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“Beautiful hotel but miserable service”

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Macdonald Compleat Angler
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Marlow
GreenLeadersSilver level
London, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Beautiful hotel but miserable service”
Reviewed 9 June 2014

Having parked dutifully in the spare overflow car park (noticing that the MacDonald’s Compleat Angler management parking spaces are much closer to the hotel!) I carry my own bags to reception, where I wait for the one receptionist to check in 3 other guests (strange that the other check in desk is empty)…

When I do get to check in some 10 minutes later, the check in lady asked me if I wanted to charge drinks to my room (well, of course!) and she says OK, we will debit £100 extra from your debit card…. I guess by now you are now understanding that I am not getting a warm fluffy feeling from my stay…..I ask what time is Sunday breakfast…10 am is the (somewhat stern) reply…. I never understand why hotels don’t get that some people like a lazy Sunday morning which at home means I don’t tend to sit down until 10.30 or 11 am… but hey ho….

Anyway, check in completes (amazed that my forms are not yet ready for signature when I arrive) I then stumble upstairs with my own bags (no one around to offer to carry or indeed to show me to my room), only to find I went up the wrong stairs, back downstairs and up another set of stairs to eventually find my room…. Air conditioning doesn’t work, but not that bothered as I want a drink by now, so I skip downstairs to the lovely garden where there are several of my (somewhat annoyed as well) friends. I sit down, take in the beautiful view, relax, and ask one of the waiters if I could please have a drink. “The bar is inside sir and we don’t serve drinks outside”….well now there’s a surprise. A hotel with an idyllic location and beautiful garden, but no drinks served on the lawn, despite there being 30 or 40 guests there…. Not wanting to delay further, I wander inside to the bar… which is manned by 1 barman…. I wait behind the other queing guests (I guess 10 minutes but by now I may be prone to exaggeration), ask for a glass of Pimms, and am presented with a chit to sign before my drink is poured….. I wander outside and relax….

During the course of the evening, I had the idiotic idea that I might want another drink or two and each time I had to queue at the bar, indeed once I had to potter off to reception to ask if it would be possible to get some service as the bar was deserted (save for us annoying guests who were looking to drink…..).

I was sad not to dine there as the food looked delicious, but I was at a friend’s dinner….

On return from my friends dinner I found the bar to be in full swing, swing of course meaning queuing, and boy did we queue…interestingly there were 2 young lads doing their best to cope at around 10.30 pm, but not one sign of anyone managing, so no point in me making my point to someone in coontrol then….

Eventually, suitably drunk, I totter off to bed, cleverly remembering to take the right staircase this time, despite my few (could have been more but took too long to get served) drinks…

Room and bed clean (but interestingly bed not turned down as me, in my stupid world of value, had imagined it might) and brush my teeth, just like my parents taught me, open the window (AC still not functioning or maybe I’m stupid and can’t work out the controls) and drop off into a deep sleep…..ahhhhhhh

Until around 4 am when I am woken by shouting in the courtyard, not of a guest, or a stray member of public, but a member of staff, screaming at some poor (I have no idea where they got their drinks from because it cannot have been the bar) and presumably slightly tipsy guests “WILL YOU PLEASE KEEP QUIET THERE ARE PEOPLE TRYING TO SLEEP!” well, not me anymore, but never mind, I was in the Army and have the ability to go straight back to sleep… I have some weird dream about a member of your staff gently tapping on an offending guest door and whispering, “please can you keep it down a bit as you may disturb other guests”…

I wake up like a lamb and spring out of bed at 9.40, shower quickly (nice soap by the way) and run downstairs to catch breakfast. I sit on the terrace and take in the beautiful morning… at 9.50, I’m getting a little worried about your deadline, so I ask the 4th member of staff if I could please get some breakfast (yes, the other 3 ignored me) and he very kindly takes my order. Foolishly, I wanted a café latte with my breakfast, which caused quite some consternation as there is some rather tepid stwed coffee on the buffet, which was quickly allayed when I said I would pay for it on my pre charged credit card which had been debited the day before…Phew, managed to get my (quite delicious) kippers and eggs… finish breakfast and wander back to the garden as I am (I hate to admit) a smoker and fancy a quick puff with my second café latte of the day (takes a bit of caffeine to get me going on a Sunday so early). Damn, my lighter has run out so go and ask the bar for some matches. Duoh, silly me, I know I am a social pariah by smoking, but really sir, you don’t think we would be so foolish as to support your disgusting habit by stocking matches do you?….Pffft….. My apologies (and sorry, but a wandering member of public kindly gave me a light!)… Sit with my friends, one of whom is scowling as he has just been told to get his own ice from the (once again unmanned) bar inside as the (lovely looking and apparently fully staffed) outside bar doesn’t serve until after midday and the other who is complaining as he had been shouted at by a member of staff at 4am… (I think we touched on that already)

