“ Brook Lane, Chester, CH2 2AN. Telephone: +44(0)1244 381943. Fax: +44(0)1244 379701. 2 Star Hotel. „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Well, you know the rest, and this is precisely the impression that I got when I first stayed at the Brookside Hotel in Brook Lane in Chester. Indeed, it does have a rather 'twee' 'wishing well' in the front garden, that is shown on the brochure (available by telephoning 01244 381943). Those of you who have read my opinion on the Dene Hotel, with brief mentions of the other hotels on Hoole Road Chester, will know already that I do not find the hotels in that part of Chester particularly marvellous. Indeed, it was about 9 months' ago following a particularly unsatisfactory stay at the Dene Hotel, (in the only room available that absolutely 'honked' of a mouldy smell from the bathroom) that I asked the Senior Administrator of the client firm that I work for to give further consideration to the accommodation that they arranged for me. The Dene Hotel had also become more expensive, but it did have the advantage of being close to the client. That was when it was arranged for me to spend a single night at the Brookside Hotel (about 2 miles away, off the Hoole road). This was during a 'linked visit', where I worked on the Friday/Monday/Tuesday, spending the weekend in between at the in-laws in Hathersage, Derbyshire. First impressions were not favourable. The hotel is the result of joining together two or three terraced houses, on a bad junction of Brook Lane with a side road and there is limited car parking behind the hotel. It is in a tightly-packed residential area, and the possibility of vandalism (on your car) appears to be quite high (although so far - touching bonce - there have been no incidents to report). It has about 15 rooms, and so being relatively small, you do not get coach tours staying there but it is possible for small 'residential training courses' to be run there. The restaurant is also small, and not open to non-residents so that you do not get casual diners or large 'conventions' taking place there. The clientele is generally a mixture of quiet singles and couples visiting or working in Chester, the occasional group (of junior workers) attending a company training course, itinerant travellers (like me) and the usual bunch of shopfitters and telecommunications engineers that are always slogging it around the UK and probably keep a large number of establishments like Brookside Hotel still going. During the quiet winter period, in common with the Hoole Road hotels, the hotel seems to survive entirely on the basis of this 'commercial trade'. Some of the rooms are a bit on the small side for a couple (but those on the corner of the site are spacious), and all that I have stayed in contain a (small) double bed and all are en-suite. A 'key-card' is used to get into your room and the en-suite bathrooms are 'recently refurbished'. Some containing thermostatically controlled showers, but most containing those working from the bath mixer tap. Some of the rooms do not include a desk or similar place for me to continue my work, but this is now usually sorted out by the senior administrator when booking the hotel. Breakfast is served from 07.00 and consists of the usual selection of canned grapefruit, breakfast cereals, fruit juices, yoghurts, Full English or Continental breakfast with unlimited toast and coffee/tea. This is of good quality (but I suggest avoiding the 'sausage', which seems to be of "very dubious" origin), and with 'very friendly' local waitresses. The bar is small and limited in scope, so none of 'me favrit' Draught (or even bottled) Guinness is available, but the lager is drawn often (especially for thirsty shopfitters) and thus generally of good quality (£2 a pint). The barsteward, Ian, is very attentive, and being a small hotel, the other guests are almost invariably talkative so a 'good crack' before dinner is the rule rather than the exception. For the interest of some fellow DooYoo members, there is no Chocolate Vending Machine, as such, but a small 'selection' of 'sweeties' is available from the bar ! Dinner is served from 6.30pm until 9pm. The Table d'hôte dinner (2 courses £12.95 ; 3 courses £15.95) changes daily and includes a reasonable starter selection (delicious deep-fried Camembert with toast/salad/cranberry jus and a 'generous' Prawn Cocktail were my latest choices). The main courses always includes a vegetarian selection and the "Salmon in brown butter sauce with Prawns and Capers" (with "Chef's selection of vegetables" course) that I had one evening on this latest visit was particularly delicious. However, the "Minced Lamb Ragout with a Filo pastry Hat" had the appearance and flavour of a "Heinz Big Soup" with a piece of Puff Pastry perched on top, in a bowl with a side dish of over-cooked vegetable, so it is not consistent. Desserts include ice cream, a pie or crumble with custard, a 'gateaux' and a reasonable selection of cheeses with biscuits. Coffee is £1.20 extra and comes "without a chocolate mint". It is generally possible to 'upgrade' to a reasonable steak for £3 or so extra, should none of the main courses appeal. Dinner is served from 6.30pm. If you are staying for 2 or more nights then it is strongly recommended that you book ahead one of their 'short break' packages. Although, you "The Brookside" would never be listed among my very favourite hotels in the UK, any place that offers a comfortable bed to one person, full English breakfast and a (usually) acceptable 3 course dinner, all for £90 for the two nights (2 night minimum stay) gets my vote (and also my client's, since it is they who pick up the Tab) any day. In this case, you doo g et what yoo payt for and it must be judged as excellent value. Unfortunately (and unlike the Dene Hotel), this establishment shows no sign yet of being on the 'location list' of any photographer, video or film production unit, so that no possible deviation of the path of my Consultancy career has yet been possible. Other options in Hoole Road where I have stayed only on one occasion each (and did not wish to repeat the experience for a variety of reasons) include the "Alton Lodge", the "Comfort Inn", the "Chester Court" and the "Oakridge". Opinions from othere DooYooers on these hotels would be appreciated, since Chester will continue to be clients for many months to come. There is a newly-opened branch of the Travel Inn close to the Sainsbury's Superstore about 3 miles away. They currently charge £41.95 per room per night (breakfast and dinner extra). This makes it expensive for a single person staying, but may be of better value than "The Brookside Hotel" for a couple. Very occasionally, I have seen special offers available for Travel Inns advertised in the newspapers (but not as often as the Travelodge group).