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FarAway488145
Idyllic Christmas break
4.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 29 Dec 2023
A lovely hotel which has been beautifully restored and re-designed with love and care by the owner Kim, who was around and went out of her way to make the guests feel special and part of the family!
The staff were all welcoming and genuinely friendly and cared about getting things right. Along with the country setting and the lovely long walks (the hotel provides wellies) and next to the Abbey for Christmas services, it was all idyllic.

It was a perfect, cozy stay for the Christmas break which embraced all the joy of the holiday season making the whole experience delightful. The food was exceptional (we had specific dietary requirements including 1 vegan which were all met without fuss or trouble) and exceeded all expectations. The cream tea was superb. Plentiful and impressive patisserie and excellent value (about £30 each) and probably the best vegan tea I've ever had) putting the big London hotels including The Ritz and Sketch to shame.

It's not a budget break experience but we thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas two nights stay and the fact that we were able to bring our little sausage dog without any restrictions made it all the more pleasurable. There was an additional £50 charge per night which included bedding and a doggie Christmas snacks stocking!

Some thoughts for improvement; our bathroom desperately needed updating (this was the most disappointing aspect) and surprisingly, there were no basic bathroom amenities supplied (cotton wool, buds, shower cap etc.) Although, the Dyson hairdryer was much appreciated!

To enhance the dining room experience, recognising the culinary delights, white linen would have been more appropriate than bar style, bare black wooden tables - especially at Christmas.

Some attention to the lovely curtain furnishings (they had fallen off rails in the dining room and our room ) and as it is a wonderfully dog-friendly hotel, an outside tap for cleaning dogs down and a wellie boot remover would also have been helpful.
Date of stay: December 2023
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    Reviews (1,226)
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    All reviews oldest hotel malmesbury abbey steeped in history lovely hotel old building beautiful building afternoon tea the main house main restaurant full english cream tea well worth a visit waiting staff sunday lunch bar area following morning evening meal
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    16 - 21 of 1,226 reviews
    Reviewed 26 December 2023

    Our second visit for tge Christmas package.

    The building is wonderful, quirky as you wound expect from such an old building but with all modern amenities.
    Loved the new residents lounge/function room.

    Location is perfect, great place from which to explore both the local town and other parts of the Cotswolds.

    Food was excellent.

    But what really made our stay special was the staff. Everyone worked so hard, they were all so professional and extremely welcoming. Nothing was too much trouble and they made us feel like a mixture of old friends/vip’s.

    Thank you to everyone for making our Christmas special

    Date of stay: December 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled with family
      • Value
      • Location
      • Service
    Thank TonyCardiff_Wales
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 19 December 2023

    Having grown up in Malmesbury, it was a lovely experience to actually stay at the Old Bell, having only eaten and had drinks (and been a teenage KP...) there before.

    The Good: Friendly reception and restaurant staff; Wonderfully comfortable beds and linens, great housekeeping, decent bathrooms with good water pressure on the shower. Breakfast was excellent and the coffee bar a nice touch with great coffee. The lounge areas with comfy sofas and open fires were just magnificent

    The not-so-good: bizarre new layout of the bar/lounge area made the bar itself impossible to get to and really needed some clearer guidance to encourage guests to go and sit down and be served - resulted in the wait staff being a mix of frazzled and doing the best the can and, in one instance, just rude. The construction work ongoing during out visit - would have been nice to know we'd be awoken relatively early (not terrible, but we were on holiday/vacation, so 7:45 was earlier than we would have liked).

    Room tip: Watch out for bed sizes if you're coming from the US - the descriptions aren't clear, and you may end up in a full-size (double)
    Date of stay: December 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled with family
      • Value
      • Location
      • Service
    Thank joesaysstuff
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 18 December 2023

    We had the full afternoon tea the week before Christmas. It was excellent and even more considerable than expected. Could possibly have done with more cream and jam for the scones but then one could not finish them anyway. The ambience of the hotel in the evening and at this time of yer is terrific with the large fires and atmospheric period rooms. The Christmas decorations on the outside are excessive and in keeping but definitely not the ghastly bow which is too 'disney like' for the property. Otherwise excellent.

