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[Top] 174 Pleasant enough but oh, so much 70s brown décor

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Sometimes, it is pretty clear where something gets its name from and as a result opens itself up for expectation, that is wholly the case with the Big Blue Hotel in Blackpool but only from the outside. The exterior of the hotel is painted entirely in different shades of blue and it is located just off Ocean Boulevard, but that’s pretty much where the theme stops.

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When I think of Big Blue, it’s the 1988 Luc Besson movie masterpiece, the ocean tide lapping the shore, tropical fish swooshing by, surfers catching the waves, vast crystal clear water as far as the eye can see, ripples gently lapping the side of a boat. There was a giant exotic fish tank at reception, mirrors resembling ship portholes and some blue crystal seaweed-like stuff dangling from the ceiling in the restaurant, but It wasn’t blue everything inside, a la Eiffel 65, and it was quickly evident this is not a sea-themed hotel and that’s OK. Not everyone loves a garish theme and Big Brown Hotel doesn’t sound as appealing, does it?

The reception area of the Big Blue Hotel with a giant fish tank

Because instead, the over-riding colour scheme was various chocolate shades of 70s brown and cream you’re more likely to see in Del Boy’s flat. I did appreciate the pops of colour from the artwork on the walls, and we had an arty shot of a roller-coaster at dawn in our bedroom, but overall, it was just so…uninspiring. I know the family rooms were also decked out with colourful snakes and ladders murals and bunk beds as I saw inside one as it was being prepared for the next guest, so maybe they are a little more uplifting.

The four-star hotel is located over the road from the seafront and so close to the Pleasure Beach theme park it has its own private entrance to it, and I think there is a missed opportunity to have more fun with that – its newly opened neighbour The Boulevard, which I also recently stayed in, managed to deliver luxury and character.

The blue crystal seaweed dangling from the ceiling in the Blues Bar & Brasserie

Big Blue opened in 2003 and it has obviously been updated and refreshed over the years, such as installing USB chargers next to the bed, but it sill feels a bit tired and outdated. It was busy with families, groups, businessmen and couples on an off-peak Tuesday night, and has good satisfaction ratings on review sites such as TripAdvisor, so it’s not in danger of being lost at sea, but some of it is treading water.

There was a slight wait to check in but the reception staff were a delight – quick, informative and smart and incidentally, one of them went to great lengths to source and then hand deliver a sewing kit to our room complete with antiseptic wipe and plaster when one of us needed to remove a pesky, deep-set splinter [obtained before we arrived at the hotel].

The exterior of The Big Blue Hotel

We made our way to our ground floor room just a minute’s walk away, ideal for families and anyone requiring an accessible room, however there are lifts to every floor. Don’t let the portholes en route deceive you as a poky, low-ceiling cabin with no natural light is absolutely not what you will find. The room is so vast (280 sq ft), there’s space for a living room area complete with two padded leather sofa chairs, foot rests and a fireplace. For what is essentially a mini Presidential Suite, it is a steal for £114 a night including breakfast (£10 extra for overnight car parking), and I hadn’t even eaten that yet.

A floor-to-ceiling window spans the far wall and they do open to a slant. However, considering we were practically in touching distance of a parked car and could hear every passing vehicle in the morning, even when it was closed, fresh air it was not and you should stick to the fully-functioning aircon. Please note, the rooms at the rear of the hotel face the theme park, with rollercoaster tracks metres away.

The deluxe double room at The Big Blue Hotel in Blackpool

The ensuite bathroom is immediately to the right as you enter, with an open wardrobe and shelving unit to the left and another wooden unit-come-desk covered most of the wall opposite the bed. Whoever designed this place sure loves wood, as there is so much oak and pine wood furniture and fittings you could build a whole Swiss village. And it is decent quality as besides the odd scratch and scuff marks, it was durable and sturdy.

The bathroom was plain but clean and neatly presented, with plenty of shelving space by the sink and above the toilet, several mirrors (so many I couldn’t take a proper picture without having my lanky self in it) and good quality shower gel and shampoo was provided, with pleasant tropical smells. Apart from a little shower gel residue on the tiles over the bath, this area was fine.

Both the sink hot water tap and the shower took a while to warm up so we learnt to turn it on and wait a minute. In the room description the over-bath shower (fixed shower head) is described as a power shower and although it wasn’t jetwash strength, it was a solid and even flow and did get hot. Just how I like it.

The bathroom

Oddly, the 40-inch wall-mounted flatscreen TV isn’t directly opposite the bed, presumably so that is it is also visible from the lounge area, mounting it on a rotating bracket would be a swift solution for that. It has Freeview but bizarrely, a DVD player and I wonder the last time a guest had a random DVD film rolling a round in the bottom of their suitcase.

The bed in this double deluxe room is two singles pushed together, with the gap between them reminding me of sleepovers as a teen when we’d re-arrange the room so all five of us could pile on two mattresses. Despite that, getting into it and wrapping myself under the light soft duvet, was the feeling you get when you first put on comfy clothes, (I call them ‘scruffs’) after wearing more formal clothes all day.

The huge brown leather, silver-studded headboard was plush and luxurious. We weren’t disturbed by any outside noise or heard a peep from any other guests overnight and into the early morning, just car engines once people had started to check out and leave.

The breakfast buffet at The Big Blue Hotel

We’d booked our breakfast slot the night before so the onsite Blues Bar & Brasserie was expecting us and I was impressed by how chirpy and bright our host was at 7am. It it entirely buffet style, with hot and grilled meats, fried and scrambled eggs, pastries, fruits, cereals, three flavoured juices, coffee, teas and toast.

The bacon and sausages were hot, lean and still sizzling, with no excessive pools of grease left behind on the plate. The fried eggs were cooked to perfection while the scrambled eggs were fluffy and creamy and subtly seasoned with salt and pepper. And I am happy to say, for what must be the first time ever, the conveyer belt toaster of doom evenly toasted my bread. I didn’t have to risk sending it through again to its inevitable black charred death, which is what usually happens when it comes out looking anaemic after the first run. Result.

On a side note, the background music was a fusion of classical, folk and easy-listing and this, paired with the broad smiles and warm nature of the delightful staff, created such a calm and pleasant atmosphere. I may not have found myself under the sea with Ariel and Flounder swimming by, but I did sleep like I was a pearl inside a shell and left smiling, having felt content and welcome the whole time.

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