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Feb 26 2011

On the road

So far this year I seem to be spending a lot of time away from home. Specifically, I seem to be spending a lot of time working from our Bracknell office – it was 3 days last week and 4 days this week. Inevitably, I spend a fair amount of time at hotels in and around the area. While there’s a Travelodge right next to our building (which is great if you need a short commute time and the staff are friendly there), I prefer somewhere that has a few more home comforts if I’m honest.

So in no particular order, these are my favourite places to stay:

  • The Elvetham Hotel, Hartley Wintney. This is a 30 minute drive away, so it’s just about on the limit of what I’m happy to tolerate. It’s not always possible to get a room at what I regard as being a reasonable rate (i.e. one that’s within our expenses limits!) but it quite often is, particularly if you leave booking it until the last minute. £75 bed and breakfast is typically what I reckon to pay.

Plus points: Very comfortable; free internet access; fabulous grounds that are good to walk round when the evenings are a bit lighter; good food.

Minus points: Bar prices are a bit, well, pricey, particularly for wine.

  • The Fines Bayliwick Hotel, Binfield. I first stayed here in the late 1980s, when I was attending a training course at HP’s nearby facility. I re-acquainted myself with if after I joined Software AG in 2001 and I’ve stopped there many times since, the most recent being a couple of weeks ago. It changed hands 3 or 4 years ago. Similar in price to the Elvetham if you book a double room for single occupancy, there have been some recent improvements, most notable being the new flat screen televisions in the bedrooms with access to all the Freeview channels. They used to operate an honesty bar under the original owners which was quaint, but presumably people aren’t as honest these days.

Plus points: Each room is unique; free internet access; friendly owners; breakfast.

Minus points: The single rooms are small – and one in particular is very, very small! Not worth saving £10 for if you have the option to take a double for single occupancy. Evening meals are a little pricey, but there is a choice of either Indian or English dishes.

  • Holly House, Bracknell. A guest house, rather than a hotel, with (I think) four rooms. I’ve only stopped there once, but it was very comfortable. I keep meaning to go back, because it was very good indeed. The owner is very welcoming and attentive, but without being overbearing.

Plus points: Fabulous breakfast, freshly cooked to order, eaten at a big table with the other guests.  Make sure you have plenty of time available to enjoy it! Free internet access.

Minus points: None I can think of.

  • Premier Inn, Ascot. Amazingly, the most expensive of the four hotels in this post to stay at. It’s usually available for around £80, with breakfast being about £8 extra. Despite the age of the chalets the rooms are in, they are comfortable, even if the bathrooms can be a little cold at times.

Plus points: Very comfortable and large beds (important if you’re tall like me); it shares the same site as a Beefeater restaurant – and sometimes only a steak will do.

Minus points: Internet access is an additional £10 for the day (and there are no nearby BT FON hotspots to piggyback onto instead); the main car park is cramped and I’m always worried that my car will get scraped by someone; and it’s all a bit impersonal really.

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