I had some leave to use up so my wife and I decided to go away for a couple of nights - we chose this hotel because we found a cracking deal for it on Secret Escapes and the reviews were so good on TripAdvisor.
First impressions were good. The very friendly valet took our car for us and advised that we were a little early for check-in. Official check-in time is 2pm but he said we should be OK to check in at 1. Off we went for a wander round Bury St. Edmund's, returning around 1:30.
Unfortunately, our room wasn't ready - the receptionist advised us to take a seat and have a coffee (which we were charged for), and that he'd come and get us when our room was ready. He never did, so we approached the desk and were duly checked in, with the same valet giving us a hand to our room.
The decor at this hotel will not be to everyone's tastes. Animal skins are the order of the day, with one chair even having a zebra's mane on it. It's quirky, though, and the Wingspan Bar is a lovely, if expensive, place to spend an evening, with attentive and friendly waiting staff.
The bedroom was well-appointed, nice selection of refreshments including ground coffee and speciality teas, but only one biscuit. There is a card advising that if you need anything else you can call reception, but it seems a bit petty just to ask for another biscuit (they were aware that the room was double occupancy) - it seems just that little bit mean. The bathroom was spacious and well furnished, and let down only by a plastic toilet seat. Again, a very minor point but it does detract from the overall finish of the bathroom - especially in a hotel that boasts very proudly of its four star status on its exterior and in its advertising.
Sadly, the WiFi didn't work, and when we called reception to enquire about it we were confidently told that there was free WiFi and it was complimentary throughout the hotel. When we questioned this as we couldn't connect, the response was that there were issues with it earlier in the day and they had to reset it, but no offer of trying to put it right. We'll just do without the advertised inclusive WiFi then, shall we?
The bed was comfortable and we slept uninterrupted, until shortly before 7am the next morning when a recycling lorry rather loudly transposed some glass bottles from one container into another. This was shortly followed by a delivery to the hotel, and the refuse collection. When we complained to the reception we got an apology and a promise to "have a word with the council", but again, no proactive response.
Breakfast was disappointing. The first day, bacon was underdone. Asked for it to be "a little bit more well done than yesterday" the next morning - it came cremated. Poached egg had a distinct twang of vinegar. My wife's bacon sandwich (on the first morning) was swimming in butter. Pancakes (the next morning) were very heavy. Coffee was served both mornings from a cafetiere - I don't think it's really acceptable in this day and age to serve stewed coffee when espresso machines are so commonplace, especially when the charge for breakfast is £15 per person if not included in the room rate!
The really noticeable thing about this hotel is that, with the exception of the valet (who was really excellent) nobody asked how anything was - from the (two different) waiting staff at breakfast to the receptionist checking us out.
It's a real shame that this amazing building, where Charles Dickens once stayed, which is very imaginatively decorated creating a fabulously unique vibe, is let down by small details. I don't get annoyed when things go wrong, provided that some effort is made to put them right. There didn't seem to be any appetite to do this - either when we actively reported a problem (which is the hotel's golden opportunity to impress, and learn, from feedback) or even to check that things are okay. Unfortunately, the hotel simply isn't performing at the level at which it pitches itself. Thankfully, it doesn't have to change very much to do so, provided that its staff become more proactive in seeking feedback, and reacting properly to it when it is received.
By all means stay in this hotel if you have cause to be in Bury St. Edmund's - this is a quirky period hotel with lots of history and a bar with a really nice vibe. Just don't rely on the WiFi or expect a resolution if anything goes wrong.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This Georgian ivy clad 4 star boutique hotel and restaurant in Suffolk surprises with a twist of urban chic. Our Suffolk hotel is right in the heart of Bury St Edmunds town centre and everything is just a step from here. Explore winding, cobbled, shop filled streets and a plethora of ancient architecture on the doorstep. Once inside, The Angel Hotel is a curious contrast of comfy contemporary design with touches of exotic grandeur. Warm leather sofas vie for your company in the lounge, which is filled with curiosities, pop art, eccentric oddities and cool vintage furniture. It is a hotel of many different aspects all artfully blended together into an exciting package and the bedrooms are no exception. The Angel Eaterie has a great reputation and dining here is a culinary treat. Take the steps down into the decadently curious Wingspan Cocktail Bar & Lounge located in the 12th Century vaults under the Hotel. Wingspan is the perfect location to meet with friends, for pre-dinner drinks, or simply to relax after a long day. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Angel Hotel Bury St Edmunds
- Angel Bury St Edmunds
- The Angel Hotel Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk