“Welcome to d’Parys– the home of premium d’rinking, d’ining, and d’reaming located in the heart of Bedford on De Parys Avenue”, proclaims their web site. Crimes against language and common sense, right there, sadly. Before the refit a few years ago, this place used to be known as the De Parys Hotel, and yes, it did definitely have more of a hotel feel about the place back then. I remain unconvinced about the merits of the new name, but in other ways, the change has served it well.
It’s a weekend afternoon when we decide to pay it a visit. d’Parys is a large place, with a lobby area, a front room, booths, dining tables, and a garden area too.
After negotiating the slightly-confusing entrance area (glass doors and walls and a choice of directions), we head to the bar, on the left. Here there’s a relatively large range of Charles Wells / Youngs beers, some on draught, some bottled: Directors, Triple Hopped IPA, Dry Hopped Lager, Estrella, Kirin Ichiban, Banana Bread beer, Waggledance, Sticky Toffee Pudding ale – not as nice as it sounds, Special London ale, Double Chocolate Stout, London Stout. Also, there’s Aspall’s cider, as well as various other lagers and cider. Two of the handles were left empty, sadly. There’s also a small collection of gins, and of course a wine list. So we order: RealAleRocks has the Directors (£4); I get a bottle of Chardonnay, and two glasses.
In the entrance area, right by the front door, there are a couple of sofas, but it doesn’t seem to me to be a relaxing area sit and unwind – you’re right next to the front door, and the bar, and the front room, and the stairs up to the toilets. It’s a grand staircase though, I’ll give it that. Upstairs, as well from the loos, there are also the hotel rooms, which are named after CW brews: Burning Gold, Bombardier, Banana Bread, and so on.
There’s a front room area, with wooden flooring, a large window facing out onto De Parys Avenue, and a mixture of wooden and leather seating. Part of what makes this a “room” not just an “area” is the glass wall and glass door between it and the sofas in the lobby.
Further back, past the easy chairs and the various wall decorations (logs, and various things made of iron), there’s a dining area, with a mixture of booths, small round tables, large round tables, large rectangular tables, and so on. I only call it the “dining area” because it’s next to the kitchen, to be honest – there’s no clear delineation, and as far as we can tell, you’d be welcome to eat or drink wherever you like. The staff don’t seem to be fussy.
Curiously, the ceiling in this area is made up of a mixture of wooden window slats, wooden deckchairs, wooden doors, and … well, all sorts of odd wooden bits and bobs that you wouldn’t normally find in the ceiling. Quirky. I’d guess that it’s probably not bad at dissipating noise, too.
To the right and the rear, there’s a long glass wall opening out onto decking, then a step or two down to the garden beyond. Outside, there’s a covered area provided, or lots of tables out in the open too. From here, there’s a wall with a gate leading back out to the avenue; or you can face the opposite way, towards the willow trees and poplars, and beyond to the private grounds of Bedford School.
There’s enough people here today to give the place a nice quiet buzz, without seeming busy – a few couples, a family group eating at one of the large tables inside, and so on. After her pint of Directors, RealAleRocks moves on to help with the rest of that Chardonnay, as we enjoy the peace and the afternoon warmth.
In fact – come to think of it, here’s a closing thought: d’Parys has a fancy name, a fancy modern refit, and it’s sandwiched between De Parys Avenue and Bedford School – a budget boozer, this most definitely is not. So actually I’m quite surprised that the bar prices aren’t higher. Don’t show them this article, will you? It’ll give them ideas.
Images by GirlMeetsPint, CC BY 4.0