Friday, 8 June 2012

Graham Greene says, "There's always a Bristol Hotel"

Graham Greene's 1939 novel  The Confidential Agent opens with the arrival of the hero 'D' at Dover. He has been abroad for so long that his passport photograph bears little resemblance to him, and as result a detective takes him aside to question him.

..."Perhaps, if you would let me know where you are staying in London," he says, " addresss?"
..."Bristol," D replies. "There's always a Bristol."
..."Not in England," the detective replies, and he goes on to suggest the Strand Palace as a suitable hotel for somebody who clearly could not afford the Ritz.

It is true that there was no Hotel Bristol in London at the time. The Bristol Hotel in Burlington Gardens, described in the 1900 Baedeker as "a high class house similar to the Albermarle", had not survived. But there was at least one Bristol hotel in England.

The Hotel Bristol in Newquay, which is still flourishing, was started by Howard and Minnie Young in 1927, Mr Young having just returned from the Continent where he had seen a number of smart hotels called Bristol.

This postcards (right) of the Hotel Bristol in Brighton has no date on it, but may well be from around in that time. On the sea front, it is now the Bristol Bar. There was also a Hotel Bristol in Folkestone about the time Graham Greene was writing.

In 2007 Jurys hotel in Bristol changed its name to simply The Hotel Bristol – surprisingly, it was the first hotel in the city to have the name.