Anyway, now time is rushing by and its 10.45 and I know that I have to check out by 11 (which is about as early as Mrs Minging’s excellent boarding house in Eastbourne, but by now, I’m kind of getting that the Compleat Angler isn’t there for my enjoyment) so I bound up to my room, pop my key card in and……

And pop my key card in….

And pop my key card in…

Nothing except a red flashing light….

Rush downstairs (now worrying that I may be charged a late checkout fee) and only one check out girl and no one else around. Hopping from foot to foot like a child desperate for the loo, eventually I get to her at 10.55 and explain my key card isn’t working “well sir we stop all the cards working at 11 am as that is check out time”, look at my (quite expensive and very reliable radio controlled) watch, show her the time and suggest that a solution might be for someone to just let me get my bags, rather than bollock me for being 5 minutes early and let me get the hell out of this place…. (I shouldn’t, but will, mention the scene that goes through my head from that great movie with Michael Douglas “falling Down” where he is denied breakfast at 11.34 am- in case you haven’t ever seen it, do please watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eREiQhBDIk and won’t mention the similarities between the burger joint and MacDonald’s- think about the link…and the name of your chain…)

Anyway, I do apologise for taking up your time, but I just thought I’d tell you my thoughts…

Oh and in case you think I am just a whingeing person, do pelase also have a look at my review of the Gran Melia Victoria that I stayed in last weekend (for less than £100) http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g187463-d228620-Reviews-Gran_Melia_Victoria-Palma_de_Mallorca_Majorca_Balearic_Islands.html (where incidentally teh check in lady told me that breakfast was up until 12.00 midday (imagine my joy!))

Oh just a final point… I was delighted not to be charged for an extra room, your booking team rang me in the week prior to my stay to ask me about the “2” rooms I had booked (I know I am a little overweight, but I’m not that big…) but was surprised to see an “optional service charge” as an individual entry on my bill, I will admit I had a little giggle to myself

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
13 Thank Q H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 18 June 2014
Thank you for your lengthy and detailed feedback. It is unfortunate that you did not bring your comments to our attention at the time of your stay as it would have allowed us to respond appropriately, however, I know that my Operations Manager has since spoken with you and apologised for some of the shortfalls experienced. We are aware that you were attending a private party where pre-ordered drinks were arranged on the lawn, which was being used for this celebration only at the time. The main bar operates with table service and therefore we would not have provided the speedy bar service that you would have liked, although staffing levels are being looked into further.

I must point out that the reserved spaces are for valet parking. When guests bring their car to the front of the hotel, this service is offered and the luggage unloaded from the car. I am sorry that there was only one receptionist present at the desk when you arrived and you were not shown to your room which did not provide the warmest welcome that we aim to consistently provide.

The debit card procedure with a pre-payment to covers extras is a standard hotel procedure as we are unable to authorise a debit card in the same way that we can a credit card. Where address details are not provided in advance, we use postcode look up in order to populate your address before printing the registration card. This is to prevent guests having the inconvenience of hand writing their details. With regards to the breakfast time, we do offer room service as an alternative and we can offer breakfast items in the bar.

I am pleased to hear that you liked the look of the food and enjoyed your breakfast, however, I am sorry for some of the other shortfalls in service experienced, including the inconvenience experienced with your key card. I would like to assure you that your comments have been shared with the team. I know that you are staying soon in another of the hotels within the group and I wish you a pleasant stay.

