There have been a fair few changes at Bristol’s Mercure Holland House Hotel on Redcliffe Hill recently: the most notable being the redesign of various guest bedrooms as part of the Accor My Room project. A select few of the hotel’s 275 guest bedrooms (it’s a big old place) have been individually designed with Bristol-linked themes: themes such as cricket (an homage to W. G. Grace, who was born in Downend); street art (inspired by Banksy and others) and more. On average, these rooms are priced at around £100 per night, but prices obviously vary depending on dates.
I was invited over to check out one of these rooms for myself, and strolled down to the hotel on a Friday afternoon to check in…
There’s no denying that it’s not the most attractive-looking building from the outside: it looks pretty dated and its neighbours include a number of council blocks and a dual carriageway. It’s perfectly located for walking to central Bristol, though – as well as having the convenience of Temple Meads train station just a few minutes’ walk away, and a massive car park out the back for those who are driving.
The lobby, though, shows that appearances can be deceptive. Walk through the revolving doors and you’ll find a spacious and modern reception area with plenty of seating, leading through to the restaurant and bar on the left.
I was checked in by a very friendly member of the Holland House team who gave me plenty of information about timings (check in is from 2pm, breakfast is served right up until 11am on Saturdays and on a Saturday, there’s no need to check out until midday – result!), as well as recommending that I booked my table in the restaurant for the evening as they were expecting to be busy. After being given my key card and pointed in the direction of my room, I was intrigued to see how it would be designed…
My room was the Brunel: a ground floor room that paid tribute to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, known for designing the Clifton Suspension Bridge, his role as chief engineer on the Great Western Railway and plenty more.
The room itself was fairly compact and while it didn’t have the greatest view (it looked out over the car park), it was clear that plenty of thought had gone into the design. From the cogs above the bed to the piles of books about steam railways, from the cog-shaped wall clock to the Bristol prints on either side of the bed’s headboard, there were plenty of little touches that gave a true feel for the city.
I loved the fact that the desk featured a notebook where the room’s designer had explained her thought process behind the room, inviting comments from room guests which were great to read through. Aside from the design, the room had all of the amenities needed: an empty fridge for storing my cold drinks, tea and coffee making facilities, a hairdryer, iron, trouser press and wardrobe, plenty of power sockets, a TV and a pretty decent WiFi connection too.
This room had an interconnecting door with the neighbouring room: it’s one of 16 connecting rooms that the hotel offers, ideal for families and groups.
The bathroom was spacious with complimentary toiletries and plenty of towels, and a shower that could have done with a little more power but which served its purpose.
I spent my afternoon sitting in the room working (hence the need for WiFi) at a very comfortable desk, which made a change from my normal “office” of my living room sofa! And at 5pm, it was time to head to the hotel’s spa for a treatment that had been booked for me…
We’ve visited the spa in the past – their spa days really are incredible value for money, and I treated the other half to a day of relaxation for the two of us in early 2016. As a guest of the hotel, it’s a little bizarre…while the swimming pool is located within the main hotel building (it’s in the basement and seriously atmospheric), along with the fitness suite, the spa itself is in a separate building. Hotel guests need to walk through the car park to get to the spa, meaning it’s not the most relaxing start (or end) to the experience, but that all changes when you walk in.
After you head through the front door to reception, you’re taken to the changing rooms to change into a robe and slippers (if needed/wanted) and shown to the spa upstairs. The pictures above are where some of the treatments (manicures, pedicures and the like) happen, with plenty of comfortable seating on which to lounge around and relax. There’s a separate relaxation lounge too (I didn’t take photos as there were too many people in there), and all the tea and coffee you can drink.
I opted for a French manicure, and was really pleased with the results – the lady who gave me the manicure was lovely and friendly too, and obviously knew her stuff.
A few short hours later, it was time to head down to the restaurant, where I’d prebooked a table on the advice of the reception staff – just as well, as a VERY large table had booked for just after I sat down. I loved the view from my table – a wall-length mural of Bristol’s harbourside, which had an incredible level of detail.
I was given a choice of the a la carte menu or a special menu priced at £22 for three courses: the dinner budget that’s allocated to those on a dinner & stay package.
