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“Good food but we would not stay here again!”

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Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel
Ranked #3 of 14 Alston B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 September 2012

First impressions:

** Hotel located in very beautiful countryside and drive up to it is very pretty with sheep in fields either side.
** Hotel has lovely gardens with a fountain in the middle and is located alongside a lovely river.
** Not easy to find hotel as it is set back from the main drive from Alston.
** Turning into the hotel grounds the first thing you see is a cage which houses recycling bins and rubbish.
** Not a lot of parking for the cars when the hotel is full.


In hotel:

** Initial thoughts were that the manager who greeted us was very busy but we did not feel that we were being made particularly welcome. She told us that there were no hand towels in our room but that they would be put in place in due course. We were asked if we would be dining in the hotel, which we thought we would be, and were presented with an evening menu even before we had been shown our room.
** We briefly went into our room to leave our suitcases and returned downstairs to order lunch.


Lunch:

** As we had arrived earlier than expected we decided to order lunch of soup and sandwiches. We decided not to sit in the lounge area as it was very cold in there and a couple of guests were already in there eating with big coats on. We plumped for the bar area as it had a small table to eat on. The food was delivered in a timely fashion. The sandwiches were very nice. However, the soup was barely warm and the rolls were stale. We contacted the manager and she came out and agreed that the soup was warm and the rolls were stale and although she said she would replace them she offered no apology. On bringing the replacement food out to us she dropped a roll on the floor and shouted out very loudly “BUG**R!” for all the guests to hear. We did not think this was very professional and indeed some guests may have been offended by this, but no apology was offered for the outburst. The replacement food was nice and we then enjoyed our meal. Throughout our lunch the male manager kept coming in and out of the bar area. Eventually, he said very loudly for the guests to hear “that’s me finally finished here now”. He really sounded as if he was unhappy working there and it was such a chore but the guests didn’t care and again this displayed a lack of professionalism on his behalf. Another couple sitting next to us had to check up on their food and when the manager came out to serve the food she alluded to a lack of staff. By this time we had been there less than an hour and already we were starting to feel uncomfortable and decided that we would not have our evening meal in the hotel and would look elsewhere.


Later on:

** We went back up to our room. The bed was very comfortable and we noticed that the room was furnished with quality furniture and furnishings and the room itself was generally clean.
** However, we discovered that the window frames in the bedroom were covered in thick black mould, the shower had mould around the grouting, and the air vent in the bathroom had not been cleaned for some time, having thick black dust clinging to it (photographs of these have been uploaded above). We also shared the bedroom with several spiders during our stay although they were luckily well behaved and they stayed on the ceiling until the morning we left when for some reason they all decided to expand their webs.
** The ‘towels’ that were in our room were clean but so shabby and worn with the edges hanging off I took them back to the reception and asked them to be changed. We would not have used them on an animal. It was an absolute insult to guests who were in what was supposed to be a £160 per night room.
** When we first turned on the radiator it was extremely loud with lots of banging and water noises coming from it. We actually thought it was leaking water into the bedroom and it sounded like we were sitting in the bathroom with the water flowing at full pelt. This went on for about 5 minutes. The radiator in the bathroom did not work.
** After reading reviews on Trip Advisor we realise that we did not by any means have the worst room in the hotel, but it left much to be desired.


Breakfast:

** Breakfast was superb. There was plenty of choice and it was served promptly.


Hotel departure:

** On departing the hotel my husband asked me to collect the receipt. He normally sorts these things out so I presumed he had already paid the bill for our lunch and a couple of tins of coca cola as the hotel already had our credit card details. The manager gave me the receipt and I took it out to the car and showed it to my husband. We were ready to set off when the manager came over to the car to request payment for the bill. My husband then told me he hadn’t paid so I went back in and paid the bill. Rather embarrasing, but it was sorted out quickly and without fuss. I will make sure my husband deals with this in future. However, on driving out of the hotel we did realise that although we had seen the manager on several occasions this was the first time he had spoken to us and we did think that it would have been nice if he had made as much effort to make conversation during our stay. Hey ho!


Overall comments:

** Notwithstanding the first offering of lunch, the food we received was really good. However, the unclean areas of the bedroom described above need some TLC to get it back on track. The awards that the hotel has received are mostly from 2006 (6 years ago). We were on a deal which was supposedly worth £320. We have stayed at a lot better hotels which are also located in nice surroundings for less than that.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank PoppyFlower S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 12 October 2012

Grumps here, well where do you start? This isn't a review it's more of a trilogy! one for bed time reading.

