I really enjoyed Eastercon this year. We were in the hotel from the Thursday to Tuesday, and other than a few minor irritations, we were very happy with the venue. They did seem a little confused about our hotel booking when we arrived, and it took a while to get a folding bed for Beth to sleep on, and our two keycards needed replacing on the Friday, but it all got sorted without hassle. Our room was comfortable and clean, if a little small. No biscuits with the tea-making equipment, though.
Pity there wasn’t a pool. kateaw
tells me that were used to be a pool in the Newbury room.
The social areas of the hotel were good. I like the large oval seat in the foyer, and there were plenty of places to sit and talk, and watch passers-by. Heat, on the other hand, wasn't so consistent. In particular, the open upper area was chilly, and Newbury 2 was consistently too warm to be comfortable.
The hotel breakfasts were fine. Plentiful food of a good quality — much better than Hinckley, for example. The salad bar and baked potatoes made a reasonable lunch — at a reasonable cost — but the selection started to get very boring as the weekend went by.
The buffet dinners, on the other hand, were a little disappointing. The cost was good, and I imagine felt like good value to meat eaters, but the vegetarian options were typically dull, and I found the vegetarian curry on Sunday inedible. The buffet served in the brasserie was kept much warmer under the hot lamps than the dishes served in Newbury, which often were tepid. I only noticed that there was soup on the buffet on the final evening — was there soup every night? — but it was pretty good (and only in the brasserie). Puddings on the other hand were dull — it was not good having the same selection every evening.
The single worst thing about the con was the lack of a decent cup of tea. The two food areas served stewed, tepid tea in a paper cup at £1. It took me several days before I realised that I could get a decent-sized pot of tea with a proper cup and saucer from the brasserie for £3. This gave me more tea — and better tea — for my money than in the paper cups.
The newsletter was a bit disappointing. Not much information, and not much entertainment.
The creche was a great hit. Beth loved it, and we booked her in for every morning we were there. Well done.
The dealers’ room was large and well-stocked, and seemed to have a good buzz about it. There seemed to be more energy (and more customers) than in the last few years. Similarly, the art show was well presented, and very enjoyable.
And Mitch Benn was excellent. A highlight of the con.