Bingley – Mercure Bradford Bankfield

Hotel prices at weekends are at the highest levels I’ve seen them in the UK at the moment, which has required me to be quite creative. There’s near 100% occupancy in chain hotels across the north of the country, a result of people wanting to have some weekends away. For my Saturday night stay the Mercure at Bradford Bankfield was showing at £45 for a double room, which was very cheap compared to everywhere else and seems to be a quirk, perhaps someone just cancelling. I also have a heap of Accor rewards points, so paid for most of it with that.

I walked for twenty minutes from Bingley to get here and it’s an impressive building and I tried to ensure that I didn’t include the wedding party in my photo who were having photos taken outside the front of the main entrance. Unfortunately, Mercures in country locations in the UK generally have a poor reputation, and I had low expectations of this one, usually the grand frontages hide some dated rooms in cheap extensions.

“Set in a Gothic style mansion house surrounded by landscaped gardens, the Mecure Bradford, Bankfield Hotel is a peaceful retreat and a short stroll from the banks of the River Aire.”

The above is what the hotel has written, and ignoring the issue they can’t spell the hotel name, they’ve probably set up expectations here of a grand country house that they clearly can’t deliver on. Most of the hotel isn’t in a Gothic style mansion house, it’s in more modern extensions that are quite rickety. That means guests expecting they’ll be in lovely historic rooms won’t get what they hoped for.

I also only realised after leaving that the hotel has been dumping inventory on Groupon, which in nearly all circumstances I’ve ever encountered is a sign that there are huge problems in getting customers and it’s almost always a last resort. They’d perhaps be better just reducing their prices on Accor’s web-site rather than handing over a big cut to Groupon, but there we go….. It could be claimed that it’s great marketing, but it doesn’t look like that, they’ve got some devastating reviews because they’ve over-promised a country house luxury stay and haven’t delivered on that to Groupon customers.

Anyway, I digress.

The main hall. The welcome at reception was helpful and the staff member apologised that he couldn’t offer me a free upgrade as they were full. To be fair to them, I was aware of that as the hotel filled soon after I booked the room that I did, so they were being entirely honest there. They didn’t bother with the welcome gift though, which they should have done, although the drinks voucher was pro-actively offered. I was nearly charged the wrong amount for the room, but it was soon fixed.

I was aware that the bedroom was small when I booked, probably too small for two people, but fine for me.

I think that the bathroom was about the same size as the bedroom….. There were some basic maintenance issues that needed addressing here that the hotel probably should have already fixed, such as the state of that window ledge.

I took my welcome drink back to the room as I didn’t want to get in the way of the wedding that was taking place. As a drinks option, this Goose Island bottle is perfectly acceptable to me.

The room wasn’t really clean enough, although it sufficed for me as I have relatively low standards here, otherwise I’d permanently be at receptions complaining. The bedding was clean, but the floor wasn’t and they had left half-used shower gels in the little bottles in the bathroom rather than replace them. That was shoddy and cost-cutting they shouldn’t be engaged with. Those mini bottles are a slight environmental disaster as it is, but they should be thrown away if they’re part-used.

There’s no air conditioning in the room, although it’s an old building and so that’s not surprising. But, they haven’t bothered with putting fans in the room, and even Travelodge and Premier Inn do that. This to me is an omission, they should be doing this. I was also staying only for one night so this doesn’t affect me, but the hotel is saying it isn’t cleaning rooms for Covid cleanliness reasons. This is a little disingenuous, every other hotel I’ve stayed at recently is now moving back towards the usual housekeeping schedule. If they are short staffed then that’s fair enough, but they shouldn’t be claiming they’re doing it for cleanliness reasons, especially when they’re not properly cleaning the rooms anyway.

The reviews for the hotel aren’t great and they should perhaps be most alarmed about how they’re doing badly on service looking at Google Reviews, that should usually be around 4.2 to 4.6 out of 5, but it’s down at 3.5 here. It’s easy to assume reviews aren’t reliable, but trends like that usually tell a story. There are a lot of negative reviews, although this one was quite blunt:

“Worst hotel ever, no staff on reception. No food despite being pre booked my room has no lock and the door can be pushed open easily. The bedding was dirty. The curtains were falling down. The walls are like paper thin. I could go on for days. So instead of staying here give yourself a free upgrade and just sleep in a cardboard box outside the conditions will be much better”

No lock? That’s not ideal. The walls were quite thin, although this was only evident to me in the morning as I could hear the television next door. The doors probably also need door closers on them as well to try and reduce noise, rather than them slamming shut.

“Getting my bill right was clearly a major problem for the lady and she didn’t manage it (a subsequent charge to my credit card) as, in her words, she was emotional over the death of a disabled pigeon that morning. Clearly the cycle of nature passed her by. Food was adequate (no pigeon on the menu) but expensive as were the drinks. Bedroom was comfortable but the shower was unadjustable – fiercely hot all the time and unusable. A totally unsatisfactory stay and despite its convenience we shall not return.”

I don’t want to make light of the disabled pigeon, but that review did amuse me.

I can’t complain too much because the room rate was one of the cheapest in the area, but they often charge higher rates and I’m not confident they’re offering the standard of service that they should be. For my stay, it was entirely acceptable, but I wouldn’t stay here again.