STEPHEN DAVY-OSBORNE heads to a newly revamped hotel to find a menu worth going back for... the next morning


Dinner at a hotel with easy access to the M4 and state-of-the-art meeting rooms may sound like a corporate away-day nightmare, but for me and my out-of-town guest it proved to be quite the dining experience.


Welcoming an old friend to Swindon for a few days I thought I had better kick her first night off in town with a decent dinner, given that she had been subjected to Great Western Railway’s finest making her way here. Having chosen a less than salubrious hotel to stay at, we hot-footed it across town to the newly revamped Hilton hotel, which recently received the Doubletree makeover. That means a welcoming treat of a warm cookie for those fortunate enough to be staying on site.


Sadly we weren’t, so no cookies for us. Although we did have to check in our cars as the hotel has a strict parking policy (the sort with cameras on the gates and everything) to avoid getting fined. We did have a chuckle at the teeny tiny parking spaces outside, designed for people to half park on the kerb, half on the road. Luckily my trusty Mini was small enough to just fit in the space without needing to mount the kerb.


The hotel itself boasts 171 guestrooms with a selection of room types, from deluxe rooms to king-size one bedroom suites, if you do fancy staying.


But we were here to try the new on-site restaurant, 14Twelve Brasserie, which promises a range of modern British cuisine and the ability to seat 120 people, alongside a well-stocked bar and oversized chintzy chairs - perfect for lounging on and enjoying an after-dinner drink, as we were to find out. For a Monday night the restaurant was being well-utilised by a mix of guests – some of whom may have spent the day there ‘on business’ as well as those who were clearly away for a good time.


After being seated we opted for a board of mixed Spanish olives with diced Manchego cheese in lemon olive oil (£3.95) and warm rustic breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (£3.50) to help us decide what to order for mains. The olives were fresh, and the lemon oil partnered really well with the cheese, while the rustic breads were a great mix of flavours, with rich tomato and crisp crusts making these highly sought-after between the pair of us.


The mains had proven slightly harder to decide upon, as the restaurant offers two menus- a set menu for £18.95 for two courses, or £22.95 for three, and a more comprehensive offering. Some of the dishes on offer on the set menu include smoked mackerel mousse, roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad and chicken churasco skewers for starters, while mains include a Cajun chicken burger, bangers and buttery mash and pumpkin ravioli. The dessert offerings include triple chocolate gateau, warm apple and blackberry pie and sticky toffee cheesecake.


My dining companion was in a bit of a quandary though, as she could not decide between the grilled salmon steak on the main menu or the catch of the day on the set menu (which happened to be salmon on that particular day also). In the end she opted for the more expensive salmon steak (£14.95) swayed, in part by the accompaniment of chunky chips, field mushrooms and roasted cherry tomatoes, as opposed to the sautéed vegetables and new potatoes that came with the catch of the day. The salmon was grilled to perfection with a light seasoning, and fell apart the moment a knife was taken to it.


I had very quickly been drawn towards the mushroom risotto (£11.50), and this proved to be a wise decision too. Risotto is one of those dishes that can go one of two ways when it’s cooked – either remarkably well and bursting with flavour, or just a stodgey heap of rice with some vegetables thrown in. Thankfully, this was the former, and came with a deliciously creamy sauce along with field mushrooms, and a dainty display of shaved parmesan and rocket on top.


The portions were delightfully filling, but we weren’t so stuffed that we would shoo away the dessert menu, even though we hadn’t gone for the set menu. My guest went for the warm blackberry and apple pie with vanilla ice cream (£4.95) while I chose the tiramisu (£4.95) which was exactly as the menu described – “delightful layers of sponge finger biscuits dipped in espresso, cream, mascarpone and amaretto dusted with cocoa powder”.


After what had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening we rounded the meal off with a latte (decaff, naturally - given the hour of the day!) and a pot of tea in the lounge area, and my visitor declared she had wished she had chosen to stay here instead of the hotel with fewer stars on the other side of town. I agreed to a compromise, and we returned the following morning for breakfast – which was served in buffet form and included the vital staples of succulent sausages, crispy bacon, golden hashbrowns and eggs cooked however you preferred them. By morning the hotel was once again busy with different guests – many arriving in suits of various shades of grey, with laptop bags over the shoulder.


Clearly, if you’re going to endure a day of corporate jargon and PowerPoint presentations, at least you know that dinner is worth hanging around for. And breakfast for that matter too.






14Twelve Brasserie


DoubleTree by Hilton,


Lydiard Fields,


Great Western Way,






01793 881777


Parking: yes


Disabled access: yes


Our ratings:


Food: 9/10


Choice 9/10


Decor 8/10


Customer service: 8/10


TripAdvisor rating: Not yet rated.