Stories from Your Wedding Friend - The Wedding Planner's Blog
This weeks wedding venue review is for the Bedford Centre Hotel, which used to be the Park Inn. As the name suggests, it's slap bang in the centre of Bedford in Bedfordshire, right on the riverbank with stunning views across to the Bedford Swan Hotel and the embankment. If you're considering a Herts, Beds or Bucks location for your wedding (or event) and haven't yet decided on your venue please read on.
This popular venue recently changed ownership and is currently having a bit of a facelift. From the outside it's a bit of a Marmite building, very concrete block, industrial, 60's/70's, which was modern and trendy once upon a time. In the last few years though it was starting to look a little worn out. Thankfully the new owners are really making the most of retro styling and updating furniture whilst still making the most of the amazing views from the huge windows in the lobby and bar area. The new furniture is comfortable, modern and stylish, and fully in-keeping with the retro aesthetic of the building. My suggestion is, look past the exterior and go inside before you make up your mind about this venue.
It's a hotel which is part of the Accor hotel chain, so it's supported by a management team that is wider than just the on-site staff. This is great in terms of your wedding being supported by an experienced team. And obviously in terms of having hotel rooms for you and your guests, it's very handy to have everything in one place.
Their website is basic and doesn't do justice to the rooms you have available for your event. There are two main function rooms, one is a combination effort so you can go bigger or smaller as needed with the aid of room dividers, but the maximum capacity is up to around 450 people or 340 in banqueting style. The smaller main function room is more like up to 100 people for events and bars are provided in both spaces.
Both main function rooms have views over the river, which makes a lovely back drop to your big day. Both are well appointed and not offensively decorated. They are great blank canvases for your wedding day designs, dress them up or keep it simple the choice is yours.
Just outside the venue, as mentioned, is the River Ouse, and a tree lined path, an ideal back drop for your photographs. With the swans and ducks swimming by and the occasional skiff or canoe you could be convinced that you're in a lovely rural location rather than the centre of town. It's so handy for emergency supplies and yet parking is no real bother as there are two available car parks.
Having eaten here I can say that the food is really quite lovely, traditional but tasty. I always recommend taking any opportunity to try out the food at your venue and it's possible here to give it a go in the brasserie, not quite the same as full restaurant meals but it gives you a good glimpse into what they can do for you. Secret shop your venue to get the most realistic view of what it has to offer.