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“Worth a five - but only just!”

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Macdonald Swan Hotel
Ranked #10 of 14 Hotels in Grasmere
GreenLeadersBronze level
Doncaster, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
125 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 139 helpful votes
“Worth a five - but only just!”
Reviewed 19 June 2014

This was our second visit to the Swan. It’s in a great location a few minutes stroll from the village and with various walks from the door. The reception staff are efficient and friendly, and our room was fantastic. We’d chosen the four poster room, which is a reasonable size with a separate dressing area and great bathroom. Despite being on the front of the hotel it was not noisy, even with the windows open – the heavy traffic appears to stop by 8pm. The only downside of the room was that the TV was at right angles to the bed so you couldn’t watch in bed without getting a crick in the neck – but in the scheme of things not important. The garden is lovely – lots of tables and chairs with the most beautiful fell views all around. Just perfect for a cream tea in the afternoon or an aperitif before dinner.

Everything fine and dandy so far then. And so to the restaurant…

If the hotel could find a couple of decent head waiters there wouldn’t be a problem. On night 1 dinner and day 1 breakfast Colin (he of the oversized jacket referred to by another reviewer) reigned over the waiting staff. Dinner started well. A reasonable menu, and Colin took our food and wine orders promptly. Starters arrived – my walnut & feta tart was very good, his haggis was apparently excellent – and we asked the waiter (Antonio, now sadly left) if there was any sign of the wine? Starters were finished when Colin bounded to the table at a run, banged the wine on the table and scampered off again – no words were spoken. It became apparent he was not going to return to open or pour the wine, and as it was a screw top we helped ourselves. Mains were good, and I cannot understand the comment by a previous reviewer about the quantity of food – the portions were extremely generous for this type of restaurant. At the end of dinner Colin re-appeared for us to sign the tab. I asked whether he usually served wine in the way he had this evening. He at least had the good grace to look ashamed and said he was rushing to get the wine orders out. I think there were about 10 covers that night, all ordering at different times.

Booking the four poster room entitles you to a complimentary morning tea tray which we ordered for 8am. At 8.15 we lost hope and went to breakfast. We mentioned the tray to reception and guess who had responsibility for trays? You’ve guessed – Colin. Colin blamed reception for not telling him, and again apologized profusely. Breakfast arrived (tick vg for breakfast quality) apart from one thing – husband’s brekkers was missing his scrambled eggs. Colin rushed to get some, with more apologies. Two other sets of guests then got the wrong breakfasts due to plates being delivered to wrong tables, extra dishes of missing items were ferried out from the kitchen – great fun. When Colin told us he was off for the next couple of days we were almost disappointed.

That evening the restaurant team was led by Paul, with the booming voice and rosy face. To go back to the previous evening for a minute – the menu is good apart from the veggie choice of mains, which comprises one dish. I had therefore asked the apologetic Colin if it would be possible to have an alternative dish the following day. After a conference with chef Colin told me I could have a risotto, or have the veggie curry from the menu in the Walker’s Bar which would require no additional preparation. As I’m a curry kind of girl I told Colin that would be great, and he went to alert chef. So back to night 2 dinner… we ordered from the lovely Antonio (shame he’s gone), and I explained my request for curry from the bar menu had been sanctioned the night before. Then along came Paul, and proceeded to tell me from a distance of a couple of yards in his loud booming voice that it was not possible to have items from the bar menu in the restaurant. (Why on earth not? Dinner is a set price so they shouldn’t lose out!) The rest of the diners sat back and waited in anticipation to see what happened. I explained that Colin (remember him?) had organized this the night before. Paul disappeared to the kitchen and said that yes, chef was aware but no-one had told him. One would expect a head waiter to check with the kitchen to see if a guest’s request could be accommodated BEFORE making a bit of a scene in the dining room.

The dish selection now sorted Paul appeared with the wine. I thought it was odd that a cabernet sauvignon (ordered by full name and with the wine list number) was being served in an ice bucket. Paul then whipped out a sauvignon blanc, and when we said we had ordered the cabernet sauvignon he said the waiter had not written it down correctly. If the waiter could not be trusted why had Paul, as head waiter, not taken the orders, as one would expect? The bottle of red arrived. It was a cabernet sauvignon but not the one we ordered. We didn’t say anything as a glass in the hand is worth more than a bottle in the rack. Dinner was again good – my hard-fought-for curry was extremely good and his pork was very good. Incidentally, the wine Paul served us was £10 cheaper than the one we had ordered! Not a good way to keep up cellar profits.

Breakfast on morning 2 was disappointingly normal, apart from watching other guests being shown to their tables by the over zealous Paul who demanded before they could even sit down what they wanted to drink and what colour toast they wanted.

A head waiter makes or breaks a dining room. The hotel was very quiet during our stay and some of the staff quickly remembered our room number – the lovely silver haired lady on the bar was a delight and only asked out room number once in two days – proper service. One imagined that even one dangled the room key in front of him Paul would still demand names!

