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“Very disappointing experience at this hotel.”
Review of Haven Hotel

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Haven Hotel
Ranked #7 of 13 Hotels in Poole
Reviewed 29 April 2013

My husband and I treated ourselves to a weekend in Poole for our 20th Wedding Anniversary, and decided on The Haven Hotel based on the wonderful location - being right at the tip of the Sandbanks peninsular - and the Hotels website made it look very upmarket. Sadly the location was probably the only really positive thing about the place, otherwise it was definately not representative of a 4* hotel.

Upon checking in we were greeted by a bored looking member of staff, who asked if we would like a wake up call or newspaper. We declined the wake up call, but accepted the offer of a newspaper which was our first mistake as having assumed they were complimentary, when the bill arrived we saw they were a chargeable extra, (having spent around £500 with the hotel I complained about the hidden newspaper charge purely as a matter of principle, but there was little reaction and I had to press to have the £4 rather ungraciously removed from our bill)!!

We were given our room cards and directions on how to locate our room, which was on the top floor of the hotel. If you have luggage you may need to ask for assistance, you certainly won't be offered it as a standard courtesy. We managed but it was an effort as the lift takes you to the second floor, then there was a corridor, a heay door, another corridor and another door, a flight of stairs and yet another door further...quite a trek with heavy bags! Having read other reviews I suppose we should be grateful that our room was so far away from the main body of the hotel, as we managed to miss the noise from the Wedding party on the Saturday evening, although the couple in front of us at checkout were not so lucky as it appeared that the noise of the disco had entirely ruined their relaxing evening, being situated directly below them!

Entering our room we were underwhelmed by the lack of imagination or style in the decor, it resembled a 1970s office building with those dreadful suspended ceiling tiles that you often find in schools, offices or maybe hospitals, (certainly not 'luxury' hotels), the pictures on the walls were bolted on with visible great big industrial metal fastenings, and there was a shabby wall mounted iron and ironing board, (very Crossroads Motel), as well as the worst ever tiny and deadly hairdryer fixed to the wall, (this hairdryer actually sucked my hair into the vent at the rear, pulling it into the motor and singeing a section of my hair which then had to be cut off with scissors. A serious Health & Safety issue, as I say deadly don't let your kids near them)! All the furnishings in the room looked cheap, unstylish and tacky.

Their was no local information in the room, (other than something useful for people who own boats)! Also nothing to inform you about the hotel itself e.g. wifi availability, the facilities including the health club and pool, or the restaurant dining times. When we enquired about it at reception we were told the hotel are updating their information and it had not yet been done, therefore there was nothing to give us. I asked for a local map of the area, expecting to be given a small scale Poole map, and was given a large scale map of Dorset which did nothing to detail any local or relevant information. The staff were not very helpful or forthcoming, although they did know where the ferry to Brownsea Island went from, (probably only because it was situated a stone's throw away from the hotel). Generally the staff were friendly enough, but they seemed unenthusiastic and lacklustre. I can't imagine how they will survive the season as we are only in April.

After a 3 hour car journey, we arrived hungry and thirsty and immediatly found the bar area which is lovely with great views across the sea on nearly all sides. The food was however was disappointing and served without aplomb. My ham and mustard sandwich had meat placed only in the middle section of the sandwich, (a clever trick), and the bread was dry and stale. My husband's fish and chips were overcooked and greasy, but as we had waited some time to be served, we were desperate and just ate it without complaining. The Bar Manager was efficient when serving, but he seemed to be spending a great deal of time in deep discussion with the young bar staff who appeared to all have been newly recruited and were evidently inexperienced - let's hope the sense of lethargy doesn't rub off on the new recruits as they will not gain very good 'work experience' if that is the case!

Dinner in the restaurant that night was also disappointing, especially as they have received accolades for their food. The menu wasn't terribly exciting although we did enjoy a good piece of fish that was perfectly cooked, but the accompanying 'spiced potato and spinach' thing did nothing to compliment it. Luckily some great deserts and a good wine list, saved the evening!

Unfortunately our sleep was disturbed by doors slamming shut throughout the night. Being the sort of heavy fire doors which close automatically on a large hinge, most people don't think to close them quietly, and so the signs which appear throughout the corridors asking for that to be undertaken by guests are pointless and ignored. The walls were so paper thin between our room and the next one that we clearly heard our 'neighbours' conversations and loud snoring!!! The water pressure for our shower was terrible, and so showering was a bit of a chore, also the bath filled with water as the plughole must have been blocked, (yuk)!

On the plus side our room was very clean, large and airy. We could open the windows to get fresh air and look out, (view of the carpark but that is fine and I am just glad we didn't pay more for a sea view as it is available outside for free)! They do have a lovely outside pool which must be great in the summer and a new-looking sun lounging area which leads down to a nice sandy beach. We did use the indoor spa facilites, but were unprepared due to lack of information that you need a pound for the lockers, and no robes or slippers are provided unless you are some sort of 'upgraded' person! We both had treatments in the Aveda spa, which were enjoyable.

Worth a mention are the excellent breakfast buffets, with a plentiful choice and a bit more of a buzz in the room than we had seen elsewhere! The breakfasts were a really positive part of our stay!!!

Upon checking out, (which took a while as only one staff member on reception even though there was a queue of people waiting to leave), we were asked about our stay, so we made a few comments about the doors slamming, to which the response was 'oh yes', and that was it! I think this hotel is living on whatever past reputation it may have had, and the wonderful location that they are fortunate enough to command. The Haven Hotel could be massively improved by some decent staff training, and an injection of energy, enthusiasm and life. If it was a person you would shake them by the shoulders and shout SORT YOURSELF OUT! We really felt they needed a wake up call as to what people's expectations of a luxury 4* hotel are nowadays.

The customer service is definately lacking, the staff appear indifferent to the experience of the guests. They do not go that extra mile which is what savvy businesses should do to engender loyalty and retention. Perhaps they are more interested in attracting Weddings and Conferences than business from weekenders like us? I certainly wouldn't return, or recommend it for anything other than the location.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank moonster49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,288 - 1,294 of 1,557 reviews

Reviewed 28 April 2013

You will notice that I have had to put a 1 rating as the system does not allow a zero which a zero rating is the only correct rating for this disgraceful place which has the cheek to call itself a 4 star hotel or even a hotel at all. More like a boot camp!!

I paid for my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary on their way to another trip to stay at this establishment.

What a bad decision this was.

I paid at the time of booking for a sea view room including breakfast. Another mistake.

On arrival, none of the staff knew answers to any questions they were asked, simple ones which surely staff working at the hotel should know such as, where can I park my car, they didn't know, how do I get to the ferry terminal, they didn't know or offer to try and find directions for them!! The list goes on.

There was a wedding taking place on the day they arrived.

My parents went to bed at around 11pm and to say they didn't get a wink of sleep all night is an understatement.

The people from the wedding party were shouting and arguing throughout the night both in the corridors and in the rooms around them, The is not an exaggeration when I say all night. When my parents poked their head around the door, they were shouted at to 'go away'. They were then afraid to leave the room to try and get to reception, they are not young. They only did this after trying to get hold of someone at reception from midnight up to 6am on the phone. Nobody answered until 6am when the arguing and shouting had only just stopped. They just don't care. Another contributer has also commented on the lack of staff throughout the night if you need anything.

They were told in the morning when they ventured downstairs at around 7.30am that the duty manager would be in at around 9am (after a good night's sleep I suppose somewhere else)!! He did come in slightly earlier refreshed which was more than could be said for my parents and when my parents complained, he agreed that they should not have been subject to this and that there had been problems with the wedding party with arguments etc, however, I have since made 2 complaints to them in writing which has been ignored and not even acknowledged. I am demanding a full refund.

The full breakfast which was also paid for when booking was not actually available until 8am which was too late as they had to leave shortly after 8 to catch a ferry. What time is this for a so-called 4 star hotel!! Offer of toast in the room - wow. Service - non existent!

A hotel who doesn't care about their paying, well behaved customers.

I will not give up on this and please don't send anyone there unless you expect them to have to be locked in their room, have had combat training and non existent staff who are less than helpful with an attitude which seems to be, as another contributor commented is complacent, I am sure this will change when customers stop staying there which they will eventually.

Places like this cannot and do not deserve to survive.

Room Tip: One that is not like a cell or better still none at all!!
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Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
6  Thank StephanieJersey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2013

No tea or coffee facilities in room. Had to walk down to reception at 11.00pm at night (evidently the night staff don't like to answer the phone) I don't expect to have to physically ggo to a reception desk in a four star hotel at 11.00pm at night

I could not find the TV switch (I was told a lot of people have trouble :Sign on the wall?) No mini bar in the room.
Over priced pretentious hotel, how did this place get an AA four star rating? This place is resting on its laurels!

Room Tip: Better value at other less expensive hotels!
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank Kevin L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2013

Have not stayed here but eat here quite often with family and friends, the service is always excellent as is the food, ask for a table on the terrace or in the conservatory area overlooking Poole Bay & Harbour, enjoy the food and the boats going by........

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Julian S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 April 2013

Our group, four adults and two children spent a three night weekend at this hotel. It has a lovely location on the beach at Sandbanks right at the entrance to the bay leading to Poole Harbour. Unfortunately the weather was bitterly cold so we were unable to reap the full benefit of its situation.

