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“Disappointing”
Review of Knoll House Hotel

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Knoll House Hotel
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Studland Bay
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Disappointing”
Reviewed 6 June 2013

It is obvious from the many positive reviews that Knoll House is an ideal hotel for numerous people.My family and I have stayed there in the past and we have enjoyed lunch time visits as well. However this time we found our middle of the day visit very disappointing. The staff were excellent but the food was ordinary and uninspiring. There were lots of cold meats and salads and some labels would have been helpful for my vegetarian wife. We came away with the impression that this is not a hotel for vegetarians.
Sadly, we have to agree with those who now find the hotel somewhat outdated both in the decor and furnishings in the public rooms and also in such things as no T.V.s in the bedrooms without payment and the requirement that all guests have full board in the summer months. This reviewer has been going to Knoll House, with its wonderful situation, for more than 50 years but does not now intend to return.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
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3 Thank Valueallreviews
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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English first
Weybridge, Surrey
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 June 2013

Stayed there 31st May for 2 nights. Hesitate to write this as still trying to process what I feel about the weekend. Can absolutely why it has received the positive and negative reviews written by other people. Some aspects are brilliant and some are dreadful so it is hard to know what to say! Firstly, the positives: my kids aged 8 & 11 loved the playground and the outdoor pool. We felt they were a bit old for the kids dining room so they ate with us in the main restaurant and each night the chef prepared plain chicken breast with rice or chips for them which was great. We wanted to go somewhere for a de-stressing weekend break and the location was ideal. The chain ferry was quick and efficient so the journey was straight forward. We also really wanted to go somewhere away from the hustle bustle of crowds such as Bournemouth and Brighton so this was perfect - an easy walk down the hill to the beach and being owned by the National Trust, it was lovely to have cappuccinos and peace rather than sticks of rock and the sound of amusement arcades! Now for the negatives! I was originally quoted a higher rate but when I asked if there was any way they could do it for less, the lady said she could do the room for £374 per night. This was for a double room, an interconnecting childrens room and a bathroom. The rate included breakfast and evening meal. That seemed like a lot to me but by this point, I was just glad to have found somewhere which ticked all the boxes and was available. Unlike other reviews, we didn't have a wet room. We had a double room with a basin, a tiny bathroom with no basin so you couldn't wash your hands in there once you'd been to the toilet, and the door way was so narrow that I banged my arm numerous time on the door handle as I walked through! The childrens room was up some narrow steps and once again had a basin. One bed was fine but the other was a sort of bunk bed up some steps. My daughter had to be careful not to bang her head on the ceiling! Bits had been refurbished but bits hadn't such as the old metal windows. My golden rule is that when I go away for a break, I want the room to be as nice or nicer than I have at home, especially at £374 per night! I could go on for ages about the horrible carpet in the corridor or the nasty faded pictures on the wall but no doubt another person would say that it was all part of the hotel's charm. Be warned, breakfast is served in the main restaurant at the weekend between 8.30 and 9.15 and dinner in the restaurant is 7.30 and 8.15. I have never stayed in a hotel with such narrow meal times. (The children's dining room was open at different times). The continental breakfast selection was also disappointing and yet they do the most amazing dessert selection in the evenings!

You can forgive a lot with the hotel because of the location, the views, the pool, the playground and the evening meals in the restaurant but I felt so frustrated that so much of the hotel was in desperate need of modernisation in terms of the décor and the way they operate. We got caught out with the automatic insurance cancellation charge being added to the bill. It wasn't mentioned at the time of booking on the phone. Yes it was printed on the written confirmation that they sent me but the hand written bit said the total rate plus lunches. No mention of the £18.70 insurance. No other hotel I know would do that, especially for a weekend booking.

I am not suggesting that Knoll House should become a bland Holiday Inn or a trendy boutique hotel, I just think that it needs to recognise that families expect a bit more for their money. The owners should stay at other hotels such as Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall to see how it could be done. They either need to improve to justify the high rates or lower their rates to match the quality of what they offer. Having said that, the hotel was busy so clearly people are prepared to pay, but perhaps like me, they will think twice about returning.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank Tiredparent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wiltshire
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 June 2013

We spent Saturday 1st June in Knoll House and had a most wonderful time. Describing the best feature about Knoll House is extremely difficult - the location and views are stunning, the long term staff treat you like old friends and the short term staff very quickly learn how to as well, the food is simple but delicious and every single member of the family - parents, children and dogs - have an absolute ball. Our one night stay left us feeling so happy and refreshed it was as though we had been away for a week.

We have been before several times and each year the winter refurbishment has a pleasant surprise for you. This year we found that the rather cramped bathroom had been replaced with an amazing wet room, with plentiful hot water, at a fabulous pressure and there is a even a very easy to operate and comfortable seat. The drainage angles work brilliantly as the toilet and the big fluffy towels stay dry.

If you have never been before Knoll House is a little step back in time. Young children have a separate dining room. You eat breakfast together there as a family, then the children have their lunch there and retire to the supervised playroom while adults can enjoy their lunch in peace in the adult dining room. There is a high tea served at 5, just when little ones need it, then there are babysitters who listen out for the children whilst parents enjoy their own dinner from 7.30 onwards. Our daughter started joining us for dinner in the evenings from around the age of 8, although that is at the discretion of the hotel (if you have a child you still wants to plaster her face with spaghetti hoops she probably would not enjoy the adult dining room - and neither would you).

