Tag Archives: Hotel

Grand Hotel from Church Street – scaffolding

Grand Hotel from Church Street – scaffolding
Church furniture
Image by ell brown
The Grand Hotel from Church Street then going onto Colmore Row. Still being refurbished, as scaffolding still at the top of it.

The side of the Grand Hotel from Church Street.

This is a large hotel in a listed building. It is about 150 years old and fronts St Philips Churchyard. Demolition of the building was proposed however there were strong objections to this because of the grand architecture. It will not be demolished and is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, internally and externally.

It is a Grade II* listed building.

A busy lunchtime, loads of people around town.

Hotel, offices and shops. Colmore Road range of 1876 by Thomson Plevins, re-arranged internally in 1890-91 by William Martin and John H. Chamberlain with additions to Church Street and Barwick Streets of the 1880s and 1890s and a further range to Barwick Street of 1894 by Martin and Chamberlain. Ashlar and brick with stone dressings and hipped slate roofs with lead dressings. Principally French C17 and C18, a style first used on a large hotel at the Great Western Hotel Paddington by P.C.Hardwick in 1851 and later by J.T.Knowles Snr. & Jnr. at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria. Four to six storeys with attics, lower ground floor and basements.
EXTERIOR
The Colmore Row front is of 22 bays and symmetrical, divided into 5 distinct sections having pavilions of 5 bays with Mansard roofs at the corners and a similar, central pavilion of 4 bays. Pilasters are used across the front to group the fenestration and as a decorative motif, being rusticated, panelled or divided. Windows are horned sashes bearing plate glass panes. At ground floor level are shop fronts, all of which have been altered from their original appearance. The left hand end pavilion has the main hotel porch doorway at centre, which has paired columns and plinths of red granite with Corinthian capitals and single pilaster responds at either side of the door. This appears to have been part of the re-modelling of C.1890. To the right hand end pavilion and to right of centre are semi-glazed doors both of which have surrounds with pediments. These give access to staircases which lead up to offices. The first floor windows are all arched with bands of floral decoration at the level of the springing. The second floor windows have segmental heads and aedicular surrounds with brackets supporting segmental pediments and the third floor windows have a cresting of undercut decoration above the windows. At fourth floor level the windows all have arched heads and the ranges between the pavilions are here recessed with a shallow decorative balustrade. To the fifth floor the pavilions have panels above and to the sides of the windows. Elsewhere are aedicular surrounds set in Mansard roofs. The steep roofs of the 3 pavillions terminate in rectangular platforms with a decorative iron balustrade. Tall chimneys, placed so as to counteract the symmetry, have been truncated. The shop front to No. 25, Colmore Row dates from the 1930s.
The Church Street façade has 7 bays at right which date from Plevins’ work with possible later alterations by Martin and Chamberlain c.1891. Decoratively they are similar to the Colmore row front. To the left are 6 bays of 4 storeys, probably built in the 1880s to which 3 further storeys were added in the 1890s. The ground slopes down from Colmore Row, gradually exposing the lower ground floor. The ashlar walling to both Church Street and Colmore Row has been painted since the 1970s.
The Barwick Street front consists of 3 ranges, all of brick with ashlar dressings. That at right is of 5 bays and a continuation of the Church Street block of the 1880s and 90s, already referred to above. Here it has arched openings to the lower ground and first floors and aedicular surrounds to the ground floor. The left block is of 4 bays and 4 floors with an attic. Between these is the extension by Martin and Chamberlain which houses the entrance to the Stock Rooms at Lower Ground level. Above is the 2-storey ballroom with 6 large, arched windows. The drawing room windows to right of this and the bedroom windows above it are all canted bays which project from the wall to form mutli-storeyed oriels. The brick piers between the windows are also angled and the windows appear to project from, but also to be set into, the thickness of the walls. Each bay is capped by a gablet and there are hipped dormers above. The opposite side of this range, which faces onto the narrow courtyard at the centre of the site, is similar save that it is of yellow brick.
INTERIOR
The staircase halls at ground and first floor levels each have 2 paired marble columns with granite bases. That at first floor level has pilaster responds, round arches and decorative plaster to the ceilings and there are floral motifs to the cast iron balustrade. Two first floor rooms to the corner of Colmore Row and Church Street, with views towards the cathedral, appear to retain their original plan form. The billiard rooms in the basement have had a suspended ceiling inserted but show evidence of the original ceiling decoration with encased beams and gilded leaves to the cornices. The range in Barwick Street by Martin and Chamberlain contains the Grosvenor Room which has richly elaborate plasterwork. Six bays by two bays, each bay is marked by a round arch, those to the road front having windows and those opposite forming a colonnade into which a balcony with iron balustrade was inserted in the 1930s. The bays are divided by Corinthian pilasters which support brackets and beams. There is elaborate stucco work to the spandrels where cherubs support the halves of a scrolled pediment upon which figures in high relief recline. The ceiling is divided into panels with more high relief stucco to the surrounds, some of it undercut to allow for ventilation as per the architects’ instructions. Martin and Chamberlain appear, from surviving drawings, to have left a shell to be completed by an unidentified decorator although the dado panelling of Ashburton and Ogwell marbles is indicated. The Crush Room is similarly decorated with marble panelling and stucco. The Grosvenor drawing room has boiseries, the panels of which originally held amber silk. Rich carving to the doors and stucco to the ceiling and cornice with very elaborate door furniture of white metal. Fireplace with marble slips, metal and tiled insert and overmantel.
The Anatomical Boot Co Ltd at 25 Colmore Row has an early C20 shop interior of c.1909 when the company moved to the premises. Iron columns which support the upper building can be seen in the side walls, presumably from the Plevins building of 1875. The ceiling is panelled and papered with Lincrusta and there is a frieze with stylised paterae and trygliphs, also of Lincrusta, running around the front of the shop and across a wooden screen which divides the space. This has 3 cusped arches supported on columns and lattice work to the upper body with a miniature balustrade and finials.

HISTORY: The Second Birmingham Improvement Act of 1861 cleared the way for the redevelopment of Colmore Row. The Great Western Railway had built Snow Hill Station in 1853, close by, and this was rebuilt in 1870. Leases on the Georgian properties in Colmore Row began to fall in by the 1860s and demolition started in 1870. A new road, Barwick Street, behind Colmore Row, was constructed in the 1870s with frontages which were mostly of brick and stone.
Several separate plots of land were acquired to create the site of the current hotel which takes up the greater part of the block bounded by Colmore Row, Barwick Street, Church Street and Livery Street. Isaac Horton and Thomson Plevins, who was to become his architect, were both active in acquiring land and developing it in line with the improvements in the 1861 Act. The Colmore Row frontage was theirs by 1875, although the right hand portion came fully into their hands a little later. Thomson Plevins was architect and he issued three separate contracts for the building of the Colmore Row front and work started with the pavilion at the corner with Church Street. Next it extended to the right as far as the central pavilion. Lastly the balancing range and corner pavilion completed the symmetrical composition.
The hotel opened in 1879 and a contemporary advertisement referred to "Commercial rooms, stock rooms and every convenience for commercial men… large rooms for dinners, weddings, breakfasts, meetings, arbitrations etc." There were 100 bedrooms, with 60 more unfinished at the time of opening, a restaurant with separate entrance in Church Street and 2 coffee rooms. The inclusion of Stock Rooms, where businessmen could demonstrate their products to each other, shows that the hotel was directed towards this market. Placed near to Snow Hill Station, the hotel aimed to attract commercial visitors from out of town. In the early 1880s the corner site on Church Street and Barwick Street was added to the hotel with a building of four storeys plus basement which was extended in 1894 by another 3 storeys. Also in the 1880s another large plot of land facing on to Barwick Street and Livery Street and turning the corner to connect with the Colmore Row facade was developed with a 5 storey block, called Great Western Buildings, of which a 4-bay section now survives on Barwick Street and is part of the hotel.
In 1890, before the end of the lease the hotel appears to have failed and the building was handed back to the landlords. Hortons’ Estates decided to re-order the interior of the Grand and newspaper reports spoke of £40,000 spent by the prominent Birmingham architects, Martin and Chamberlain. The Birmingham Daily Post recorded the hotel as "entirely reconstructed, decorated and furnished" and the Midland Counties Herald wrote that "although the external walls are retained, there is practically a new building on the old site, and all that remains of the old building is the facade on Colmore Row". The contractors were Barnsley and Son of Ryland Street North and the building was furnished and decorated by Norton and Co. of Corporation St. There was electric lighting to the public rooms and gas in the bedrooms. As well as the Stock Rooms and an arbitration suite there was a series of reception rooms called the Windsor Suite and a banqueting and ballroom. The grandest of all the reception rooms was built in 1894 when Martin and Chamberlain were asked to fill the remaining gap along the Barwick side of the site. They built a large new ballroom called the Grosvenor Room, together with a Drawing Room, arched internal colonnade and crush hall. The architects’ drawings show that the ballroom was designed as a shell and the elaborate decoration was entrusted to decorators [perhaps Norton and Co. once more]. Five upper floors contained 75 new bedrooms. Other alterations at this time included 2 additional billiard rooms in the hotel basement.
In the 1970s the architects Harper and Sperring undertook a modernisation of the interior and the exterior stone work on the Colmore Row and Church Street fronts was painted with a cement wash.
The inclusion of rooms designed to appeal to businessmen was paralleled at the City Terminus Hotel, Cannon Street, London and the Caledonian Hotel, Glasgow. Amongst listed hotels in London, the Grosvenor, Buckingham Palace Road, the Russell, Russell Square are comparable in date and in their provision of grand public spaces, as is the former Midland Grand Hotel, Euston Road [grade I]and the Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester [grade II*].