Our initial experience was inauspicious, to put it mildly. We arrived in the early afternoon and ordered lunch from the snack menu. My choice was a “rare roast beef sandwich with horseradish sauce”. It came with a price tag of £7.50 and was a huge disappointment, consisting of a single slice of well cooked beef with a light smearing of horseradish between two slices of bread, accompanied by a few crisps and some leaves. Total unit cost, about 50p! My wife’s choice of a ham sandwich at the same price was little better. Frankly it was a total rip off.

It was with some foreboding, therefore that a few hours later we sat down to dinner. I need not have worried. I ordered a set price 2 course dinner for £22.50. My starter was salmon mouse with a sweet and sour drizzle, my wife had the pâté. We both had confit of duck for our main course . Both courses were perfectly cooked and presented and at the price, the same as 3 beef sandwiches, excellent value, The food for the rest of the stay was of the same standard and thoroughly enjoyed by all of us.

The staff, mostly foreign, were friendly and efficient throughout and particularly good with the children. The facilities were adequate rather than luxurious. An indoor pool and a play room would have for young children would have added a lot to the enjoyment of the weekend. All in all therefore, apart from the initial complaint, a very enjoyable experience.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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1  Thank JFCIreland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FJBHotels, Public Relations Manager at Haven Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 22 April 2013

Thank you for your review JFCIreland. We are glad that overall you enjoyed your stay with us, especially the dinner in our La Roche restaurant. Thank you for the positive reference to our staff, they take great pride in what they do. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 April 2013

Stayed Sunday evening in April so the hotel was very quiet, we were allocated a room overlooking the car park which was spacious with an equally large bathroom. I do not think The Haven warrants 4 star rating; the decor is tired and the fittings not particularly good quality in places (plastic bath), two tv's in the room? only one of which functional (strange). Housekeeping standards leave a little to be desired; carpet badly stained in places, basin and bath not very clean, mattress badly stained and a distinct lack of any information in the room (with exception of info on Spa & Water sports) a little disconcerting in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Breakfast was good with an excellent choice of fresh fruit and coffee very drinkable, the dining room alas was in dire need of re-decoration (ceiling very badly water damaged), tables badly chipped and the wooden floor needed cleaning and polishing.
Lovely location however, I would imagine it is very noisy in the summer, I think this hotel trades on its postition and it is probably aimed at the under 50's with children.

Room Tip: We were allocated a room on the back and could not really fault it, rooms overlooking the sea are pr...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank ladiesthatlunch3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2013

We have mixed feelings about this hotel, the views are outstanding but is that enough?!

The room we stayed in was in need of work - paintwork was chipped, the bathroom door did not meet the floor, baloncy was dirty and very tired - a plus point the bed was very comfortable. The TV in the room was a nightmare - 3 calls to reception (a very nice man came to sort it straight away each time), after the 3rd time we just gave up with it!

The spa was ok but the steam room was closed and the jacuzzi was not working.

Evening meal was nice but felt over priced. Breakfast was very good.

The staff at reception were not very helpful when we checked in, they gave us no times for breakfast, we were not asked if we would like to reserve a table for an evening meal and no information about the spa - yes we could of asked but surely in a 4* hotel they should provide this? No information folder in the rooms either.

I dont think we would stay here again.

Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
2  Thank SALAFI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Haven Hotel

Address: 161 Banks Road | Sandbanks, Poole BH13 7QL, England (Formerly FJB Collection - The Haven)
Region: United Kingdom > England > Dorset > Poole
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Poole
#3 Luxury Hotel in Poole
Price Range: £60 - £154 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Haven Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 84
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Haven Hotel is a luxurious four-star spa hideaway. Perched at the tip of the exclusive Sandbanks peninsula in Poole and surrounded by sea and sand. With direct access to seven miles of Blue Flag beaches and just a couple of steps away from Purbeck over the Shell Bay chain ferry. It’s your gateway to South Coast adventure. Featuring elegant and well-appointed bedrooms with many of which offering ocean view balconies. We believe that these naturally beautiful surroundings deserve food that’s a little special. Highly acclaimed by locals, The Point Restaurant serves a two AA-Rosette awarded cuisine helmed by Head Chef Jason Hornbuckle. When the sun shines, our terrace is an enviable spot for alfresco dining. Why not indulge yourself at the Haven Spa and prepare to be pampered and spoilt? Whether working up a sweat in the gym or relaxing in the outdoor heated swimming pool, the Haven Spa is the perfect place to unwind your mind and reinvigorate your body in complete luxury. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Haven Poole
Haven Hotel Poole, Dorset

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