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Another Marco Restaurant

I’ve been doing an increasing amount of work with a number of British universities recently, and spent a couple of days in Scotland this week following up on some earlier discussions.

I was booked on an early flight from Birmingham to Edinburgh on Monday morning. It wasn’t the first flight of the day, but still would have meant leaving Malvern at a ridiculous time of the morning, which I wasn’t prepared to contemplate. Instead, I went up to Birmingham airport by train on Sunday afternoon and stayed overnight. The hotels actually on the airport were either full or demanding an extortionate price for their last few rooms, so I stayed instead at a hotel just outside the airport, which advertised itself as having a complementary shuttle bus to/from the railway station. I couldn’t immediately see where the shuttle bus went from, so phoned the hotel Reception for directions.

The very helpful Receptionist told me which bus stop to go to, and added that I should look out for a white minibus with a big picture of Marco Pierre White on the back. My heart sank a bit, since one of the hotels I stay in near our Hampshire HQ has a Marco Pierre White restaurant, and I’ve been left distinctly underwhelmed by the quality and price of the food, and indeed the service.

Unfortunately, the hotel was too far off the airport to head over there for dinner, and the bar (which served light meals) was very noisy and busy, with no spare tables. So if I wanted anything to eat on Sunday night, Marco’s was the only choice. He seems to have franchised his name out to far more hotel restaurants that he could feasibly keep an eye on personally. The restaurants presumably feel they can charge a premium for the “big name”, and indeed this hotel seemed very proud of the association. However, the menu was uninspiring and the burger I chose was expensive and not even particularly tasty. The service was slow, but the waiter was  friendly and brought me a large glass of wine, whilst only charging me for the small glass I actually ordered. So that at least was a bonus.

Even though I’d stayed locally overnight, I still had to be up much earlier than I would like, in order to get the half-hourly shuttle bus back to Birmingham International railway station, and then the monorail shuttle to the airport. I decided that the sensible thing to do was to have breakfast in the departure lounge, once I’d passed security etc, as that way I wouldn’t have to rush it. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hotel had laid out a tray of croissants, together with pots of tea and coffee in the Reception area. That was a nice touch, to help those guests who were having to depart at a hideously early time, before the full breakfast service was in operation. And it was free, so even better!