Scribblings from the hard shoulder of the Information Superhighway

Ring My Bell

(Anita Ward)

I recently had cause to visit Thame for a business meeting that was due to start early in the morning. Well, too early to sensibly travel to Oxfordshire from the badlands of Essex, so an overnight was agreed, with a working dinner the night before the meeting.

The company I was due to visit had a corporate deal with ‘The Belfry’ so we were booked in there.

Oxford Belfry @ tolfalas.com

Check-in, by Alex, was prompt, professional and polite, despite the imminent arrival of a bus load of tourists from, I think, China.

I’ve visited China, and compared to X’Ian, Shanghai and Beijing, Thame on a chilly February Wednesday must seem, no pun intended, very tame.

Once checked in it soon became apparent that the hotel is a veritable warren, it’s been extended and extended over the years. There are a number of comfortable lounges and ‘break out areas’ scattered around but the route to my room (130) seemed a veritable trek.

Even more so later in the evening when my swipe card door key ‘forgot’ everything.

The room itself was fine with a large comfortable bed, large flat-screen TV, safe, iron and ironing-board and tea & coffee making facilities.
Oxford Belfry Room 130 @ Tolfalas.com
The bathroom was, to be honest, a little tired looking, shower curtains are so 1980’s. The room temperature was okay, neither warm nor cold, but I couldn’t find how to adjust it.Bathroom - Oxford Belfry Room 130 @ Tolfalas.com

The major flaw about room 130 is actually somewhere outside the room, a motor – maybe an air-conditioner – that ran through the night with a low level rumble; not loud enough to be obtrusive, but just loud enough to make getting back to sleep difficult.

WiFi was free and easy to connect, returning about 4Mb/s up and down.

In the evening we met up for drinks in the bar, a large room that, like the hotel, seems to ramble. There are corners and groups of seats with both high and low tables. Most of the guests were obviously business people, either watching stuff on tablets (the days of reading books in hotel bars and restaurants seem to be long gone), or gathered round laptops, talking through the following day’s presentations.

2016-02-17 19.24.11

I felt genuinely sorry for the young couple away on a romantic break, she dressed to the nines and tottering in heels, he buying glasses of something fizzy and both getting souvenir photographs taken by the hotel staff. They looked SO out of place on a cold Wednesday evening.

The Chinese didn’t venture into the bar, which is a shame as they might have learned more about modern Britain’s corporate culture that a dozen seminars.

We dined in the hotel bar, a colleague ordered the ‘Chicken Caesar Salad’ which came, bizarrely, with sliced chicken, much as you’d get from a supermarket. I ordered the signature ‘Q’ burger (this being a ‘Q’ Hotel) and while it was not over cooked (I hate over cooked burgers) nor was the cheese and bacon topping. Not impressed.

That said, I wasn’t holding out much hope for breakfast next morning, but was very pleasantly surprised. The breakfast buffet was as good a spread as I’ve experienced in a UK hotel, a good range of cereals, patisserie, cold cuts and cooked breakfast ingredients.

So, all in all, a slightly tired hotel, with reasonable rooms. A little refresh wouldn’t go amiss, but I’ve stayed in worse.

Much, much worse.

Rating: ★★★½☆