As these guests have trawled through trip advisor they must know about the recyling cage so why bring it up again and I am not going to reiterate the principles of resposible recycling and waste yet again! You do begin to think that some people are just wanting to moan for the sake of it!

And yes it was me who was restocking the bar and my comments were as qouted in order to get some conversation going, alas in your instance it fell on deaf ears. Incidentally
other guests were relieved after you had finished your lunch as they felt you were eaves dropping on their conversations and I have to say everybody became very talkative after you left!

We have spoken to the staff about language and they do aplogise for the expletive but they did say they apologised straight away.

We must also apologise about the car park. As we are usually busy the car park can be full but there are sufficient places for all guests. We are sorry that you might have had to walk a bit rather than park ouside the front door.

We do, however, need to sincerely apologise with regard to the room. As you may know we have had issues with housekeeping and we are getting on top of them as other reviewers attest. Somehow this room had been missed but it is sorted now. I really do not know what went on with the towels. We have all new fluffy white towels from Mitre. Old towels are recycled for cleaning and rags so we are perplexed as to how these got back into circulation. We have checked all stock on property and there are no frayed towels. With regard to the heating this is just coming back on after its summer recess and there is still a lot of air in the system and it does take a bit of time to get it all out. Who would have an old house?

Finally, and I am sorry I don't buy the husband paid the bill story. I am sure it was not deliberate but these guests left without paying and Grumps had to knock on the window of their car in order to get them to settle the account. We would respectfully point out it is a criminal offence to leave a hotel without paying. I suspect this diatribe has something to do with this.

Grumps

Grups did attempt o engage in conversation but as you did not have dinner or other bar drinks it is difficult to talk to you particularly as you seemed so aloof earlier and preffered your own company.

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550 - 556 of 698 reviews

Reviewed 20 September 2012

This is the most beautiful hotel in peaceful surroundings in one of the most scenic areas in England
The accommodation is stunning,we were in the 2 bed apartment as my friend is disabled and unable to go upstairs
The setting of the apartment and surrounding buildings were superb set behind the hotel in a courtyard easy to park,with lots of other apartments to choose from to suit your needs
We ate in the hotel,the chefs imagination regarding the menu was allowed to give you the WOW factor
The choices were mind blowing,I tried things I have never imagined in my life and everything was presented to perfection in a lovely elegant dining room
The actual hotel is set in beautiful scenery,peaceful and furnished to the highest standard.
Peter the owner saw to our every need and his fabulous staff were so helpful and friendly
I would recommend you visit the web sight and see for yourself what is on offer
I will certainly be going back next year
You are spoilt for choice of places to visit and the views around the hotel are fantastic
I would highly recommend this hotel
Well done to all concerned and thank you

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank LaLa1951
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 12 October 2012

Dear Lala,

Are you totally sure you have got the right place?
Old Grumps and his staff are miserable b****s and the place is terrible, food is rubish, with filthy rooms. We apparently, can't contol weather conditions, dare to have a recycling policy and have gas cylinders!
So, if you have got the right place then we are truly grateful for your comments. We really do believe you have commented on the essence of what we are trying to achieve.
Thank you so much.

Peter and Marie Haynes

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Reviewed 17 September 2012

My wife and I visited this country house hotel on a Wowcher break which represented excellent value for money. The hotel is in a beautiful rural position and enabled nice day trips to Hexham, Corbridge, Carlisle and Brampton. This is a country hotel and home and accordingly, its pleasure is in not having the same old bland reception, bar, dining room and bedrooms - rather better to experience bedroom and day rooms which are rather quirky, but kept clean and welcoming...
The breakfast was excellent and dinner was nicely presented and served with an excellent wine list offering good value for money. So, my advice is don't be put off by some of the negative reviews - this hotel is excellent value for an "away from it all" break!

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Hugh H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 12 October 2012

Sometimes, just sometimes, we get a review that sums up what we are trying to do.
After a few recent negative reviews it is so nice to get this response.
You know sometimes we feel like giving up, so a big thank you from
Peter and Marie Haynes

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Reviewed 16 September 2012

On September 10th 2012 we arrived at the Lovelady Shield Hotel during the late afternoon after an integrated journey from home in search of peace and tranquillity. Thanks to Tripadvisor we had been warned about the condition of the hotel drive and so we drove with great care to avoid the potholes/chuckholes accordingly. The hotel parking was limited and so we left the car next to a recycling trailer after arrival and made our way to the main entrance. Just before entering the hotel we noticed a collection of weeds below the front step. To us, first impressions are important. We were greeted in the entrance area and duly shown to room 11 after registration.

