I'll be honest - my life at the moment is just househunting, househunting, househunting, and there's really not much to blog about. So I thought I'd write a little review of the hotel we stayed at during Easter in Bristol, when visiting my oldest uni friend. Soph has just had her first baby and I was desperate to meet him, but obviously Bristol is a bit of trek from London. I had contemplated driving there and back on my own for the day, but really wanted to take Daphne as another uni friend of ours, Rachel, was also going to be there. She lives in Oz and had yet to meet Daph. But it seemed mean to make Daphne spend five hours in the car in one day, hence my plan for an overnight stay...
I also decided to drag Oli along too to make it into a bit of a mini break (ha!). I started off looking at hotels in Bath, thinking there wouldn't be anything that special in Bristol itself (I'm a bit of a hotel snob), and did indeed find somewhere lovely but it was seriously pricey. I'm not sure once you have a baby (or ever?!) you can really justify spending more than £250 for ONE night in a hotel room... And then, quite by chance, I stumbled across the Hotel du Vin - I didn't even know there was one in Bristol! And it was really good value by comparison - just £140.
So I booked it and both wrote in my special requirements on the booking form and phoned to ask them to put a cot in the room. The woman on the phone was like 'yeah, you already asked for a cot in your room when you booked. Chill out you over-anxious first time mother*'. But I just had this dread of turning up and there being nowhere for Daph to sleep... We've obviously been away with her before when we went to Devon for my birthday, but that was self catering and much more baby friendly (plus we took her cot with us!).
Right, waffle waffle waffle. This was meant to be a mini review! Let's just say I was nervous when we turned up. And I couldn't have been more impressed. The lady on reception immediately told us we'd been upgraded to a studio suite. I suspect this may have been to keep the baby away from the other guests, but perhaps I'm being too cynical. Either way, I've never been upgraded before so was childishly excited about this. Then the receptionist made a massive fuss of Daphne - she even called over a colleague to coo over her too. I was so worried we'd be shunned, as Hotel du Vin isn't really a child-focused chain, but I'm happy to say they couldn't have been more welcoming.
We went up to our room (the Dom Perignon suite no less) and it was absolutely huge - with a lovely sofa area and a perfect little corner for Daph's cot (which was all set up, with blankets and towels too). The bathroom was ridiculous - a gigantic walk-in shower, plus separate claw-footed bath. There was a Nespresso machine (ye Gods hurrah!) with a choice of capsules, swanky toileteries as you'd expect, and everything was clean and lovely.
There was also an absolutely enormous television, which alas, we never got to watch for fear of waking Daph. So instead, at 7pm we put her to bed in her little darkened corner while we watched the iPad on the enormous bed and tucked into room service (which was delicious).
The hotel is based in an old sugar factory, and has a fantastic industrial vibe - the rooms and decor are all very masculine and moody but I think when you're staying in a city it's kind of nice to have a dark room to retreat to. One thing I have to mention though, is the noise outside. The hotel is on a main road and unfortunately the traffic was insanely loud, all through the night. I don't know if it would be better if you had a room at the back of the building - I'm assuming so, but our room was very noisy indeed and if you're a light sleeper I imagine you'd have problems.
Unfortunately we didn't sleep particularly well thanks to Daph waking up at 1am, realising she wasn't at home and getting all excited and refusing to go back to sleep. She ended up in our bed - sigh. In the morning, we trundled downstairs for breakfast in the very French-themed restaurant area. We were one of the first people down for breakfast, which made an interesting change from the old days of me rushing to grab stale croissants at 10.30 as the waiters start clearing them away. The breakfast (I had a full English!) was fab, with a load of pastries and cereals on offer in the buffet section, plus fresh juice and fruit - precisely what you'd expect from a nice hotel. We sat Daph in a high chair, and she happily ate her porridge while staring around at everyone and farting impressively loudly from time to time, just to humiliate us. The high chair was clean but a bit smelly, which was rather gross - I guess those things take some abuse. I'm a bit OCD so as soon as she'd finished eating I put her back on my lap, as she'd decided to start munching on the straps.... ewww.
We didn't actually go into Bristol's centre, but I'm told that the hotel is really well located for all the shopping and the cultural stuff. All in all, I was really impressed and really enjoyed our little night away from home. It's got me thinking again about sorting out a proper summer holiday for us all - perhaps not abroad as for one thing I really can't be faffed with getting Daphne a passport, but somewhere in the west country might be just the ticket...
*not her exact words