I had a letter published in the travel section of The Sunday Times and won a two-night stay including dinner at a Harbour hotel of my choice. We chose “Bristol”:https://www.harbourhotels.co.uk/bristol as we’d never been before, and it wasn’t too far from Central London but decided to add on an extra night at our own expense.
The hotel is ideally situated in the Old City district and was only a 15-minute walk from the station. Its 42 rooms are spread over three floors and there are two efficient but small lifts.
We were allocated a standard room (117) on the 1st floor. It was a reasonable size, with frosted windows with no view, as we were at the back of the hotel.
The large and high bed had a huge vivid green velvet headboard which matched the long curtains. The room was well equipped with a desk and chair, an easy chair, TV and full-length mirror. In a cupboard was a well-stocked mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities and safe, whilst in the wardrobe we found white toweling robes, iron and ironing board and hair dryer. The latter could be plugged in near the mirror. We also had complimentary decanters of sherry and gin which were a nice touch. The room was well lit with good overhead and bedside lights.
The bathroom was very white and bright with a walk-in shower, loo, basin and White Company toiletries. The only thing missing was a shaving mirror.
Our package gave us complimentary access to the spa which, because of Covid had to be booked. Although there was a variety of expensive treatments on offer, we could use what was said to be a small swimming pool and a steam area. However, the weather was good and we didn’t have time to use it.
My prize also included a “Harbour Hotel experience”, and I was able to choose from a range of options including afternoon tea or a bicycle tour of the city, but I opted for a gin tasting experience. On arrival we were told that it is normally conducted by a representative from the Six O’Clock gin company, but unfortunately, he was on holiday. However, we were told that the barman could give us a simple introduction if we wanted to go ahead. We arranged to meet in the restaurant at 7pm and were introduced to three local gins from the 6 O’Clock range: a regular London gin, a Brunel (said to be more aromatic) and a Damson gin. Initially we were given the gins to try neat before we added tonic and ice. We were asked if we would like some nibbles to accompany the gin and expected some olives and crisps, so were totally amazed when six of their small plates arrived: tempura prawns and chilli dip, burrata on sourdough, scallops with pea puree, buttermilk chicken popcorn, market crudites with dips and confit duck croquettes. We later priced them up at £47, slightly more than a packet of crisps! However, as our prize included dinner in the hotel, we indulged further with two of what we thought would be the smallest main courses: steamed mussels in a classic mariniere sauce and Cesar salad with an addition of halloumi. We shared a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc which was reasonably priced at £22. We retired to bed very replete.
The following evening was a more muted affair with kale pesto tagliatelle and pork loin with black pudding, glazed apple, crisp scratching and a cider sauce with a side of seasonal greens.
On arrival, we had been asked to book a time for breakfast and at 8:30am, found it very quiet. Because of Covid there was no buffet, but a breakfast menu offered a choice of a continental or fully cooked breakfast. Over the three days we tried a number of the dishes including eggs benedict, poached egg on avocado, ham and cheese, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. All were served with hot drinks and juices of choice
Prior to our arrival, we had read about the Gold Bar but unfortunately, and possibly due to Covid, it was only open at weekends. However, there was a roped off area of the pavement with fake grass with tables and chairs which was nice for a drink after a long day of walking.
Our additional night’s B&B was £186, so this isn’t a cheap option and it’s unlikely that I’d have paid for a three-night stay. However, it was excellent, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.