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
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English first
Warwick, England, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 June 2014

We stayed here last weekend for our anniversary , the hotel is in a stunning location right on the bank of the thames . We had a deluxe room which looks out over the river and it was just lovely . We wandered over the bridge in to marlow itself which is really nice then came back and had drinks in the bar , we had dinner in the hotel restaurant which also riverside so again stunning views , the staff knew it was our anniversary and bought us out strawberries and chocolates on a decorated plate with a big firework candle in it , nice touch guys very thoughtful :-) all the staff were very pleasant and polite at all times would defiantly recommend this hotel to anyone I'm sure we will go again

Room Tip: Pay that little extra and have riverside room
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Biddy P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
Thank you for your great review. Clearly you took advantage of the location, however, I am pleased to hear how we made your anniversary special (and thank you for telling us). The hotel is a great location to celebrate a special occasion and it is good to know that you will be back again. I look forward to welcoming you.

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
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London, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2014 via mobile

We stayed at the hotel on Saturday & Sunday eve to attend a function there on Sunday. The rooms were clean, but uncomfortable due to the fact the windows would not open very much & it was far too hot. The aircon did not work. All staff in the hotel apart from one concierge were extremely miserable. We had a drink on the terrace on Sunday evening overlooking the beautiful river. Sadly surrounded by empty tables full of people's left over food and plates. They were there when we arrived and were not cleared when we left two hours later. We then ate in the bar. The food was just about ok. The staff were not interested in serving us and we had to keep getting up to find someone to take our orders. Even though the place was almost empty ( little wonder). The breakfasts were good, but served outside on dirty tables. The function we attended good. I would not recommend anyone stay here. They obviously fill the rooms due to the lovely river setting. The most important point is the whole time we stayed there, we only got a smile put of one person. This place needs new management.

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank sue c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
I was disappointed to read your comments following your recent stay and I am aware that you also completed an internal response for feedback. Unfortunately, the windows are restricted in accordance with Health and Safety regulations. We do have Climate Cooling, however, this is not as affective as Air Conditioning and will not cope with more extreme temperatures. I have, however, instructed my Maintenance team to check this particular room.

I was very concerned to note your feedback regarding the staff and management, however, I note that the function that you attended and the breakfasts were good. The service experienced here is not indicative of our normal standards and it appears that we have not kept up following an earlier busy period on this specific occasion. This is no excuse and I can assure you that this has been discussed with my team to prevent this happening again. I am sorry that your service suffered as a result. I do hope that you will still consider returning in the future.

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
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Scotland
Level 6 Contributor
110 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2014

A one-off experience for us, and dinner / bed / breakfast here was indeed a very fine experience. Expectations were met in terms of the location and the quality of the food, but a couple of issues (which I raised privately with the management) meant that this was not quite the 5-star stay that I had hoped.
Still... on a summer's evening there will be few finer places to be. So go for it!

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank soar84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
Thank you for completing a review following your recent stay with us and for speaking to us directly about some of the improvements that we could make to enhance the experience. The location cannot be beaten and we strive constantly to deliver great food and service to match. I hope that we can welcome you again.

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
london
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 June 2014

Just spent one night at this hotel and overall had a truly pleasant time we stayed in the new build part of the hotel and our room was very well presented , fabulous view of the weir and gardens from the balcony , one little point about the balcony is that it had quite large gaps in the decking so the quests beneath us could of got an eye full if they had looked up and I had not remembered to put on my under garments on first thing in the morning so we were very aware that they were beneath us and Had to choose our moments and make sure we were suitable attired and if I'm honest the slates could be a little health hazard as couple of times my foot buckled between the gaps having said that. The room was spotlessly clean very well a quipped , very comfy beds a great nights sleep , flat screen tv, mini bar , coffee ,tea making ,hair dryer iron etc ,the bathroom was fab great shower and bath with the biggest most fluffiest towels I've ever come across in a hotel . The hotel staff were very attentive with all your needs catered for and could not be faulted , breakfast was delicious with all dietary and taste requirements taken care of . now another little moan the food is very expensive , we opted for room service for our evening meal after a tiring day in the town which is a stones throw away from the hotel over a delightful little bridge which is so lovely for a spot of retail therapy ( and wow did we shop ) the room service was very efficient but I can't really warrant the price for burger and chips and fish and chips it was nice but not of particular great quality and I have to say the chips looked a little sad on the plate only 6 of them and a little limp looking with a bottle of Pinot Gregio at £85 I know they have to make a profit But really ! Just be aware .. Besides those little niggles it's a GEM of a hotel a wonderful stay and when we can treat ourselves again we shall go back. Thank-you you McDonald,complete angler hotel you have helped to make a lovely memory

Room Tip: Over looking the weir and gardens
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank LondonGelica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
Thank you for your detailed review of your stay with us. It appears that you took advantage of one of our Feature Rooms. I will have to take a closer look at the balconies! I am pleased that you noted the fluffy towels, which are the finer details of the quality that we aim to provide.

