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Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel Art-ernoon Tea Package Review

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel Art-ernoon Tea Package Review 
What better way to start the festive season than with the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel’s latest invention, The Art-ernoon Tea Package. As Bristol has now found something other than Brunel to be famous all the world for in the shape of dramatic and edgy street art, the Mercure has teamed with local art experts Upfest and Bristol based artist Gemma Compton to create a walking tour of central Bristol taking in all the street art along the way. If you only know of Banksy, think again, Bristol has many hidden (and not so hidden) pieces of street art from dozens of others.

The hotel has recently had a stylish makeover incorporating the theme of contemporary art throughout the building; the reception is dominated by the stunning panel painted by Gemma Compton and there are dozens of examples of local art shown in the corridors and public spaces. You might think that this wouldn’t sit well with a Grade II listed building but the juxtaposition works to the benefit of both old and new.

A self-guiding walking map – yes, all you people with walking satellite navigation step away from your mobile phones now – is included for the forty five minute tour noting all the points where the street art can be seen and a potted history of the work. Luckily when we stepped out we were guided by one of the experts from Upfest who talked us through all the buildings that had been used as a blank canvas for aspiring street artists and most instructive and amusing he was too, I can now drop all sorts of words like ‘tagger’ and ‘Stinkfish’ into the conversation with a knowledgeable air. My favourite piece is close to the hotel at the end of Broad Street called The Duel of Bristol by an Irish artist, Conor Harrington whose work now commands thousands of pounds.

The late afternoon was chilly and night drawing in when we returned to the hotel for our tea which was a welcome sight laid out in splendid style. An array of sandwiches, scones lavishly topped with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry and damson jam, large plates of colourful cakes greeted us, along with a glass of Prosecco. Pots of tea were served and we lost no time in sampling the delicate sandwiches, followed by the scones which were a feast in themselves. The rich chocolate cake was my undoing and I could eat no more.

It was such an enjoyable afternoon and we incorporated a night’s stay at the hotel which was lovely but I have to say we could only manage a minimal late supper! The Art-ernoon Tea package includes a ticket to the Royal West of England Academy and is £24.95 per person, a veritable bargain for all this culture and a delicious sustaining tea.

Jacquie Vowles

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