The Bristol Hotel is part of the Doyle Collection, a group of eight Irish family-owned hotels in the UK, US and Ireland.
The hotel is a perfect example of the expression ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. From the outside the hotel looks like a drab 1960s office block, but step inside and it’s a much sleeker affair with modern décor featuring comfy sofas and chairs and bright, quirky lamps for a bit of creative flair.
This contemporary 4-star hotel conveniently overlooks Bristol Harbour and the buzzing Bristol Harbourside, which features a wealth of water-front shops and restaurants, making it the perfect base for exploring the sights of Bristol.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we received an exceptionally warm greeting from the receptionist who was quick to provide helpful recommendations of what to see in and do in the local area. Given that the weather wasn’t very cooperative during our visit (it was cold, grey and rainy), we decided to stay close to the hotel.
Before we headed off to explore the Harbourside, we dropped our bags in our room with its cracking view of the Harbour and enjoyed a quick espresso from the in-room Nespresso machine. We also noticed that the staff had left us a lovely plate of fruit with ‘welcome’ scrolled in chocolate – a lovely, personal touch that was a great start to our visit.
Exploring Bristol on foot
The Harbourside area is perfect for exploring on foot. We spent our afternoon strolling along each side of the harbour banks, taking in the wealth of shops and restaurants. If you visit Bristol on a Saturday, ensure you check out the local market, which features vendors selling everything from books to vintage clothing. Near the waterfront, you might also witness a few brave people bungee jumping from a crane, which seemed to be a popular attraction!
Once you’ve taken in all there is to see along the harbour, head to Queen Square to take in the lovely Georgian architecture. If you happen to visit on a warm day, it would be a great place for a peaceful picnic.
After a long day in the dreary weather, we retreated to our room for a cheeky late afternoon nap before heading downstairs to dinner at The River Grille – the hotel’s stylish on-site restaurant.
The River Grille
The restaurant with its lofty dimensions and floor-to-ceiling windows with its views of the harbour and the aubergine walls with brightly coloured art, creates an inviting atmosphere. We were lucky to have visited on a Saturday, which was perfect timing given that the restaurant has a live jazz trio every Saturday evening to provide a sense of occasion.
Breakfast options include a hot buffet (serving bacon, sausages, eggs, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and hash browns) and a selection of pastries, breads, fruits and yogurts.
Although we were only in Bristol for one evening, the hotel provided the perfect base for enjoying all that the Harbourside area had to offer and the fabulous staff were some of the friendliest we’ve come across during our travels.
The Bristol Hotel
Granted the full moon was a bonus, but it was difficult to imagine a more picturesque scenario as I sat on my private balcony sipping a glass of champagne as I surveyed the vast expanse of Lake Geneva with the Alps in the background.
I couldn't help but feel like the glamorous Coco Chanel. While it was well known that she lived in The Ritz in Paris, she also loved Lausanne and during her time in Lausanne she enjoyed staying at the Lausanne Palace & Spa - in fact, she has a suite at the hotel named after her. Opened in 1915, the Palace Hotel is the epitome of Belle Époque chic and it constantly strives to create a luxurious ‘home away from home’ for its guests - even the four-legged variety.
The hotel is located on a hill on the Rue de Gran Chene, which ensures spectacular views from every room. Its central location is within walking distance to the thriving district of Flon and Lausanne’s old town, Rue du Borg (the top shopping street), Montbenon Esplanade and the METRO transport system, which can transport you to Ouchy, a port and popular lakeside resort located south of the city of Lausanne at the edge of Lake Geneva, which serves as the departure point for lake cruises and boat trips.
The rooms are spacious and comfortable with a built-in work desk, free WiFi, TV and a Nespresso machine as well as complementary drinks from the minibar.
For me, the most important room any any hotel is the bathroom. I need my creature comforts and the marble bathrooms, which were supplied with ample beauty products and plenty of fluffy towels hanging from heated towel rails, help guests feel more comfortable during their stay.
Three on-site restaurants and two bars ensure that guests' culinary and cocktail desires are catered for.
My favorite restaurant was the Brasserie with its views of Le Flon and the Church of St. Francois. In warmer weather, guests have the option of dining on the terrace. Here I enjoyed the Emince de veau, a Swiss speciality that consists of finely cut veal cooked in a cream and brandy sauce with onions and mushrooms, accompanied by Roesti, a crispy potato cake.
Other dining options include La Table d’Edgar for a more formal affair or Palace Sushi Zen for delicious sushi. For drinks or snacks there is the Lobby Bar, the Habana Bar for late night cocktails or the Cote Jardin with its lush green setting, making it the perfect place to enjoy a glass of champagne or a cocktail.
The Spa and pool facilities
I like to start my day with a swim and the pool and spa center on Level A of the hotel is perfect. At the spa guests can use the Jacuzzi, Sauna and Turkish Bath, or they can enjoy the spa treatments, which I found exceptionally revitalising after a long day of exploring Lausanne by foot.
