We’ve just arrived home from another stay, another fantastic stay, at the Inn at Montchanin Village, feeling calm and serene, as if we had had a week’s vacation even though it was only a couple of days. At its best, Montchanin has this magical quality of pampering and soothing and I say this as someone who’s been going there for some 15 years (if I figure it right). I adore this place.
Could it be better? Yes. For however many years I’ve been going, the inn has been somewhat mercurial when it comes to staff quality (this time around it was terrific but it does vary). I think the inn’s marketing staff (if there is a marketing staff) is downright useless – as someone who lives within easy weekender distance, an occasional email touting new stuff, last minute deals, new menus at the divine Krazy Kat’s would definitely result in increased awareness. And obviously increased patronage.
This time we were in Bradford (not one of my favorites here – where I really love Morgan and Lamotte and Coleman and, in a splurge, Jefferson) but still, the rooms to me, are just beautiful. We especially loved that the smallish bedroom looked out on the rare green tree in January (meant to ask what it was but forgot!), so it's a pretty view all year long. Well equipped with everything you need (one night we dined at Krazy Kat, another we ordered apps at the BCC gastro pub for dinner later and heated them up in the microwave). Great details: A good, really good corkscrew, not a cheap one. Two cans of three kinds of soda (Coke, diet Coke, Sprite), nice touch. Lots of bottled water. TV tables if you want to dine in (great touch). Fireplace. Lovely bath products (sorry, I did take the shampoo home with me, it’s a lovely memory). Comfortable bathrobes (though a tad worn, might be time for replacements), generous towels, good bedding, thoughtful lighting. Free WiFi.
Sure there could be improvement. The carpet up the stairs in our two-level suite was dirty and stained. Either clean it or replace it. The towel warmer didn’t work, the hot water ran out on our day of departure, the bathtub drain had a tacky rubber stopper (though the tub itself was perfect and deep). There was no “do not disturb” sign available and housekeeping, doing the lovely turndown, walked in on us both nights (one night, when we had a reservation on record at Krazy Kat, the hotel should have known better). Also, the queen sized bed (frankly the room could have supported a King), seemed...mushy, despite the great sheets. The mattress felt old. Ick and ugh.
None of this is a huge deal, but as frequent travelers we notice details. It’s these details, and they are all small ones, that make the difference between the Inn at Montchanin and a Relais & Chateaux property. If the owners of Montchanin wanted to be part of the R&C umbrella they have the basic foundation but it’s all in the details (and of course, if it went R&C it would be more expensive and probably more pretentious).
Two final things. I love the idea of the barn’s common room, with its honor bar. It’s potentially a lovely space for “residents” to relax in. But: Ugh. The execution is poor (when we got there at 7:15 p.m. there were few clean glasses left, the area was dirty and un-kept up, and the drinks were rather expensive $9 for indifferent wine that you pour yourself). Also the lighting was too bright. Could be a bit more subtle. By the way, one difference we noticed in the year or so since we’d last been to Montchanin is that Krazy Kat now has a bar and it’s a great addition but sort of odd, too, so if the Barn was available it would be preferable for a pre-dinner aperitif.
It did seem to me that the inn was under-staffed, again, something that would keep it from a higher quality level (from trying to make reservations and getting a "please hold please hold please hold" message to check-out, in which a housekeeper was trying to manage 6 different rooms, at check-out time (which should be no surprise), and handle reservations calls. Bad management.
And the last thing? Because I really do value TripAdvisor as a place to get information, especially on hotels, I find that inns/hotels that neither respond to criticism nor praise send a message that they’re not responsive to their own customers. And it does appear that the staff of The Inn at Montchanin either isn’t aware of TripAdvisor or doesn’t care. That’s a concern for me. Not enough to prevent me from returning. But just enough to sow a seed of doubt – and that does influence our vacation decisions.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A small hamlet, once used by workers, has been converted to a hotel. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Inn At Montchanin Village Hotel Montchanin
- Village Montchanin
- Inn Montchanin
- Inn At Montchanin Village Delaware