The Grand Hotel block forms one of the largest C19 buildings in central Birmingham. Within the overall urban context, and most particularly within its immediate neighbourhood, it makes a very positive and well-mannered contribution to the townscape. Placed in close proximity to James Archer’s magnificent Church of St Philip [now the Cathedral], it achieves the difficult task of not dominating its smaller neighbour but still retaining individuality, most particularly by its distinctive skyline. The Barwick Street façade of the block designed in 1894 by Martin and Chamberlain is a fine work by this noted practice and shows an assured and interesting handling of masses. Inside are some especially fine original interiors including the principal staircase and, most notably, the rich and impressive French style decoration of the Grosvenor Room, Grosvenor Drawing Room and Crush Room. Elsewhere there is evidence of the Stock Rooms, which were an essential part of the original commercial accent of the hotel, as well as the rare survival of the shop interior at the Anatomical Boot Co.,25 Colmore Row. The special qualities of this building merit its listing at II*.

The building forms a group with the Cathedral Church of St Philip, St Philip’s Churchyard; 55, 61-67 and 71-73 Colmore Row and 4, Temple Row West [q.v.].

Grand Hotel – Colmore Row – Heritage Gateway

Grand Hotel from Church Street

Grand Hotel from Church Street
Church furniture
Image by ell brown
The Grand Hotel from Church Street then going onto Colmore Row. Still being refurbished, as scaffolding still at the top of it.

The side of the Grand Hotel from Church Street.

This is a large hotel in a listed building. It is about 150 years old and fronts St Philips Churchyard. Demolition of the building was proposed however there were strong objections to this because of the grand architecture. It will not be demolished and is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, internally and externally.

It is a Grade II* listed building.

A busy lunchtime, loads of people around town.

