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“Rip-off Christmas event”
Review of West Dean Gardens

West Dean Gardens
Ranked #8 of 66 things to do in Chichester
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: West Dean Gardens is one of the greatest restored Gardens open to the public in England. Wander through the 300 foot long Edwardian pergola, visit the restored Victorian glasshouses, Walled Kitchen Gardens, Sunken Garden and orchards. Finish with a walk through the arboretum, Spring Garden and the peaceful parkland. Enjoy and inspirational day out visiting West Dean Gardens. A rare oasis of beauty and tranquillity in the heart of the South Downs.
Reviewed 21 December 2013

What a rip-off! They had the cheek to charge £10 for a few craft stalls of low quality/high price and a few lights threaded thro the trees at the entrance. There was no atmosphere in the house despite the feeble attempt at making it feel like an Edwardian Christmas with mulled wine in plastic beakers. The restaurant serves lousy tea and coffee. We have to ask for extra teabags in the pot each time we visit. When oh when will they raise the quality of their products. We've been 'friends' for the past 10 years but this is the worst. We complained about the Grow Cook Eat but the staff really don't want feed back even though they say they welcome it. This may well be the last time we'll join as 'friends' unless events and the restaurant improves considerably. Loyalty can only stretch so far.

3  Thank LuccaSiena
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WestDean, Public Relations Manager at West Dean Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 6 January 2014

We are very sorry that you were so disappointed with the Christmastime event. The entrance fee covered a variety of activities, including a visit to Father Christmas (if pre-booked), unlimited rides on a vintage carousel, Christmas demonstrations, carol singing and entry into the House.

As a ‘Friend of West Dean’ you should have had free entry to the event, which you don’t mention. I am sorry that you are considering not renewing your Friends membership this year, as we believe that at current prices, it represents great value for money. For £29 for an individual membership, members benefit from free entry to the Gardens year-round (except January when they are closed), and free entry to major garden events such as the Chili Fiesta. In 2013, there were 4 such events which were free to members (around £10 otherwise).

I am also sorry that you feel we are not interested in your comments. We treat all feedback seriously and use it to plan future activities. We are grateful for your loyalty to West Dean and hope that in future you will have more enjoyable visits here.
Best wishes for the new year from all at West Dean.

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414 - 418 of 524 reviews

Reviewed 18 December 2013

Ambience is not a few cursory lights duct-taped to a random tree or nailed to a shanty town of craft stalls.

Nor is it induced by stacking cars at the furthest point from the hall leaving you to walk through a mudbath to get there and the maximum distance in the pouring rain to escape it.

Contemptuous.

2  Thank Marcus_Aurelius_III
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WestDean, Public Relations Manager at West Dean Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 6 January 2014

We are very sorry that you were so disappointed about your visit to West Dean's Christmastime event. We will take on board your feedback as we develop future events.
Best wishes for the new year from all at West Dean.

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Reviewed 18 December 2013

Absolutely shambolic from start to finish. I had looked forward to the event as it was at West Dean, so normally that's a good sign. We arrived in the rain to be pointed to a parking space in a field of mud. We then had to walk a considerable distance in dire conditions (no walkway, just slippery mud) and found as we approached the entrance that there were masses of free parking spaces, the two chaps directing the cars seemed oblivious to this fact. So no coordination there then. Having read on the website the entrance fee was £9, we weren't expecting to be charged £10 at the door just because we hadn't booked online (why should we be penalised for paying cash on the day? There was very little in the way of Christmas cheer or ambiance, the outside lighting was paltry, so were the stalls. A glass of mulled wine was included in the entrance fee, but as I don't drink alcohol this meant nothing as there were no alternatives. The website stated sleigh rides and mince pies. Not a mince pie in sight and extra charged for the sleigh rides. We went inside and expected to see more of the house for that price but basically it was the downstairs reception room, dining room and the hallway, where Santa's grotto was. We tried to peep into another room (the library I think), bit were basically shooed away by an abrupt elf as we weren't part of the Santa visit. This part was geared up for children, but for visiting adults there was nothing. We went out into the drizzle and didn't feel like parting with our money by buying anything on the stalls. We left after a short while. Overall we felt that we had paid to go shopping and were extremely disappointed. I really felt like asking for a refund and this has marred any future visits to events there. Certainly never going to Christmastime again.

4  Thank Anna C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WestDean, Public Relations Manager at West Dean Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 6 January 2014

Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry that you were disappointed by your visit to our recent Christmastime event. As a whole we tried to offer a range of attractions at the event, including carol singing, a vintage carousel, Christmas shopping, Christmas demonstrations for adults, and visits to Father Christmas, and I'm sorry that you felt the event did not represent good value for money.
We are grateful for you feedback and will take on board your comments as we develop future events.
All best wishes for the new year from all at West Dean.

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Reviewed 16 December 2013

The gardens at West Dean are beautiful but the on site cafe is another matter. We went decided to visit for lunch as it is local to us and we had not been for a couple of years. What a disappointment. The restaurant was almost empty,I know why. The food was very poor value for money £8.50 each for 2 tiny portions of very average food. I dont think the staff were bothered about customer care as they served up the mean servings(two small new potatoes a spoon of carrot a spoon of peas and a small slice of quiche). My husbands portion of lasagne was even meaner he was given the smallest spoonful of lasagne I have ever seen. This is certainly not value for money but the worst thing is that I dont think they care. I wont be going back . I wish I had complained at the time but to be honest there were no members of staff around to speak to. I felt as though we had been well and truely ripped off.

3  Thank ncz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WestDean, Public Relations Manager at West Dean Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 18 December 2013

I am so sorry about your experience at the restaurant at West Dean Gardens and particularly disappointed that you felt the staff did not care. We really want our visitors to enjoy their time at West Dean and feel welcomed by all our staff here and we are sorry that this was not the case on your visit.
As regards the food, I am sorry that the portions felt too small. We are reviewing our menu at the moment and aim to introduce a new look during 2014.
I am also sending you a private message in the hope I can encourage you to give us another try in 2014.
Thank you for your feedback.

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Reviewed 16 December 2013

Went to the West Dean Christmas Fair yesterday – shambolic. Parking in a mud bath and expected to walk across freezing fields to the so-called Fair (watching cars stuck in the mud being towed out by a Land Rover). A handful of cabins with crafts, over-priced basic food and drink. Entry to the house involved viewing the hall, dining room and the main sitting room with a small glass of mulled wine. . The restaurant – the only warm spot – charged £13.00 for coffee for 4 with 2 small mince pies and a piece of cake.

The final insult – I purchased a packaged candle in a glass jar in the shop only to find it smashed to smithereens once the packaging was unwrapped at home. The next day I complained about this and a totally disinterested shop manageress finally agreed to refund purchase price on receipt of the bill. No apology offered – seemed to be suggesting this was our fault or fraud. The long walk back through the mud to the car.

And all of this for £10.00 per head – certainly won’t be going there again.

1  Thank Andy M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WestDean, Public Relations Manager at West Dean Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 18 December 2013

Dear Andy, I am sorry that your experience at West Dean's Christmastime event was so disappointing. The weather certainly had an impact on the event on Sunday, and was particularly challenging for our parking, which was in a field, until we were able to divert cars to a tarmacked area. I am also sorry that you had a difficult experience with a damaged item from the gift shop, but glad that this has now been sorted out.
We will take on board all feedback to help us plan and present future events and improve our service, so thank you for taking the trouble to write about your experiences.
Please do have a very Merry Christmas.

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