We would describe room 11 as comfortable and adequate with a view of a roof top and it was our space for the duration of two days. The bathroom was clean, tiled and well decorated, however the hot tap proved to be temperamental at times and the water spluttered. We had to exercise care when using the overhead shower in the bath. The space was not only confined but also the bath wall was high to step over. A walk-in shower would have been much easier to negotiate.

We both slept well and were not aware of any extraneous noises during the night and we reported for breakfast at the proper time. The staff were courteous and helpful and this was appreciated. The choice of menu was good and the Pennine breakfast of the house (traditional British cooked breakfast) was substantial. The breakfast menu did feature a number of alternative repasts for guests. However, we took the decision not to dine at the Lovelady Shield and opted for the Cumberland Hotel, Alston and also Nent Hall, Alston for our two evening meals. We were certainly not disappointed and so watch this space for our reviews of the two local establishments.

The downstairs public rooms were comfortable and well decorated and many books were available. The prints and pictures on the walls in these rooms and also on the stairs were mostly completed by Cumbrian artists and were of interest to us.

During our first night rain had fallen heavily and it had stopped and so we decided to take a walk after breakfast. We noticed that a shallow puddle (optional water feature) had formed right in front of the step and it was necessary to avoid this.

We enjoyed a couple of little walks in the grounds and noticed that the fells appeared fresh after all the rain. The ambiance of the place was very enjoyable and the gentle sound of the Nent punctuated the tranquillity.

We used the Lovelady Shield as a base for two nights to tour the area and this took in Hexham and the ancient abbey. On our way home we visited Barnard Castle and the famous Bowes Museum, Wednesday night we spent at the Talbot Hotel, Richmond North Yorkshire. The next leg of the tour took us via Leyburn to the Yorkshire Dales followed by a petrol stop at Sedbergh. Reality and reflection came as we joined the M6 south near Kendal for our journey home to North Wales.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank ChasNorthWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 5 October 2012

Dear Chas,

Thank you for your review.
We are glad that on the whole you enjoyed your stay. Thank you for also recommending other eating establishments. We are sad that you did not try us!
Sadly we are not in touch with God (or he does not listen to us!) so we cannot prevent heavy downpours of rain. It is for a reason that Cumbria i called the Lake District.
Peter and Marie Haynes
ps weeds being dealt with!

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Reviewed 10 September 2012

And there were highs and lows!
The house is in a beautiful rural setting, which looks idealic until you turn into the drive way. There is what looks like two septic tanks to the left of the VERY large recycling cage at the entrance to the house! Alarm bells started ringing!
We were welcomed by Lana, who was increadably nice, but seemed to be the only member of staff and did everything herself!
She offered to carry our bags to the second floor, and when we refused, she came up anyway to show us our room. We were staying in room 10 which overlooked the garden. Although the room was a bit dated, the bed was clean and the view wonderful. The bathroom was functional, if a bit small, though I did give it a bit of a clean before using it!
We changed and went to explore our surroundings! The setting is beautiful! Loads of great walks, and lovely villages about 3 miles either side of the house.
When we got back, Lana put her bartenders hat on to bring us drinks and take our order for dinner.
Now this is where the hotel goes up, up, up! The food here is AMAZING! The chef is so talented, that you totally forget about the tired surroundings and immerse yourself on the fabulous cuisine ! Grouse to start, sorbet, melt in the mouth shin of beef, locally foraged mushrooms! I was in foody heaven!
Even the rather loud shooting party from London couldn't have spoiled our first impressions of the wonderful, clever and inventive menu.
The staff and the food in this hotel are second to none! The owners should cherish them, because THEY will bring people back, not the rather tired and sad once beautiful house!

  • Stayed: September 2012
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1  Thank casmondo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 11 October 2012

Hello Casmondo,

Old grumpy Grumps here!

First may we thank you for all your kind comments about the rooms, Lana and the delightful comments about the food. We do believe that if the beds are comfortable, you are warm and well fed you might forgive us on some of the quirky things of a house that is over 150 years old!

