Thursday, March 15, 2007

Victorian Piles...

I've just spent the last three working days in the Great Victoria Hotel in Bradford, built as the Great Northern Victoria for the railway (GNR). It is owned by a private small chain, that also owns the Woodlands near Morley (and a third near Sheffield). You can go for a virtual tour here- click the red spot above the entrance on the photo to enter the lobby and click on the doorway to the right to enter the room I now know rather well. (I nicknamed the art piece Jackson Pollock's Dysentry).

The Great Victoria is a 19th Century station hotel in a style repeated around Britain in the larger towns and Cities during the Industrial revolution. It has been tastefully refurbished with a juxtaposition of designer furniture and modern art. The blurb speaks of relaxing surrounded by a persuasive blend of urban chic and Victorian grandeur.

It didn't strike me as too grand but it is rather elegant with lofty ceilings and subdued ornate pilasters atop the decorative plasterwork. After three days there, though, you start to notice the metaphorical coffee stains such as the cracked & peeling plaster, the faulty air conditioner and all of the faulty lamps in the light fittings.

The food was rather good, although I'm easing off on my consumption at the moment as I could do with being able to fit into quite a few tight trousers in the wardrobe. I took a snap of these mini-burgers today- they are really tiny at about two inches high (very tasty though).

The outside of the Hotel is pleasantly symmetrically formed, apart from a hideous cast iron emergency staircase sticking out like an eyesore. The hotel faces the (contemporary) law courts building on a public square so it is not as though it is down a back lane.

This shed-like structure at roof level particularly grates to this pair of eyes.

The nicest Hotel I ever stayed in was the Doha Sheraton in Qutar. The worst depends on the context, I suppose. Blackpool ones with clapped out matresses, the one in Manchester that took in DSS and had holes kicked in the doors, the luxury themed suite at Alton Towers where an early night was out of the question because of the noise of the lobby cabaret below, the Hotel I stayed in at Coventry for my first interview where they had rubber sheets...

I notice that this other website for the Hotel chain owners has the staircase much more low key. Either the lower levels have been airbrushed out or they have had to add extra exit routes since then.


Colin Campbell said...

One of the miseries of the travelling professional (or non professional) is the first night syndrome. It doesn't matter how comfortable the bed, it is hard to get a good nights sleep. When I was running around Asia, with the added disadvantage of different time zones and well provided in flight service bars, with late arrivals and early starts, there were many miserable experiences. Some of the worst included Taiwan, Manila and Tokyo. By a long way the nicest, were the high end hotels in Seoul.

Ian said...

CC, the other misery is airports, of course.

I'm generally OK with FNS once I'm ready for sleep.

A long time ago, I was advised that a thorough search of a hotel room would often yield hidden porn as businessmen would buy it away from home and then worry about wives or customs officers finding it.

I scoffed at the time but occasional sniffs behind wardrobes or under drawers did indeed yield results.

As my best mate (and lodger) didn't smoke and had just as much duty free as me, this was an occasional bonus for his box full of art pamphlets.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, that shed thing looks ridiculous there. Like the idea of the mini-burghers. The worst hotel I've ever been in was a long time ago in Cardiff - at dinner the wine waiter and the waitress had a very public row about whose job it was to bring a jug of water to the table!

Ian said...

Welshcakes, I've seen staff throw public wobblies- but generally behind the swing doors, putting the happy face on as they emerge into the public areas.

I can't place where, but I sent something back once because it had something missing- there was much shouting in the kitchen and the sound of plates being thrown.

The waiter re-emerged with my meal and as the door swung shut there was a big crunch...tinkle...tinkle and some comments doubting his parentage.

The waiter apologised, giving me a wink and saying that "Chef was a little tense this evening".