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“Stunningly Overpriced” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Knoll House Hotel

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Knoll House Hotel
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Studland Bay
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Stunningly Overpriced”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 April 2013

We stayed in Knoll House over two weekday nights during the Easter holiday. We booked a family room on full board (2 adults and 2 children) and a single room for one adult, having heard positive things from two families who'd stayed here over many years - middle aged parents who'd visited the hotel when they were little and wanted to re-live the experience with their children.

We have stayed in many family friendly hotels of a similar price over the years - including Fowey Hall, Woolley Grange, Bedruthan Steps, The Bull Hotel in Bridport, The Elms in Abberley, and Priory Bay on the Isle of Wight as well as the Flying Boat Club in Tresco - and I can only suggest that the many who write of their stay at Knoll House in glowing terms on this site are simply unaware of what else is available for the money, or more precisely, how much the other child friendly hotels have improved while Knoll House has preserved everything but its prices in 1970's aspic.

We paid £1,327.70 for the two nights - it would have been an extra £32 had we not spotted the 'cancellation insurance' charge added without previous mention (thanks to another Tripadvisor reviewer for pointing this out). It was removed from our bill with an apology when we pointed it out.

As previously said, Knoll House is stuck in the 1970s - stone cladding, woodchip walls, and the smell of past dinners permanently infused into the garish carpets. If you're hoping for WIFI, you'll need to linger within a few yards radius of the reception desk as that's as far as the signal travels. Our bedroom was extremely basic - a Premier Inn has better facilities. No TV (apparently you have to ask if you want one but the hotel didn't inform us of this), no phone, no tea making facilities, cheap bed and bed linen, hard foam pillows, and - an peculiar 70s throwback - the handbasin located in the bedroom rather than the bathroom, so if you need to wash your hands after visiting the lavatory or if you need to clean your teeth after your partner has dropped off, you have to do this in the bedroom. One of the children's beds was an extremely basic, elderly camp bed - a fraction of the size of a standard single bed and very uncomfortable.

At mealtimes they sit you on the same table throughout your visit, so you find yourself sat adjacent to the same families for each meal, looking out on the same view. The food is stunningly mediocre - real school dinners stuff. Most telling is breakfast though - a meal that's actually quite hard to do badly these days. Clearly no one has told the chef you no longer have to cook fried bread by floating it in the deep fat fryer, serve damp uncrunchy toast, provide only long life orange juice as well as woefully weak and watery coffee. As a nation currently awash with coffee houses, we all now know what decent coffee tastes like. Yet this hotel doesn't even possess a proper coffee machine - from what I could see not a single bean is freshly ground on the premises. The waiting staff were attentive, but of the few that served us, one Eastern European and another Japanese lady found it difficult to understand our orders (needless to say a request for 'soldiers' to accompany a child's boiled egg was unsuccessful). Everything served appeared to be the cheapest quality or cut - the bacon was tough, fat and tasteless, the egg yolks of the palest yellow. It's a breakfast that would shame most self-respecting B&Bs.

Our first day at the hotel was cold with a particularly bitter wind. The children were keen to swim so we thought we'd make use of the indoor swimming pool I'd been told about when making the booking. For the avoidance of doubt - it's not an 'indoor swimming pool'. It's a 'plunge pool'. And most extraordinary of all, it's only open for three hours in the day - one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

There were some positives - the staff, particularly those in the children's dining room, are very helpful and friendly. And our kids liked the tea menu - including chocolate rice crispie cakes like they used to make them when I was a child and jelly set so firm your teaspoon bounces back off it at the first attempt. And the hotel of course enjoys a famously fabulous setting, with lots to do in the locality, particularly for children. But in terms of catering and basic amenities and facilities, our stay was very palpably not worth anywhere near the money we paid for it.

We discussed our visit to Knoll House with friends in the forties who are regular visitors with their kids. Their visits are paid for by elderly parents, who've been taking them since the 1970s - the annual stays have become a tradition they're happy to maintain. There are faded photographs of our friends playing in the wooden pirate ship which still stands in the playground by the car park. They know the cost is going up and up, that the food is ordinary at best and the bedrooms spartan, however they keep going back to keep the memory alive and share it with their children. But this can't go on indefinitely. The new families Knoll House needs to attract, families that lack the collective memory of idyllic past holidays spent there, but who have stayed at the many British luxury family hotels charging similar room rates for vastly superior facilities, will simply refuse to pay the kind of prices Knoll House is currently charging.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
18 Thank Jon N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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204 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (50)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Chamonix, France
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 April 2013

We have been visiting the Knoll House Hotel for several years, first with nieces and nephews and now with our own children (1 and 4). It is a fabulous traditional hotel in a superb situation - the facilities are fantastic and the National Trust beach at Stuldand is just a few minutes walk away (watersports equipment, tea room, white sand, ice cream....). The hotel staff could not be more helpful and accommodating, the children's dining room serves nutritious meals for the children and the kitchen is available 24 / 7 should you need to organise a quick bottle of milk or drink for a little one. We will be visiting each year for years to come... long may it last!

