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Showing posts with label Brunel Hall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brunel Hall. Show all posts

Friday, March 19, 2021


As a writer for one of the most popular publications in this Virtual World, I am often invited to check out places I have never seen before.  Some of them are quite creative, with extensive histories.  Brunel Hall is one such place.  In a world populated with cookie-cutter homes, Brunel Hall stands out, noteworthy for its fascinating charm and Old-World Elegance.  In my travels the other day, I came across the Grande Dame of days gone by, and I asked Vic Mornington, the proprietor, to share some of the story of this enchanting place with our SLE readers.

Josh (Thomas1 Bellic) (JB):  Soo,  tell me, Vic.  What is Brunel Hall, exactly?

Vic Mornington (VM):  It is first and foremost a hotel.  The bulk of the building, namely all of the upper floors, are dedicated to the 17 hotel rooms which are used on a rented basis for the folks visiting the wider city, either for RP or simply using the hotel as a home base for exploring.  Even back to its early days when the original building was only a pub, there was still two small hotel rooms to the side that folks could rent out. 

As the place grew via expansions into neighboring plots, that’s when the Bar Restaurant theme started to take shape for the ground floor.  As it stands now, Brunel Hall is what you would see in most modern cities.  It's a working hotel, with "added amenities".   It's also turned into a Second Life build equivalent of Scotland's Forth Rail Bridge, just as you finish an overhaul of the’s time to go back to the beginning and start all over again.

JB:  Where did you get the inspiration for Brunel Hall?

VM:  The inspiration for the look of the building, at least on the outside, is from the Liberty of London building in London, England.  If you are ever visiting Brunel Hall, take a look at the front, and then search for Liberty of London on Google, there are very striking similarities. 

Back in 2010, there were 5 top-tier "Grand Restaurants".  In order to even enter, you had to pay an average of 500L$, to enter, you had to book a table, that was on average another 1000L$.  Once you had booked the table and sat at the table, you were already down a grand and a half.  On top of that, you either had to pay or tip the RP wait staff, the chef, the owner...etc. 

...all that, to sit and stare at badly textured prim food.  Lia (my cousin in RL) had a bad experience with one of those old grand restaurants.  That bad experience she had, along with others I heard about was in the back of my mind when the original version of Brunel Hall was extended out further and further to the west as I took over more and more parcels.  I decided, once I had enough prims on the parcel, to open a restaurant as good as the old grand diners, but do one thing they didn't do.  Make it free to use.

More than 10 years on, Brunel Hall is the last of the old Grand Restaurants, the rest are long gone.

JB: Do you ever host special events at Brunel Hall?

VM:  There are normal parties DJ'd by me (at the time of writing this) on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month at around 9 or 10pm UK time.  They are mainly UK timed as I'm based in the UK.  In the future the plans for The Three Craws basement bar is for guest live singers and guest DJ's to perform for the 1st and third Friday of the month.  Then of course there are the main holidays like Easter and Christmas where special event parties take place.

The Restaurant and bar downstairs are also open for bookings as well, this is one of the main reasons there isn't a wall to wall listing of events, a lot of the week have to be clear for bookings for weddings, birthday parties and so forth.

JB: Who are your Guests?  What is your target demographic?

VM:  The guests who rent or just pop in to use the restaurant cover a huge demographic.  Even though the hotel is in the north side of a 12-region large steampunk city (New Babbage) about half the guests are visitors who wear anything but Steampunk or Victorian clothing.  We have had folks new to SL with 1 week old accounts, we've had oooooooold accounts dating back to 2004/5. accounts whose typist behind the keyboard are in their 80's in real life to accounts whose typists are in their early 20's.  We've had countless members of various LGBT inworld groups stay in the hotel, members of Cyberpunk groups, Sci-Fi groups, furrys, tinies and other groups over the course of the hotel being open. 

The reason there's been such a broad base of people is because of New Babbage.  Since New Babbage isn't "RP enforced" it means that folks can wander around and explore without having to change their clothes or their looks to fit in with the general 1880's theme of the region.  Most of the guests do end up changing into some more Victorian or steampunk looking outfits if they go to one of the events in the city or just wander around, that’s probably why they end up renting a room, so they can change clothes in some privacy while remaining inside the city.

JB: How long does the average guest stay at Brunel Hall?

VM:  On average it’s about three months.  The "Long Stay" guests generally appear around November/December time when the entire city gets covered in snow for the winter.  Then there is the gradual progression from the thaw (March) into the summer months as long stay summer/autumn guests start renting around May and then leave around August/September.  There are a handful of hotel renters though who have remained as hotel renters from when they first rented, the longest guest we have in the hotel started renting the same room back in 2010 and has remained with the hotel ever since through all 6 of its tear-downs and rebuilds.

