On a recent trip to England my wife and I spent 5 nights here, and we were consistently disappointed, and even appalled at times.
Let's start with the positives. The Royal Oak at first appears to be charming. It has a great location in central Garstang, with rooms overlooking the main street in the village. There's a small pub in the main level that has a few food items to choose from on the menu as well. This building has history, and you can tell from first glance.
Let me preface this by giving a warning. THIS PLACE DOES NOT HAVE A PHONE. THEY WILL NOT LET YOU USE THEIRS. If you don't have a cellphone and being able to communicate is important to you, DO NOT STAY HERE.
Moving right along, the number issue I had with them is their staff. For some back story: I was in the north of England to visit my Uncle, whom I hadn't seen in nearly 10 years. His flat is small and limited on space so that's why my wife and I stayed at this hotel, which is less than a mile from his place. Anyway, on most days we had planned my Uncle would come collect us and then take us around to see sights or visit places.
On one of these occasions my Uncle was over 20 minutes late, and he's extremely punctual. Given that he's elderly and is always precisely on time this started worrying me pretty quickly. I went into the Hotel Lobby and the owner was standing there. I asked if I could use the phone real quick so I could check on him, and she said, rather bluntly, "no."
I asked "This is a hotel and you don't have a phone?" To which she said, "Of course we have a phone, but it's for private use only." She then motioned to my cellphone (no service, I'm a Verizon customer and they wouldn't unlock my phone) which I was holding because I had my Uncle's number in it, and I had pulled it up for reference. "What's that? That's a cellphone isn't it?"
I told her it was, but had no service etc, and I just wanted to check on my Uncle. It didn't matter, she was very rude about it.
The rooms don't have phones in them either for some bizarre reason, so I was out of luck. I had to go across the street to a small dressmakers shop where the owner gladly let me use the phone, even though I hadn't spent a dime in her shop nor did I plan to. Very embarrassing.
That's enough about that, on to the rooms!
Very similarly to the hotel itself, the rooms seem cute and quaint at first. Turns out the mattresses are twenty years old or more, the pillows are very cheap and lumpy and generally not comfortable. They do provide an electric tea kettle; however ours was grimy and mildew-ridden inside of it. The bathrooms are very dated and every step you take you feel like you'll fall through the floor.
There's no air-conditioning which isn't really a shock being in England, but in the summer that means sleeping with the window open. This would be fine except for the fact that there are constantly loud drunkards beneath you and at the other pubs on the strip singing and hollering into the wee hours. Then come morning its a very busy street with lots of noise. We didn't have a good sleep the entire duration of our stay.
Regarding their "free wifi"... we did notice some kind of Wifi signal in our room that appeared to be theirs, but couldn't find any mention of the password anywhere. So I go downstairs to the bartender and ask for the password. The young lady seems dumbfounded that I would ask for it. "Ahhh... let me see if I can remember." She goes on tending to other customers for 5 minutes or so and comes back, writes down 2 or 3 extremely long passwords that are alpha-numeric and have just slight changes between the 3. "One of those might work, if not come back down and tell me."
Wow, really? Ok, so I did just that. Tried all 3 several times. Just as she suggested, she was wrong all 3 times. I go back down, and she had remembered the actual password at this time and had it for me as soon as I appeared at the bar. Fine, at least we had access, albeit bad.
I will say that most of the quality and issues related to the age of the place didn't really bother us at first, but as soon as we had our interaction with the cold and unaccommodating owner we decided enough was enough. We found another hotel less than a mile away that was much more modern with an incredible breakfast, the rooms were very nice and included a TELEPHONE! WOW! The staff was very friendly and the barstaff was too. Not to mention their rooms were £10 cheaper a night to boot!
We thought so many of the issues related to The Royal Oak were just "par for the course" in England, but it turns out we couldn't have been further from the truth. This is my first time posting to TripAdvisor, I just really wanted people to know about this place before making the mistake we did.
- Also Known As:
- Royal Oak Hotel Garstang, Lancashire