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Bridgewood Manor Marston Hotels (Rochester)

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      06.07.2004 06:41
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      Apologies - no doubt the usual DooYoo capitalisation problem will occur; I can't quite work around the solution. I hope you enjoy the content! I enjoy staying in decent hotels and in the course of finding different places to stay (and review) at bargain prices, I can often be found in hotels in fairly bizarre locations - take Basingstoke and Slough as previous examples. Who in their right minds...? My latest delectable destination was charming Chatham - one of the "Medway Towns" in mid-Kent, with what can only be described as an "interesting" reputation. It's not exactly somewhere you'd choose to go on holiday. Forsaking all reason, I went there last night, to stay at the Bridgewood Manor Hotel. Which was nice. Just don't tell my friends I did it! The hotel is located in quiet woodland and pleasant enough gardens, near to the M2 motorway in Kent. I've already ruled it out as being a holiday destination, and can only assume that it thrives on conferences and weddings. The rack rate is in the region of £150 per night for a double room. I paid just £30 for a double room, with breakfast included, via laterooms.com, which goes - I hope - some way towards explaining what those in the know might describe as insanity on my part. I hope so! With rooms on offer at such a small fraction of the rack-rate, it's clear that, on the night of the May Bank Holiday, the hotel was struggling to fill its 100 rooms and the car park certainly had plenty of space. We unloaded the car and strolled over to reception - again, very quiet. Not at all unpleasant - just peaceful. The main lobby of this modern hotel is welcoming. Despite being fairly newly built, the designers have attempted to create a Gothic feel to the place and there are vaulted ceilings and cast iron chandeliers to complement the angular architecture. The lobby is a very bright and airy, naturally-lit, octagonal space with reception on the rig
      ht. Further to your right is the Terrace Bar, whilst the more upmarket main bar and "Squire's Restaurant" (awarded two AA rosettes for its food) are on your left. Four or five comfortable seating areas, each with its own unique theme, surround the area in alcoves and here you can enjoy a drink or snack as you watch the world go by - except that it was very quiet today, and only a very small fraction of the world actually seemed to be going hither or, indeed, thither. We proceeded to reception. Nobody there! There was, however, one of those little brass bells that you strike from above to attract attention (straight out of Fawlty Towers!). I struck it! What fun! A receptionist appeared instantly and in next to no time, I was welcomed, my reservation was acknowledged, my key was issued, and we were heading off to our room. We were offered help with our luggage, but declined - we're pretty self-sufficient and tend to travel fairly light. This is a three-storey property and we found ourselves on the first floor (or second floor if you're using the American system) in room 141, after a short ride in the lift (or elevator if....). Public areas of the hotel seemed to be "in good nick", with cheerful decorations and quality carpets. There's a sense of space and, on a nice day, plenty of places to sit in the open air and enjoy refreshments - there's an especially nice courtyard, for instance, leading off from the main lobby. Our room was pleasant and comfortable, if a little small, and fitted the mould of a typical four-star hotel room. The entry lobby, decorated in deep russet tones, with (small) bathroom leading off to the left, led into the room itself, which was painted in neutral magnolia and sported a comfortable green carpet. The bed was of an ample size and was actually supremely comfortable, with good quality sheets and a lovely fleece blanket. There was plenty of storage space, two chairs and a t
      able, and a decent sized colour TV with a reasonable selection of channels. I need hardly mention the presence of the ubiquitous trouser-press, surely? The welcome guide was comprehensive and a 24-hour room service menu was available and looked decent. There's no minibar as such but - in what I reckon is probably a sensible idea for guest and hotelier alike - various "packs" (such as four bottles of beer and some peanuts) can be ordered and pre-paid for. We'd brought our own - but don't tell anybody. If you're wondering about baby Josh - he could have had a cot (or crib if ....) free of charge, but we'd just invested in a "Ready Bed" - essentially an airbed and sleeping bag in one - and given that it was adorned with Thomas the Tank Engine, he loved it. Nothing better than a happy chappy! The bathroom matched the room in the sense that it was somewhat small, but it was more than adequate and there plenty of decent towels and own-brand toiletries. Bridgewood Manor is owned by a well-respected independent hotel group called "Marston Hotels" and one really helpful thing that they do offer is a free baby-listening service. You coaxe your child to sleep and then call reception to invoke the service. You then leave the 'phone off the hook whilst you retire to the blissfully Scooby-Doo-free environment in the bar downstairs, whilst they keep an ear open for any stirrings. You have to fill in a consent form and let them know exactly where you are, of course, but it certainly helps to put your mind at rest whilst you escape for 45 minutes' respite from those meddlin' kids - and by that, I mean Shaggy and his friends - not Josh! Of course, the real reason we popped down to the bar was to get you a proper appraisal of the place - I'm totally selfless in that regard, you understand! There are two bars, and we chose the Terrace Bar - the more informal. It's a peaceful pl
      ace, with a calm ambience. It's here that you get the stone-lagged floor and the cast-iron chandeliers. There are comfortable sofas and an unobtrusive large-screen TV, as well as tables where you can enjoy a bar snack. I had a beer and Amanda had some white wine - the quality was fine and the prices were reasonable. Leading off from the bar was the leisure centre. We didn't try it, but there's a decent indoor pool and a fully-equipped spa, where you can book all manner of treatments if the fancy takes you. Satisfied, we headed back to our room and enjoyed a pleasant night's sleep in the really comfortable bed. Nice, thick curtains provided a perfect black-out on what was not a very dark summer's evening. I'm not really a fan of breakfast, but it was included in the deal, so down I went. A comprehensive buffet of cereals, pastries, fruit and juices was available and tea / coffee and toast could be ordered. The tea was superb. I inadvertantly ordered a full English breakfast. It was very good, but too filling for one so inexperienced in the art of early-morning eating. After a brief recovery session in our room, the time came to leave and we checked out quickly and efficiently. A friendly and comfortable hotel, fully deserving of its four AA stars, I can heartily recommend it to anyone who has, or can think of, a good reason to visit the Medway towns. Therein, however, lies the rub! I've a few more unusual locations up my sleeve for the week ahead.... Andrew Recommended Yes

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