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No Baths In Bath!
Avondale Riverside Hotel (Bath)
Member Name: KathrynPenguin
Avondale Riverside Hotel (Bath)
Date: 15/03/02, updated on 15/03/02 (1043 review reads)
Advantages: see op
Disadvantages: see op
~~~ The Blurb ~~~
The hotel has its own website at htp://www.avondalebath.co.uk and from the site certainly looks very impressive.
“Avondale is a historic building, residents such as author and novelist L.P. Hartley, anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce and Dr. Oliver, inventor of the ubiquitous Bath Oliver biscuit, have all added in some way to the ambience here.”
Although not in the city centre this can be an advantage in a city like Bath where space is at a premium. A huge bonus with the Avondale is that it has a large car park as hotels in the centre of Bath often have limited parking and public car parks can be extortionate.
The Avondale is also renowned for its food, for which they have won a number of awards. If you are a resident then you can have dinner bed and breakfast for £16 per person, per night, extra to your room tariff. It’s also handy not to have to go into town and find a restaurant.
~~~ Arrival ~~~
I arrived in a light drizzle to find KarenUK already waiting in the car park with fiancé Nick and the kids (they were just dropping her off, not staying). Through the February drizzle I could see the river just over the car park wall, this was pretty much the only time I peered through the constant rain at it but I can
imagine how lovely it is in summer. After a quick hello, we decided to head up to the hotel, Karen told me she had sussed it out and it was up some stairs (I don’t DO stairs!!!). There were indeed lots of little flights of stairs all leading to little terraces with cast iron patio furniture on them, in good weather you can have a meal on a terrace whilst watching life on the river. In February that’s not much of an idea. We proceeded through a door into the bar area where we were greeted by Sid, a man who seems to be the manager and has a very strange sense of humour (he drives you nuts). We know his name was Sid because its tattooed on his wrist (or maybe Sid is his boyfriend???)
~~~ The Bar Area ~~~
The bar area is really very compact as the hotel is using as much space as possible for the restaurant. There is one large square table that was big enough to seat Karen & family plus myself, Offy and Hpoulton. Other than that there is a two seater sofa and a couple of bar stools around the corner. Altogether not much seating for those busy summer months when I imagine the hotel is very busy. The bar is dimly lit with “ambient” lighting (I like to be brightly lit at all times!) and has an olde worlde charm with lots of wooden beams and interesting posters and objects displayed. Leading off in most directions are parts of the restaurant, which are similarly decorated.
The bar is promoted as “well stocked” but personally I found it a little lacking. There were plenty of spirits and a couple of bitters but only one draft lager, unfortunately a premium one, Stella, whereas I like a nice girly pint of dingo water. The also serve a good pot of tea, which you get about 4 cups from. The tea must be good because KarenUK certainly drank a lot of it! Pricewise I found it fairly reasonable in comparison to Essex pubs, certainly cheaper than other hotels I have used in the Bath region. It was also a relief
to find that the bar was a smoking area.
~~~ The Toilet ~~~
Yes it really does warrant its own section! Obviously after a long journey we all wished to avail ourselves of the facilities, oddly I think they were unisex and if not I wish I’d seen the gents! The toilet we were directed to had a heavy wooden door with a protruding sculpture of a full frontal nude lady on it. Inside it was clean and nice smelling with pot pourri and flowers and lovely wooden furnishings. Oh and some very weird poems on the wall, the one I read was about birds (the feathered kind) and I believe there was one about dogs too. On exiting this facility I realised that the rear of the door was not smooth and door like but had a carved figure of the rear of a naked lady in it! I wish I’d taken some snaps now as it had to be seen to be believed.
~~~ The Rooms ~~~
For the four of us we had booked two twin rooms for our stay at Avondale, Karen and I being first to arrive got first choice of room. Sid informed us that one of the rooms was in the annexe and that I could pop the car right outside the room, which sold me sight unseen. I also guessed that being able to park right outside meant that it wasn’t on the top floor – I didn’t fancy lugging my suitcase up loads of stairs. Our room was lovely, I think it was actually a family room as we had a double and a single bed. We also got a 2 seater sofa, a 28” telly, tea making facilities, an alarm clock and an en-suite bathroom. My only gripe here is that it was not a bathroom at all but a shower room, that’s right NO BATHS IN BATH! To make matters worse despite running the shower for about 10 mins in the morning I could only get icy cold water out of it. This would have been a major complaint for me if I had been staying more than one night but fortunately for Sid I didn’t really want a shower, just to wet my hair.
The brochure also says that all rooms have
telephone and modem points but we didn’t see those in our room although I have to admit we didn’t look particularly hard (yes we managed without an Internet connection). The room was lovely and despite being told it was a no-smoking hotel there was an ashtray in our room. We also had a little balcony (just three steps up from the car!) which would be nice in the summer as it had a cast iron table and chairs and a nice view of the gardens and river. The whole outdoor area looked very well kept with a lovely tub of plants in the corner, masking a cat-flap which led into our wardrobe! There were no furry visitors in the night though.
I never saw the second room which was shared by Offy and Hpoulton. This was in the main house and like ours had no bath but just a shower. I know I should have climbed the stairs for reference purposes but I’m just too damned lazy. The others all assured me that Karen and I had made the right choice of room as Hannah and Ophelia found theirs to be very small with two beds practically butting up to one another.
