This hotel has a superb restaurant but very disappointing accommodation. For a review of the restaurant, please see a separate review.
What is it about British hoteliers? They never seem to invest in a recurrent programmes of redecoration, rather they leave decorating until it becomes a major capital expense. A regular programme would mean a contract with a local tradesman could be negotiated at reasonable rates. The public areas of the hotel were fine, well decorated with carpet in good condition. The residential areas were, in contrast, tired and in need of attention. The carpets looked like they had been fitted many years ago and now looked grubby and in need of replacement.
We had booked a superior room. For that we enjoyed a very comfortable super king size bed, bathrobes and a bath as well as a shower. Sadly that was all that was superior about the room. Mediocre would have been a better description. The bathrobes were hanging in the wardrobe, because the hook had come off the back of the bathroom door; not a very useful location really! The paintwork in the bathroom was flaking away from the wall round the sink. The sealant round the bath was to a great extent missing and the bath panel had moved to expose bare wall. The heated towel rail was precarious, being repaired with electrical tape. There was no toilet roll holder, rather toilet roles were on a shelf behind the loo; not easy.
The hook on the back of the door was about to join its companion in the bathroom as it was hanging by a thread. The furniture in the bedroom was in a fairly ropey state. The carpet looked so grubby that my wife took a photograph of it. The throw on the bed was stained with ... I don't know what. The wall by the window was soiled as a result of damp, but while it was now dry nothing had been done to cover the mess.The LCD TV was rather small.
Over the four nights we stayed at the hotel the restaurant menu remained substantially the same. A choice of four starters, mains and deserts where the starters and deserts remained the same each night, while even the mains changed only slightly. As Glynis Wood herself explained when asked by another guest if the menu ever changed, she replied, it was "tweaked" occasionally. When I asked Simon Wood if the menu changed, he replied that it did "seasonally". A beautiful piece of music, superbly played is a joy and a wonder to behold, but if it is played over and over again with little variation it soon palls.
The breakfast was superb with as wide a range of cooked options as I have ever seen. A full "English", smoked haddock, scrambled egg and smoked salmon, eggs Benedict and omelettes were some of the choices, all freshly prepared. Only the cereals, fruit salad, juices etc. were on a buffet ... wonderful!
Simon and Glynis Wood seem a little too reserved and taciturn to run a hotel. Maybe they were having a bad week, but getting a smile or a reasonable conversation was hard work. On one evening Glynis was talking to Simon over the bar and she did not even turn round to exchange a greeting with her guests as we entered the restaurant. I recognise that being a hotelier today is stressful and challenging, but a certain level of hospitality should surely be expected.
It is a great shame. This hotel is potentially a little gem, but it falls a long way short of expectations. If some of the attention expended on the food was applied to the rooms and if the owners were as welcoming as their bubbly receptionist, then this could be one of the best small hotels in the country. If things change for the better, we might return, otherwise there are plenty of other establishments from which to choose.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in Grasmere Village in the heart of the English Lake District, Oak Bank Hotel is perfectly placed to explore the surrounding lakes, fells and tarns. Oak Bank has two lounges both with plenty of comfy sofas and armchairs to relax in. The front lounge has a converted range and the bar lounge has a real log/coal fire. Breakfast and dinner are served in our Two AA Rosette awarded beautiful dining room and conservatory. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Oak Bank Grasmere
- Oak Bank Hotel Grasmere, Lake District