The wonderful advantage of this system is that children get food they like at a time when they need it, rather than having to wait for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also have access to the children's dining room 24 hours a day, where there is a supply of milk, ice packs, calpol and essentials you might need in the middle of the night. With someone else to do the cooking AND the clearing away, parents get a wonderful break.

The outside pool, with a shallow baby pool, is heated from the end of May, so we had a gorgeous time there this weekend. There is also an outside hot tub. If you are not so lucky with the weather as we were, there is also a small indoor pool and Jacuzzi, which is open for children under 14 for one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. There are no lifeguards, so you do need to supervise your own children. In fact there is a lovely notice up that says unaccompanied children will be given a puppy and an espresso! When we were there, there were some rather neglectful parents who were blissfully unaware of the damage and mayhem their little ones were causing - so no a floatation jacket is not a guaranteed life saving device for a three year old in the deep pool by themselves whilst you sit and read, and no children will not remember to take hearing aids out for themselves, nor will they be able to read the notice which says no diving as they stand on the top of some high railings and jump into very shallow water! Parents please remember everyone is on holiday to relax - NOT JUST YOU!

On site you have two tennis courts and a golf course and a brilliant play park (our thirteen year old had a quiet play when no other little children were around, just for old times sake). You are only a five minute walk from a beautiful, safe, sandy beach. We spent Sunday morning going for a gorgeous walk along the beach round to Middle Beach which has lovely rock pools when the tide is low.

Our dogs adore Knoll House. The staff keep dog biscuits behind the bar and there are bowls of gorgeous meaty leftovers for any dog that would like them. The rooms are always spotless, which I do not know how they manage as our dogs do love to leap into the peaty bogs on the heath and then decorate the room. Despite it being a dog friendly hotel housekeeping keep the place so immaculate you would never know.

We visited Knoll House a few years ago with friends, who did not "get" the place. Many of the things they did not like have now been updated, for instance the plumbing and the bathrooms which are now as good as the finest chic hotel anywhere. So if you have been before, but weren't too sure it was great value for money, you might want to revisit now as it has all the modern things you would expect along with all the old world charm of a bygone age.

It was a delightful discovery for us 12 years ago, and we hope that if any family is reading this to see if it is the sort of place they would like to stay and you do decide to give it a go, that you also make a wonderful discovery to take into your hearts and visit again and again.

Room Tip: If you do need a bath, please ask as we found (to our delight) that our room now had a wet rom inste...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank shedfiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Beverley, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2013

Sadness at departing after a blissful week at Knoll House, our eleventh visit. This time we stayed in one of the Garden Suites, perfect for early morning walks with the dogs, great bathroom with excellent shower, as always at Knoll House fantastic towels, typical of the tasteful quality throughout the hotel. At Knoll House the essentials remain the same which is why we return time and time again but there is no sense of complacency and we notice subtle changes on every visit which in no way detract from the very special quality of continuity and tranquility which is the essence of the hotel. We always enjoy the food at Knoll House and this visit we thought it particularly good and a particular delight was the well trained, friendly and always helpful staff. We look forward to our next visit!

Stayed May 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank Phyllis P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 April 2013

We recently revisited Knoll House to meet up with family for lunch. Our 3 kids love Knoll House, they havent stopped talking about it since! Lunch was reasonably priced, a vast buffet followed by main course and a sweet with drinks for the same sort of money that we'd pay in a decent pub.
My wifes sister was staying there for the week with her family and they took a family suite in the East wing which, we understand, has just been refurbished. Their room was very smart, clean and comfortable with an excellent bathroom. A spanking new wet room off the corridor seemed a particularly good idea.
Knoll House is very much a rare bastion from a bygone era. In a market saturated with identikit chain hotels this place really does offer good, old-fashioned British holiday charm. Its like being in someones fine old country house. Comfortable, quirky, delightful and very homely. We absolutely love it!
In other hotels we have stayed in recently, with televisions everywhere, saturated wifi and other electronic distractions our kids have to be prised away from the flickering screeens - at Knoll House they play! They race about, explore, read, draw and have adventures. Long may Knoll House resist the temptation to become like everywhere else.

Room Tip: Almost all rooms have new bathrooms, the courtyard rooms are all completely refurbished with level a...
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank merlin685
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
lancashire
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 April 2013

I have stayed here 4 times in the last 15 years and I was pleased in the recent visist there were a number of changes for the better. The rooms had been modernised without losing some of their original charm.
The staff have always been friendly and helpful. There is a relaxed atmosphere about children and dogs which allows guests to feel relaxed when things do not go quite to plan.
I have on occassion in the past been disappointed about the quality of the food but on this most recent visist there was a marked improvement. The breakfasts and the desserts in the evenings were delicious. The starters and main courses were better than they have been in the past. There meat was properly cooked although did lack flavour which was a bit disappointning.
The location of the Hotel is idylic and flexible to cater for romantic get aways and family gatherings. They cater well forall age groups which is probably their best selling point.
The only irritation was the the prices of drinks which seems seemed excesssively marked up. A small glass of wine and half a beer was near as £9 and their cheapest table wine was over £20.
Would I recommend it... certainly so long as you are not on a budget.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank blistergoddess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
20 Thank Jon N
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 #2 of 2 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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