Hotel, offices and shops. Colmore Road range of 1876 by Thomson Plevins, re-arranged internally in 1890-91 by William Martin and John H. Chamberlain with additions to Church Street and Barwick Streets of the 1880s and 1890s and a further range to Barwick Street of 1894 by Martin and Chamberlain. Ashlar and brick with stone dressings and hipped slate roofs with lead dressings. Principally French C17 and C18, a style first used on a large hotel at the Great Western Hotel Paddington by P.C.Hardwick in 1851 and later by J.T.Knowles Snr. & Jnr. at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria. Four to six storeys with attics, lower ground floor and basements.
EXTERIOR
The Colmore Row front is of 22 bays and symmetrical, divided into 5 distinct sections having pavilions of 5 bays with Mansard roofs at the corners and a similar, central pavilion of 4 bays. Pilasters are used across the front to group the fenestration and as a decorative motif, being rusticated, panelled or divided. Windows are horned sashes bearing plate glass panes. At ground floor level are shop fronts, all of which have been altered from their original appearance. The left hand end pavilion has the main hotel porch doorway at centre, which has paired columns and plinths of red granite with Corinthian capitals and single pilaster responds at either side of the door. This appears to have been part of the re-modelling of C.1890. To the right hand end pavilion and to right of centre are semi-glazed doors both of which have surrounds with pediments. These give access to staircases which lead up to offices. The first floor windows are all arched with bands of floral decoration at the level of the springing. The second floor windows have segmental heads and aedicular surrounds with brackets supporting segmental pediments and the third floor windows have a cresting of undercut decoration above the windows. At fourth floor level the windows all have arched heads and the ranges between the pavilions are here recessed with a shallow decorative balustrade. To the fifth floor the pavilions have panels above and to the sides of the windows. Elsewhere are aedicular surrounds set in Mansard roofs. The steep roofs of the 3 pavillions terminate in rectangular platforms with a decorative iron balustrade. Tall chimneys, placed so as to counteract the symmetry, have been truncated. The shop front to No. 25, Colmore Row dates from the 1930s.
The Church Street façade has 7 bays at right which date from Plevins’ work with possible later alterations by Martin and Chamberlain c.1891. Decoratively they are similar to the Colmore row front. To the left are 6 bays of 4 storeys, probably built in the 1880s to which 3 further storeys were added in the 1890s. The ground slopes down from Colmore Row, gradually exposing the lower ground floor. The ashlar walling to both Church Street and Colmore Row has been painted since the 1970s.
The Barwick Street front consists of 3 ranges, all of brick with ashlar dressings. That at right is of 5 bays and a continuation of the Church Street block of the 1880s and 90s, already referred to above. Here it has arched openings to the lower ground and first floors and aedicular surrounds to the ground floor. The left block is of 4 bays and 4 floors with an attic. Between these is the extension by Martin and Chamberlain which houses the entrance to the Stock Rooms at Lower Ground level. Above is the 2-storey ballroom with 6 large, arched windows. The drawing room windows to right of this and the bedroom windows above it are all canted bays which project from the wall to form mutli-storeyed oriels. The brick piers between the windows are also angled and the windows appear to project from, but also to be set into, the thickness of the walls. Each bay is capped by a gablet and there are hipped dormers above. The opposite side of this range, which faces onto the narrow courtyard at the centre of the site, is similar save that it is of yellow brick.
INTERIOR
The staircase halls at ground and first floor levels each have 2 paired marble columns with granite bases. That at first floor level has pilaster responds, round arches and decorative plaster to the ceilings and there are floral motifs to the cast iron balustrade. Two first floor rooms to the corner of Colmore Row and Church Street, with views towards the cathedral, appear to retain their original plan form. The billiard rooms in the basement have had a suspended ceiling inserted but show evidence of the original ceiling decoration with encased beams and gilded leaves to the cornices. The range in Barwick Street by Martin and Chamberlain contains the Grosvenor Room which has richly elaborate plasterwork. Six bays by two bays, each bay is marked by a round arch, those to the road front having windows and those opposite forming a colonnade into which a balcony with iron balustrade was inserted in the 1930s. The bays are divided by Corinthian pilasters which support brackets and beams. There is elaborate stucco work to the spandrels where cherubs support the halves of a scrolled pediment upon which figures in high relief recline. The ceiling is divided into panels with more high relief stucco to the surrounds, some of it undercut to allow for ventilation as per the architects’ instructions. Martin and Chamberlain appear, from surviving drawings, to have left a shell to be completed by an unidentified decorator although the dado panelling of Ashburton and Ogwell marbles is indicated. The Crush Room is similarly decorated with marble panelling and stucco. The Grosvenor drawing room has boiseries, the panels of which originally held amber silk. Rich carving to the doors and stucco to the ceiling and cornice with very elaborate door furniture of white metal. Fireplace with marble slips, metal and tiled insert and overmantel.
The Anatomical Boot Co Ltd at 25 Colmore Row has an early C20 shop interior of c.1909 when the company moved to the premises. Iron columns which support the upper building can be seen in the side walls, presumably from the Plevins building of 1875. The ceiling is panelled and papered with Lincrusta and there is a frieze with stylised paterae and trygliphs, also of Lincrusta, running around the front of the shop and across a wooden screen which divides the space. This has 3 cusped arches supported on columns and lattice work to the upper body with a miniature balustrade and finials.

