I’ve never been to Biggleswade, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever go there again.So for one night only I needed somewhere to rest my weary head.
I’ve had to spend a few nights recently at Premier Inns. Not my choice. Functional, corporate and very purple. But predictable.
“The Stratton House Hotel”:http://www.strattonhouse-hotel.com/, on the other hand, is family-run. A one-off. And with that comes unpredictability.
The welcome was friendly, but very old-fashioned. The tired looking key to my room was handed across the Fawlty-Towers like wooden reception desk. Behind, in the small office, I could see a couple of notice boards, on which the staff rota and the room reservations were daubed. No sign of technology here. But no Spanish waiter to take my luggage either.
The room was a little tired and time-warped, but I had everything I needed: a comfortable bed, a tea tray, a small TV, some basic storage and a bath, with overhead shower. A shame the room was initially like a sauna, thanks to the radiators chucking out stifling heat, but the temperature was just about bearable 6 hours later. It would have been nice to let some fresh air in, but the window – overlooking the car park – was bolted shut.
I’m sounding negative. But the hotel came into its own when I wandered out for something to eat.
The formal restaurant menu looked enticing, but I opted for the cosy bar and a lighter menu choice. Locals and hotel guests alike mingled happily in the bar and eating areas, a relaxed aura wrapping itself around everyone with an early festive hug.
A pint of cider and local sausages and mash, in a red wine jus and with perfect al dente vegetables, were excellent value and exceeded my sceptical expectations.
In the morning, the chef conjured up the best bacon butty I’ve had in a while, stuffed to the rafters with local, salty bacon and spiced up with my must-have brown sauce. The coffee was pretty damned fine too. I could also have had porridge, a full English, yoghurts, fruit and much, much more – all included in the reasonable B&B price – but I restrained myself.
This was after a somewhat fractured night’s sleep. My room was encircled by the lift and a staff room, as well as the car park, so the dice were loaded against me. I had only booked that day so I had no right to expect the Presidential Suite, and it was hard to feel badly towards such friendly people, and an old-fashioned place of hospitality and good intentions.
There’s no Premier Inn within a few miles of Biggleswade. And I’m glad there wasn’t.