Room Tip: Rooms with a sea view are simply lovely :-)
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Rogerson138
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 April 2013

I have just returned from a 1 night stay at the wonderful Knoll House. Apart from being situated in one of my favourite places in the whole world, it has made its mark on me.....in a very positive way!.....I stayed here with my best friend...we had a mooch around Swanage and then checked in. .....

.please see beyond the so called "butlins bungalows",.....

.we were greeted by a roaring logfire,...found our beautiful room, overlooking the sea, beautiful new shiny bathroom....FABULOUS Roberts radio....delicious 3 course dinner and a comfy bed to sleep in! Fresh pot of tea delivered to the room at 7.45!.....great breakfast......meander to the beach,.....swift
lime and soda and then a giddy up over the heath on a very steady steed, with thanks to Studland stables. HAPPY DAYS!

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Sarah J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swindon, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 April 2013

This was our fourth stay at the Knoll House Hotel and it was - again - a very pleasant and relaxing visit. The room at the front of the main building was beautiful as always with a a great sea view and the changes to the already excellent dinner menu were particularly welcome. We will be back in September!

Room Tip: A room with sea view at the front of the main building is highly recommended - and early morning cof...
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank bunnyrabbit03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
123 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 December 2012

We stayed at this so called hotel for three nights in the summer. The location is idyllic, right on Studland beach and a short drive from Swanage and Corfe Castle and that's what sucks you in! The hotel does cater extremely well for small children allowing parents some freedom whilst the kids are well cared for during meal times but, that's where it all ends! If the owners had any sense they would knock this place down and start again. Some of the rooms are nothing more than chalets reminiscent of the old Butlins and the public areas are old fashioned, dusty and covered in dog hairs. You can eat well in the restaurant in a school dinners kind of way but we found the area depressing and what we imagine seaside hotel restaurants were like in the 1940's! A certain type of person might like this hotel but I would say check very carefully before booking. There may be an inverted snobbery thing going on here but it wasn't for us!

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank samjames
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
158 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 October 2012

Having booked with friends (who have been for years and years) we took the plunge and booked. They have a 8 and 6 year old (and dog) and we a 16 month old. We were expecting to see Basil or Sybil, but instead we got a great child (and dog) friendly hotel. Ok, it's not a Du Vin in decor or in chic fittings but it provides a really warm welcome, the staff were fab nothing was too much. You will not go hungry, after each and every meal we left un wanting. The location is perhaps the most appealing factor as the beach is 5 mins walk away. It is miles and miles long and perfect. It has great coffee shop.

We had seen comments about it being dusty, this is rubbish. The whole hotel was spotless and no mean feat when you have dogs and children in abundance. And the diner times, ok they are fixed, but this provided no difference to our exerience. The child listening service was fantastic.

We stayed in none of refurbished rooms, room 49. Great view. It has a spa but didn't get to visit, the kids disco was however a hit.

Room Tip: Go for the front of the main house
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  • Stayed October 2012, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank GillyTricks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
18 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 October 2012

We loved this hotel. We had very few expectations as the main priority was finding somewhere that catered brilliantly for young children but it was so much more than that. The staff were lovely and friendly and food (especially the buffet lunch) was exceptional; the fact that adults could collect their lunch from the main dining room and eat it with their kids in the children's dining room was fantastic.

The rooms were well-equipped and spacious with modern bathrooms and consistent hot water, the beds were comfortable and it was great to see little touches like good hairdryers, binocolurs and digital radios.

The decor is dated but wonderful... very retro, we really enjoyed the different lounges and at any time of day we found the hotel accommodating, comfortable, relaxing and friendly. I've never known anywhere do couples, families, friends and dogs so well. You can avoid the kids easily if you want to (they're not allowed in the dining room and some lounges), along with the dogs... but every step of the way the staff are helpful - suggesting lovely things to do from the hotel.

The surrounds are beautiful and we had a lovely 3 days. Thanks guys :-)

  • Stayed October 2012, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank leerotbart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Knoll House Hotel

Property: Knoll House Hotel
Address: Studland Bay, Swanage BH19 3AH, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Dorset > Isle of Purbeck > Swanage > Studland Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Studland Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 79
Also Known As:
Knoll Hotel Studland Bay
Knoll House Hotel Studland Bay, Dorset

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