Having dined from the a la carte menu before, it was the shorter menu I went for, beginning with the duck rillette with sourdough toast and red onion marmalade. Although it was presented nicely, the bread was a disappointment – a bland slice of white loaf rather than the promised sourdough. The rillette was lovely though – beautifully textured, creamy and meaty – while the onion marmalade was tasty (good and sticky and sweet with a raw texture to the onion) but it overpowered the more delicate flavour of the duck.
It was the roast chicken breast with a smoked bacon potato cake and glazed vegetables that stood out from the short list of mains – and the chicken was fantastic. With the skin left on, beautifully seasoned and with a slightly charred flavour, the breast meat itself was lovely and moist – perfectly cooked. The veg (baby carrots, tenderstem and finely shredded cabbage) still had a nice crunch and were very buttery, while the potato cake was well mashed and I loved the crispness on the outside – the bacon didn’t have a massive amount of flavour, though – and while there was plenty of pepper in evidence, it could have done with a bit more salt.
Dessert was the tiramisu – again attractively presented and served with a mini coffee and chocolate milkshake in a little glass bottle – a nice touch. The tiramisu was tasty enough: the cream thick and infused with a mild coffee flavour, and not excessively sweet. The sponge was a touch too dry and could have done with more coffee, while the milkshake was beautiful. Again, the coffee flavour could have been more pronounced, but I loved the little tiny flakes of chocolate that it contained – the length of the straw was a little ridiculous for the size of the bottle…
Service was friendly throughout, and incredibly efficient too: perhaps too much so. I got through all three courses in the space of an hour, but didn’t feel rushed at all until I’d finished my main – the waitress had the dessert menu in her hand when she came to pick up my main course plate, which I’d only just finished…
We headed to the bar for a quick drink (it felt super-festive with all the Christmas lights up!) and retired to the room to sleep – we were both exhausted.
The bed was incredibly comfortable – the mattress fairly soft but still supportive, the pillows generous and the room temperature easy to adjust. Annoyingly, we had a VERY rowdy stag do in the room next to us, though, and the connecting door meant that the room wasn’t particularly well sound-proofed…I actually phoned down to reception in the middle of the night to see if there was anything they could do, and while we did hear them knock on the door and ask them to keep the noise down, it didn’t really do much… We realise that it’s just the luck of the draw, though – on another night that room would have been empty or had quieter occupants, and sleep would have been easier.
The following morning, we had a leisurely start today and headed down relatively late for breakfast, but it was great to see that things were still in full swing. We returned to the restaurant where things were incredibly well organised: at each end of the breakfast bar was an amazing coffee machine with an electronic display, serving lattes flat whites, cappuccinos and more. The dishes of hot food were also doubled up to avoid too much queuing, with the sausages, bacon, fried and scrambled eggs, tomatoes, beans and hash browns all easily accessible. It was a pretty decent breakfast too: the sausages were packed full of flavour, the fried eggs still had lovely runny yolks – the only let down on the hot food side was the hash browns, which were quite oily.
There was plenty of additional choice too: mini pots of Yeo Valley yoghurt, all sorts of different organic breads, huge baskets of fruit (bananas, apples, grapes, watermelon and pineapple), cereals, mini pastries, cheeses and cold meats…the list went on. There was a lovely buzz to the room too, and plates were cleared efficiently once emptied.
Breakfast finished, it was time to check out – and it was great to see that the overnight reception team had clearly briefed the Saturday morning team, as the lovely guy on reception apologised profusely for the issues we’d had with the slightly-less-than-sober stag party next door during the night. It was a shame, as without that I think I’d have had an amazing night’s sleep in a very comfortable room, but wherever you stay, you never know who’ll be next door!
With its great location, friendly and helpful staff, spa and swimming pool, car park and free WiFi, plus a restaurant that’s certainly better than many hotel chains I’ve visited in the past, it’s no wonder that the Mercure Holland House is always pretty busy. And now, with these newly designed, Bristol-themed rooms, there’s the chance to enjoy more of an individual feel during your stay too.
Please note: our stay and all meals were received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.