I was determined to write a positive review for Sidings as I had very fond memories of the place from October 2009 and my husband, keen trainspotter, absolutely loved the place in its "old days". The location of the hotel is perfect for trainspotters and train enthusiasts. Converted train carriages cannot provide spacious bedrooms, but this should be expected and it definitely is not a problem of this hotel.
We spent a night there again in October 2010 and it was a night of near horror, which was in fact quite appropriate for the Halloween night.
On our arrival we were met by a young receptionist/waitress who spoke very little English. The situation was saved by the male receptionist who also worked as a restaurant waiter.
When booking the room we were advised they didn't have our desired double room, but they could push two beds together for us. When we entered the room the beds were still apart. The room was quite cold so we were happy to discover an extra heater. To our bad luck, it didn't work. The same situation repeated itself with the main lights of the bedroom, in fact we even didn't find the switch and the mirror light in the bathroom. Bathroom itself was of reasonable size for the room, with no heating, some toiletries were provided ( hair shampoo, conditioner and soap) and water was lovely hot. However, mould in shower cubicle corners was rather offputting.
The room offered tea and coffee making facilities, but the sockets were placed behind beds and when boiling the kettle we had to position it on the bed or radiator. It wasn't pleasant to still find water from the previous guests in it.
Chest of drawers had 5 drawers and provided enough space, but 3 drawers didn't have any handles, other two were missmatched. Beds in the room had quite good mattresses, but duvet cover was around 4 inches bigger than the actual duvet, which on top of everything was very thin and not appropriate for such a cold room. Extra blankets were, of course, not provided, and pillows (one pillow for each bed) were also very thin. I had a little black stain on my pillow and my husband's duvet had a suspicious looking stain, too.
After a trainspotting session, for which our room was perfectly located as both windows had a view of the track, we headed to the restaurant. We were seated at the window in a carriage restaurant which looked lovely, but was very cold. Menu was still traditional Italian, but with extra Greek specialities, which were the new Greek owner's influence. We went for Italian food and were not disappointed. The website says there is an extensive range of good wines on offer, but we didn't order any as we never got a wine list. Food was excellent, service efficient and polite, but we dearly missed the former older bubbly Italian waiters, who fitted into the Italian place much better than Eastern European staff.
When we returned to the room after dinner it was freezing cold. Radiator was cold (set to time switch) and any extra heating was not provided. Walls of the carriages are not very thick or well insulated and windows are single glazing. After shower the whole room had condensation and there was water nearly dripping down the wood panel walls. We survived the night, but caught cold and were yet again shocked at breakfast. It was stated that the continental buffet would be laid out. I understand this kind of breakfast is not the most generous type of breakfast, but we were only provided cereals with one kind of milk (not sure which one it was), bread (make your own toast), jam and butter. You could make your own coffee and have orange juice. People were lingering around the bar not knowing what to do and then followed suit when we put our hands on breakfast. The English breakfast, for additional £4.95, was served an hour earlier than the usual 10am (I wonder if it was due to the hour going back that night), but we decided not to try it. During the breakfast two very scruffy men suddenly appeared behind the bar. We recognised one of them as a cook, the second - we guess - was the owner wearing tracksuit bottoms. We decided to check out immediately after breakfast and were checked out by the cook. Checking out process was fortunately very quick and problem-free.
I must admit we didn't complain and decided to laugh at the whole bad experience rather than be grumpy and miserable and spoil our weekend so we don't know how complaints are handled.
It breaks my heart to write such a negative review as we used to love this themed hotel with perfect trainspotting location and had made quite a few visits there. It could be a unique experience for guests if the owners actually invested some money and gave a bit of attention to the hotel and then we would be excited to go back again.
My final verdict is: don't be fooled by romantic pictures of the rooms on hotel's website and don't stay in the hotel if you have other options (or at least in room number 6 in winter), but do try the restaurant.
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- Also Known As:
- The Sidings Hotel Shipton-By-Beningbrough, UK - Yorkshire