HISTORY: The Second Birmingham Improvement Act of 1861 cleared the way for the redevelopment of Colmore Row. The Great Western Railway had built Snow Hill Station in 1853, close by, and this was rebuilt in 1870. Leases on the Georgian properties in Colmore Row began to fall in by the 1860s and demolition started in 1870. A new road, Barwick Street, behind Colmore Row, was constructed in the 1870s with frontages which were mostly of brick and stone.
Several separate plots of land were acquired to create the site of the current hotel which takes up the greater part of the block bounded by Colmore Row, Barwick Street, Church Street and Livery Street. Isaac Horton and Thomson Plevins, who was to become his architect, were both active in acquiring land and developing it in line with the improvements in the 1861 Act. The Colmore Row frontage was theirs by 1875, although the right hand portion came fully into their hands a little later. Thomson Plevins was architect and he issued three separate contracts for the building of the Colmore Row front and work started with the pavilion at the corner with Church Street. Next it extended to the right as far as the central pavilion. Lastly the balancing range and corner pavilion completed the symmetrical composition.
The hotel opened in 1879 and a contemporary advertisement referred to "Commercial rooms, stock rooms and every convenience for commercial men… large rooms for dinners, weddings, breakfasts, meetings, arbitrations etc." There were 100 bedrooms, with 60 more unfinished at the time of opening, a restaurant with separate entrance in Church Street and 2 coffee rooms. The inclusion of Stock Rooms, where businessmen could demonstrate their products to each other, shows that the hotel was directed towards this market. Placed near to Snow Hill Station, the hotel aimed to attract commercial visitors from out of town. In the early 1880s the corner site on Church Street and Barwick Street was added to the hotel with a building of four storeys plus basement which was extended in 1894 by another 3 storeys. Also in the 1880s another large plot of land facing on to Barwick Street and Livery Street and turning the corner to connect with the Colmore Row facade was developed with a 5 storey block, called Great Western Buildings, of which a 4-bay section now survives on Barwick Street and is part of the hotel.
In 1890, before the end of the lease the hotel appears to have failed and the building was handed back to the landlords. Hortons’ Estates decided to re-order the interior of the Grand and newspaper reports spoke of £40,000 spent by the prominent Birmingham architects, Martin and Chamberlain. The Birmingham Daily Post recorded the hotel as "entirely reconstructed, decorated and furnished" and the Midland Counties Herald wrote that "although the external walls are retained, there is practically a new building on the old site, and all that remains of the old building is the facade on Colmore Row". The contractors were Barnsley and Son of Ryland Street North and the building was furnished and decorated by Norton and Co. of Corporation St. There was electric lighting to the public rooms and gas in the bedrooms. As well as the Stock Rooms and an arbitration suite there was a series of reception rooms called the Windsor Suite and a banqueting and ballroom. The grandest of all the reception rooms was built in 1894 when Martin and Chamberlain were asked to fill the remaining gap along the Barwick side of the site. They built a large new ballroom called the Grosvenor Room, together with a Drawing Room, arched internal colonnade and crush hall. The architects’ drawings show that the ballroom was designed as a shell and the elaborate decoration was entrusted to decorators [perhaps Norton and Co. once more]. Five upper floors contained 75 new bedrooms. Other alterations at this time included 2 additional billiard rooms in the hotel basement.
In the 1970s the architects Harper and Sperring undertook a modernisation of the interior and the exterior stone work on the Colmore Row and Church Street fronts was painted with a cement wash.
The inclusion of rooms designed to appeal to businessmen was paralleled at the City Terminus Hotel, Cannon Street, London and the Caledonian Hotel, Glasgow. Amongst listed hotels in London, the Grosvenor, Buckingham Palace Road, the Russell, Russell Square are comparable in date and in their provision of grand public spaces, as is the former Midland Grand Hotel, Euston Road [grade I]and the Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester [grade II*].

