Today is my birthday and a friend had recommended the conservatory at the Ickworth Hotel as being a good place for lunch, especially for families with young children. About a week ago, I checked out the lunchtime menu on their website and rang to make a reservation.
When we arrived, we were directed to park some distance away from the entrance, so carried a 4 week old baby and a toddler across a wet and windswept route to the entrance - then we saw there were car park spaces right by the front door.
Once inside, no one had any record of my booking. Had I asked the name of the person I'd spoken to? No, I hadn't realised that would be necessary. This didn't actually matter because the restaurant was completely empty apart from one family sitting in the corner next to a large radiator.
We stood waiting - young women kept saying someone would be with us soon. As there were only two tables large enough to seat 4 adults and 2 young children, we picked one of them and sat ourselves down. Removing our coats, we all commented on how cold it was. There were radiators near our table, but they were only luke warm. A waitress brought a little fan heater to plug in - but the room is big, so it would have had very little impact. Then we were given the menus - nothing like the information on the website - the food on offer was just snacks. We were told they'd changed the menu two weeks ago. Pity someone hadn't thought to update the website - it's still showing the autumn 2013 menu. I imagine it isn't worth their while offering lots of hot main meals in an empty restaurant, but I hadn't known that and the information wasn't volunteered.
For a nice birthday lunch (and first outing after the baby was born), we were expecting something more substantial. I was told we could have the evening dinner menu, but as we were becoming so chilled, we were rapidly going off the idea. I asked about the lounge area where I'd been told there were toys suitable for toddlers to play with - I thought it might be warm there even if we only had a snack lunch, but that room had been blocked off for a wedding. We decided to leave and found ourselves a nice warm pub not far away. This was supposed to be a treat for me and my family - it was anything but.
I imagine this is a lovely spot in summer, but don't go there on a cold dull day when there's little solar gain. Ask the name of the person taking your reservation and check which menu they currently have on offer.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The East Wing at Ickworth was home to the Hervey family before it passed to the National Trust. The surroundings are as grand as ever but the idea that “children should be seen but not heard” has gone right out of the hundred or more windows. Where else can you go that offers luxurious surroundings, outstanding facilities, exquisite cuisine and family friendly activities? Ickworth is unique. It's also one of the finest luxury family hotels in the UK.we have recently added a Cinema room to our facilities and show children's films every day. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ickworth Hotel Horringer
- The Ickworth Hotel Suffolk/Horringer, Bury St Edmunds