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“Excellent Hotel”

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Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel
Ranked #3 of 14 Alston B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 25 October 2012

My wife and I recently took a trip to Scotland. As we were coming from South Wales we decided that it would make more sense if we stopped off on the way to break the journey up. We saw a KGB deal for the Lovelady Shield Hotel and as it fitted in with our plans it was quickly under consideration. After reading the reviews on tripadvisor we decided to purchase the deal. It was Peter's (Grumps) replies to many negative reviews that swung it for us as he came across as very honest and as someone who was trying to do the best that he could and to provide something different to the run of the mill chain hotels. After we purchased the deal we thought that it would make sense if we split up our two night deal so we could could stop at the hotel on the way to Scotland and then on the way back down. Most KGB and Groupon deals can be very strict about doing things like this so we didn't hold up much hope when we made to call with our request. To our surprise they gladly agreed to do it and we knew then that we had made a good decision.
So several weeks later, on a cold Sunday evening, we arrived at the Lovelady Shield. We were met by a very nice lady who showed us to our room (room 7). The room was very nice and spotlessly clean. We decided to eat out that evening so didn't sample the hotel restaurant. After a very comfortable night's sleep we made our way down to breakfast. The restaurant was lavishly decorated and a pleasure to be in, The breakfast was first class with a huge varied choice to cater for all tastes. The service was also excellent.
Four days later we returned to the hotel and shown to our room by the same pleasant lady who enquired about our time in Scotland. This time we stayed in room 8 on the top floor which was much larger than the previous room and featured a lovely large bath which we took advantage of. We decided to try out the restaurant as we had read very good things about it. At £46.50 a head for a four course meal it is very expensive (in my opinion) but as we had a tastecard we only paid half the price which made it a tad more reasonable. The food was incredible and it was a pleasure to try things that we've never experienced before such as grouse, scallops, snail and rabbit. It was exceptionally presented and the service was equally as good. After another great night's sleep we were treated to another excellent breakfast which certainly set us up for the rest of the day.
So, in conclusion, the Lovelady Shield Hotel was a great experience for us. The food was amazing, the staff helpful and attentive, the hotel was very clean, and even Grumps was charming on the two occasions we had dealings with him.
What are you waiting for?

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Chris-magenta
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 13 January 2013

Thank you for your detailed revue.
You see Grumps is not all bad!
He does do his utmost to accommodate guests requirements if they only ask and not sneak off and write spitefull comments on Trip Advisor. We think you saw the other side of Grumps who loves his job as a hoteler and trys to give everbody a good experience. We are also glad you tried the restaurant and discovered new tastes.
Thank you so much.
Kind regards.
Peter and Marie Haynes

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537 - 543 of 691 reviews

Reviewed 22 October 2012

We had booked a classic room with a wowcher deal but requested an upgrade. The room was about average size but the chairs we had to sit on we're uncomfortable to say the least, the bed was ok, when you had a bath, you are eye level to the toilet and around the rim was black and not pleasant to look at. The public area,s in the hotel are what you would expect from a country house very lush and inviting, its a pity the room wasn't as nice. The breakfast was good, and the staff are very pleasant. The evening meals are pricey and because you are in the middle of know where you don't have much options, if you are booking this hotel it would be easier to book bed breakfast and evening meal. We had room 3 which is above the lounge which can be a bit noise if you have a group of people staying. We thought the hotel was nice but for the price you have to pay for everyThing can be a bit expensive.

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank sandy186337
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 13 January 2013

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback.
The chairs in the room you had chosen are classic antique spoonbacks which are appropriate to the room but we possibly agree that if you are going to sit in the room for a long period of time they might be a little uncomfortable. Other rooms do have armchairs and sofas but you elected to go for an entry room and are still comfy with wonderful beds and views.
Kind regards.
Peter and Marie Haynes

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Reviewed 10 October 2012

We have just returned from a two night stay at the Lovelady Shield and found it comfortable, and charming with wonderful staff and food.

The Lovelady Shield is a lovely old country house which depicts the style and elegance of another era. The room we had was very comfortable, clean and warm and had an excellent bathroom. The Lounge, bar and dining room were all comfortable and clean, and reflected the period of the hotel. Yes there are odd areas were the hotel could benifit from some maintenance but isnt this the case with all old buildings, and these do not detract from the overall experience of staying in an Edwardian Country House. We would always choose to stay in this type of hotel rather than a character less, sanitised city centre plastic box.

Both the evening meal and Breakfasts we had were excellent. The evening meal is not cheap but then it is not pub food this is a dining experience with food presented in keeping with the charm of a country house. The cooked breakfast was substantial and of good quality and served by very attentive staff.

All the staff were friendly and attentive and tried very hard to ensure all the guests needs were met. The dining room staff were friendly, prepared to chat or share a joke without being obtrusive. We also met "Grumps" ( the owner) he is great, his reponces to some of the previous reviews have kept me amused for some time.

We would certainly stay at the Lovlady Shields hotel again, its the type of hotel we love

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank PhilSmith8449
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 13 January 2013

Grumps is back!!!!!
So glad that I am keeping you amused!
You know in your reply you have encapsulated what we are trying to do here. No we are not offering cheap pub grub in predictable surroundings but trying to provide an event at dinner that you will not get in most restaurants. If this is what you are seeking then we are for you but if you are looking for basic meat and two veg in huge quantity then we are not.
You know Grups is thinking of setting up a twitter account-the world according to Grumps!
Let us know if you want to be a subscriber.
Thanks agian.
Grumps

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Reviewed 8 October 2012

My wife and I had a very enjoyable two night stay at the Lovelady Shield. A lovely peaceful setting, the room was a little dated but warm and comfortable with lots of attention to the little details. Staff were very friendly and helpful. We dined in the hotel and were very impressed with the quality and presentation - not cheap but well worth the money. Breakfasts matched the standard of the evening meal.