The Grand Hotel block forms one of the largest C19 buildings in central Birmingham. Within the overall urban context, and most particularly within its immediate neighbourhood, it makes a very positive and well-mannered contribution to the townscape. Placed in close proximity to James Archer’s magnificent Church of St Philip [now the Cathedral], it achieves the difficult task of not dominating its smaller neighbour but still retaining individuality, most particularly by its distinctive skyline. The Barwick Street façade of the block designed in 1894 by Martin and Chamberlain is a fine work by this noted practice and shows an assured and interesting handling of masses. Inside are some especially fine original interiors including the principal staircase and, most notably, the rich and impressive French style decoration of the Grosvenor Room, Grosvenor Drawing Room and Crush Room. Elsewhere there is evidence of the Stock Rooms, which were an essential part of the original commercial accent of the hotel, as well as the rare survival of the shop interior at the Anatomical Boot Co.,25 Colmore Row. The special qualities of this building merit its listing at II*.

The building forms a group with the Cathedral Church of St Philip, St Philip’s Churchyard; 55, 61-67 and 71-73 Colmore Row and 4, Temple Row West [q.v.].

Grand Hotel – Colmore Row – Heritage Gateway

Tontine Hotel and the Church of St Luke, Ironbridge

Tontine Hotel and the Church of St Luke, Ironbridge
List of churches
Image by ell brown
Hotel directly at the bottom of the Ironbridge, on the main High Street

The Tontine Hotel is a Grade II* listed building.

I think it may also be a Free House (might have a pub on the ground floor).

It is An Enterprise Inn.

Circa 1800 red brick hotel with hipped plain tile roof and eaves band. Three storeys. Five bays to south elevation, flat-headed sashes with glazing bars. Central panelled double doors under arched fanlight wooden doorcase containing sidelights and open pediment on pilasters. Three bay east elevation, centre breaks forward with pediment with large circular window in tympanum. Flat-headed sashes to second floor, round-headed to first floor with nice Venetian window in shallow arched recess to centre. Flat-headed triple-light window to ground floor centre, shallow semi-circular headed recess each side.

Tontine Hotel – Heritage Gateway

Tontine Hotel

Above the Tontine Hotel is the Church of St Luke. It is a Grade II listed building dating from 1836.

1836 by Thomas Smith of Madeley. Built by a syndicate of ironmasters. Buff-coloured brick Gothick church with stone dressings and Welsh slate roof. Wide nave with pairs of lancets with lozenge-shaped pane iron-frame windows and gabled buttresses between. Gabled apse with tripartite lancets. West tower in 3 stages, with octagonal angle turrets with stone pinnacles and embattled parapet, lancet bell-openings and clock face below. West doorway at base of tower. Interior: 3 galleries. Stained glass in east window probably by Evans. Similar to Christ Church Wellington q.v. also by Thomas Smith.

Church of St Luke – Heritage Gateway

Star Hotel, Franklin WV (3)

Star Hotel, Franklin WV (3)
Church advertising
Image by D.Clow – Maryland
Destination relaxation.

Friday
Entry One

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

Entry Two

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

Entry Three

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

Freebird
Folsom Prison Blues
Cheap Sun Glasses

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

150 miles today.

