“ Address: Beck Lane / Bingley BD16 4DD / West Yorkshire / England „
'Eat and drink what you like - it's all on me', said my Dad just before my wedding. 'I've spoken to the owner and he'll make a fuss of you, so enjoy yourselves'.
Now, to me, that sounded like carte blanche to have a thoroughly good time, and I expected a bit of VIP treatment, for once in my life. Having done the fateful deed with honourable intentions, this seemed like a fair reward for accepting a life sentence, and had the bemusing effect of a last treat for the condemned man. To whit: an all expenses night in a nearby hotel in lieu of a honeymoon, for which we had neither the time or funds to spare.
I should point out, in order to avoid criticism and a dead arm that my wife is actually very lovely, I'm just playing this up....
5 Rise Locks Hotel is situated, unsurprisingly, a short walk from the feature of the same name. An important passage of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, the Locks heave shipping up and down a range of 18m. This constitutes the greatest rise/fall of locks in the UK, and requires a full time lock-keeper to man the passage, as it's a rather tricky operation.
The hotel therefore, if you know your lock geography (kidding), is in Bingley, West Yorkshire, a small town forming part of the Bradford Urban Conurbation thingy (technical term), and rather more famous than before for it's long suffering Building Society which is now officially no more (it has ceased to be, it is an ex- society).
Tucked away in suburbia, and facing a street of well appointed (massive) houses, the hotel exudes a quiet charm. A former residence built for a local mill owner in 1875, the hotel has changed hands numerous times since becoming such in the early 1980s'.
With 9 bedrooms (one in a turret, spiffy!), all en-suite of course, this is what the pretentious like to call a 'boutique hotel', and caters for discerning travellers, visitors, and riff raff like me.
Prices start at £75, and rise to £95 for the four-poster room, all stays including breakfast. I certainly wouldn't shell out this much dosh for a night's kip, but then, I wasn't paying, and I suppose as the wife would suggest with a glare, it's about the romance and the occasion and the.....sorry, did I nod off?
On arrival - we loitered in reception, after dinging the bell that asked us to be dinged, until the owner appeared. He didn't recognize the name or comment on the booking (perhaps he'd just had a kip), and gave us the key to our room.
Our room, the four-poster one, was on the first floor, with a nice view out over the Aire Valley and the stone houses of the surrounding area. The bed had one of those spiffy memory foam mattresses, and I must admit to being rather juvenile and making impressions on it and then leaping off to watch it reform flat like some scary Terminator style machine. These mattresses are very comfy, and I got a fine night's sleep on it, but they are also frighteningly pricey, so I won't recommend them.
The rest of the room was standard hotel fare - flat screen TV, kettle with the usual sachets and some biccies, and a modest bathroom with a warm power shower. It was nothing out of the ordinary, but then I hadn't expected it to be. This isn't the Hyatt Regency Deluxe Park Lane Business Palace Destination or somesuch.
Some time later... We went down to Dinner. The restaurant is open from 18:30 until 21:15, and is open to the public. It has an Early Bird Special for the first few hours and then switches to A La Carte later on. There's a nice lounge area where you can loiter with a drink before taking your seat. The hotel is family run, and the non-cooking staff consist of the owners and their 2 daughters, so I had expected some banter, maybe a few questions about how we were liking the stay or where we were from, but there was nothing but efficient service. To be fair, the food was excellent - my steak with onion rings and posh chips (fat ones), and my Wife's Chicken covered in some sort of sauce (it's all women seem to eat at fancy places), and while the starters were elegantly draped over their plates, and the desserts looked appealing, I did feel the prices were a bit steep. 3 Courses for two put a chunky £50 on the bill, and I didn't include or even ask how much hotel drinks cost.
To bed...(insert snoozing).
Breakfast, taken in the dining room hidden behind the restaurant room, linked by a conservatory overlooking the Summer Terrace, was a very good affair. The usual cereals, fruit and juice were available for browsing, and orders for cooked fare were taken. My poached eggs (I never get the time to make them at home!), were top notch, and the endless coffee and toast kept me suitably amused whilst I perused the Sunday Paper (obviously flapping about the table as they're far too large to read sociably!).
When we eventually left, there was no one about to say goodbye to. The owners had vanished and the cleaners had turned up to spruce the place up for the next set of visitors. I plonked my key on the reception desk and left. It always feels like you're running without paying when that happens, but seeing as I'd received no sort of personal service throughout my stay, I wasn't particularly surprised or bothered.
In summary - whilst the hotel is lovely, with a good standard of furnishing and facilities, excellent food, located in a nice area, and reasonably priced for what is after all a 4 Rosette location, I did feel that the owners and staff were lacking in the service and personal touch you'd perhaps anticipate from a small hotel. With only 9 sets of customers to cater for at any one time, you'd imagine a bit more effort could have been made to make at least some of us feel welcome and special.