We had the misfortune of booking a stay on a weekend when the hotel was hosting a wedding party - although this did not become known until we got there. From the moment we arrived until the moment we walked out of the door we suffered the hotel's lack of planning for this wedding which stretched it's staff and facilities to the detriment of the few other hotel guests; key examples include:
1) Checking in - upon arrival we were told our executive room had been given to one of the wedding guests by mistake, I had booked this room online and paid a deposit, but there was "nothing they could do now, it was a mistake with central reservations" and so we were offered a free dinner and the only other room available with a double bed (we were also offered a single room!!). When we eventually got to the standard double room, which is not in the main house and quite a trek to the business centre-looking annex, the phone was ringing in the room, it was reception saying they'd just had a last minute exec room cancellation and so we could have the room back we had booked if we wanted it - great! - so we trekked back to reception. I must say the receptionist was very friendly and did her best in the circumstances, even appearing quite embarressed by her employers.
2) Room service - I rang for room service because it was in the room guide to hotel services and there was the usual dedicated button on the phone; we fancied a relaxing bottle of wine after our check-in ordeal. "We no longer offer room service due to a temporary central company policy" I was told - I asked for more information about this 'temporary company policy' and the receptionist quickly dropped the attempted cover story and admitted "sorry but it's this wedding party, we don't have enough staff to cater it and perform room service, we've stopped it for the weekend". So, we went and got our bottle of wine from the bar and carried it back up to the room ourselves - sort of a DIY room service! Not a huge deal or distance now we were back in the main house (it would have been had we been still stuck in the annex building), but the attempted 'temporary central company policy' cover story was both obviously false and insulting - honesty is a much better policy.
3) Dinner - no steak available, despite an empty restaurant (everyone was in the adjacent conference room at the wedding dinner) - thankfully the receptionist was taking real pity on us at this point and she booked us into a pub down the road called Chequers. A delightful pub within walking distance that we highly recommend - great atmosphere, great wine, great staff, and the steaks were great too!
4) Checking out – a small queue forming of the wedding party – but two tills available and both appeared to be in operation with reception staff. Only one person being served at the second till so I chose this queue, assuming it to be a non-wedding queue; however, when that person was checked out the woman behind the till just picked up a piece of paper and walked off, leaving me standing there, and leaving the friendly receptionist who'd taken pity on us last night, dealing solo with the now enormous queue which was as far back as the bar area! So I would need to join the end of that queue now - great, the wedding strikes again! Thankfully she saw me standing by this now unattended till (I still can't believe the woman just walked off and deserted the till with a guest waiting) and quickly checked me out rather than letting me join the her till queue.
The receptionist and the guys at the bar were all very friendly, they really did try and do their best to cope with a few ordinary guests on top of this wedding party, I realise that this is not their fault! But it is the hotel management's fault for not preparing properly for this wedding, I can only assume an attempt to save some money because the additional staff required to cope with a party of that kind is well known to hotels based upon individual hotel experience and collective industry norms.
This hotel is clearly setup for business conferences and training courses; anything else, like a romantic weekend away, or a wedding, is apparently a complete shock to their system; so they should change the way they advertise this hotel on their website. Stop trying to be something you clearly are not - the damage to reputation will inevitably impact on your regular business. My company will certainly not be using this hotel again for it's conferences due to my personal experience.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Ettington Chase
- Ettington Chase Hotel Stratford-Upon-Avon