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“Lovely surroundings - shambolick service”

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Hotel du Vin Exeter
Ranked #17 of 31 Hotels in Exeter
Nuneaton, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
70 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Lovely surroundings - shambolick service”
Reviewed 4 August 2012 via mobile

Have been meaning to visit for a while as just a hop and a skip from home. Finally got around to it last night. Very very mixed feelings to be honest.

Good points:
Beautifully restored and quite modern
Large and airy restaurant
Open kitchen so you can watch the chefs preparing your meal
Views over courtyard garden and small pool

Negative points:
Restaurant staff disorganised beyond belief - must have been at least 10 waiting staff but no one appeared to know what was happening
Offered jug of water but not offered a top up
Very little understanding of the menu. We ordered beef priced at £50 and two members of staff had to go and ask a 3rd what it actually was
One glass of wine poured and that was it we had to pour our own wine
During main course no less than 6 different staff asked us how our meals were. Yes 6
Had to ask for the dessert menu it was not offered
Had to ask for the wine list a 2nd time to look at dessert wines and then the one we chose was sold out!
Paid the bill with one waiter and then another came along asking us to pay a second time
The restaurant is large and open and the night we were there 3 or 4 large groups were dining and the sound was deafing at points as no fabrics etc to soak up noise

Would I go again - really not sure. The food was very good indeed and beautifully presented but as so often happens the service let the whole experience down.

Some advice. Less staff but ensuring they actually know what each other is doing and TRAINING TRAINING TRAINING

Good service can make or break a restaurant in my experience and from last nights shambles they are breaking it BIG TIME.

Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
4 Thank Michaeldevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Exeter, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 3 August 2012

I met a friend for cocktails this week at the Magdalen and had the most amazing experience. The service was exceptional and the cocktail menu was of the highest standard! The bar snacks were amazing and I particularly enjoyed the ham croquettes! I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and I am recommending this luxurious hotel to all of my family and friends. The hotel interior was utterly beautiful and every staff member was friendly. I am looking forward to visiting this hotel again and sample more cocktails!

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank ballerina2306
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Devon
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 August 2012

I met a friend for an after work drink. The staff were some of the best I have ever experienced including that of 5 star hotels in London and the Middle East. They were all enthusiastic and friendly without being obtrusive. I cannot praise them highly enough. Whoever recruits/trains staff at this hotel should be highly commended! The decor is a little too sparse and contemporary for me, but thats just personal taste, most people would think it very chic....I'm looking forward to returning for lunch or dinner next time. Well done guys!

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank breakaway2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 August 2012

I stayed at Magdalen Chapter at the end of July 2012, not long after it had been refurbished. I chose the hotel due to it's location, a 2 nights for the price of 1 offer and because it was newly refurbished and I was curious.

The first night I stayed was the night before my wedding! I explained this to the reception staff when I made the booking and they suggested that they would "do something special" to celebrate the special occasion, but this didn't happen. I can overlook this though as the reception staff were extremely helpful and enthusiastic throughout my stay. I had lots of people coming up and down from my room on the morning of the wedding (hairdresser, beautician, bridesmaids etc) and they were all made to feel welcome and shown to the room each time.

The room itself: I was staying in the penthouse which although small was very stylish. As other guests have mentioned, the aircon doesn't seem to reflect the temperature stated on the monitor so I gave up with it and instead opened the doors to two lovely but small balconies that overlook the city. There is a complementary minibar and ren toiletries which were both appreciated, the bed is very comfortable and there was a decent flatscreen TV and comfy chairs. Room service was quick and unintrusive. A downside is that the water pressure in the shower isn't very good and it took me a long time to rinse the conditioner out of my hair! Also there was quite a lot of noise from the corridor, including the sounds of an amorous couple in the next room which I wouldn't have expected to have to listen to!


