My wife and I are now in our late eighties and after finally accepting that overseas travel was now simply too much hassle, decided to confine our holiday break this year to the British South Coast and, for various reasons, chose the Grand Hotel.
We'd booked online for 7 nights and first impressions were excellent, our taxi being greeted by friendly and helpful outside staff who speedily took care of our baggage
No problems either at the well staffed reception desks who allocated room 217 on the 2nd floor, one of the newly styled Chambre Unique rooms that had been freshly re-furbished and where I was relieved to see the promised balcony.
Chambre Unique ?, the very name should have warned us, because unique it certainly was, but, regrettably, for the wrong reasons.
For starters, the room reeked of fresh paint and we were obliged to throw open the windows before we could even think of unpacking.
I had got as far as decanting my packed underwear and was looking for a place to store it when I realised, for the first time, that there was not a single drawer to be seen anywhere in the room.
That's right.... not a single set of drawers anywhere in the room, although there was one cupboard completely devoted to tea making equipment. There was also a desk holding expensive looking coffee making equipment, an obvious place to have a drawer, one would have thought, but again, no drawers.
My ever practical wife resolved the matter by simply leaving her suitcase half unpacked during our week's stay but the situation rankled and left me strongly questioning what the De Vere group considered was good design in a hotel bedroom.
I started to look around,,,,,things got progressively worse.
The double door wardrobe, obviously designed to hold clothing, had the requisite ironing board and iron but only one shelf set about two metres high to preclude one from using that for storing clothes. No drawers here either and the few hangers offered no relief.
I then studied the bedside tables, or to be more precise the bedside table, because I now realised that only one side of the double bed had a table, albeit drawer free. The other side had no bedside table other than the aforesaid table top, currently completely taken up with a phone and coffee making equipment.
I looked for the promised safe.
Clearly advertised in the internet brochure and a normal and expected piece of hotel furniture for any worldly traveler in even a 3 Star hotel, here at the 4 Star Grand there was no safe in the room.
By now I had had enough so I tried phoning reception but the phone, no surprises here, didn't work and all I got was a perpetual squawk so I continued my examination of the room's facilities.
Did the TV at least work ? ..... Silly me !, this was a Chambre Unique room, anything was possible and therefore the TV failed to respond to either of the remotes, optimistically provided.by the management.
By this time I had given up completely and strode downstairs to reception where I was told that the Housekeeper would be up immediately to attend to our complaints.
Within a few minutes both the Housekeeper and a Guest Relations Assistant had arrived at our room and to be fair, a serious attempt was made to restore sanity to what had clearly become a nonsensical situation.
All the problems, we were told, were down to the recent refurbishment and they speedily admitted that the present situation was completely unacceptable.
They discussed, between themselves, various options including a change of room but then confirmed that every other room was taken. The safe, they said, would be seen to immediately and indeed this, to my astonishment, was installed within half an hour and professionally bolted to the floor.
The phone ? Yes, they tried it and conceded it was was faulty but in the meantime they gave me numbers which I could dial to reach either reception or housekeeping.
As a token, one single drawer was also immediately provided by means of a hastily acquired ancient bedside table that and this was accepted by us purely as a token to show that we acknowledged management were at least attempting to improve matters. However, because of the already sited coffee table it was not possible for this new unit to serve as a bedside unit but at least we now had one actual drawer in the room !
Within minutes someone else was setting the TV so that it could be used although, jumping ahead in our stay, it's over complicated set-up was always a pain in the neck and eventually I got fed up with repeated calling the mechanic.
Later in the day we also realised there were also only only two lamps in the room, both bedside, but a subsequent call by me to housekeeping produced a table lamp so that we could at least read in the evening.
The fridge, kindly provided by the management to keep the complimentary water cold, failed miserably to do so but it was not until the third day of our stay that a member of the staff revealed that the fridge had never been plugged in because it had the wrong type of pin ! He then offered us the option of Fridge or TV !.
When I politely suggested that an extension to the nearest point would surely do the job without denying us use of the TV he went off looking for this very item but as a further 24 hours was to pass without any results I once again contacted the Guest Relations Assistant.
This was the most effective phone call of all. because it resulted in a visit by Chris, the Grand's first class, no nonsense, maintainance manager and within ten minutes we had a working fridge and, as the weather was heating up and the room lacked air-conditioning, a most welcome electric fan.
So much for the cons, what about the pros ?
The staff, at all levels, were always friendly and helpful to a fault and the food and service at both restaurants and the breakfast room was first class. I partucularly liked the breakfast service where you could help yourself to the ample buffet but also ask your server to get you special cooked items.
With the exception of the initial problems involving the bedroom, every further query we raised was quickly and cheerfully resolved.
So....Any other quibbles ?
As many other reviewers have already pointed out, the breakfast buffet table, which also served as a bar during the evening, was set ridiculously high so that my wife and I suggest anyone under six foot, would have had difficulty in serving themselves safely from the well stocked trays.
The solid Victorian balcony in our room offered splendid sea views but because of the absence of some simple light chairs the balcony was rarely used during our stay.
Finally, having lambasted the Grand for it's pantheon of faults I must also say, ase others have already done, that everyone from senior staff down to junior porters were always cheerful and helpful. A good example was when we finished our week's break and the pre-booked hire car failed to materialise. It was the one of the Grand's concierges who came to the rescue and speedily found us a replacement
The twenty dollar question, would I book the Grand again ?
Happily, but only if I were to receive written confirmation that Chris, the maintainence manager was still there to sort out any problems !
Despite all my comments and to be scrupulously fair, she who must be obeyed says that she just loved the Grand !
Forgot to mention that in March 1943 I was a young wireless operator serving in the 112th Light Anti-Aircraft Rgt and my unit was responsible for protecting the Brighton & Hove coastline against the Luftwaffe Tip & Run Raiders. This protection including the Grand Hotel building !
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This is a truly remarkable hotel. An iconic Victorian building, it stands centre stage on the vibrant Brighton seafront and is a local landmark. Magnificent, imposing and the epitome of luxury. This is The Grand, Brighton. Following a recent extensive refurbishment, The Grand experience is one you will never forget. It's in the splendour of the 123 step sweeping staircase, the exquisite textures in the bedrooms, the delectable cuisine in GB1 restaurant and the sumptuous surroundings of The Spa at The Grand. It's in the stunning seaviews and the warmth with which you are welcomed. It's in its innate sense of style. The magnificent Grand is a popular location for films and television shows. Coronation Street, Eastenders and Only Fools and Horses have all shot episodes in the hotel. For the complete Brighton experience, it has to be The Grand, Brighton. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The De Vere Grand Brighton Hotel Brighton
- De Vere Grand Brighton
- De Vere Grand Hotel Brighton
- Brighton Grand Hotel