The CBE spa concept uses AVEDA, Phyto5, Forlle’d and marocMaroc products to pamper your body or your hair - Coco would have loved it. The spa also has a small boutique selling swim and leisure wear for guests who may have forgotten their essentials. There is also an organic snack bar serving freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, making it a great place for those who wish to linger in the spa for as long as possible.
Service with a smile
The friendly hotel staff go out of their way to make guests feel at home and are happy to arrange just about anything for you, from taxis to guides to tickets for boat trips. As I had to get up at 3am to catch my return flight, I was very pleased that my wake up call was right on schedule, and they also offered to give me another call 30 minutes later in case I fell asleep again!
Things to see and do in Lausanne
There are many sights to see in Lausanne including the Olympic Museum in Ouchy and the Cathedral of Lausanne. I also highly recommend a sunset dinner cruise of Lake Geneva via a refurbished paddle steamer.
There is only one word to describe the Lausanne Palace & Spa Hotel - fabulous. I was so well looked after during my stay that they definitely achieved their aim of creating a luxurious home away from home.
Prices vary according to season and room category, starting at around €350. That includes breakfast, taxes and a free transport card that allows you the use of any bus and the METRO.
A direct train from Geneva airport takes you to Lausanne in about 40 minutes, depending on stops along the way. Alight, take METRO2 in the direction of Croissant, get off at the next stop, Flon, and take the elevator to the 5th level. You come out right across the entrance to the hotel.
Lausanne Palace Hotel & Spa
Rue du Grand Chene 7
For information on cruises and ferries, visit: http://www.cgn.ch/en-gb/
For information about Lausanne, visit: http://www.lausanne-tourisme.ch
The Royal Harbour Hotel is a quirky 27-bedroom townhouse hotel situated on a Georgian crescent in Ramsgate. Located across from the sea, it has fabulous views of the Ramsgate marina.
The hotel has a very homely feel and is bursting at the seams with bric-a-brac – there is definitely a ‘more is more’ approach towards the interior design choices, making it a bit like staying at an eccentric relative’s home. As you stroll through the hotel, you’ll see unique touches such as interesting artworks and a turntable to play their large collection of vinyls stacked in the corner of the lounge.
Within the hotel, there are three small communal areas that guests are encouraged to relax in, one of which features an honesty bar for guests who want a tipple. At the back of the house, guests will find the garden, which is a real suntrap, making it a great place to retreat to with book and a cuppa. During our visit, we noticed that many of the guests brought along their four-legged friends.
Bedrooms at the front of the house are smaller and cosier with sea views, while those at the back are larger and quieter. We stayed in Room 19, a sea-facing room at the top of the house, which was a bit on the pokey side (there’s was just enough room to swing a cat), however, it afforded stunning views of the marina. As we lounged in our room, we kept the window open for a bit of fresh air and enjoyed listening to the sounds of the seagulls flying by.
The Empire Room restaurant
The restaurant is small and intimate – with room for 30 covers – and is quite comforting with its crimson walls bedecked with vintage prints of Empire Magazine and oriental rugs scattered across the original stone floors. Glass table lamps adorn the tables, adding a sense of romance to the occasion. In keeping with the anti-minimalist décor, the bookshelves in the dining room are stacked with books and a hodge podge of vintage finds.
Guests can choose from two menus - a set menu or an ala carte menu. The menus feature a variety of traditional British dishes such as roast cod or hake, shoulder of lamb, a loin of Kentish beef or a trio of Kentish pork.
We had the thyme roasted loin of Kentish beef with potato terrine, crisp beef shin, roasted shallot, kale, red wine sauce (£21.00), which was rich and flavoursome and the roasted loin of cod in a crab bisque sauce served with Pegwell Bay sea vegetables, roasted fennel, local asparagus and new potatoes (£17.50), which was exceptionally tasty and was a very generous portion - perfect for those with hearty appetites!
Breakfast at the Harbour Hotel
Breakfast is served in the communal dining room each morning where guests are able to help themselves to a cold buffet featuring fresh fruits, breads, cereals, fresh honeycomb and yogurt. For guests who are really peckish, a cooked breakfast is also on offer, with options including kippers, omelettes or a full English. As guests enjoy a leisurely breakfast, they can cast their eyes on various graphic art prints that are displayed on the walls.
Thing to see and do in the local area
The hotel is located within easy reach of the railway station and is close to the beach, the seafront, the yacht marina, the ferry terminal, local pubs and restaurants as well as local shops and golf courses.
This is a great place to stay if you're looking for a bargain-friendly seaside escape.
For more information or to make a booking, visit http://www.royalharbourhotel.co.uk. Prices from £79.00 per night including breakfast.
The Royal Harbour Hotel
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