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.
- 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