Putting Britons up for the night in consistently reasonably priced and decent rooms is sweet business.
The ever present Premier Inn proved that again recently, delivering one other bumper set of results for its parent group Whitbread.
Yet, while a room under one among its hotels’ purple signs normally provides the needed combination of reliable quality and a cushty place to flop, it’s unlikely to win any style points and won’t be essentially the most inspiring of evenings.
This creates an obvious gap available in the market that Soho House – the fashionable chain of members clubs – has decided to step into with its Mollie’s motels.
Mollie’s Motel & Diner at Cribbs Causeway on the outskirts of Bristol is Soho House’s second foray into the budget hotel market
The concept is easy. Take the consistently reasonably priced and decent quality rooms recipe and add a classy twist, with Soho House-designed interiors and an Americana vibe, to nab a few of that roaring overnight trade.
There’s a sprinkling of high-tech stuff at Mollie’s to appeal to today’s digitally-minded traveller: similar to an app to check-in and solid to the room’s TV, order foods and drinks, use as a key to your room. And, after all, you possibly can charge your electric automobile if you’ve one.
On top of that, there may be also Mollie’s Diner – a slice of American roadside retro serving food all day that’s open to guests and the general public.
There are currently just two Mollie’s motels, the primary in Oxfordshire and the second on the outskirts of Bristol, while a 3rd variation on the theme is attributable to open in Manchester’s Old Granada Studios this 12 months. Ten more are within the pipeline.
To check out the way it compares to Britain’s budget hotel giants, I stayed the night at Mollie’s Bristol, perched above the M5 at Cribbs Causeway on the northern outskirts of town. Mollie’s says rooms start from £70 but you usually tend to pay about £80 to £95 and potentially more on popular nights.
You could have guessed already that Cribbs Causeway is just not essentially the most glamourous of locations – it’s your classic edge-of-city web of dual carriageways and retail parks – but Mollie’s manages to face out from a colorless crowd with its stylish black angular diner in front of the motel.
In an interesting juxtaposition, it’s next to a Travelodge, which looks distinctly quaint by comparison. A fast check online showed that Travelodge coming out at the same price for a room as Mollie’s on popular nights.
I’ve never stayed on the Cribb’s Causeway Travelodge, so I won’t judge what that’s like, but I actually have spent the night at loads of others and lots of a Premier Inn before, so how does the Mollie’s experience compare to that pair normally?
It’s undeniably a more stylish prospect than my previous experiences at either a Premier Inn or Travelodge.
The reception desk at Mollie’s doubles as a bar and low shop at the guts of a lounge area
First impressions are good. Mollie’s Bristol’s 123 rooms are housed in a pair of three-storey, black clad buildings with a central glass-fronted lobby and courtyard garden behind that.
It doesn’t quite tick all of the classic American movie motel boxes: you don’t get to park directly in front of your bedroom door and as an alternative pull up within the automobile park around the back. It’s also missing the stereotypical bored motel clerk present in Hollywood’s versions.
Entering the constructing you might be met with a reception desk that doubles as bar and low shop – where you possibly can check in old-fashioned, non-app style in the event you wish or simply order a drink – at the guts of a lounge area with tables, chairs and low-slung sofa and armchair seating.
It’s clearly designed as a spot to hang around, whether for a drink within the evening or coffee within the daytime, and has areas clearly aimed toward those doing a little bit of WFM – working from motel.
Behind the lobby is a garden area with planting and seating, with bedrooms on the three floors of the inner side of each buildings overlooking it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get one among those and as an alternative got a ground floor room overlooking the automobile park. It known as a motel, so you possibly can’t really complain about that, but on a return visit, I’d request one among the rooms overlooking the garden.
Bedrooms are a cut above budget hotel rivals’s styling with wood panelling, Conran furniture, plush sheets and Cowshed toiletries
The bedroom itself lived as much as Mollie’s promise of a ‘high-spec contemporary room’ and was stylish decorated and well laid out.
It looked and felt high-end, with partitions partially clad in natural oak slat panelling, an armchair, small table and chair, a floor standing lamp, wooden floors and a giant comfortable bed. There was the whole lot you’d must get comfortable and calm down – and when you pulled the thick floor-to-ceiling curtains there was calm and privacy from the world outside.
After driving down solo after work from London and arriving at about 8pm, I used to be keen to get out of the room though and into Mollie’s Diner, with the considered cold beer and a rack of ribs on my mind.
Housed in a barn-style constructing, with an open kitchen down one side, booth and table seating and, after all, some retro American diner décor, this offers something that is a cut above what you normally find on the Premier Inn, Travelodge and even Novotel.
An all-day menu from midday has what you’d expect on it: nachos, hot wings, salads, burgers, ribs, mac and cheese, steaks etc. Yet, while it’s easy to put in writing this sort of menu, years of dining experience has taught me that it’s harder for places to drag off getting the food right.
Mollie’s Diner does manage that trick though: hot wings were spicy and flavoursome, set off nicely by a classic blue cheese sauce, while the half rack of ribs was meaty, quality pork that fell off the bone and was so substantial that I used to be glad the menu hadn’t tried to tempt me with a full rack.
An area pale ale from Bristol Beer Factory was indeed ice cold and the menu had a collection of well-considered and cheap wines, including an honest Castelao from Portugal and a Chilean merlot.
Back in my room that night, I slept soundly and comfortably, with no disturbance from outside noise or the motorway, although there was a little bit of internal noise that crept through as early birds made their exits.
Mollie’s Diner is the chain’s tackle the classic American roadside diner, with an open kitchen on one side and booth and table seating taking on the remainder of the barn style constructing
That morning I returned to sample Mollie’s Diner’s tackle American-style breakfast, with a menu offering granola, pancakes, eggs many alternative ways, and, after all, a full English. After the meal the night before, I wasn’t choosing the latter, so selected just scrambled eggs, bacon and sourdough toast. Albeit somewhat strangely, I needed to order scrambled eggs and salmon, remove the fish and add bacon to realize this mix.
Then it was time to get back to my room, grab my stuff and head on my way. Pitstop at Mollie’s over and done.
Would I stay again? I probably wouldn’t rush to holiday in Cribbs Causeway – although it is rather conveniently situated near the inland browsing lake at The Wave (where I used to be headed) some lovely countryside and, after all, Bristol – but I’d definitely return to a Mollie’s.
As a convenient reasonably priced place to remain, it beats anything I’ve experienced from the 2 big name British budget hotel offerings hands down. The one downside is that duo have hotels in just about any mainstream location you would like, but there is barely a number of Mollie’s.
If Soho House can roll out more Mollie’s while keeping the standard level high, it may very well be onto a winner.
Simon Lambert was a guest of Mollie’s. More information at Mollies.com.
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