Breakfast offered a really good selection of homemade pastries, fruit, cereal and cooked food. On the first morning this went smoothly and I had the delicious granola followed by eggs benedict. On the morning after our wedding my husband and I were very disappointed as the staff took our order wrong. They brought my husband's breakfast and took my incorrect order away and I had to wait over 30 minutes for my breakfast, having chased them twice. My husband has finished his by the time my food arrived and to top it off my eggs benedict tasted like vinegar. Luckily when I mentioned this at reception upon check out the receptionist didn't hesitate in refunding breakfast for both of us.

All in all, I would say that the hotel is beautiful and I love the modern touches. The staff are enthusiastic and pleasant but perhaps inexperienced as mentioned in other reviews and may benefit from additional training. It would have been nice to have our wedding acknowledged with a complementary glass of bubbly, but perhaps this is being petty?

  • Stayed July 2012
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Helpful?
1 Thank CherryVanilla80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 July 2012

We ate in the restaurant with friends. Good first impression, lovely building and decor. The restaurant seems small for the size of the hotel. The restaurant does look smart, stylish the balloon lights are brilliant! We were seated at a middle table, close to the service area and in the middle of the restaurant. The chairs were very comfortable and the table was round, which was quite sociable. We were given menus, and an Ipad of the wine list. This seems different and quite cool to begin with, until we passed the ipad around the group and realised it is very difficult to read the A3 menu and hold the Ipad.

Very friendly staff, but not very competent. We asked one girl to take a drinks order while we were looking at the menu and she said she was not allocated to look after our table. There seemed to be a lot of staff to customers. Obviously this would have been fine had the service been good, but we felt the service, although friendly and enthusiastic, was inefficient and poor. We did not receive olives as asked for, some starter plates were cleared but not all, and when asking for our bill were presented with (a cheaper) one for another table. The food was very good, we ate a mixture of a la carte and TDH. I would say this is a typical hotel restaurant, with good food. Lots of staff training needed... disappointing to see no clear restaurant manager present. Staff wear smart, cuff linked white shirts, aprons and... black and white converse??! Although I appreciate a modern twist on uniform, and service, I prefer to be waited upon by someone who looks smart, not casual - especially in a luxury hotel.

The Ipads as wine lists do not add anything... it is irritating to not be able to see the whole of the selection without scrolling down a screen. There is also no 'house wines' ie. recommended wines. You have to scroll throughout the whole of the list. The plus is that you can see all the information of the particular wine. The cheeses are amazing... perfect ripeness. Worth a visit for food and I'm sure the rooms are lovely. Restaurant just not amazing! Probably would be lots better with a good restaurant manager and some staff training. £160 for four, three courses, 2 bottles of wine, G & T each to start.

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank appelbymerit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Liverpool
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 July 2012

My wife and I stayed here for two nights at the end of July - just a month or so after the hotel opened following an extensive refurbishment.

The first thing to say is that we really enjoyed our visit, which was no doubt helped by the very warm weather we experienced during the trip. From the minute you enter the lobby you can see that a lot of thought has gone in to making best use of original features while including modern touches. In terms of the latter, we particularly liked the iPads provided free of charge to guests for the duration of their stay, the REN toiletries and air con (though see below). The swimming pool - while not large – looked inviting and there is also a small gym. The grounds have been nicely landscaped with plenty of deckchairs to sit out and enjoy the sun. Our room was tastefully decorated with a large flat screen TV, wonderful bed, and free mini-bar, which was restocked daily. The quality of food and drink was very good (we enjoyed two breakfasts and one dinner) and reasonably priced. Although the hotel doesn't have its own car park there is one about 30 secs away and you can obtain a reduced rate from reception. All in all, the facilities are excellent for a hotel of this size.

Perhaps the hotel's best feature is its staff. All of whom we encountered were extremely helpful and genuinely friendly. Compared to many hotels - I speak from long experience - they actually appeared to enjoy their work, took pride in the hotel and were keen to make the stay as memorable as possible (one very nice touch was sending up two glasses of complimentary champagne as we were celebrating an anniversary).

