“ Bradford Road, Bingley West, Yorkshire, BD16 1TU, 44-844-8159004 „
I've attended 2 weddings at this hotel, admittedly both in the Summer when the weather was reasonable, so my review is from that perspective. Formerly known as the Bankfield prior to takeover by the Ramada chain, this hotel is set in its own substantial grounds, and thereby set well back from the busy Bradford-Bingley dual carriageway. The exterior is primarily traditional stone frontage as befits buildings in this region, complemented by some later add-ons as the hotel has expanded to accommodate more bed space. This has been done with the hotel's ambience in mind, and does not detract from the overall effect. Inside, the Ramada Bingley has a rather small and pokey reception area, which would, on the face of it, be swamped if a coach party turned up en masse. But, the reception rooms for functions are spacious and quite substantial, as are the bedrooms by and large. They are comfortable, with the usual amenities without going overboard, so it's a case of what you see is what you get. In other words fitting ther Ramada standard for those who've stayed at another of their facilities. The bar areas are quite good, with room for large(ish) gatherings, and which look out on to the grounds. A word of which - the rear gardens are excellent, leading our from the main (rear) reception room and main bar, with a paranoramic view of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside. A very good selling point. The staff are pleasant and generally good at their jobs, and make your stay a nice one. This extends to the breakfast/dining area, which is airy, spacious, and complemented by decent food. On the downside, the hotel's location means that if you want to nip out to buy a paper you'll need to use the car, ring a taxi, or get a bus. Don't think about walking, it'll take ages to get into Bingley. There's just nothing around there but road.
For those not so familiar with Yorkshire geography, Bingley is a real place and not just half of the Bradford and Bingley bank. It's located just to the north west of Bradford, nestled amongst some really pretty hilly scenery. To be fair, I couldn't have told you precisely where it was until I stayed there recently when visiting a factory in Bradford, about a 15 minute drive away. The hotel is just off a dual carriageway and was fairly quiet considering how close the road was. My first impressions on pulling into the car park were quite positive; the main hotel building really does look like a slightly spooky grand gothic castle, complete with a turret. Then I noticed the mish-mash of ill-matched 'wings' added to the hotel building and shuddered. The newest wing wasn't too bad, but to the other side of the old 'heart' of the building, was a monstrosity that immediately reminded me of an old student hall of residence. Setting aside the shudder, I headed in, up a few stone steps, through a grand door and into a wood-panelled lobby with the reception desk off to the side. The lobby had a beautiful wooden staircase reaching up towards a gorgeous high ceiling with a chandelier. The receptionist took my card, checked if I wanted a wake up call, a newspaper, a booking for dinner, pre-authorised my credit card to the tune of £90 (£70 for the room plus an allowance for 'incidentals') and directed me to my room - up the stairs, through the door on the left and along the corridor. I asked if I was in the old part of the hotel and she said 'yes'. And so I set off with a spring in my step, up the stairs with their stately home-style portraits, across the jazzy brightly coloured carpet and through the doors into the old part. It was very impressive with really high ceilings and I was starting to get excited. But after a short walk, the high-ceilinged corridor ran out, I was directed down a small set of stairs and found myself in the much less impressive hall of residence block. Such a shame to raise my hopes and then dash them again. My room was tucked at the end of a corridor and - as I discovered at 6 am the next morning - was a bit too close to the kitchens. The room itself was alright though the bathroom had clearly been decorated at a time when rather bolder colours must have been fashionable. The bedroom had a wardrobe just inside the door and the main part of the room had a large bed, a desk, bedside tables, a chair and a large flat screen television. The impression was that it had probably been decorated quite recently and all the furnishings were in good condition. The bathroom was a shocker - dark blue tiles picked out with mustard yellow. I know that removing tiles and re-tiling a bathroom is expensive and time consuming but the effect was like stepping back 30 years when you opened the bathroom door. There was a bath with a shower over, a loo and a rather pokey sink and vanity unit. Nicely both the bathroom and bedroom had windows that opened. I arrived quite late so I hurried down to the restaurant to get something to eat before it closed. The dining room is just off the panelled lobby and is a large, bright room. It was a Monday evening so perhaps not surprisingly the restaurant was quiet - in fact there was only one other table being used. I was therefore a bit surprised when the waitress led me to a table right next to the other one where I was able to listen to a surprisingly interesting conversation about 'print on demand' greetings cards - clearly the hotel is also popular with nearby Hallmark cards. The menu was quite long with a good choice of dishes at a range of prices. I asked for a diet coke and ordered a side salad to start and a prawn curry to follow. However, somewhere along the line the order got a bit confused and I received both dishes at the same time. As they arrived less than ten minutes after I ordered, I had to conclude that the curry had probably just been 'dinged' in the microwave. However, it was spicy with a good number of prawns although both the salad and the curry garnish were a bit over blessed with raw onions. The bill for dinner was about £15 and I grabbed an apple off the reception desk and headed back to my room to watch television. I slept very well until 6 am when an almighty racket, not unlike having a jack-hammer outside my window, brought me awake with a jolt. Parked right outside my window was a large refrigerated lorry delivering food to the kitchens. If I could have seen the driver I would have given him a real mouthful of abuse but he cleverly kept out of my sight. For five to ten minutes I could do nothing but hang out of the window in frustration until he finally drove away. Breakfast next morning was a fairly good spread - nothing that special or out of the ordinary, but the food was fine and the coffee was good. I headed back to my room, packed and checked out. The room was £75 for the night including breakfast and I would be relatively happy to go back but not unless I could get a promise for a room in the old wing and definitely not one right next to the kitchen.