~~~ Dinner ~~~
The restaurant had the same olde worlde charm of the bar, and was just as dimly lit (mood lighting is the pits). Being an old building there was a very cosy feeling as there were lots of little rooms leading off one another making up the eating area.
I am the worlds fussiest eater, the best way to describe my diet is odd vegetarian. Fortunately the Avondale did us proud. The menu is extensive with prices ranging from around £11 to £16 for a main course. There is a daily special board and the meals are refreshingly different from your standard hotel fare. Although they do offer vegetarian lasagne (in most places the only veggie offering), they also offer several other interesting vegetarian dishes. For those carnivores amongst us the menu is also well stocked with a variety meat, poultry, fish and game.
For our evening meal we all decided to skip s
tarters and just have a main course and a dessert. Everyone there had a sweet tooth, especially Ophelia (I won’t tell you what she had for lunch in town the next day – that’s another opinion!). Ophelia and I chose Moroccan style cous cous stuffed peppers which came with a mustard sauce, I asked to have my sauce served separately and they were happy to oblige. All too often restaurants are unable to serve sauce separately as their food is pre-prepared and reheated. It’s good to know you are getting a freshly prepared meal.
My main course was just the right size with two halves of stuffed pepper and it was delicious. It was also served with vegetables and new potatoes, the vegetables were perfectly cooked for me being still crunchy, but although Hannah enjoyed them I think the others would have preferred them cooked a little more. For desert I had Apple tarte tatin with caramel sauce and ice cream which was truly scrumptious. Karen, being a proper vegetarian, found dessert a little more difficult as the desserts were not suitable for veggies. The staff were happy to offer crème fraiche with ice cream making Karen a happy eater too!
~~~ Breakfast ~~~
This, unfortunately, is where the Avondale lets itself down. Breakfast is served until 9-30 (I’m not sure what time it starts). You get a served full English breakfasts with the addition of toast, juice, tea and cereal. The cereal selection is somewhat poor with a choice between Cornflakes, museli and Weetabix, nothing sweeter for the kids although they are warmly welcomed in the hotel. To go with the toast there was only butter and marmalade, no jam and the butter was served in such small pots we had to keep asking for more.
The full English breakfast was very disappointing. For me, the high point of the breakfast is fried bread, something you never do at home. The Avondale breakfast was sadly lacking in fried bread. Actually it was sadly lacking
in food. I ordered mushrooms, beans and tomatoes and was astonished to be served a huge plate with a few scraps of food sitting in the middle. Honestly, no lie the plate was practically empty with half a tomato, about 6 bits of mushroom and the most pathetic portion of baked beans I have ever seen. Given how much money they saved with me not wanting my bacon, sausage and eggs they could have afforded to give me a decent sized breakfast. The others fared a little better with Karen getting 2 eggs on toast.
~~~ Lounging Around ~~~
Having spent all day Saturday travelling and shopping we were content to spend the evening in the hotel relaxing over dinner and drinks. Karen and Ophelia were somewhat champing at the bit to watch a rather insipid TV special about some guy who sings (I think it was called Pap Idol????). They had mentioned this to “Sid” the moment they arrived and he told us we could watch it in the lounge where there was “full Sky digital” (I wish there hadn’t been as there was more Pap Idol on ITV2!!). The lounge is on the first floor of the hotel and is equipped with two big comfy sofas as well as magazines, board games and a wide screen telly with Sky digital. You are welcome to take drinks up there but it is no smoking, although there is a balcony where you can smoke if you wish. Those comfy sofas were just what we all needed after a hard day and we had a relaxing evening chatting about our fellow DooYoo’sers with no less than 2 Pap Idol specials drivelling away in the background. I even learned something about Pap Idol – its just as boring as I thought it would be, kinda like the Eurovision song contest without the funny points being awarded and no Terry Wogan to lighten the mood.
~~~ The Cost ~~~
As I’ve already mentioned the accommodation costs at the Avondale are quite reasonable and as follows.
Single - from £24 per night
- Ensuite - £69 per night
Double – not Ensuite - from £55 per night
Double – Ensuite - From £69 per night
(3 people ensuite) - from £79 per night
Extra Bed - from £10 per night
Cot - £5 per night
(sleeps up to 8) - £195 per night
Whilst I was sitting in the bar (strange that eh?) I did hear “Sid” on the phone taking bookings for that night and he was offering the four poster for £100. Obviously worth trying to book on the day if you are travelling off season and looking for a discount.
Our food and drinks bill was also very reasonable. Four of us enjoyed dinner and breakfast as well as a few alcoholic beverages and lots of tea. The bill for this came to just over £70, making the whole break a fairly cheap experience (except for all the money we spent out shopping!)
The hotel is a little out of town so if you wish to visit Bath you would need to take one of three options. A taxi is roughly £8 each way, parking in the city centre is a nightmare and around £10 per day (only £2 on Sunday), or there is a park and ride service Monday to Saturday till 7-30pm which is free parking and £1.25 for the return journey on the bus)
~~~ The Bottom Line ~~~
Well our gang of four thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Avondale, and we are going again in October! The dreary weather probably did distract from the experience, it would be lovely to sit on one of the terraces having lunch and watching life on the river, I even noticed a boat hut nearby. The strange “Sid” makes you feel welcome if a little uneasy on your own with him and the hotel has everything you could ask for to make your break special. A big thank you to Hannah, Ophelia and Karen for the company
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