This was our second visit, the first being in January 2011. I booked a twin room direct with the hotel 4 months in advance and was quoted a room rate of £130 including continental breakfast. A week before our stay, colleagues reserved a twin room for the same night via booking.com for only £80 incl. breakfast. I phoned the hotel to dispute our rate, and was immediately offered a reduction of £50 to match the booking.com rate. A cautionary tale here to check the best rate! This hotel is good value at ££80 for two people but possibly not at the full rate of £130.
There is a large, well lit car park. On arrival the reception desk was not manned, and it took several minutes for a member of the bar staff to come to our aid. We were given a double room (a really lovely room) but had booked a twin .... we were moved quickly to a twin room (number 6). Apart from a cobweb over the showerhead the room and bathroom were very clean and cosy. We only had one bath towel, and it took two phone calls to the duty manager before the second one eventually arrived (some 45 mins later). We were surprised that the bathroom did not have a shaver point; unusual these days.
The rooms facing the front are directly in front of the railway station and in the early mornings this section of road is a hub for coaches and buses, so fairly noisy.
The hotel restaurant has an AA Two Rosette award, and deserves this. The food is extremely good, as it was on our previous visit last year. The turbot was well worth it's £17.50 price tag, and my huband really enjoyed his steak and kidney pie from the cheaper, Classics menu (around £8). The vegetable selection is a little limited, and I unwisely chose the tomato and rocket salad, which was almost indedible, being unripe, and smothered in unnecessary cheese. Our delicious dinner was marred, however, by an industrious waitress who decided that whilst the restaurant was quiet (only we and one other table of 6) to disinfect the surrounding tables and chairs. Now, if this had been "McDonalds" or "Burger King" this would be considered normal, but in a restaurant worthy of its food awards, with diners paying in excess of £40 a head?! I think not! Poor training and poor management to blame here, clearly.
Breakfast lacked attention to detail. I noticed that the four mini packs of Kellogs Special K Cereals were all out of date (a recurring issue here I now see having subsequently read previous reviews, a problem the hotel unbelievably cannot rectify it would seem). Deciding to play it safe I opted for the fresh fruit and yoghut, which were delicious. We ordered tea, coffee and toast which arrived swiftly. Meanwhile my husband quickly devoured the last two mini croissants from the buffet table. I asked for more (it was only 8am) and some more marmalade as the pot on the buffet table was empty. After 5 minutes of waiting for the marmalade, with our toast now stone cold, it arrived, with a sheepish waitress pleading that they were sorry for the delay but they had "lost it". Rather farcical. I asked for more toast, as ours was cold. Meanwhile another waitress appeared and apologised for no more croissants because, as she said, "I stole them earlier". The farce was complete and it was all we could do to stifle our giggles. She had meant to be light hearted, but it was, nonetheless, highly unprofessional.
Overall, this hotel does have a certain charm to it. It seems to be very understaffed, perhaps the few staff they do have are doing too many jobs. The end result is that what is a good hotel could so easily, with better management, be a first class little boutique hotel, with amazing food. Despite my negative comments here, we will be staying here again because overall it does provide excellent value for money. I will always be on the lookout for out of date cereal packets, and I won't have high expectations for service, but I know I would struggle to pay £40 a night, per person so close to the NEC. Grotty little tired B&B's charge substantially more with none of this hotel's charm. I find myself forgiving them for the "Faulty Towers" moments because all the staff were so charming and polite. It wasn't their fault they had been so appaulingly directed by management.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 12 bedroomed privately owned boutique hotel with a restaurant listed in Good Food Guide and Michelin serving modern european food in relaxed surroundings. Buzzy bar with an interesting wine list and 3 real ales. Great position for NEC and Birmingham International Airport, opposite Dorridge station with direct links to London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street. ... more less
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