ITCM enjoyed a visit to a Bristol waterfront Irish property with a self-contained conference centreWhere better to have a Bristol Hotel than in Bristol? And this Bristol Hotel is remarkably central, so much so that it is almost its only drawback. The centre of the city is a maze of one-way streets, designed as if expressly to ensure that all traffic goes down every possible combination of roads before reaching its destination.
But then The Bristol Hotel is a haven well worth reaching. Built in the 1960s, it is functional, fit for purpose, low cost but good value for money. It is part of the Irish group the Doyle Collection and, by the sound of accents here and there, recruits a lot of its staff from Ireland. But this seems to guarantee a pride in what they do and how they look after their guests.
This is very evident, not least, in the General Manager. Mark Payne is very much hands-on and obviously takes personal responsibility for what goes on in his hotel. He is especially keen to ensure that events work smoothly.
The Bristol Hotel, Bristol, has 187 rooms. They are not over-large, but with everything straightforward, functional and in good condition. It is really a relief to find that there is a single control to set the water temperature and that the main shower, the pencil hand shower and the bath’s mixer tap each has a separate and simple knob to turn the water on and off.
(In so many pretentious hotels a guest can leave after a long stay without still having grasped how to work the controls. This is especially true if you wear glasses. How can you then read complex instructions in the shower?)
ITCM was soon convinced that The Bristol Hotel is serious about caring for the organisers of events and their delegates. Located in a busy city-centre street, it is a joy to find that there is an NCP multi-storey Car Park integral with the building. Furthermore, on checking out of the hotel, a guest receives a card from reception that gives free exit from the car park.
‘Car parking’, says Mark Payne, ‘is included in the delegate fee’.
And Jane Guy, the very practical Director of Sales & Marketing, adds: ‘Along with Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. Also included in the DDR (Day Delegate Rate) are three, not two, refreshments (drinks on arrival and morning and afternoon tea and coffee), plus lunch and the meeting room. The rate also includes VAT’.
So what is the DDR? ‘Depending on the season’, says Jane, ‘from £40 to £50. The 24-hour rate is approximately £165.’
Jane, I think you will be getting a rush of orders, especially once organisers have done a site inspection.
The Bristol Hotel has a Meeting & Events Centre with nine meeting rooms, including a ballroom that can hold 400 theatre style or which can be divided into two or three spaces. It is very easy for a client company to take over the whole wing and enjoy exclusivity for a plenary session, break-out rooms and administration office. On the opposite side of the hotel there is a single separate meeting room for up to 140 delegates.
Mark points out that there is close co-operation amongst all the city centre hotels and so accommodation is not a problem for larger gatherings.
The hotel is on the very edge of the Avon, where flotillas of small boats are moored. There is road traffic on one side (hardly discernible because of the sound insulation) and flurries of seagulls on the other. Many of the guestrooms look down on the waterfront, but the hotel’s dining room, the River Grille, makes best use of the location. It is in the form of a huge conservatory, with a very high ceiling and a very attractive ambiance for dinner, when most of the illumination comes from the sky above the glass roof and candles on each table.
The straightforward design of the hotel itself belies the adventurous nature of the cuisine. The menu offers ‘deconstructed scampi’, ‘pine nuts and squash strudel’ (as a main course), lemon and orange cheesecake. The four varieties of cheese on the cheeseboard – for one person – seemed enough for ten delegates and was accompanied by frozen grapes. Our ‘minute steak’ was the best ever.
But the breakfast buffet is back to brass tacks, with lots of cereals, good solid sausages, lean bacon, boiled, fried and scrambled eggs and plentiful toast, tea and coffee.
It is also frequently chosen for incentives as its many visitor attractions include not only Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge, but also his SS Great Britain. Bristol Zoo Gardens makes a great day out for all ages.