WHAT’S IT LIKE? Accor’s Mercure Hotel Europe Basel is a six-floor modern block easily identified by its signature dark pink sign running down the side of it. While it may be a four-star property, the general feel of the lobby, public areas and bedrooms is uninspired and a little tired – a world apart from the Mercure Eastgate hotel in Oxford, at which I stayed last year. (Click here for a review.)
The hotel originally opened in 1975, but a franchise agreement with Accor resulted in it adopting Mercure branding in 2005. It’s a characterless place that is probably best booked if all you are looking for is a place to crash out for a few hours before heading to a conference. A small lift takes guests up to the bedrooms on levels one to six, with the Bajazzo restaurant on the ground floor next door to reception. There is a seating area just beyond the lobby with free juice and sweets or biscuits to nibble on.
WHERE IS IT? On Clarastrasse, in the centre of Basel on the east side of the River Rhine. It’s a five-minute walk to the Messe Congress Centre, ten minutes to the river and 40 minutes by public transport to the airport.
To get to the hotel from the airport, catch bus number 50 to SBB railway station. Change to tram number eight to Bankverein, and then catch tram number 14 to Clarastrasse, next to the hotel. However, it is probably easier to catch a taxi – this will cost about SFr 45 (£25).
At check-in, a Mobility card is provided to all guests staying at hotels in the city, which is very useful as it provides unlimited free use of public transport.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 158 rooms, 113 of which are non-smoking, in three categories – Standard (18 sqm), Superior (24 sqm) and Superior Junior suite (36 sqm, on top floor with bath and shower).
ROOM FACILITIES I was staying in room 401 on the fourth floor (a Standard room). It was modest in size and faced on to the street (some rooms face inwards). The décor was neutral with dark carpeting and a framed print on the wall. At the far end, beneath the heavy double-glazed windows, was a good sized workdesk, a TV (the older tube-style with pay-per-view movies) and tea and coffee-making facilities. The low double bed was firm and next to it was an in-built radio/alarm and a phone. Wired and wifi internet access costs SFr 15 (£8.50) for 24 hours, and in-room dining is available from 6.30am-10pm (from 7am at the weekend).
Other amenities included a well-stocked minibar, a safe and a very small bathroom with a couple of little bottles of shampoo and shower gel, and a walk-in shower – one with a curtain instead of a door meaning you had to struggle to keep it closed properly, and water that seemed to take an age to get to the right temperature.
The most significant problem was that there was no air conditioning (although fans can be provided), so you either had to leave the windows closed and feel hot and stifled, or open the windows and try to sleep through the noise from the street – there are a lot of trams and buses going by until late into the night, and people shouting after exiting nearby bars. If you are a light sleeper, request one of the quieter rooms at the back.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are two restaurants at the property. Bajazzo is on the ground floor and serves a buffet breakfast – cooked eggs and bacon, fresh fruit salads, bircher muesli, cheese, cold cuts, rolls and croissants, juice (not freshly squeezed) and yogurt – from 6am. The interior is fresh and light and there is outdoor seating on the pavement, although given its close proximity to the road, you probably wouldn’t choose to sit here. Open in 1982, Les Quatre Saisons is the hotel’s gourmet offering and has one Michelin star. It’s open for lunch from 11.30am-2pm and dinner from 6.30pm-10pm. The Europe bar serves drinks from 5pm-1.30am.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILTIES There are five well-appointed meeting rooms, two of which can be split into smaller ones to create 11 venues in total. The largest spaces are Galerie, which can accommodate up to 200 people for a banquet, and Estrade, which can seat up to 100 delegates theatre-style. Arcade and Loge can host board meetings for 20 people, and Foyer can host 60 for a sit-down meal.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is no fitness centre on site, but guests can use a nearby public gym for SFr 35 per day.
VERDICT The real benefit of staying here is its good central location near the Messe Congress Centre.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started from £108.
CONTACT Mercure Hotel Europe Basel, 43 Clarastrasse; tel +41 616 908 080; mercure.com