Tourist guides rightly state than Bologna remained one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, and I guess the same can be said of the Mercure Bologna Centre.
The hotel's rich history begins with it being constructed/refurbished probably sometime in the 1980s, and this is also where it ends. It is almost awesome how the hotel survived since them in its entirety, meaning all the fixtures, furniture and equipment. If you like a weird sort of time travel experience, nothing can top it.
I booked the hotel based on its location right accross the train station in Bologna, and I must say it couldn't be more convenient if you want to take a Frecciarossa train to or from Bologna and/or access the airport, as the BQL bus that takes you from/to the airport departs from the little square separating the station from the hotel. This is where the hotel delivers 100% and this alone might have contributed to its unique preservation by Accor.
While the hotel itself is absolutely functional and provided me with a good night's sleep, the room was so outdated it wasn't even funny. The table between beds includes an old-style alarm clock/radio, disabled by simply physically removing the "ON" button (the hole remains). The days before the hotel was downgraded from Sofitel to Mercure (which only ever involved some "m" stickers around and a couple of modern LCD screens displaying proclamations of hospitality and the weather) are remembered by the trouser press, disabled by being unplugged - and I guess for a reason, so I didn't try to plug it in.
To plug it in would also require me to move the minibar/fridge cabinet with the safe and (slightly more modern, but extra-cheap) TV on top of it to find a spare socket. I had to do this eventually and unplug the minibar fridge to "unlock" an Italian-to-European socket converter, as the only socket available within reasonable proximity of a bed was a desolate Italian one.
The hotel has free WiFi, at least they proclaim to have it, as while the signal in my room on the 2nd floor was rather strong, I could not work for me after loging me, so I charged my laptop with my cleverly attained socket converter but no late night emailing. So I was left to enjoy the vast emptiness of the room and the fading yellowish walls, adorned by little but the askew mirror. In short, this is not a good hotel for business travellers.
The bathroom is a story of its own, with the blue tiling and old-airport-terminal-like ceiling making one wonder how this could have possible ever been a Sofitel. The toilet flush is also weird, as is a string labelled "alarm" in some rooms that is the first thing one could pull on when losing balance when in the bath. It's simply spooky, especially when you discover that your choice of water temperature is between hot and boiling, and (this somehow happens all too often to me) all the taps are marked inversely.
The breakfast was also a letdown in a country known so well for its culinary prowess. It was a very narrow selection of all things dry or packaged that could be easily recycled for the next day. The coffee machine was barely capable of making ANY coffee, let alone a proper Italian latte machiatto, cappucino or espresso. To add to that, the tableware was worn out.
The rest of the hotel is decisively 1980s - the corridors, wallpapers, assorted stairs, confusing floor plans, doors with handles worn out after a few decades and keylocks (no cards of course) and if you were wondering if the 1980s black leather couches from the hotel's old promo photos are still in the lobby, they are in all their faded glory.
Any pros except for the location? Well, there is the oft-mentioned garden in the courtyard, looking really splendid in the sunlight (visible from the lobby, sala collazione and some rooms not facing the street), and the reception staff were professional, understanding, helpful and spoke very good English. I felt sorry for them to have to front such a dated property.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Mercure Bologna Centro boasts a strategic location opposite the train station, just 1.9 Miles (3 km) from the exhibition center and at the gateway to the historic center, making it ideal for both business and leisure travelers. The hotel has 244 rooms with all the modern comforts, 5 naturally-lit modular meeting rooms and a private park spanning 53,820 sq. Ft. (5000 M²). Free WIFI throughout the hotel. Private car park with direct access to the hotel. Small sized pets allowded with daily supplement. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mercure Bologna Centro Hotel Bologna
- Accor Bologna Centro