Maybe I complain too much as we could see the funny side of the issues – including the issue with ordering the curry which many people would have found extremely embarrassing. However, apart from the restaurant service side we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the hotel and look forward to returning – but only if Colin is still there and has been given a new jacket!

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nildesperanda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 22 June 2014
Good Afternoon Nildesperanda,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are positive or constructive and share them with the whole of the team on a regular basis.

I am pleased to inform everyone that we have decided to get Colin a new uniform as we thought the weight and mussel gain program may be a little extreme.
Both Colin & SCOTT send their personal thanks for the review, it is a shame Antonio has left us but on to bigger and better things for him.
The team are going through a continuous training and improvement plan so the next time you visit you hopefully notice a change.

We look forward to welcoming you back and especially Colin in his new uniform.

Kind Regards
Jason Moore
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (221)
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English first
Shilbottle
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 June 2014

Recommended by a friend- we were delighted after staying a night- breaking our return trip from Manchester- with our Financial Adviser & Fund Manager.
A lovely hotel- far in excess of it's star rating.
An old 17Century Inn- and from it's history- incorporating an old farm house.
Lots of cosy public rooms , bar and dining room- so you never feel crowded out. Beautiful garden, breathtaking fell views- which are so special to the Lakes.
Our room looked over the gardens and hills.

We did expect some noise- being an the main road- past Wordsworth cottage- but never a problem- with old thick walls and the bedrooms mostly in the higgledy pigedy part that would have been the farmhouse and buldings.
Recent major refurbishment- I loved the carpet pattern leading to the bedrooms.
Very good tea and coffee kit in the rooms- & you can telephone for ice , to add to the bottled water!
Hot shower that would boil a lobster- if you wished!

Staff very friendly- even when I knocked over the milk jug at breakfast. Irma, on reception, was always cheerful with us two old codgers!

Food v v good. Breakfast all organic, and as much as you would want or need.
Within easy walking distance of Grasmere.

Suggest you try it.
Paul

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Paul V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 16 June 2014
Good Afternoon Paul V,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are positive or constructive and we share them with the whole of the team on a regular basis.

We are so pleased you decided to chose us to break up your journey home and delighted to hear that everything was v v good, we do try pride ourselves in our service, location and accommodation and we agree it is well above its star rating.

We look forward to welcoming you back in the future.

Kind Regards
Jason Moore
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wem, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 June 2014

We loved staying here, room was great with a king size bed and views of the hills! Nick looked after us in the bar throughout our stay, so friendly and happy to serve us, we felt relaxed in the bar and lounge area. We had food in the bar one night, chix Caesar, club sandwich, bread and oil and an amazing cheese board with real honeycomb! Great value for money.

It was my birthday and the chef, nick and Colin organised a birthday cheesecake for me it was fab!

We would definitely recommend a stay here especially in summer when you can sit outside and watch the world go by!

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank MoorheadBB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 16 June 2014
Good Afternoon Becca01Whitchurch,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are constructive or positive and we share them on a regular basis with the whole of the team.

We are really pleased you enjoyed your stay and members of the team went above and beyond to make your stay extra special, I am delighted to hear that you celebrated your birthday with us and Nick, Colin and Kitchen made you feel special I will be sure to pass on your kind words.

We look forward to welcoming you back in the future.

Kind Regards
Jason Moore
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 June 2014

Back to The Swan after some years with our new dog (Border Collie), we were disappointed.
Our room (49): Old, shabby, unrenovated, smelly drains, windows could only be opened by a small gap, no air and stuffy. Badly in need of refurbishment. During our stay the door lock broke and we could not leave the room.
Lovely gardens, good bar, acceptable breakfast buffet.
Restaurant: Dark and depressing.
Location is good: Short stroll into Grasmere and up the hills right from the hotel.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Reinhard T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 16 June 2014
Good Afternoon Rheinhard T,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are positive or constructive and share them with the whole of the team on a regular basis.

We are disappointed to hear that you did not have an enjoyable stay with us this time, we have recently had a refurbishment program to half the hotel but unfortunately these rooms we no longer allow dogs in, so only allow them in the Classic rooms at the rear of the hotel, as you were in room 49 which is on the upper floor these rooms as dictated by health & safety can only open partially for your safety we could have supplied you with a fan if requested, i can only apologise for the lock failing and causing you inconvenience but we must have fixed it as you checked out on time.
I feel I will have to disagree with you regarding the breakfast buffet being acceptable has our breakfast has been awarded a national award by MIDAS (The Menu Innovation and Development Awards) so I believe it to be more than acceptable.

Thank you for your kind words regarding location, gardens & good bar.
We do hope that we can welcome you back in the future.

Kind Regards
Jason Moore
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maidstone, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 June 2014

Located on the main road a short walk out of Grasmere. Old coaching in linked to modernish bedroom blocks. Linked together by a very long rambling corridor with lots of steps. You need to check the shortest route from the car parking. Small gardens pleasant for afternoon teas- panorama all round.

