When you travel for work as much as I do, you get used to a specific type of hotel room. It’s not the Ned, the Grosvenor or even the Fairmont. It’s a Travelodge, Premier / Holiday Inn or Best Western if you get lucky with the booking (although I have stayed in some properly dodge Best Western’s in my time, the one in Tiverton particularly stands out for all the wrong reasons – and the time I suffered through three days there is another, very specific, story). So it’s rare that I come across the odd one that I walk through the door and immediately call Mrs P. to say that I’ve found a cracker. But that’s what happened when I got to the Rocksalt Rooms and it always means we’ve got something special .
If the name Rocksalt sounds familiar then it’s because I’ve been here before. Last year, I was introduced to the restaurant by a good friend of mine where we sat overlooking the harbour and ate some very passable fish soup, followed by pork and cockles. I recently found myself in Folkestone once again and in need of a place to stay. The usual options were provided to me and just as I was about to sign up to yet another night of soul smothering misery all topped off with The Worlds Worst BreakfastTM I spotted the Rocksalt Rooms on the list. It was actually cheaper than some of the alternatives and considering I knew the standard of the restaurant, I figured that it had to be worth a punt.
So first things first, this is not a hotel in the strictest sense of the word. If any of you rock up and are expecting 24hr room service or a porter to help you with your 50kg suitcase then you might be in for a bit of a shock. The owners of Rocksalt have refurbished a series of rooms, some above the restaurant and others in another building around the corner. It gives the whole set up a ‘boutique’ type feel which you’ll be more than happy with if that’s the sort of thing you look for. Those of you whose experience of the term boutique begins and ends with tiny shops that sell grotesquely fashionable, ulcer generatingly expensive shoes can rest easy; the Rocksalt Rooms are classy, refined and affordable all rolled into one.
The rooms are not massive, mine had barely enough space to walk around the bed and the ‘wetroom’ toilet and shower was at quite the risk of flooding during my shower. Just on an unrelated short side note – why do so many shower manufactures insist on putting the controls directly behind or under the showerhead? When you first turn it on you get a flash freeze all over your money-maker or you get a wet jumper.
Aaanyway moving on, there were a few other negatives too; as a ‘boutique’ hotel the room is in no way designed for the business traveler. The desk, or shelf as I prefer to describe it, was being used for the tea and coffee tray and there was no chair, instead the room was furnished with two stools which were as much use a chocolate teapot. Also the doors aren’t exactly sound proof and so I could hear all the action in the hall when ‘Alison’ decided that she needed to discuss her views on ‘Brian’’s (names have been changed for legal issues) habit of sharing her razor during his more intimate grooming sessions and there was no other suitable time or place for that than at 11pm right outside my room. Thanks guys, I feel we shared a special moment and to Brian; don’t worry we’ve all been there. A little bit of aftercare goes a long way, drop me a note and I can hook you up with some products that will see you right.
Finally the breakfast hamper arrives at 8ish but when I asked if it could be provided earlier it actually turned up at 10:30pm the previous evening. Was that efficient? Yes blisteringly so, but with the smell of warm croissants drifting through the room as I fell asleep, I questioned that it may have been perhaps also a little too much so.
‘Oh No!’ I hear you cry sarcastically. ‘Poor Rob, how did he cope with a stool, news of Brian’s questionable hygiene practices and a pre-delivered breakfast?’ Well in all fairness to the Rocksalt team, if you can live with the first two issues but would prefer a cooked breakfast then you can have one in the restaurant bar should you wish. While I didn’t partake this time, as I will explain with reference to the meal I had there, I have no reason to believe that the breakfast should be anything less than exemplary, plus for only a £10 supplement, if you have the time, you would be foolish to pass it up.
My stay cost me £68 for the night which included a continental breakfast hamper, a proper coffee machine in the room and a bed as comfortable as any of Lenny Henry’s hypnos nonsense. At that kind of price I’m catching myself looking around for other reasons to come down to Folkestone just so I can stay here. It was a pleasure to stay the Rocksalt Rooms and one that I hope to repeat with Mrs P. but without any work to get in the way.
A quick note about the meal I had in the Rocksalt restaurant proper. Last year, I was left with the impression of a bit too much style over substance. Everything was good if not great but it was sold to me as the best in the area. Well, I’m pleased to say that this experience was much better than the last. A tankard of lovely large prawns were grilled and brushed with a paprika’d butter of some form which went down an absolute treat and the Ray wing that followed was just as good with it’s cockles and broccoli to complete the ensemble. At £66 for the dinner including a couple of glasses of wine and service charge, the meal was fairly priced. The kitchen provided some little extras which always make things seem better value and the taramasalata was significantly better than the last time which made me very happy. A good price for a great meal means that to match the modern style, there is substance back in the game which makes Rocksalt a winner in my book.