However, and as other reviewers have highlighted, there are annoying things - some minor others less so - that detract from the overall experience. In fairness, this may simply be because staff are still finding feet; also, it could reflect the fact that in the rush to open they didn't have the chance to resolve all the little problems that beset a new development (we noticed that bits of work were still going on while we were there). Some of what I'm going to mention may sound petty (and risks getting into "Hotel Inspector" territory) but with a relatively small amount of work this could be a really exceptional hotel. So, in order of importance, the problems we encountered were:
1. When we returned to our room after a day's sightseeing (and having asked that the shower be fixed as we couldn't get any hot water) , the door had been left open and on the latch. Luckily, nothing was taken but it could have been very embarrassing if, for example, someone had removed the iPad and left us to foot the bill. We mentioned this on departure and the person we spoke to was apologetic, though I suspect from the response that this wasn’t the first time this had happened.
2. On one of the hottest days of the year (29 degrees) it took nearly three hours for the a/c to cool the room. Subsequently, and having got the temperature down to the level we wanted, it mysteriously rose to 23 degrees either as a result of manual intervention or some automatic programme kicking in. Also, even at 16 degrees (according to the thermostat) the room still felt quite warm.
3. Service at dinner was a bit haphazard - confusion over what we ordered; long wait for wine and then the waiter attempted to pour red into a glass that had previously contained white; and bringing the wrong bill. Having said that, everything was eventually sorted out and the food was excellent.
4. It appeared that some of the grouting around the bath and elsewhere in the bathroom had not been completed. Without claiming any expertise in this area I suspect that, unless rectified, this will cause leaks and/or require retiling at some time in the not too distant future.
5.As mentioned above, the hotel has a very pleasant garden and terrace. After dinner, we thought we’d take the chance to sit out and enjoy a drink or two on a warm Devon evening. We couldn’t understand why other people weren’t doing the same until we realized that the area near the bar was in almost total darkness. Strange, we thought, as there appeared to be lights strategically positioned to illuminate the trees. When we asked one of the staff if the lights could be turned on he explained that, unfortunately, the circuit had blown and they’d need to get an electrician in to fix them. However, he then very kindly brought us some candles to put on the table! We thought this was typical of the “go the extra mile” attitude of the staff.

In conclusion, we will definitely return and are already looking for an opportunity to visit!

Room Tip: Restaurant food excellent. Try and get a room overlooking the garden.
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Probus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Exeter, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 July 2012

Couldn't wait for its replacement. So off we went to the Magdalen Chapter for a one night treat.
The building was worth the long wait. It is really gorgeous. We had a lovely spacious room (superior grade and worth it) with full bath and all the goodies. We were lucky in that the pool and spa were open, and would have been seriously disappointed if they had not been, in fact we would have cancelled or simply walked out.
There are plenty of accommodation choices near by, for example Southernhay house, which must be a competitor with stunning rooms and excellent food. However it is the whole package of bedrooms, public rooms, garden and restaurant which make this place stand out. I rated the breakfast as one of my top four hotel breakfasts ever.
We also had dinner, which was fine but not outstanding. The room however is just lovely, especially on a summer evening.
Staff are young and obviously inexperienced but eager to please, which is nice, but professional competence and efficiency would be even nicer. We did have a few niggles, like everyone on our corridor had their paper delivered except for us. The wrong wine was charged on the bill( at a higher price of course. Why are these mistakes never the other way about?). A couple of other special requests were agreed and not delivered.
Still, we had a great time and would recommend this hotel, but just check everything to make sure it is done as you wish.

Room Tip: Try to get a room overlooking the garden, and if you ask for a particular room when you book, check...
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank capresina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel du Vin Exeter

Property: Hotel du Vin Exeter
Address: Magdalen Street, Exeter EX2 4HY, England (Formerly The Magdalen Chapter)
Region: United Kingdom > England > Devon > Exeter
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Luxury Hotel in Exeter
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel du Vin Exeter 4*
Number of rooms: 59
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Magdalen Chapter combines old and new to create a stunning contemporary hotel. Service and quality are to the highest standard where integrated interiors and technology make your stay it’s most enjoyable. Situated close to the sophistication of Exeter’s centre, it's an ideal place to stay for a city break or to further explore Devon. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Du Vin Exeter Devon

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