Now to the grumpy part........On arrival you see two things outside the entrance, the first are three gas tanks (not septic tanks}, they have the words Calor, written all over them, it's a clue. They are placed there, away from the building so, in the event of fire or explosion you can sleep peacefully in your beds! (well not that peaceful if there were an explosion I suppose!) Without these you would not have the food or heating you wrie so fondly of.

Now, finally to the recycling cage and I really am getting a bit fed up with this.
What do yo want us to do?

If we recycle glass, cardboard, plastics and metals, we are taking a responsible attitude to waste. What would you have us do? put everything into landfill? because that is the alternative.

Do you know many, many guests read these reviews and when they come here most tell us they are dumbfounded by comments such as these and congratulate us on taking a responsible position. We wonder what you do at home!

Please, please reviewers don't bring this up again but please stick to your experiences which are reviews we want to hear about.

Grumps (otherwise known as Peter Haynes)

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Reviewed 10 September 2012

We were looking forward to staying at the Lovelady having been given the booking as a present. The public rooms were very nice but our bedroom as a bit "tired". The the bathroom was modern and looked very nice but there was no soap in the built in soap dispender, we couldn't get any hot water out of the shower despite trying all the temperature setting so I ended up kneeling in the bath and washingmy hair under the tap!!. The bath also was a bit of a disappointment as I was looking forward to a nice deep bath before retiring but the bath seemed to empty slowly despite trying to get the fitted in plug just so. The breakfast wasn't straight forward wither, my husband ordered twoboiled eggs and I ordered the kedgeree (chef's special). When the order came my husband was given a full English breakfast and I was given what turned out to be Eggs Florentine!!! They took my husband's breakfast away with apologies whilst I started to eat mine thinking that it was just a different way of serving Kedgeree but knew something was wrong when I couldn't find the rice!!! The waitress came back and apologised to me saying I had the wrong breakfast. Since I had already started to eat it I just told her I would eat it. However my husband had to wait for his eggs and mine by the way was very dry. All in all I would not recommend this hotel, Sorry.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank MAA35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 5 October 2012

On reading your review we can understand your dissapointment.
First we have stopped filling the soap dispenser as they get blocked so you now have tablets of soap provided. We are so sorry about the shower and bath problems. If you informed us at the time we could have sorted the problems out.
..And finally the problems with your breakfast. What can we say we got it so wrong.
Please accept our abject apologies.
Peter and Marie Haynes

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Reviewed 6 September 2012

To start with the booking my husband informed them he is Celiac and they said 'no problem' it would be fine. When we arrived I reminded them they didnt know. Breakfast, they had no sausage that was suitable you'd have thought they'd have some in the freezer for Celiacs. My husband declined the black pudding as it often has wheat in, the beans smelled of black pudding ....contamination I fear and would make my husband very ill should he eat it. Then my husband found a hair in the mushrooms, the owner later tried to tell me it was egg. Does he think we cannot tell the difference!! I am sure he will insist on here it was egg. I certainly did not like being spoken down to like that. No apologies, no offer of a refund.

I must say lovely staff very efficient and friendly. Comfy bed and nice room but not luxury.

Cleaning - a suggestion to hoover the small area between the kitchen and the dining room wish now I'd had my camera at hand to show you.

What I can recommend is the local pub in Alston good food and very friendly, just wish I could remember their name.

Room Tip: You are not given the choice of rooms.
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  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank FudgeLiverpool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
petermartinhaynes, Owner at Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 5 October 2012

Well I feel it's time grumps made an appearance!
First, may we emphasise we go out of our way to provide meals that cater for all tastes and yes we do stock vegetatarian sausages for vegetarians but where do you stop? There is such a wide choice on our menu that celiacs can find enormous alternatives.

Secondly, when these guests spoke to the staff about a hair on the plate the waitress brought the plate straight to me and it was clear that this was a chard from a fried egg and not a hair. Of course the guest repudiated this and then along comes the and another thing game...
Our haricot beans are home baked and have a touch of spice added. They are not contaminated with anything and are served seperately in their own individual pot.
We always take complaints very seriously and where necesarry will refund but this case did not warrant it.
Grumps (alias Peter Haynes)

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Additional Information about Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel

Address: Lovelady Lane, Alston CA9 3LX, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cumbria > Alston
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 14 B&Bs / Inns in Alston
Price Range: £86 - £127 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 12
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Also Known As:
Lovelady Shield Country Hotel
Lovelady Shield Country Alston
Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel Alston, Cumbria

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