    Date of stay: December 2023
    Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    Thank AFCW_9
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 16 December 2023

    We have stayed at the hotel before on two or three occasions always just before Christmas some years ago under different management. On this occasion we stayed for one night including dinner and breakfast at a cost of £265, although we had a Cream Tea on arrival and exceeded the dinner allowance of £80 so paid an extra £54 making a total of £319.00. It was apparently the English 'Hotel of the Year 2023'.
    We were booked into the Coach House not the main hotel. We had stayed in the Coach House previously but it must have been reconfigured because the corridor was narrow and claustrophobic with rooms on both sides and the room(No.29) an odd rhomboid shape with the small double bed at an angle. The initial impression was that the room was very hot despite the windows being ajar slightly so the first I did was turn off the radiator. The decor is busy, dark and a little oppressive.

    The hotel was very busy and the tearooms fairly full at 1600 when we went for our Cream Tea with our friends. One of our party opted for a selection of cakes instead and I think had the best deal. The tea was well presented with warm scones and individual pots of jam and clotted cream. Both women in our party ate a scone each leaving their second one, whilst I ate both of mine. My wife thought they were a little stodgy.
    Dinner was booked for 1930 and we were disappointed with the menu and the new young waitress wasn't conversant with it so had to go back to the kitchen to find out what at least one of the choices were. Three of us had fish and chips and one the sirloin steak. There were no complaints with the standard of food produced just the lack of choice.

    Time for bed around 2300 and the room still seemed hot but a strong breeze outside and a flapping tarpaulin due to building work meant we closed one of the windows to reduce the noise and left the other one ajar. The combination of the small bed and heat meant my wife didn't manage to sleep until 0400 and as the wind had died down she managed to reopen the closed window in the hope the room would cool down.

    The en suite was compact with no shelving for toiletries although there was a cupboard under the sink. The shower was a good size but complicated and no instructions on it's use. There was a choice of a rainfall shower head or a removal standard shower head and two taps at one end. After trial and error I managed to get either working satisfactorily -the rainfall one for me and later the lower standard one for my wife who didn't want to get her hair wet.

    The toilet roll holder was facing the wrong way. Space was so tight that if you brushed it when sitting down the roll was knocked off and ended up underneath the cistern at the back. I knocked it off once, my wife did so twice. Our friends made the same complaint. The hanger needs to face the other way round to prevent such accidents.

    Breakfast was booked for 0915 and service was available from 0700-1000. The buffet wasn't easily visible and we only realised where it was, atop a desk by the entrance when another guest went to visit it for cereal. It wasn't the best spread I have seen and if anything was a little sparse.
    I ordered porridge but received a menu item called 'Birchover Oats' soaked overnight in almond milk and served with blueberries. More like muesli than porridge. My wife had poached eggs in a bagel and our friends had the English Breakfast with some omissions. I also ordered toast which didn't arrive so I had to remind our young waitress who had started work at 0630. No butter came with it and unusually none was on the table nor the buffet. I asked for some and was informed that wasn't any because they had not had a delivery yet- shocking really at a five star hotel! I thought someone should have nipped across the road to the Coop and bought some as a stopgap but no-one had - I got up and helped myself to marmalade from the buffet counter and made do without butter or margarine ,which wasn't offered as an alternative.
    A good number of couples came to breakfast after us, one at 0945 and the waitress had to relay a table which had been relaid for lunch. My impression was that she was stretched and really two staff were needed to serve the number of breakfast guests and make the usual enquires for toast and refills.

    Finally we come to the bill which should have been automated but for some reason had to worked out manually by the receptionist. The previous evening each couple signed off on a dinner bill of £68 + a few pence, which was less than the £80.00 allowance, so I just expected to pay for the cream teas at £24.00 when in fact I was required to pay £54 and was informed that was correct, our friends paid slightly less as the cakes and coffee were less than a cream tea. I couldn't get to the bottom of it but was assured it was correct.

    Throughout out brief stay the staff were friendly and helpful so these comments are not a reflection on them.

    Room tip: Rooms in the main house are historic and roomier than those in the Coach House
    Date of stay: December 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
      • Value
      • Location
      • Service
    Thank Paul B
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 15 December 2023

    What a wonderful experience, such service and the most delightful hotel. Well done to whoever is running the ship and all those involved. Such a friendly team and I hope Poppy has a lovely time in Paris.

    Room tip: Go here for sure
    Date of stay: December 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled solo
      • Value
      • Location
      • Service
    Thank debrasL7531KR
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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