I booked a weekend away in the New Forest using the Tesco Clubcard deal, meaning I could knock a certain amount off the price with my tokens, although I didn't haven't enough to cover the whole weekend and paid for the second night. You can only book bed-and-breakfast; if you want dinner you have to pay an extra £25 per person and you get a free bottle of wine.
On speaking to the reservations team, I was told that Beaulieu Hotel was all booked up and the next closest was the Best Western Forest Lodge. I wanted to be as close to Beaulieu as possible but it wasn't too much further so when I received my tokens I rang up and booked the Forest Lodge. I had all the paperwork but only briefly glanced over it to make sure I was all booked up, and the morning we departed I thought I'd best check my reservation. Thankfully I did - Forest Lodge had nothing under my name! A bit confused, I rang the Beaulieu Hotel, and sure enough, I was booked there. If it was the lovely lady I originally spoke to who had organised this, then thank you very much, but no one at any point sent me a note or rang me to say 'by the way, we've booked you in a different hotel'.
Upon arrival, the room we had was in a separate part of the hotel, above the Drift Inn. The room was nice and clean, contemporary style, with a large twin bed pushed together (the only downside was that when you like sleeping close to someone, there's a line down the middle that angles you away and you end up rolling back into the middle of the twin bed!), and a small but effective bathroom. I liked the fact that you get a selection of tea/coffee that includes hot chocolate - not many places bother with the chocolate and sometimes you fancy treating yourself! The room did back on to the rail line and the trains are fairly regular and noisy but you get used to it.
I booked the dinner for the Friday night only as I knew we would be out Saturday, and I'm glad I did. The dinner was awful. The prices are ridiculously high for a plate of very little, or just tasteless mess. The starters were pleasant but nothing to rave about and only lukewarm. Other half's main lamb was £16 and consisted of reheated dry potatoes, limp veg and two tiny bits of lamb rolled in thick fat. Not something I would pay £16 for. I wanted to try the tagliatelle, but what they didn't bother pointing out was that there were two different types; one with mushroom and blue cheese sauce (the one I wanted) and one with tomato and leek or spring onion. When it arrived, it was the wrong one, so I asked and they discovered the error. Not wanting to have to wait as my partner was nearly through his tiny plate I said I'd eat it, but one bite was enough. It looked like it had been sitting out for a while and congealed to a slightly warm mush, and it was so bland even salt couldn't rescue it. I usually try to eat what's there even if it's wrong as I hate making a fuss, but I just couldn't bring myself to. They did offer another meal but I said no, I'd order a cheeseboard for dessert. We had that and the taster of desserts, which were again pleasant but nothing to rave about. The cheese was lovely, although you get four nice large pieces of different cheese and then four measly biscuits to try and eat it all with!
Breakfast is not much better - the sausages are awful, cheap catering ones, and the bacon is just about okay. Tea was like dishwater, and my pancakes were again reheated and tasted funny. The next morning I tried the vegetarian sausage, which is just bubble and squeak rolled into a sausage shape and fried. None of it looks freshly cooked; just like it's been sat on a side waiting for someone to order it.
I know it is only a three-star hotel, and we didn't go in with high expectations, but it needs to be better than that. The trainee manager in the restaurant was lovely, but she had only been there a week and it would be nice if she would be allowed to really sort the staff and kitchen out.
On check-out I made sure I checked the bill thoroughly, and sure enough, they tried to charge us for the free bottle of wine with our dinner. The receptionist made some excuse that the 'system puts it on automatically' - well then, the system needs to be changed. She made a show of unticking it and printing it out again, which was unnecessary. Good try.
The rooms are lovely and well worth the stay if you need a base for walking; it's a lovely location and they are dog-friendly too. However, I would suggest booking on a room-only basis, save the extra amount and go out for breakfast and dinner. The Drift Inn next door was good for snacks (I've also reviewed it) but I don't know what the main meals and breakfasts are like. I'm glad I went through Tesco as if I had paid full price I would NOT have been happy.
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- Also Known As:
- The Hotel Beaulieu
- The Beaulieu Hotel New Forest