Just returned from a 5 day break to this hotel with Alfa. Cannot fault the driver or coach company.
The hotel was clean, though desperatly in need of some repair. Our room alone had the curtain fall down, the shower door fall off, and a very dangerous, sloping area where the kettle was sited. But the room was kept very clean. In fact, the standard of cleanliness throughout was very good. The staff were polite and helpful, the drinks were fair priced, and the entertainment was quite good.
The trips with Alfa were very good value, and the driver did all he could to inform us of local history. Ilfracombe itself is small and very hilly, but central for lots of other places.
Now for the down side, and there really was one.
Our first evening meal consisted of half a bowl of soup, pre-packed salad leaves with a piece of bland ex-frozen chicken, frozen chips left warming for who knows how long, and tinned peas and carrots. All served by the handyman who had "mended" the shower door. Still not sure if he was a handyman, porter or waiter, as he did not seem able to do any of these jobs with any level of skill.
Next morning, after half a bowl of cornflakes, we then had to wait 35 minutes for breakfast. This consisted of one slice of cold toast, one half cooked poached egg, and a slice of bacon which was too salty to eat. We asked for coffee and then waited another ten minutes only to be served tea. The couple on our table asked four times for extra milk and then went round vacated tables looking for some. Evening meal was no better, very small portions of totally bland food. When I asked what the vegetable was, the waiter looked at it then told us pumpkin. It turned out to be sweet potato. We should have had a clue what to expect when the melon starter was frozen fruit with a grape on top, no melon. Maybe less playing with the tea towels on his arm and more attention to the menu might have helped.
Wednesday morning we were not willing to wait so long for inedible offerings and so settled for simply corn flakes and toast. This again took half an hour, and was not worth the wait.
Evening meal, I settled for the vegetarian option, figuring how much damage can they do to sausage and mash. Will I never learn? After a pityful starter, we again waited over 25 minutes, and then the "waiter" told me there had been "an accident" with the sausage. If I had not been so hungry it may even have been funny. Would I wait 5 minutes for another? Sure, I was used to waiting.
After almost 15 minutes, the waiter brought me my meal. The mashed potato had obviously been sitting from before "the accident" and was stone cold. And the veggie sausage was in fact a vegetable croquet, burnt on the outside and totally raw inside. Not thawed out before going in the pan. It was absolutley vile and not fit to be eaten. I asked the waiter to take it away but he left it in front of me until all the table had finished eating, which to be fair, with the amount on the plates did not take long. But the cheese board was very nice, well, for what was on the plate it was nice.
By now, enough was enough, and I was hungry. I told the receptionist what had happened, and she asked if I had been offered an alternative, maybe a salad. When I told her no, I wasn't even offered an apology and I wouldn't have accepted pre-packed salad again, she became very indignant, and tried to tell me it was all fresh. The freshest thing we had eaten all week was the cheese, everything else was frozen or out of a tin. (After having spent over 30 years in the hotel trade, I do know fresh from frozen.) She said she would leave a message for the manager and he would have a word with me the next day before we left on our trip at 9-45 am. Ha!!
Next morning, the usual small cornflakes and cold toast, no sign of the manager before we left, and a dawning realisation that he had been no-where in sight since the "meet and greet" on the coach on Monday. Thusrday evening meal was actually quite good. Decent portions, though I did have to ask for more potato as 4 small boiled was a bit mean for 2 people, and the food was hot. Different chef? I doubt it was the one they had been using as it was such an obvious change. I was told the manager had showed his face earlier in the day. Briefly. Would this explain the change in food standards? And if so, why were we left to eat rubbish the previous days when he was no-where in sight?
I know for a fact that he was aware of the problems I had encountered with the food, as a different receptionist told me it was written down in the office and she had seen it, and as he had been asked to have a word with me, it would have been nothing short of common courtesy to at least talk to me, but no, he couldn't even be bothered to do that. He appeared on the Friday morning as though he owned the building, he was loud, over bearing, and very condescending to any who tried to talk to him. For a young man, he does not show any of the skills required to be in a managerial position. He even went so far as to tell all who would listen, in a very loud voice, that he HAD to work the next evening, on the bar, as the barmaid wanted a night off.
If this had been our first holiday with Alfa, it would definatly have been our last. We would never have booked again, believing that all the holidays were of this poor standard. As it is, we have been with Alfa before and would certainly go again, as this hotel is definatly the exception and not the rule.
Even though all the menus are the same in all the hotels, the food has always been well presented, as though the staff care about the guests. Here, we felt as though we were tolerated, and unimportant. Definatly not the usual attitude for Alfa.
I was not the only person who was disatisfied with standards and portions, as i know for certain of 3 others on the same coach trip who were not happy. One person did in fact mention to the manager the small amount of soup in the bowl. His answer was "Have you seen the size of those bowls?" Yes we have, they are standard size. Maybe this is that hotels' usual policy? Or is it a cost cutting strategy? After all, once we've paid, we have to accept what we are given.
If you are booked to go to this hotel, be prepared to eat out, and expect to leave the dining room hungry, unless it happens to be on the odd day where the manager deigns to make an appearance.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Imperial Hotel - Ilfracombe [3 Alpha & AA Three Star]. Situated in one of the best positions in Ilfracombe, overlooking Wildersmouth beach, and the splendid Landmark Theatre and Conference Centre, close to the High Street and only a short almost level walk from the harbour. 104 rooms with central heating and bath or shower and WC. All rooms have tea/coffee making facilities, internal phone, hair dryer and TV. There is a large restaurant, bar, comfortable lounge and dance floor where entertainment is provided most evenings. Lift to all floors (stairs to some rooms on split level floors). ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Imperial Hotel Ilfracombe, Devon