full visit tickets to the Dockyard along with the Mary Rose...

Any and all recommendations, advice etc on my trip is eagerly sought and sincerely appreciated!

 

Your reason for staying there, totally rings familiar bells with us, we can and do attend many industry related events!!!!  nuff said!  

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If I'm reading their website correctly, Mariners House in Boston is dry :classic_ohmy: 

That wouldn't go down well in the UK. :classic_wink:

But it has more similarities than differences

 

All day in the dockyard can become a bit wearing, so split your time there between both days.

If the weather is clear go up the Spinnaker Tower in nearby Gunwharf Quays.

Spend some time on Southsea seafront, a short bus or taxi ride away. D-Day museum with small Henry V111's Southsea Castle adjacent (from there Henry watched Mary Rose roll over and sink), various other attractions,, views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Mebbe walk from Southsea seafront along the shore & past the historic defences to the harbour entrance in Old Portsmouth, about 30 minutes. (whet your whistle at the Spice Island Inn or the Still & West, both at the harbour entrance).  https://goo.gl/maps/npo8hFw8eZiJfATR7

From there back to Royal Maritime Club is about 20 minutes.

 

Ferry to France - take a ferry to either Ouistreham (Brittany Ferries list it as Caen) or Cherbourg, rather than Le Havre.

The D-Day beaches are between Ouistreham and Cherbourg, Le Havre is more than an hour further east.

I'm guessing you'll be crossing as foot passengers  & renting a car in France.

At Ouistreham take the local bus ten miles to Caen rail station, there are several rental agencies near the station.  I don't know about rental agencies in Cherbourg, but cruisers do rent from there so I'm guessing it's no problem.

Brittany Ferries operate traditional ferries plus a hi-speed catamaran, the catamaran alternates between those routes. Probably best to choose which route according to what sailing times suit you best. 

Best location for an overnight would be in Arromanches (plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, D-Day museum, Mulberry Harbour) or Grandcamp-Maisy (a little more limited).

Try to fit in a brief visit to the German cemetery at La Cambe - the comparison with the American cemetery overlooking Omaha is stark.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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A huge thank you for this great information!  I am now thinking Saturday and Sunday in Portsmouth, leave Monday for the fast ferry, stay 4 nights in France , rent a car, tour around, and return on the fast ferry Friday.  Stay in Portsmouth and Saturday perhaps train it to Arundel Castle and village for the day!  Return to Portsmouth for the overnight and train into Southampton Sunday mid day for Cunard!   Does that sound good, am I missing something Or everything?  Thanks again!

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6 hours ago, mygreyhound66 said:

A huge thank you for this great information!  I am now thinking Saturday and Sunday in Portsmouth, leave Monday for the fast ferry, stay 4 nights in France , rent a car, tour around, and return on the fast ferry Friday.  Stay in Portsmouth and Saturday perhaps train it to Arundel Castle and village for the day!  Return to Portsmouth for the overnight and train into Southampton Sunday mid day for Cunard!   Does that sound good, am I missing something Or everything?  Thanks again!

 

Sounds good.

You're doubtless making some folk green with envy at the time you have available :classic_smile:

...........................................

Don't know your dates, but it looks like the fast-ferry goes to Ouistreham (Caen).

 

Some pointers on that.....

 

As I mentioned, there are a number of well-known rental agencies near the station in Caen.

We have no personal experience, we've always taken our car over, but the web tells me about three agencies in Ouistreham, a short taxi hop from the port - they seem to be geared to locals (two, Carrefour & Leclerc, are national grocery hypermarkets), but would be more convenient if suitable.

 

You'll be touring to the west of the port, but since the return is at 8.30am (check-in at the port 7.45), you might want to consider spending that last night in Ouistreham, mebbe returning the car the late previous afternoon  - check rental agencies' hours & any out-of-hours return arrangements, the French don't operate long hours.

Ouistreham is very pleasant & has a good selection of accommodation and restaurants split between the beach & port areas. We've eaten well at Le Phare and Le Channel.

 

The fast-ferry only operates in the summer months - like all hydrofoils it is less suitable than traditional ferries in heavy seas and it is very occasionally cancelled during un-seasonal weather. But if you're very unlucky  & it's cancelled there's a traditional ferry later that day, and since you'll be on foot there's no problem with available capacity on the trad. ferry.

..........................................

Arundel is a small town rather than a village, has a number of antique shops & tearooms.

The castle is interesting in that it was built in the 12th(?) century, was continuously extended over the centuries, and has been occupied throughout. So in just one castle you can see how life was throughout the ages. 

But Arundel station is outside the town, about a mile / 10-15 minute walk.

...................................................

Your historic dockyard ticket is good for re-entry for a year - since you'll be in Portsmouth twice you can split your visit. 

 

Train timetables are more limited on sundays, but there's a direct train from Portsmouth Harbour to Southampton Central at around 11am, arrives at noon.

 

Scheduled track maintenance is usually carried out on sundays, so check this website close to the day

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/planned-works/

You'd be unlucky if it affected that track on your date - if it does, a rail-replacement service operates between affected stations, which means  schlepping your bags between train & bus and a slightly longer journey time.

Or instead book the direct National Express bus (from adjacent Portsmouth Harbour station to Southampton coach station), there's little difference in convenience, fares or journey times.

................................................

Check your dates against UK & French national holidays, which may affect crowds & traffic - other than that you're good to go :classic_smile:

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Greetings, and again, a huge thank you!  apparently my last message wasn't sent, I think I wasn't logged in! (duh).  So as of this weekend, Brittany ferries have the fast ferry doing Portsmouth/Cherbourg run for the 1st week of June.  That's bit of a shame, but still very doable.  We shall rent a car at the port (Cherbourg) and I am leaning towards making Bayeux our base and run our days from there, it seems as though the return from Cherbourg does not depart until 17:00 so that allows for a nice morning, followed by lunch, then drive to Cherbourg, return the car etc. 

An idea that I would like to run by you:  take the ferry, at Cherbourg take the train to Bayeux, spend the afternoon exploring there, the next day do a full day tour with Overlord (perhaps) and then the following day pick up a rental car and keep it till the end at Cherbourg!  

I could split my time in France and do 2 nights/2 nights.......but we don't like any less than 2 nights anywhere if we can help it........Many thanks........

 

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2 hours ago, mygreyhound66 said:

Greetings, and again, a huge thank you!  apparently my last message wasn't sent, I think I wasn't logged in! (duh).  So as of this weekend, Brittany ferries have the fast ferry doing Portsmouth/Cherbourg run for the 1st week of June.  That's bit of a shame, but still very doable.  We shall rent a car at the port (Cherbourg) and I am leaning towards making Bayeux our base and run our days from there, it seems as though the return from Cherbourg does not depart until 17:00 so that allows for a nice morning, followed by lunch, then drive to Cherbourg, return the car etc. 

An idea that I would like to run by you:  take the ferry, at Cherbourg take the train to Bayeux, spend the afternoon exploring there, the next day do a full day tour with Overlord (perhaps) and then the following day pick up a rental car and keep it till the end at Cherbourg!  

I could split my time in France and do 2 nights/2 nights.......but we don't like any less than 2 nights anywhere if we can help it........Many thanks........

 

 

I don't see Cherbourg instead of Ouistreham being a problem - it's west from the beaches, but that's the US end, which I guess is of more interest to you. The westernmost sight, the village of Ste Mere-Eglise (US paratroopers), is only 23 fast miles (25 minutes) from Cherbourg and in your time-scale you'll still be able to visit all the important US sights and some of the UK & Canadian ones too.

 

I've always driven, never taken a guided tour, never felt the need.

But each to their own, Overlord are very well-received by cruisers and other review sites, and you probably know that you can book just seats on their group van tours from Bayeux.

I don't know Bayeux well, it's a 10 - 15 minute drive from the nearest action but has the facilities that make a good base and would certainly make sense if you took an Overlord tour.

 

Not so sure about taking the train.....

The drive from Cherbourg is simple, with many sights between there and Bayeux

Your ferry arrives Cherbourg at 1pm so you should be on the road in a rented car by 2pm and on the way can visit St Mere Eglise  - good airborne museum, and on the roof of the church a dummy of the paratrooper who got hooked up by his parachute (he survived). Plus that German cemetery at La Cambe, alongside the main road (though follow signs off the main road to the entrance). And Pointe du Hoc if time allows.

And your ferry departs Cherbourg at 5pm, so you'll have a big chunk of that day to deviate off the main road & through Ste Marie du Mont to Utah beach (good museum at the beach) and a quiet little lane right along the landing beach before returning to the main road..

From & back to Cherbourg cobbled together something like

https://goo.gl/maps/bNUSKSkYuyh6oAyt8

 

If you took an Overlord tour on the tuesday it would save a little on the car rental but cost you the train fares plus any transportation between station, hotel, Overlord pick-up and car rental pick-up.

Is there a car rental drop-off fee to collect from Bayeux and return to Cherbourg? 

There are pros & cons - your trip, your money, your call.

 

Bear in mind that you'll be there just ahead of commemorations on 6th June. It's not a biggie like this year's 75th anniversary but it may have an effect on availability of accommodation, tour & car rental if you leave those bookings late.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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