New Ramada Jarvis chain hotel, situated 500m from Glasgow airport terminal. Marchburn Drive
Glasgow Airport Business Park
PA3 2SJ „
The Jarvis Hotel is a couple of miles north of Bristol in an area called Winterbourne. As a former country house built in the mid 19th century and with extensive grounds it has every going for it as a hotel. The Jarvis group have spent a lot of money refurbishing the place including an excellent Poolside leisure Club with swimming pool, spa, solarium and under-utilised exercise equipment. As is often the case the pool is a little small and you soon learn how a goldfish must feel swimming around the same extent of water only about 6 times your body length.
The rooms in the old part of the hotel are quite spacious but you may find those in the newer part little better than a motorway lodge for size. They are clean and tidy and have the obligatory tea-making facilities. All rooms are en-suite. The bar is cramped but nearby is a huge sitting room. I think with a little more thought this whole area could be considerably improved. As it is the bar gets very full and smoky whilst the sitting area resembles a particularly dull gentlemans club. The restaurant has a poor ambience to it. Occupying such a large space it also needs more thought how best to use the space.
The staff have a very functional attitude to their work, sure enough everything is done but there seemed to be an almost determined effort not to engage any of the guests. Rarely have I ever felt so intimidated by a lady serving at a bar. Friendly is not in the Jarvis, Bristol vocabulary.
The hotel is conveniently situated for a short drive to Bristol city centre either for business or pleasure. The attractions there would be Bristol's world famous zoo, Brunel's ship the SS Great Britain or the recently opened Harvey's Sherry museum.
The room at the Jarvis Bristol cost £89 for the night for single occupancy and this was reasonably acceptable considering the facilities available. If the Hotel wants to improve it needs to have a management led initiative on staff friendliness and some better use of some of its undoubted structural assets.
I must admit that I had some reservations about staying in the Ramada Jarvis Glasgow Airport. I had stayed in airport hotels before now, and in my experience they were generally built to be functional rather than welcoming, as guests only ever stayed one night on their way to or from a flight. They tended to be noisy places as well, with the sound of flights taking off and landing (and often heavy traffic) intruding during your stay. In short, they were places you only stayed in if you had to, out of necessity rather than pleasure, and they did nothing to enhance your holiday. In this case though, I really did have to - living in Newcastle, I was never going to be able to get to Glasgow airport in time for a mid-morning flight without staying overnight in the city. Besides, staying just 500m from the terminal meant that if anything went wrong (delayed trains, oversleeping on the day of my flight), then I had only to step outside the front door to find myself at the check-in desk! This particular hotel is on a small business park, situated right next door to Glasgow airport, about 7 miles outside of the city itself. I arrived in Glasgow by train, and found that accessing the site was very easy - shockingly easy considering I was confined to using public transport. Just outside of Glasgow's Central Station is a very big and obvious thoroughfare called Waterloo Street, from where you can catch one of the regular 905 buses that will take you and your luggage to the airport for just £3.30 per person (infinitely cheaper than taking a taxi). You are dropped right outside the terminal building about 15 minutes later. Now, at this stage I should point out that there is a local by-law that makes it illegal for pedestrians to walk between the terminal and any of the other buildings on the park, as it is just too dangerous. Ramada Jarvis provide a courtesy shuttle bus for guests to ferry them on the 500m journey between hotel and airport, though - you jus
t ne ed to give them a ring from the free phone inside the departures building. If you happen to be driving on the other hand, then I am reliably informed that you need to take junction 28 off the M8, from where the hotel is signposted, and park in one of the abundance of free spaces right outside the hotel. Having never stayed in a Ramada Jarvis hotel before, I found my first impressions were very good - the hotel was only a year old and very stylishly fitted out. They describe themselves in promotional material as being "chic and contemporary" and I couldn't really argue with that description. The reception area was large, spotlessly clean, tastefully decorated and subtlely lit; it was obviously somewhere than welcomed business guests on a regular basis. (To be honest, I felt quite out of place in my jeans and scruffy trainers!) Checking in was reasonably straightforward, although the receptionist did have some trouble finding my booking as my name had been incorrectly entered into the hotel's computer - rather than "Roberts", I was down as the more Scottish "Robertson" - although it didn't take long to get sorted out and an apology for the delay was offered. Armed with my key card and a complimentary newspaper, it was now time to investigate my room.... · The Room As impressively decorated and clean as the reception area, my room was far more upmarket, far posher than any other I had ever stayed in. As well as coming equipped with all the features you would expect of a modern chain hotel - en suite shower, tea and coffee making facilities, satellite TV, pay for view films, iron, trouser press, telephone, hairdryer.... - there were also a host of others I had not experienced before. Firstly, there was a large leather chair situated in perfect TV watching position, the sort of leather chair that looked like the hotel had been shopping at a Bond villain clearance sale. Honestly, it was