I will take on board your comments regarding the chunky chips served with your room service dinner. I think that the cover placed over the food to keep it hot to get to the room may be causing condensation and affecting the quality of them. The prices are comparative to hotels of a similar standard and for the quality of food and drink produce that we buy. The price quoted seems quite high for the items that you have described, however, perhaps there were a few other items? However, I am pleased that this will not discourage you from returning again for another visit before long. Thank you for coming,

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
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London, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 May 2014

I absolutely recommend this wonderful place! Less than an hour's drive from the hustle and bustle of London and you're in the idyllic settings of charming Marlow, a true gem of the old English riverside. The Compleat Angler became the perfect getaway for a weekend full of sunshine with our 13 year old Jack Russel, Pumpkin. My parents had stayed at this well known hotel over 40 years ago and on our return there just recently, my mother was delighted at the new refurbishments which brought the place up to the needs of present day travellers/guests with all the amenities such as internet connections in the rooms etc. The hotel was also still extremely dog friendly, which made our stay very comfortable and enjoyable. We were given a very warm welcome as we drove up to the property. Robert, the friendly bell captain made a huge fuss of our little dog, helped us with our bags and valet parked my car while we checked in. Our wonderful experience of great hospitality and attention to guest satisfaction continued, when Jemma and Gregg at reception, managed to upgrade us and give us a beautiful feature twin room, with a balcony and view of the river, when it turned out that we had actually been assigned a room atop three flights of stairs(!) This, despite the fact that I had specifically requested a room on a ground or low floor for my mother when I booked through the Macdonald central reservations line. Though they were almost full, due to a wedding going on in the hotel, all the staff were extremely pleasant and professional. Special mention must go to Oliver and Sean, two young waiters who really are a shining example of the old school of professional, good quality service. Courteous, and always with smile, they were always ready to find a way to accommodate our needs. It was lovely to hear the words "Certainly, madam..." rather than "Yeah sure, no problem..."
We thoroughly enjoyed doing absolutely nothing but soaking up the sunshine while sitting on either the terrace out on the river or out on the garden lawn in front of the hotel facing the river and the beautiful church - just watching boats and ducks go past.
Special mention must go to the excellent quality of their tea. Proper leaf tea served to perfection. We would absolutely recommend indulging in an old fashioned cream tea out on the terrace. The hotel's bar food which can also be enjoyed on the terrace, is actually better than the food in the restaurant. Unfortunately, I would have to agree with other reviewers, that our "fine dining" experience was not really up to the mark, given that the hotel is very proud about their restaurant. I would suggest more variety in the restaurant menu, such as adding a daily special menu using fresh ingredients like "soup of the day" and "catch of the day" etc and definitely also more generous portions! The breakfast however, was scrumptious! A good English breakfast is what its all about and at The Compleat Angler, you won't be disappointed. There's even a good vegetarian option of the classic "Fry up" available.
We also took a little boat trip along the river, arranged through the hotel, costing £90 per hour which was really the highlight of our trip. Our captain, Barry, was a very interesting gentleman who knew a lot about the river and the local history. He entertained us with little anecdotes about the riverside and helped us identify the names of all the different birds and ducks we came across on the water. A truly wonderful experience, not to be missed!

Room Tip: The feature rooms in the newer part of the hotel are really lovely as they have a balcony and rivers...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank squarecircle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
Thank you for your detailed and very thorough review of you stay at the hotel. It is such a pleasure to read your comments and see specific members of the team mentioned for their exceptional levels of service. I will have great pleasure in sharing your comments with them and I am sure that they will be greatly encouraged by this.

For your information and other readers, I have appointed a new Head Chef, who joins the hotel shortly and he will be focusing on the restaurant food and making further enhancements. The ‘Breakfast with a view’ continues to be a highlight of a stay at the hotel and of course, is often one of the last impressions of staying with us.