At any given time, because of the long stay renters, the hotel is generally half to 3/4ths rented out with only about 5 or 6 of the 17 rooms laying empty for short stay visitors who rent for about 2 to 3 weeks just to explore the city.  In between the rental "seasons" which is where we are now, the room vacancies go up to about half the rooms laying empty for a month or so.

JB: Tell me more about the rooms, please.   They are much larger than what I have seen in most places in SL…More like complete apartments.  Who does your design work?

VM:  When the first version of the hotel was being laid out, I decided at that point that the rooms would basically be livable.  Not the normal "bed, table and chair" common hotel rooms that you see today.  The Grand Hotels of the early and middle period Victorian era were mini living rooms, so what I decided to do was to take the basics of a complete "apartment" and cram them into a single floor and double floor sectioned off "mini house".  The way I looked at it was simple, folks who were going to be staying in the hotel were no doubt there to look around the city, they would be renting for at least a week...I may as well make the room as comfortable as possible for them and their friends.

As the hotel expanded out and upwards in the 6 overhauls, the rooms got progressively bigger and bigger.  It’s now at the point that the bulk of the actual building is given over to hotel rooms, with only the ground floor and basement being used for the other stuff.  I generally look at the "Grand Design".  Lia and Lizzy usually take care of the finer details.

JB:  What a lovely dining area.  How does dining at Brunel Hall offer an experience that is unique in  SecondLife.

VM:  This is an easy one to answer, and it’s been my guiding philosophy in the 10+ years of running the hotel.  Brunel Hall offers a bigger menu, a grander building and a better surrounding (hey, there’s a whole city out there) than any other restaurant, we don't pester you with RP wait staff, don't spam you with messages to donate...we just leave you and your partner, friend or family alone.  Ohhh...and its free to use.

That basically covers it!

JB: Tell me about the underground Tunnels.  That is quite a complex you have down there.

VM:  The tunnels are a late addition to the hall.  The southern regions of New Babbage have a vast network of underground sewers and tunnels interconnecting the older core regions.  About 3 years ago, Mosseveno Tenk who is the Mayor and overall land owner of the 12 regions of New Babbage (the city is a rented land-based city, with individual land parcel owners) decided to drop the land surface of Academy of Industry down to water level in many parts so landowners around Academy can hook up tunnels to the main sewer line that connects Academy to Port Babbage in the south, and Babbage Palisade to the west. 

That’s when I thought "ohhhhhh, I can put a cellar and some tunnels down there!" I did!  It's great for explorers or role players, cause the tunnels hook up to the old Palisade wall in the north, the sewer which runs along the front of the hotel under the road and the old crypt cavern below the cemetery.

JB: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

VM:  If you do decide to visit, I would recommend you drop your draw distance below 100.  The hall itself is crammed with stuff, but it’s not just that, New Babbage itself is very densely packed on the ground, as you would expect for a Steampunk Victorian city, so having your draw distance too high would mean your viewer is rezzing half the north end of the city at the same time.

Most of all, if you do visit, have a look around the city as well once you have finished your look around Brunel Hall, New Babbage is a very old community, one of, if not the oldest steampunk-based communities and cities on the grid.  You never know, you might like it that much ya might end up either renting a hotel room for months on the end, or, as is the case for a good number of hotel renters, you may end up buying land and putting down roots in the city.

thanks a Bunch!

So, there you have it, Folks.  If you’ve a hankering for Old World Charm on a modern, pixelated Virtual World grid, head on down to New Babbage.  Visit the Shops…the Academy, the Port Area, and the other many fun and quaint paces to visit there.  While you are there, enjoy a meal in Brunel Hall, and rent a room to crash for the night, or for the week…or for the month.   And tell Vic, the proprietor that “Josh sent me”

Be there.   Aloha!



Sunday, March 14, 2021

Brunel Hall- The oldest continually running hotel and the last of the grand dining restaurants


The oldest continually running hotel, and the last of the grand dining restaurants on the grid has just finished a major overhaul of the restaurant and a complete rework of the bar in the basement.  The food menus have been overhauled as well with more than 190 food items in the direct rezzer on the tables with new food items being added roughly every month.  This is a NON roleplay set restaurant, which means couples will have peace and quiet to just sit in, chat and take in the surroundings of an era of sheer decadence.  Once you have finished looking around the hall, you can then spend a few days (or more) simply exploring the 12 regions that make up The City State of New Babbage.


About Brunel Hall:  Brunel Hall Hotel has been part of the landscape of the 12 region steampunk City State of New Babbage for more than a decade.  Opened during the peak of the old Grand Dining days, Brunel Hall done something different, it didn’t charge an arm and a leg for couples to sit and look at prim (and now mesh) food sitting on a table.  Brunel Hall, and the City State of New Babbage are both non RP enforced, so modern clothing is fine to wear when exploring.