so comfortable I would had taken it with me if I c ould have made it fit in my suitcase! Secondly, the hotel offered herbal teas and hot chocolate alongside the regular tea and coffee, something I always welcome from a hotel, being no fan of PG Tips and Nescafe myself. It would have been nice if they had included a little pack of plain biscuits as well, but I am not going to complain hugely at this little point as at least I could go to bed with a hot drink, a rarity in most hotels in my experience. The other thing that impressed me with the room was the fact that they included a full bottle of Dove shower creme in the bathroom - not those useless little sachets that take forever to open and only contains a teaspoonful of content at the end of it all. But before you get any ideas of leaving with a free bottle of Dove, I should tell you that it comes securely fastened to the bathroom wall! ;-) My night's sleep in the Ramada Jarvis was very comfortable indeed. The bed came with adequate pillows and a duvet rather than those multiple layers of sheets that hotels normally use, the room was warm and I wasn't aware of any intruding noise. Yes, despite being so close to Glasgow airport that you felt you ought to duck whenever anything took off, despite having one of the largest motorways in Scotland right outside my window and despite the hotel being busy with other guests, my room was peaceful and quiet. The bathroom was also top notch, being that lovely pristine white of newly fitted tiles and stacked with abundant fluffy towels. The provision of toiletries was a little sparse of a hotel of this quality, though. Apart from the aforementioned bottle of shower creme and some handwash, there was nothing else - no shampoo, no flannels, no pointless little sewing kit, nothing. Not that this really mattered to me as I had brought everything I needed with me, but I felt a hotel advertising itself as being of 4 star quality really should
be able to give their guests some shampoo in their rooms. · The Food This Ramada Jarvis hotel comes equipped with its own restaurant, Bagios, where breakfast, lunch and dinner is served. It is located in the open plan entrance area near reception, which I didn't really like - you were in full view of arriving and departing guests, which somehow didn't feel very comfortable, not to mention the blasts of cold air that diners were assaulted with whenever the front doors opened. I didn't sample the lunch and dinner in this restaurant, so I am afraid I cannot comment on it other than to say it is very overpriced (£9.50 for a lasagne!). My recommendation to anyone staying at this hotel is to take advantage of the courtesy bus to go over to the airport terminal, where you will have a wider choice of eating and at more reasonable prices. The breakfast, on the other hand, I did try. Hotel breakfasts are for me one the best things about staying away; I normally eat a very sensible breakfast of branflakes and juice at home, so it is a great treat to be able to have things that I normally wouldn't eat. I had great expectations of things here being good, so I was a little disappointed to see what was on offer at breakfast. The choice seemed very limited for a hotel of this size (over 100 rooms), and healthy options were conspicuous only by their absence - there was no fruit or brown bread at all. I declined to try the cooked breakfast, as it had to individually ordered and cooked, and other guests seemed to be waiting for a long time for their food to appear. The other problem I had with the breakfast was that guests had to make their own toast. This is not because I am lazy, but rather than this was no ordinary toaster - it was the sort used in restaurant kitchens - and there were no instructions on how to operate it, or warnings that the tray the toast dropped into could get very hot. I ended up burning my fingers on i
t, which I was obviously none too impressed about. Would it honestly have been that difficult to put up a sign and leave some tongs for picking up the toast? Overall, breakfast was a very ordinary experience in terms of food and a rather painful one as well. · The Final Thoughts Overall I would say that my stay at the Ramada Jarvis Glasgow Airport hotel was a positive one, although there is some room for improvement. My room was excellent, staff were helpful and efficient and check out was very quick and easy, but breakfast let the hotel down by being limited in choice, slow in service and lethal in toaster. The one night stay cost £59.95 for a twin room with breakfast, booked through www.hotelshopuk.com, which was not exactly cheap, but I have had far worse hotel stays for higher prices before now so I am mostly satisfied with the cost. However, at this price I would have expected better food and more toiletries provided in my bathroom. I can certainly recommend this hotel for anyone wanting to use Glasgow airport - it couldn't be more conveniently located and is very easy to get to. Prices for rooms vary though, so I do suggest checking with the website I booked through as well as Ramada Jarvis' own website to get the best price. The official page for this hotel (including a virtual tour, booking information and special offers) can be found at: www.ramadajarvis.co.uk/hoverview.asp?id=324&hotelID=82