Would definitely consider staying again

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Alex A
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 13 January 2013

Dear Alex,

Thank you so much for your kind comments.
We are glad you enjoyed yourselves.
You will be most welcome to return.
Kind regards.
Peter and Marie Haynes

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Reviewed 25 September 2012

Had read some of the previous reviews but went with an open mind. We booked using a KGB voucher which covered B&B and the tasting menu on one night. I'm glad we weren't paying full price!!
I'll start with the positives:
The location is wonderful. Really peaceful. The grounds are really pleasant.
The food (dinner) was absolutely fantastic. It was some of the best we've ever had. The one thing I would point out is that the dishes on the tasting menu are from the main menu. We chose to have the tasting menu on our 2nd night and were not told that the dishes were from the main menu. Fortunately we didn't chose those that were on the tasting menu. It would be useful if the hotel told you in advance what was on the tasting menu.
Wonderful homemade marmalade for breakfast.
The downstairs rooms i.e dining room, toilets, drawing rooms and bar are very pleasant.
The staff were very pleasant and helpful.

Now for the negatives:
Whilst the food was wonderful it was often served on mismatched crockery and cutlery.
The breakfast was nice, although I wouldn't rave about it. it might have just been what I chose. The toast on the first morning was lovely, but on the 2nd morning it was like cardboard and very well done.
There was no hot water on either of the 2 mornings we were there and I'm not especially keen on a lukewarm shower on a morning.
The room we had was quite large, but not very well maintained - the drapres had no tie backs and had tears/holes in them. The mirror in the bathrrom was chipped down one side and could have been quite dangerous. The arms of the sofa were all torn. The towels were good quality but all frayed. A bathrobe was provided, but had dried blood on it.
There were dead flies (quite a few of them) round one of the lamps in the dining room.

All in all it wasn't a great experience and most of that due to issues around cleanliness and maintenance. It's such a shame that the rest of the hotel doesn't live up to the standard of the food as this was 5 star!!!

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Julie C
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 13 October 2012

Grumps back again......First, may I thank the reviewer for the very kind comments about the five star food, however......

"Most nasty reviews are done by hidden guests that do not make themselves known. This is our business and we do take all criticism very seriously, but we are finding it harder to do so away from mysterious, scared guests who won't even share their experience with us but decide to hide behind a mask and type away to their heart's content.

All these issues can be addressed if they let us know at the time.

The "luke" warm water is a classic case in point. I am sure old grumpy here would feel exactly the same but ask yourself why is this the case?

Let me explain. The maintenance team (now I know you don't believe us when we say we do have one!) had turned the electricity supply off for an hour whilst they adressed a problem with the ouside lights. What did not occur to us was that as a result of this the time clock for operating the heating stopped for an hour so it was not coming on as earlier as it should.

So, instead of sneaking off and writing this critique you could have told the staff or me ( I really do need to know these things and am not an ogre!) and you would have had piping hot water the next day.

So, dear readers...please come and enjoy Lovelady as an alternative to the massed nameless large chains, who probably suffer as many problems as we do, enjoy the great food, enjoy the real secluded retreat that we are and......enjoy the hot water....and if it's not there, tell us or if you have a problem tell us that too. We will do everything we can to put it right.

Grumps

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Reviewed 23 September 2012

It would seem from looking at other reviews that Lovelady Shield really polarises guests into Marmite style 'love it' or 'loathe it' camps. I have to say that I fell very much into the former, maybe because I was less inclined to subject the place to the kind of scrutiny seen in Channel 4's 'Three in a Bed'.

Lovelady, as it states in the blurb, is a country house hotel - tranquil, welcoming and lived-in in the best possible sense. It genuinely feels like guests are being invited to share this lovely home during their stay. The decor is very much in-keeping with the style of the establishment: cosy, traditional and homely, rather than something more contemporary or urban, which would ultimately be incongruous in the setting. And what a setting! Here is a real retreat from the outside world, set in beautiful, secluded grounds with an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the doorstep. Alston, the tiny, quirky little town nearby has its share of pubs and eateries, with both Cumbria and Northumberland offering an array of not too distant attractions.

The service was a well-judged balance of warm and attentive, and discreet and professional, and we certainly felt welcome during our stay.

But for all its strengths, I think it's fair to say that the food is the real star of the show. Here the traditional meets the modern with flair and imagination. Each dish is painstakingly conceived and presented, using local ingredients that are in season, yet with passion rather than pretension. This is food for the heart and stomach as well as the eye. Equally the wine list is extensive, insightful and written with great care and real good humour. I actually found this an entertaining, as well as a highly informative, read.

Michelin star style food served with genuine Northern warmth - for me, a wonderful combination.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank TillyWigan
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 13 October 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you.........at last guests who really understand what we are trying to do here. We think your anology with marmite is spot on, it just seems thst a lot of moaners currently appear to loathe marmite!

you really have cheered us up.

Kind regards.

Peter and Marie Haynes

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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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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: £88 - £130 (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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