Now I don’t know about anyone else. But sometimes, life can feel like it’s flying by at a million miles per hour. I mean, we’ve just said hello to April already. Spring is here (if there’s any more snow I will have a bitch fit), and the weekends are getting filled with social activities. Work can sometimes feel non-stop. I’m the sort of person who enjoys being sociable; catching up with friends, going out for food (that’s no shock to anyone), and generally being busy. However, I often underestimate the importance of chilling the F out, taking some time to switch off and recharge my batteries. I try to put my phone down too. I think it’s really important for all of us, because even when we aren’t running around like headless chickens, we’re whatsapping, we’re checking social media and we aren’t giving ourselves a rest. I know, I love Twitter too but sometimes I even bloody dream about the sound of notifications.
It’s not always easy though. For those with children, I appreciate the losing battle that is often fought against getting any ‘you’ time, or even sleep. If you’ve got a busy job, there’s often pressure that comes with it and you may be expected to be here, there and everywhere, all the time. Like myself, if you live in a flat or house share, sometimes the overwhelming desire to have your own space or just some privacy to walk around in your pants can leave you feeling frustrated and wishing for some peace and quiet. Not first world problems I know, but I believe them to be relatable nonetheless.
There’s not always time, or a budget to plan some big scale holiday or city break either, and whilst some might think a night away close to where they live may be a waste, being able to enjoy some quiet time out of your normal surroundings (for me anyway), was bliss. One that I’d underestimated too.
I was recently incredibly lucky to be offered a complimentary stay at one of The Berkeley Suites in central Bristol. Situated at the top of Park Street, in Berkeley Square, this hotel and it’s suites are tucked away in a quiet square whilst being a stones throw from the city centre. It offered me the chance to enjoy a ‘staycation’, within the city I call home, an opportunity to relax, to see Bristol from a tourists perspective and to suss out what the hotel’s resident restaurant, The Square Club, was all about.
The Berkeley Hotel and its suites are part of Clifton Hotels. This is a Bristol-based, family run business, which started with only one B&B in Clifton nearly 60 years ago, and grew from there. Clifton Hotels are proud of the business they have established, and are committed to their social responsibility, by taking an active role in the surrounding community. The hotel group hold various fundraising efforts throughout the year, to raise money for local charities. The charities change every year, and are chosen by the staff. The business is also one which cares about trading in a sustainable way, and have a ‘green committee’, who regularly meet to discuss what initiatives can be put into place to encourage energy saving habits. Finally, Clifton Hotels are proud to partner with local Bristol businesses where possible, and this also includes The Square Club restaurant and the suppliers of local produce they choose to work with. You only have to take a look at the Twitter feed to see just how much Berkeley Suites champion everything about our amazing city.
Now, I think we all know that the competition for Bristol Sunday roasts are pretty fierce and varied; we are completely spoilt for choice. Admittedly, The Square Club would not be the first restaurant that would spring to my mind when choosing where to indulge in a proper Sunday roast. It has those classic connotations, in that it’s attached to a hotel. I have always known that it was there, and have spent time in the Square Club bar boozing it up before, but I just had never took the time to visit to eat. There is a stigma I often think with restaurants that are submerged within a hotel, and I was intrigued to see how this was going to go.
The restaurant area is decadently decorated. There are bold clashing fabrics that work surprisingly well together, a large projector screen showcasing idyllic images on the far wall and the general feel is a juxtaposition of funky and futuristic. This was a nice place to enjoy a pre-lunch Negroni (which I have to say stood up amongst its counterparts in various other parts of Bristol). Obviously, this is not your traditional Sunday boozer, or your cosy local that you have enjoyed a Sunday roast in plenty of times. This is a contemporary restaurant, which I would say is perfect for a day out with the family, perhaps if your parents are visiting or if you are wanting to celebrate a special occasion with a big group.
Our menus were brought out to us and then kindly explained. We were informed about the local suppliers that the square club works with such as Bristol-based Ruby and White butchers. The sirloin of beef main was talked about by our waiter, in that we were told what cuts we would be getting if we were to choose this option, and there was also a nice touch with selected suggested wines to pair with your main course. I opted to start with the smoked salmon accompanied by gin pickled cucumber and horseradish cream, and for mains we ordered the sirloin of beef and braised pork belly. Now, I have eaten plenty of Sunday roasts in Bristol so I would like to think I know a little bit about where is a good place to get one and I was looking forward to seeing what The Square Club was going to dish up…
My starter was fresh and generous, with the pickled cucumber cutting through the density of the salmon. The horseradish added a welcome spice to the starter as a whole and I was impressed. A starter is obviously your pre-cursor to how the rest of the meal was going to go, and I enjoyed it. The roasts arrived and I’ve got to say (in my own eloquent style), that I was starving just looking at them. A generous portion of sirloin beef accompanied by the usual suspects, seasoned veggies, crispy roasties and topped off with a Yorkshire pudding. I also opted for the accompanying Malbec wine that was recommended (course I did). The pork belly also arrived looking like a thick slab of moist meat topped with thick crackling. Obviously, we took advantage of the sides and also ordered cauliflower cheese. Because it is simply against my religion to eat a roast dinner without cauli cheese. A mountain of this was brought over to our table, alongside a large jug of gravy. I am a complete gravy whore; I like my Sunday roast dinner drenched in the stuff, so I was pleased that we were properly equipped with lashings of it.
I could try and get technical at this point but a food critic I am not. What I will say is that our roasts were really delicious. I was so impressed. My beef was served slightly pink (which I was informed about when ordering, I am sure if you wanted it cooked a particular way, that would not be a problem) and it was incredibly succulent. I was living the roast potato dream, because these were properly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside (I told you I wasn’t a food critic). I’ve got to say the cauliflower cheese was some of the best I’ve had in the city, and my only gripe is that I was so full that I was not able to finish it all. I tend to get the death stare if I attempt to eat anything from my boyfriends plate. In saying that he allowed me to taste some of his pork belly which was delicately seasoned and moist, almost to the point where it melted in the mouth. I was not allowed the privilege of trying any crackling though. You win some you lose some. Fresh veggies were crunchy and in abundance (I love my veggies!) The atmosphere within the restaurant was very relaxed, there was another large group also dining when we were, and it was a lovely setting to while away a Sunday afternoon in. Prices for the starters were between £5 and £6, whilst the main dishes are all £15. As well as the meat options there is also a fish choice and vegetarian. The sides are £3.50 but as I have already mentioned are extremely generous in portion and the desserts range from £6 to £8. I’ve also got to give a big shout out to the restaurant staff who were all incredibly helpful without being too intrusive and nothing was too much trouble for them.
Knowing that we were also here to stay within the suites made for that lovely smug Sunday feeling, when you know that you haven’t got work the next day. Everybody loves feeling like that right?! Especially when posting on Instagram, ‘no work tomorrow’, oh the banter.
We were taken up to our suite for the evening. It was difficult to not be impressed with a space so tastefully decorated with extra treats to enjoy and a huge projector screen on the wall (I lost my boyfriend there and then to the sofa and the remote). The suite was spacious with separate bedroom and lounge area. Floor-to-ceiling bay windows looked out onto a grass courtyard for which guests can use at their leisure. The space was bright with lots of natural light, the vibrant upholstered sofa and accompanying chair added splashes of colour to the neutrally decorated living room. There was also a working desk as well as a kitchen unit, which opened out like a secret treasure trove to unveil everything you could possibly need to cater for yourself. There was a microwave, sink, fridge, toaster, cooking utensils, even a dishwasher, and various cutlery and glasses. If you are staying for pleasure, you may not necessarily use the kitchen to cook dinner (just perhaps the fridge to stock wine and beer, wink wink), with the Square Club and other fantastic independent restaurants sitting nearby, however if you did want to pick up some breakfast items then this would be perfect to store within the kitchen units. If you were visiting on business, then this provides a good option for you to cater for yourself whilst staying in the city. Did I also mention that there was a complimentary bottle of sherry for us to enjoy, which is standard as included in the suites. Up the shez.
The luxurious bedroom featured a high ceiling with a chandelier, a large double bed and beautiful glass doors leading into the bathroom. The original features of the building have been kept, and our bathroom allowed for a huge bath with overlooking modern shower, a fireplace which added much character, and the usual bathroom amenities (including soft fluffy white robes, which surely no one can resist when checking in to a hotel room or self catering suite). AMIRITE?! I’m talking walking around this bitch like Macauley Culkin when he checks into the hotel in Home Alone.
The suites are tucked away from the main road, so they provide peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. As I have already mentioned, if choosing to stay here, you are within a stones throw of nearby Park Street, the harbourside and Clifton. There are plenty of fantastic independent restaurants close to the suites, such as Wokyko Kauto, Pinkmans bakery, Friska, Pizzarova and Mrs Potts Chocolate House to name a few. There are also some fantastic watering holes to frequent which include Hyde & Co (you can literally fall into this place for a cocktail it is so close) or Red Light on Park Street. There is parking available next to the hotel also.
We thoroughly enjoyed both our roast dinner and our stay at the Berkeley Suites. They do run various offers within the restaurant and also on overnights stays, which can all be found on their website. I liked the individuality of the suite, and I believe it provides a welcome respite to that every day routine, whether you are travelling for pleasure or business. There is also something quite special about staying in your own suite, rather than a hotel room. Everything is catered for and everything you need is all in one place. The Square Club Restaurant should not be overlooked when you are looking for somewhere to dine for an occasion, or a treat, and the new Spring menu has just launched, which looks fantastic.
So if you have got this far in reading (thank you!), why don’t you treat yourself to your own little Bristol getaway, even if just for one night. You can enjoy a delicious meal, have an indulgent soak in the bath, or even just sit watching that massive projector screen in your pants eating crisps. I think you’ll love it.
My meal at The Square Club and stay at The Berkeley Suites was kindly offered to me complimentary in return for this review and my #Ad social media posts. The owners have not seen any of the content before I have published it, nor have they had any input into what I have written.