Saturday

Entry Four

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

Stranger“nice bike”
You“thanks”
Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

Short silence.

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

Entry Five

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

Sunday

Entry Six

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

Entry Seven

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

1 rooster
1 dead fox
2 cows
8 chipmunks
7 alive
1 dead
3 dead possums
1 squirrel
1 dead blob (undistinguishable)
No fearsome deer
1 dog

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

I don’t know his last name
I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers
I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for -4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for . That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

Miles today, 240.

Monday

Entry Seven

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

Hotel Adelaide

Hotel Adelaide

MUCH TO SEE AT ADELAIDE!

Getting discount tickets to South Australia in a raffle was just the thing to turn our routine lives upside down. All of a sudden, there was much rushing around, planning, getting things in place, and constantly looking up tourist spots and Adelaide hotels on the Internet.

We did our hotel bookings first; after much debating, we decided on booking rooms at the InterContinental; a stylish, very classical option. With over 387 beautiful guest rooms, this luxury 5-star Adelaide hotel is located at the heart of Adelaide, overlooking the Torrens River. The hotel boasts of a well-equipped gym, and a spa area with steam room and sauna, plus a hydrotherapy swimming pool. I guess if I got tired of sightseeing, I would do well to relax in the spa, and make good use of their range of massages and treatments!

On my second day, I was keen to visit St Kilda, an extensive 1.7 kilometer mangrove ecosystem. As a student of ecology, I have always been fascinated by mangroves, with their unique fauna and fragile ecosystem. This trip gave me enough material for several term papers!
A visit to the South Australian Museum was definitely warranted, when I heard that it has many diverse exhibits, including Aboriginal and Pacific artifacts, an Ancient Egypt section and some of the world`s oldest fossils. An entire day of browsing this museum has only left me wanting to see more of it.

Adelaide is known as the City of Churches, and not without reason. You will get to see some beautiful historical churches, such as the Holy Trinity Church on North Terrace, known as the Pioneer Church of South Australia. The church`s clock is noteworthy, having been made by the clockmaker to King Edward IV.

It is not possible to visit Adelaide and not give the wineries a go. A wine city, Adelaide boasts of many excellent wineries. You can taste wine to your heart’s content, and buy a few choice bottles of vino at prices that would widen quite a few eyes back home!

All said and done, it was an educational trip for me, a history and nature buff. Adelaide has something to offer everyone; cultural events, arts and crafts, natural and historical artifacts, amazing scenery, and the best wines you have ever had. A visit to Adelaide is a must for those who want to take it all in!

Ghost Walk Leads to “Hallowed” Hotel in Portsmouth

Portsmouth, VA (PRWEB) September 18, 2008

As Halloween approaches, Portsmouth is preparing for the 27th Annual Olde Towne Ghostwalk, taking place on October 24, 2008. With the rest of the city, the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center is offering “hallowed” hotel rooms, perfect for guests looking for fright-free accommodations in Portsmouth during the weekend’s ghostly events.

The Olde Towne Ghostwalk, based on the famous Jack-the-Ripper Walks in London, takes spectators on a guided walking tour of Olde Towne Portsmouth, a 20-square block area on the National Register of Historic Places, and past the haunted houses and mysterious creaking mansions of historic Olde Towne. At each stop, costumed actors or actresses re-tell the legends of ghostly visitations and other scary tales of infamous ghosts and haunted houses.

Experience the thrills that are sure to come during this exclusive one night only event. Taking place from 7 to 9 p.m., tickets are being sold for three time slots: 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. Groups will depart on their haunted adventure from the Trinity Church graveyard. The 45 minute tour will conclude at Middle Street Park, where hot cider will be served, surrounded by entertainment and the chance to purchase T-shirts, ghostly books, posters and more. Tickets go on sale October 1, 2008 and are only per person. Children carried or in strollers are free.

After taking that spooky walk around haunted houses and ghostly graveyards, wind down and retreat to the safe and comfortable rooms within the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel in Norfolk, VA. Make it an evening to remember and fall fast asleep on beds wrapped in rich linens and custom comforters. Wake up refreshed and enjoy a relaxing breakfast at the hotel’s famed Portsmouth restaurant, Foggy Point Bar and Grill, which serves up traditional breakfast favorites throughout the morning.