We had a dog friendly room-excellent -no doggy wiffs at all!

Room had a wonderful view of Helm Crag

Staff friendly and helpful.

Rooms pleasant if a just little dated-beds very comfy.

Head waiter wore an oversized jacket and reappeared from time to time reeking of cigarette smoke-he must have been for a puff between serving. Not very nice when he was serving food.

Room Tip: Go on North side -well away from road-views of Helm Crag wonderful
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Stephen S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 5 June 2014
Good Afternoon Stephen S,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are constructive and positive and we share them with the whole of the team on a regular basis.

We are pleased to hear that you enjoyed your stay and your room and you found the staff friendly and helpful. i will be having a chat with the supervisor and we have ordered him a new jacket but we were thinking of putting him on a intense mussel or weight gain program do not know what would be cheaper.

We look forward to welcoming you back in the near future.

Kind Regards,
Jason Moore
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lanark, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 June 2014

Just back from a two night break at the Macdonald Swan Hotel Grasmere, our second stay in this hotel in four years.
Our party stayed in two Feature Rooms which were pleasant, roomy, well equipped and spotless. The beds were comfortable and the bathrooms fresh and clean. It is worthwhile paying the extra for a Feature Room. The Classic Rooms appear to be OK but be not quite up to this standard, for example if you want to take your dog with you you'll get a Classic Room. This is understandable and if we had a dog with us the Classic Room would be fine. The hotel is well situated for exploring the Lake District by car or walking.
The refurbished rooms are very nice.
The staff are pleasant and hard working, although the hotel could do with more staff, at times they appeared to be a bit stretched.
The bar is OK but perhaps a bit pricey.
The restaurant and the bar could do with a refurbishment, although the idea may be to give the place a feeling of tradition.
The meals in the restaurant are edible but left you with the feeling that they should have been better for the price. For example the French fries served to us were limp not crispy, the hand cut chips were moist, the accompanying vegetables were not drained properly and sat on about 3mm of hot water. The Whisky Cream sauce in the Haggis Neeps and Tatties tasted too strongly of mustard and not of Whisky. Not really big complaints but enough to leave you feeling slightly disappointed.
We would go back to the Swan Hotel but only if we can get a really good deal.

Room Tip: Go for a Feature Room.
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Danceginger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 4 June 2014
Good Evening Danceginger,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are positive or constructive and we share them with the whole of the team on a regular basis.

We were pleased to welcome back and happy that you enjoyed the Feature rooms we agree they are spacious and very comfortable. Thank you for your feedback regarding the food in the restaurant this has been passed over to the Head Chef and Restaurant Manager to look at for the new menu and ensure that there is no repetition in the future.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Kind Regards
Jason Moore
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
47 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2014

This was our second visit to the Swan and this time we stayed for four nights over the May half term week. The Swan is in a very good location, surrounded by fells and a short stroll into Grasmere. Our room was located at the rear of the hotel and had clearly not been refurbished but it was clean. You could unfortunately hear noise from the rooms above and around. It looked very tired and dated however it did have an excellent view from the window. Made use of the Drying Room for boots etc that was very useful. We ate in the bar on most evenings and there was a very good choice, something for everyone and a separate children's menu. It was also very tasty. and served quickly by friendly staff. There are so many walks to do from just outside the front door so no need to get in the car. We would stay again but in a different type of room.

Room Tip: Make sure you request a refurbished room towards the front of the hotel
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Zeddytravels2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmswangrasmere, General Manager at Macdonald Swan Hotel, responded to this review, 4 June 2014
Good Evening Zeddytravels2,

Thank you for taking the time post you review regarding your recent stay at the Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere. We here at the hotel appreciate all our reviews whether they are constructive or positive and we share them with the whole of the team.

We were so pleased to welcome you back to the hotel and pleased that you enjoyed yourselves and enjoyed the new bar menu and service, we are continuing to update as we go along but if you contact me the next time you are staying w can look at an upgrade for you.

Look forward to welcoming you in the future.
Kind Regards
Jason Moore
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Macdonald Swan Hotel

Property: Macdonald Swan Hotel
Address: The Swan Hotel Keswick Road, Grasmere LA22 9RF, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cumbria > Lake District > Grasmere
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Grasmere
#9 Romantic Hotel in Grasmere
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3 star — Macdonald Swan Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 38
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Built in 1650 as a coaching inn, and mentioned in a Wordsworth poem "The Waggoner", Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere is one of the oldest hotels in the Lake District. Nestled in the Cumbrian countryside, with views across the Fells, our cosy and inviting hotel is ideal for walkers and cyclists. With open sunny vistas in summer and blazing log fires in winter, it's the ideal base for exploring the wonders of the Lake District National Park. Afterwards, relax with a delicious meal in our restaurant or enjoy the convivial atmosphere of the Walkers' Bar before retiring to a traditionally - furnished, comfortable room. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Macdonald Swan
Macdonald Swan Grasmere
Macdonald Swan Hotel Grasmere, Lake District

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