The boat is also a ‘unique selling point’ and it is worth taking advantage of. An hours trip will take you gently upstream to one of the locks and back and there is plenty to see on the way – just don’t forget the bottle of Champagne of jug of Pimms!

I hope that we will see you again.

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
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Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 May 2014

My husband and I decided to treat ourselves to a late lunch in the bar area of this hotel. We generally felt let down as we've experienced far better food at cheaper prices.Guess one is paying for the location and view. The view over the River Thames was undeniably stunning, despite the typical rainy bank holiday Monday.
The service was slow and inefficient. The waiter didn't know the soup of the day or the selection of ice cream flavours available, and basically didn't offer to check. He also forgot to bring the tap water we requested along with our drinks. The staff all seemed unfriendly, even at reception, in fact they all seemed pretty miserable!
We asked about the full afternoon cream tea but we were informed that this wasn't available until 4.30pm - not far from dinner time for someone who generally eats around 6pm! Cream tea without the sandwiches was available from 2.30pm.
We both ordered the home made burgers, one with bacon and the other with blue cheese. The chips tasted rather underdone, but we were starving by the time the food eventually arrived so didn't bother to complain. Afterwards I ordered ice cream (£7.95 for three very small scoops), whilst my husband ordered another latte. I had a soft drink. In total we paid almost £65 pounds, which we considered a lot given the service, quality and quantity of food and staff attention.
Attracting the attention of the staff was very difficult, even at the beginning of our meal given that by point in time it was relatively quiet. There was a general lack of attention to detail, that of the food, service and even the state of the hotel with its flaking painted window frames on the outside. We decided to skip the restaurant, which I'm so glad upon reflection given the above. Food was very expensive, but then I resent having to pay an extra £4 per portion/person on vegetables as well!
Business had picked up considerably by the time we left and it still took an age to pay. I very much resent my card being taken away from my sight in order to get the paying machine and felt compromised as I wanted to say something regarding the security of my card. I feel that it is a 'given' that a customer's card is not taken out of their sight these days as it's unnecessary.
I have always wanted to stop and try the Compleat Angler whenever we've driven past. I have extensively tried all kinds/types of establishments and experienced better for far less in the UK and abroad, so feel somewhat let down. I feel that the Compleat Angler is just aimed at tourists who are generally considered unlikely to return on any kind of regular basis, unlike myself.
Still there's plenty of competition in Marlow...

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank M R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GWyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler, responded to this review, 8 June 2014
I was very disappointed to learn about your experience which is not the standard of service that we would want anyone to experience. Without wanting to make any excuses, merely an explanation, there should have been more staff on duty on this day – your experience shows that this is the case. I am more than happy to discuss this with you directly if you would like to make contact.

We are also looking into alternatives for the credit card machines as the range of the signal does not reach the external terrace fully and I appreciate your comments with regards to this. Refurbishment quotations are also being gathered to improved elements of this outside space. Please accept my apologies for the disappointment on this occasion. I would encourage you to raise any dissatisfaction at the time with the Bar, Restaurant or Duty Manager.

Kind regards

Gaius Wyncoll
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Macdonald Compleat Angler

Property: Macdonald Compleat Angler
Address: Marlow Bridge, Marlow SL7 1RG, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Buckinghamshire > Marlow
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Marlow
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Macdonald Compleat Angler 4*
Number of rooms: 64
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Named after Izaak Walton's famous book on angling, the beautiful four-red star Macdonald Compleat Angler is idyllically located on the banks of the River Thames. The hotel is just a short walk from the Georgian town of Marlow, 10 minutes drive from the M4 and just over an hour away from Central London by train. Beautiful both inside and out, enjoy mouthwatering meals from the recently refurbished, three AA rosette-awarded Riverside Restaurant overlooking Marlow Weir or delicious afternoon tea on the terrace. Alternatively, dine in Sindhu by Michelin-starred Indian Chef, Atul Kochhar. For meetings, strategy days or conferences, our meeting facilities are ideal and our 2 brand new SMART board technology board rooms perfect for inspiring great ideas. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Macdonald Compleat Angler Marlow
Macdonald Compleat Angler Hotel Marlow

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