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The Crown Inn
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All reviewsfour poster bedkings suiteold world charmsteeped in historythe pubfull englishvillage greena lovely stayvillage churchbed and breakfastnewer partroll top bathstopping off pointlast saturdaylovely old buildingsloping floorsstayed one night
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Reviewed 23 November 2008

In the bedrooms of this refurbished 12thC Inn is a booklet outlining the proud history of the establishment. The records go way way back nearly 900 years and the reason why is that a succession of landlords appear in Court records for a number of fines all associated with fleecing the long suffering customer. I am pleased to say that 900 years later the current owners seem intent on holding up these traditions!

However, to reveiw a place like the Crown you have to have a yardstick to measure it by. So what you are looking for is a wealthy village in southern England and a similar dining inn with rooms. Let's take The Feathers in Woodstock as a decent yardstick. The Feathers has a similar pedigree, pretensions to a kitchen and rooms which are comfortable, well equipped and superbly maintained. 2 years ago my wife and i stayed at The Feathers for 5 nights, ate in the restaurtant 3 times and drank with abandon - the bill was a very reasonable £700. The staff were very attentive, in fact nothing seemed to be too much to ask. I suspect that the owners of the Crown feel that their establishment is similar......sadly it is not.

First the description. Chiddingfold is a very pretty Surrey village, I can't say anything too rude about it as my sister's home. The crown is on the village green opposite a pretty church. Sadly the village is marred (as many Surrey villages are) with a road through the middle on which the speedlimit seems to be treated as a suggestion by the usual motorist. Obviously the crown is not responsible for this but it does add to the flavour of somewhere which doesn't quite seem to work.

The Crown is a typical wonky oak framed period building with low ceilings and crazy floors. On entering, the character of the building becomes a bit lost. This is because the entire (and I mean the entire) ground floor has been turned into a dining area servicing the villagers who are obviously desperate for places to eat out. This is fair enough as a place has to serve the community it exists in if it is to survive, but my bojection is how it has been converted and decorated. The decoration is very early naughties - lots of brown and grey walls - no clobber, utilitarian oak effect furniture. No facicities for residents whatsoever, no room service, no minibar, no resident's lounge, very limited occassional seating...as I say, the whole place has been given over to food with the exception of the Public Bar which is a beer swilling souless depression of a place with a sports bar type theme. Those residents seeking a seat to have a drink scurry away quickly upon the warm welcoming looks of the local poplace who choose to water there.

The Crown has seven rooms all with en suite bathrooms.The rooms are furnished with oak framed four posters several of some antiquity, good quality matresses, quality towels, digital tellys with DVD players, Stereo's with Ipod ports (if you have one to plug in). The bathrooms have obviously been refurbished at some expense. The fittings are quality chromed brass, reasonably powerfuil showers, claw footed deep baths with non slip mats so you don't break your neck (older or infirm guests would have to be very careful getting in and out). Negative points about the room: well, they could do with a bit more furniture...for instance, an easy chair might be nice as the only place to sit was on the bed or on the desk chair. More drawers to compliment the tiny and dated wardrobe which would not close it you were using modern coathangers (yes I know it might have been antique but you try hanging a formal dinner suit in there). The room refreshment was instant coffee, tea bags and a kettle and a bottle of still Halidon Spring water. I've seen better equipped tea trays in a travel lodge, at least they have shortbread and MOST importantly their trays are replenished when the rooms are cleased daily. At the Crown, you have to ask for more tea bags or another bottle of water.

My....I hear you shout....what is this chap griping about. It's obviously a pub/restaurant with B&B rooms....what does he expect?...easy chairs indeed. Well, I would agree with you IF the room was charged at a B&B rate, £60 would be generous but the Crown charges an eyewatering average £150 per night B&B. This puts it into the top of it's genre and it has a long way to go before it comes close to the Feathers (which is cheaper) and don't even think about comparing it to The Three Chimney's on Skye (similar price dinner B&B but it is one of the best in the country).

My gripe is that if you are going to charge these prices then you MUST get it right because if you don't then you are going to end up cheesing people off they will spend their Sunday evening writing reviews like this.

