Having stayed in and enjoyed the Sister hotel, Devonshire Arms Beeley many times, my husband and I had frequently discussed that we ought to try out the Bolton Abbey hotel. So he booked it for my Birthday and tried not to have too many sleepless nights at the £400+ price tag for one night's accommodation!!! Our package included breakfast, an evening meal and two spa treatments.
On arrival at the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a member of staff meeting us in the car park and offering to take our luggage. The receptionist was lovely and offered us a tour of the hotel but as we'd had a longer than expected journey down from Edinburgh and a spa treatment booked not long after arrival, we opted not to take the tour. It was from the point of being shown our room that things began to get a little disappointing.
My hubby had originally booked a standard room but on looking at the website, we'd opted to upgrade our room to a 'Littondale'. This obviously bumped up the price but we were happy with that as the picture on the website showed a room that was much more to our tastes than some of the others. The room we were given however, was nothing like the photo on the website, and although I realise a hotel of this calibre would not choose to decorate all the rooms the same, it might be worth showing more photos on the website or giving more info on what the decor is like in each room. It was very grand and clean, but too dark and old fashioned for us and my husband was particularly disturbed by the constant 'fusty' smell.
Anyway, we decided not to let our disappointment in the room affect our enjoyment of the stay and headed off to the spa. We'd had trouble getting through to the spa by phone to book our appointments and as we had to shoot off early the next day we only managed to get one of our two complimentary treatments booked in. We asked if we could be compensated for this and we were offered a slightly reduced rate for the room instead of paying the package price and then paid for the treatment on top. It made our final bill very slightly cheaper but still just over the £400 mark! The back massage I had was lovely and I've got no complaints about that experience at all. The pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam and plunge pool were all as would be expected and we enjoyed our use of them. The service from the spa receptionist was less than helpful or pleasant and the changing areas were tatty and could really do with some tlc - especially given the star rating and the price of this hotel!
So next onto dinner. This was really where our experience hit rock bottom. We'd wrongly assumed that for the price we were paying, we might be eating in the main restaurant, but we were told as we checked in that we'd be eating in the brasserie at the back of the hotel instead. Again we were disappointed, but again we tried to look on the positive side as our experience from the Beeley hotel had always been exceptional as far as food was concerned and that does not have a michelin star.
Unfortunately for me as a vegetarian, one main course out of nine options took the biscuit. The only solution I was offered was to have the starter option as a main course. I didn't take them up on this because (as I'd already had soup for lunch) I would have been left without an option for starter and as we were paying through the nose for everything, I was determined I was going to miss out on my three courses!! The food in general was standard and nothing to shout about. Can't comment on the other plethora of dishes but that is my vegetarian point of view. Also although the bar was nice, the long walk through a corridor to the back of the hotel made us feel like we weren't worthy of being guests there. It would have been nice to be informed on booking that our meal was to be in the brasserie, or at least given the option of choosing to upgrade to the restaurant - neither of which we were granted.
Breakfast was stingy and service distinctly snooty.
Final few things to note:
As it was my birthday, we'd taken along our own bottle of champagne. We requested a bucket of ice from the hotel but they charge £7.50 for the privilege!! Needless to say we declined.
After visiting the spa and still having around 3.5 hours to wait before our dinner (which we were 'told' had been booked for 8:30pm) we decided to pop down to the bar for a snack. It was just after 5pm (if my memory serves me correctly) and they'd just stopped serving food but we were grudgingly told that they may be able to provide a sandwich. Again, snooty service that is just not warranted when you're paying through the nose for a special experience.
Keep your Michelin stars Bolton Abbey, we'll be staying elsewhere in the future.
P.S. We refused to pay the extra 10% service charge.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC