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“Good food...shame about the rest!”

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The Kings Head Hotel
Ranked #91 of 189 Keswick B&B and Inns
Reviewed 3 August 2010

My partner and I travelled to the lakes for a one-night stay, which we then extended to 2 but needed to find a last minute place to stay. We visited The Swan Inn where the staff were polite and the decor was lovely to find unfortunately they had no rooms available. However, they called ahead to their sister hotel the Kings Head to arrange us a room for the night. My first impressions of the Kings Head was that although it was on a busy road side, it looked like a nice rustic spot with dark wooden beams. But then I realised that first appearances can be deceptive...

After checking in and being put in room 14, we made our way upstairs and took a left. Then the fun started. Turning the key and opening the door we were presented with barely enough room to swing a cat. There was just enough room to walk between the wall and the foot of the bed to the other side of the room where there was a small wardrobe in the corner, and a chair in front it, which when my partner sat on it had no bottom and so he went straight through it. In hindsight, I wish I had taken some photos because if you think that was bad, just wait 'til you hear about the bathroom. It was approx. a metre wide comprising of toilet, sink and shower. At 5'6" I had trouble showering due to its tiny size but to be honest, you had to laugh, because when your 6'4" boyfriend is trying to wash in a shower, built into a sloping roof and not only does he have to stoop to nearly half his size but his face is merely inches away from the facing wall, it was like washing in a shower built for the borrowers. To dry my hair I had to sit on the bed to use the dressing table, as there was not enough room to pull the stool out underneath it. Also, when we went to use the phone in our room because our mobiles lost all signal. When we booked the room all we were bothered about was having somewhere to stay for one night and I definitely believe that one night is all you could realistically manage due to the shortage of space. However, I also think that the price you pay should reflect the service you receive in any establishment and it is not so much the room that prompted me to write this negative review, but instead is due to the events that followed both that evening and the following morning.

When we went down for dinner that evening we ate in the bar area. This part of the building looks to have been newly renovated and is much more modern and a bit out of character with the rest of the hotel, but was quite nice and airy to sit in. While we waited at the bar to be served, I noticed one of the waitresses on a number of occasions rushing around at an unnecessary pace with plates of food. She would stop abruptly behind other patrons and rather than saying “Excuse me,” she simply stood impatiently huffing and puffing, until they suddenly noticed and apologetically jumped out of the way, to which she simply rushed on through without any acknowledgement. It was quite busy and she didn’t appear to speak much English, but without having to say a word her negative attitude was evident immediately. We ordered our food and drinks at the bar, deciding to charge them to the room for which we had to sign receipts each time. Coming to the food, in all honesty it was actually very good, we both had mushroom soup to start and steak which was cooked to perfection, like cutting through butter.

The next morning was the final straw for our stay at the Kings Head. We went down for breakfast and were seated at a table by the waitress who was the same lady who had checked us in and taken our meal order the previous night. She was foreign but spoke very good English and although seemed to be very busy, was courteous and friendly bringing us some toast and coffee and tea. It seemed she was multitasking that morning as she was serving breakfast and then got called off to check some people out of their room, leaving us to be waited on by the aforementioned impatient waitress from the night before. After waiting a while to have our order taken, I asked if we could order some food to which she replied “Yes”, coming to take our order and exchanging pleasantries, to which it seemed that her attitude from the previous night had disappeared. The breakfast wasn’t as good as the food the night before, it was a bit dry and the poached eggs were hard, but it wasn’t a major deal. When she’d brought our food I asked if we could please have some more toast to which again she replied, “Yes” and left the table. However, upon my partner going to get some orange juice from the buffet table he walked past the two waitresses and heard them speaking in a foreign language and then the one who had taken our breakfast order went on to mimic me in a very ridiculing manner saying “Can we have some more toast?” before again speaking in the foreign language. When he came back to the table he was fuious and told me what he had heard. It left us angry and puzzled really, as there was absolutely no need for such mockery. I like to think that my partner and myself are very conscientious of the way in which we conduct ourselves and have always been brought up to treat others as we would want them to treat us, with both respect and politeness. Before leaving the table, I saw the said waitress on her way back to the kitchen carrying a toast rack. Dropping some toast on the floor and noticing what she had done, she walked back into the kitchen, leaving it on the floor, even after returning from the kitchen and promptly stepping over it. All in all it was obvious that her attitude to guests and service was not only rude, but sloppy.

When we came to check out, it was again the lady who had checked us in, but also the same lady playing witness to the other waitress poking fun at myself. Upon paying for our stay, the lady passed over the bill and just as my partner went to pay, we noticed that we had had a £14.95 bottle of Merlot added to the top our bill, which we definitely did not order, nor drink. When we pointed out the mistake to her, her manner changed from one of politeness to rudeness and she simply waved off the matter saying “It happens”, before removing it from our bill. To me, things like that do not “just happen” and the fact that she dismissed the error so quickly without even consulting the bills, which we had signed for the night before made me suspicious, as to whether it had in fact been added deliberately to our bill, in the hope that we wouldn’t notice.

After this, we decided that to put in a complaint to this lady would fall on deaf ears and since there was no one else to consult at the time, I decided to write to the hotel when we arrived home to express my disappointment at the conduct of some of their staff. Its not the sort of thing I would do unless I thought it was necessary because I certainly would not want anyone to be treated like that, but I thought by writing to the manager I could enlighten him to the problems we had as I would have thought they would not have tolerated such behaviour from their staff. However, the manager clearly did not agree and 4 weeks later I have still to hear a reply, which I have no doubt I will not receive.

I apologise for the length of the review but I hope that it might help fellow travellers to decide whether this might be the type of place you might want to stay. Reading some of the other reviews for the Kings Head it seems like we are talking about different hotels, as they like the staff but hate the food, but my experience was the other way round. In regards to the price, it was supposed to be £60 - £65 per person, per night, which in my opinion is an absolute extortion! However, because it was last minute booking, we paid £45 per person per night, which in hindsight was still a rip off for a tiny box room complete with shoebox shower, paying for things you didn’t even have and stroppy staff. I certainly won’t be going back in hurry!

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Sislee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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539 - 545 of 577 reviews

Reviewed 2 August 2010

We stayed here with extended family for a 90th Birthday weekend.
The staff are very friendly , work hard and all is very well managed.
It is a cosy Inn with very good quality food (compared to many places in and around Keswick). Good choice of bar or other dining areas.
Bedrooms comfortable .

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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Thank CAWWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 July 2010

I stayed for two nights and couldn’t wait to leave for several reasons, most of which have been mentioned by other people. On the plus side, the staff were always friendly and helpful and the hotel is situated in an area that is breathtaking. With regards the downsides, there are probably too many to list in this critique and I feel I could almost write a book about them! The room is pokey in the extreme and noisy to the point of getting no sleep whatsoever in room 8, due to the fact that there is no air conditioning (excusable for a coaching inn but NOT excusable that no electric fan was provided, requiring the windows to be opened in order to survive. I received non-feather pillows as requested but they were the most awful ever experienced. The newish, cheap bathroom was suffering the usual black mould around the shower walls and I can’t bring myself to describe the state of the hand basin tap which we were forced to complain about. That incident put me off touching anything, anywhere in the hotel for the duration. The food was quite good but not wonderful. At £80 per room per night, it was a total rip-off. Perhaps £50 would be closer to realistic. NEVER AGAIN!!!!

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Lytchett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 June 2010

Booked at lunchtime to stay that night after looking for last minute availability for the whole of the Lakes. I was a little put of by some of the reviews but in general this is a good place to stay with comfortable bedrooms and common areas. Much more a food orientated pub and would have liked a cosy bar area for my pint of real ale but the space was used well. Breakfast was tasy and well presented in a very nice restaurant. As others have already said the staff were pleasant and efficient. I would stay here again and I would rather get a good rate as the hotel is now rather than pay more to fund a refurbishment.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank travellingscoobies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2010

A group of 10 who meet up once a year to walk a little, catch up with events, and generally have a relaxing weekend with good food and good company stayed for a weekend in May. The hotel is mid way between Keswick and Grasmere, both of which are about 10 mins away by car, so most residents take the all-inclusive deal, which we thought was excellent value. The rooms are not large, in keeping with a centuries-old building, but quite adeqaute. The bar is in two parts - the original old bar and a new extension. Meals from the same menu can be had in either bar or in the dining room. The meals were excellent with a good choice, well-cooked and well-presented.
But what sets this hotel apart is the quality iof the staff. Every single peron we met was helpul, courteous and genuinely friendly. Everyone appeared to actually enjoy their job and were unfailingly cheerful, even when very busy. It was a pleasure to stay here - other hotels in the Lake District would do well to learn from the Kings Head in terms of customer service.

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled with friends
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Thank Strian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2010

I have stayed at The Kings Head in Thirlspot a number of times over the years though not recently.

The Inn is in an idyllic location and, as can be seen from the website and various photos, it has the appearance of a very old coaching in.

One can almost imagine a stage coach drawing onto the forecourt on a Winters eve,decanting its weary travellers to be welcomed by the innkeeper and hustled inside for warmth,ale and hospitality aplenty. A roaring fire in the grate and smoke curling from the chimney pots.

Thats how I remember it one Winters eve some years ago last time i stayed there though my stagecoach was petrol rather than horse driven !

And so it was that i again elected to stay at the Kings Head for a short break.

As previously stated, the Inn is ideally located just off the main road between Grasmere and Keswick. It nestles in a valley below the surrounding fells with St johns in the Vale a short walk away as is Helvellyn,and Thirlemere.

Grasmere and Keswick are only a short drive.

I struggle for thoughts as to how to assess and describe the Kings Head and so shall simply say that it is not what it once was.

I cannot help but wonder how the owners have allowed what was once a very good establishment, to slip. It is not beyond salvation but the owners need to take action before it is too late.

Good points...

Our room was clean,comfortable with crisp white sheets and the bathroom seems to have been refitted with ceramic tiled floor and new, modern shower cubicle and fittings.

The Staff are incredibly friendly,courteous ,hard working and efficient. There doesnt seem to be one person in charge though they all seem to multi-task ! Its almost as if they have been left to get on with it by the owners.

The dining room ambience,decor and table/place settings are of a very good standard..as it used to be.

The public bar has had a refurbishment and now has a more modern appearance. At least five real ales courtesy of Jennings are available which is great.

Points needing attention-

The owner needs to employ a proper chef who can produce meals to a high standard rather than having one of the staff moonlighting as a chef!

The residents lounge needs some new, co ordinated furniture and fittings

The rather murderous swirly read/brown paint colour which pervades the lower and upper hallway needs to redone. I would suggest light cream/beige !

The hot water system needs some attention. On the way to the hotel I had noted that the water level at Thirlmere seemed rather low. I can now attribute this to the kings Head as every time i wanted hot water/shower, i had to run the hot tap at full bore for perhaps as long as 5 minutes to get the water through. There appears to be no secondary circulation system (plumbing ) Once it runs through,it is hot enough!


The bedroom doors need attention/repainting with new fittings as at present,they look a bit like inner city bedsit entrance doors.

Apparently free wifi is available in the residents lounge though i didnt test it.

My accolade for best Lakeland breakfast still remains with Link House, Bassenthwaite.

All in all, an acceptable stay but £70 per room would be my limit at present. The owner needs to invest, put in an appearance and support his current staff who are doing an excellent job on his behalf and apparently in his/her absence!

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank dooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 May 2010

We stayed for two nights in room two. The room was ok and the view was lovely but we found it very noisy - the walls are very thin and you can hear most of what's going on next door (whether you want to or not!!). The room's lock didn't work and we spent ages just turning the key until the door locked. The staff were brilliant - very polite, friendly and attentive. The food on the first night was poor - fish and chips - with very soggy and undercooked batter. The food on the second night (Sunday lunch) was faultless.

The location is great for walking - we didn't use the car at all and you can walk to Helvellyn and the Dodds (to name a couple of walks) from the doorstep.

The location and the staff are what kept this one from being terrible!

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Geecee6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Kings Head Hotel

Address: Thirlmere, Keswick CA12 4TN, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cumbria > Lake District > Keswick
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #91 of 189 B&Bs / Inns in Keswick
Price Range: £68 - £118 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Kings Head Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located at the foot of Helvellyn, near the shores of Lake Thirlmere The 16th Century Kings Head Hotel enjoys an idyllic setting in the heart of The Lake District National Park. The Kings Head offers two unique dining experiences - with Fine dining in the award winning St Johns Restaurant or Traditional Bar Dining, a contemporary bar lounge and delightful en-suite bedrooms are traditionally furnished with views of the surrounding fells. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Kings Head Hotel Keswick, Lake District

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