Now room aside (I can live with the room) the main gripe is that the hotel, inn, B&B (whatever it is - he Crown doesn't seem to even know) is run wholly at the convenience of the management. I seriously thought that these places had died out with Basil Fawlty but clearly not. From the moment we arrived EVERYTHING seemed lioke too much trouble for the management. "We have a 2 year old, it's 1730, is there any chance you can whip up a sandwich and a bag of crisps?" "No food is served till 1830." Not "I'm sorry sir but the chef doesn't start till 1830 however, as you are paying us £150 per night I would be delighted to see if we can whip somthing up" ...or even "I'm sorry sir, we can't organise any food until half six, however, there is a shop next door that has sandwiches etc." I mean, how much trouble is it to organise a blimming sandwich?

That evening we have a passable meal with 15 of our guests in the dining room (well the ground floor) served with a remarkable lack of grace. However, breakfast on the Sunday eclipsed that. The manager contrived to make the atmosphere so depressing I literally felt like crying. Subdued wispers as diners summoned up enough courage to point out that there was no butter left at the buffet or that they were out of coco pops or even that maybe 2 pints of orange juice and one of milk isn't enough for 16 odd guests. I had to leave the room to calm down as I was about to break the cardinal British sin of confronting them in public and as there were German guests what might they think? The quality of the cooked breakfast was excellent. The other stuff was ok as well but there wasn't enough of it and once again, of I am paying £150 B&B then i expect a comprehensive selection (kedgeree, fruit, even prunes maybe?)

Anyway, we had to go to church for the christening and after a few glasses of wine and a decent party we returned to the crown at about seven thirty in better fettle. Until we read the note on our bead. "Dear Sir & Madam, Monday's breakfast will not be served at the Crown. It will instead be served at our sister hotel The Swan (viz.) which is 50 yards south of here." That is when I finally cracked. you see B&B in The Swan is reasonably priced and cheaper than the Criown so why wouldn't I check out of the Crown and move into the Swan? On top of that the 50 yard walk (nearer 100 yards) is down the motorway that bisects the village involving the negociation of a very narrow pavement (2 feet wide) on a blind corner...in the rain....Monday rush hour with a toddler....hmmmm call me a wee bit picky but when I'M FORKING OUT £150 A NIGHT B&B I EXPECT MY &B TO BE SERVED IN THE SAME ESTABLISHMENT AS MY B IS! And this is exactly what I told the night manager along with several other comments 10 minutes later. To be fair, they realised that this was a bit off and then spent the rest of our stay despeartely trying to recover lost ground - "Were we eating with them tonight?" "no we had already eaten" "oh...well let us pay for that Whisky...no thanks but I would like you to replenish the tea trays in our room". That evening they told us that they would be serving breakfast downstairs afterall. Next morning the staff (who I suspected may have been shipped in from the Swan) could not have been more helpful or more friendly. The only fly in the ointment was the baleful presence of the previous day's manager who spent the morning casting meaningful looks in my direction. I settled the bill (pointing out they had undercharged us by £100) and we departed.

Now, apparantly the Crown is under new ownership having gone into receivership in 2007 and I understand that the current management team is one of trouble shooting imterim hotel managers. well if that is the case then the owners need to look long and hard at what their brief is because at this rate it will follow it's previous incarnation. As I mentioned, we have family in Chiddingfold, wealthy family who frequently require a hotel for guests to stay in and they won't be recommending the Crown anytime soon.

My suggestions would be:

1/ the creation of a good atmosphere costs nothing but attentive, polite and relaxing staff
2/ decide what you are....are you a pub with rooms (in which case cut the prices) or are you a country hotel (in which case the resident MUST take priortiy over the non resident and you have to offer facilities)
3/ cut your losses and describe the Crown as the overflorw bedroom annex of the Swan, a successful venture (which is effectively what it is)

hope this helps and i wish the owners all the best in getting it right

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank lupin29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 August 2015
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  • Stayed: August 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TheCrownInn, Marketing Manager at The Crown Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 2 September 2015

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