Uncover the chilling history of Portsmouth from a hotel located right in the midst of Olde Towne and all of its ghostly stories and secrets.

About Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center

Discover a luxurious Norfolk hotel situated in the downtown historic district of Olde Towne Portsmouth, where convenience and beauty reside at Renaissance’s Portsmouth hotel. Boasting a spectacular waterfront location, this memorable Norfolk VA hotel offers stunning views from 244 inviting guest rooms and 5 lavish suites. Portsmouth accommodations are equipped with wired Internet access, while 23 meeting rooms provide wireless access. Savor the atmosphere of this Norfolk, Virginia hotel at Foggy Point Bar & Grill, presenting a selection of fresh seafood. With attractions such as MacArthur Center mall and unique downtown dining, this hotel in Portsmouth has something for everyone. Experience the charm of the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center. For more information or to make a reservation, call 757-673-3000 or visit http://marriott.com/hotels/travel/orfpt.

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A Self Catering Holiday in an Affordable Oceanfront Hotel in Christ Church Barbados

A Self Catering Holiday in an Affordable Oceanfront Hotel in Christ Church Barbados

A self catering holiday within a hotel environment has to be potentially the best of both worlds. The freedom of self catering, and the facilities of what will normally be an affordable hotel.

The Butterfly Beach Hotel is no exception to this rule, sitting in the Christ Church area of Barbados in a lovely oceanfront location with access to two white sand beaches. With 90+ rooms it isn’t too big so as to be impersonal, although only rated as two star it could be ideal as a decent quality affordable hotel.

The Butterfly Beach Hotel is what might best be called a mixed accommodation hotel with some Superior Rooms but no kitchenette, then the Superior Island View Studio, but with no balcony to sit on, with a kitchenette, called The French Balcony Rooms. Then there is the Superior Island View Studio as above but with a balcony or a terrace. The Superior Oceanview Studio as before, but with Oceanview obviously!

In addition there are one and two bedroom Island view apartments, Two Bedroom Oceanview Apartments, and a Penthouse Apartment, and the cost per room per night starts at about USD100 and rises to about USD300 depending on the time of year. All the rooms are air conditioned, with ceiling fans, and cable TV, and internet access. You will find the rooms are large, kept very clean, and generally offer good value for money, and the oceanview rooms do offer a great view of the sea.

There is a large swimming pool and there are beach towels provided at the front desk. There is a restaurant and beach bar, open all day offering buffet breakfast, a la carte lunch, and dinner, offering a good choice of Caribbean Cuisine and international options. The breakfasts and lunches get a very high satisfaction level from guests, and although the dinner menu is a little limited the quality is good, and the price very reasonable.

For those who prefer to use the Butterfly Beach Hotel for a self catering holiday the town of Oistins is close by where there is the famous fish fry on a Friday, and also eating out in St Lawrence Gap is great fun with good restaurants, and getting on a local bus to and from, is very much part of the fun. They come often, are cheap, almost always crowded but very good natured. Restaurants like Houdinis, and Bellini’s are well worth a visit, and many of the restaurants have lovely views of the bay and the beach. It is also worth going to Pisces, although it isn’t cheap, the food is fantastic, and also the Mexican restaurant Café Sol.

There is no doubt that the Butterfly Beach Hotel is a great place to be for a self catering holiday. The self catering accommodation, whilst perhaps a little dated is clean and comfortable, as long as you remember this isn’t a five star deluxe, is more than adequate. The food is good, the oceanfront position is perfect, as is the ease with which you can access restaurants and bars and entertainment. It is a more than affordable hotel, and will almost certainly give you a great holiday in Barbados.

Andrew Watkins is the owner of Barbados Vacation Spots as well as being a contributor on occasions to Worldwide Vacation Spots and he thinks it would be worth your while to check out Caribbean Vacation Spots