Having admired the hotel from the outside on many occasions, we were delighted to take advantage of a special offer to stay in Mary's Bower (room 26).
First impressions were good - staff responded very quickly and helpfully to an e-mail enquiry about upgrading the room - and this friendly impression was confirmed when we arrived at the hotel. Everyone we encountered was extremely pleasant and seemed very happy to help.
The reception area was rather quaint and added to the charm of the hotel, which has a relaxed, homely and slightly old-fashioned feel to it. There are options to dine in the wine bar or the restaurant and, whilst both looked good, we decided on the restaurant as having a more tempting choice. The meal was excellent and the service was prompt and efficient, although the room has something of a lack of character, not helped by a long counter, reminiscent of a canteen (and which we never saw used). The restaurant is also used for breakfast and it worked much better as a breakfast room, being bright and cheerful. Breakfast itself was very good - plenty of self-service buffet options and a good choice of hot food, including a full English, which was cooked perfectly.
Our room was spacious, clean and comfortable, although it was a little bit disappointing that the window seats looked out over an internal courtyard rather than The Slopes or Pavilion Gardens. The Mary Queen of Scots connection was reinforced with portraits and information on the walls, as well as a few books about her, which was a nice touch. The creaking floorboards, as mentioned by others, were in evidence but, bearing in mind the age of the building, were not surprising and added to the sense of history. We were more disturbed by noise from some inconsiderate early-risers deciding to chat outside our door!
Given that the hotel has no car park of its own, parking was good value as it was £3 for 24 hours in the nearby public pay-and-display spaces, which are normally restricted to 2 hours.
Overall, we were very impressed and definitely hope to return again in the future.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC