Our arrival at the Inn at Manchester defined the remainder of our stay. We entered the Inn without being greeted at all. In fact, we called out “hello” a few times before finding the office with an employee. Janet acknowledged our presence in a pleasant and professional, yet impersonal manner (“hello, are you checking in?”). We learned quickly that she was “very busy” and leaving in “thirty minutes”. She was clearly in a hurry to check us in and carry on with her end-of-the-day duties. Moreover, it was business first when we stepped through the door (“your credit card please”). Frankly, this was off-putting and something I would expect from a hotel, not a B & B. Why start in this manner, especially when they already have the first night’s deposit in hand?
Janet’s initial whirlwind Inn tour revealed spotlessly clean and tastefully decorated – but, cold feeling -- public rooms. The stately house has been lovingly renovated and this alone makes it worthy of its Select status. Nevertheless, “impersonal” comes to mind when referring to the décor. There are few personal touches here beyond renderings of the Inn and Chai, the Inn mascot. The aesthetics are as though someone read a decorating handbook carefully, but forgot their imagination and creativity. Still, every book was in place – every picture straight on the walls – and every newspaper exactly straight on the table. It is almost a bit weird.
Our stay was soured by the fact that the pool was drained and being renovated. The weather was lousy, so our swimsuits would probably have gone unused, but no one thought to call or e-mail us in advance regarding this closure. Moreover, no apology or make-up (perhaps a drink coupon, or something of the sort) was offered when we politely inquired about the condition of the pool mid-summer (we didn’t complain, just inquired). We felt tricked by the advertising materials touting the in-ground pool, only to arrive and find it nothing more than a dry pit behind the carriage house. The explanation given was that the decision was “last minute” and they didn’t know when the contractors would actually be showing up. Huh?
Our room, the Sage Suite, is billed by the Inn as one of their best. We were certainly satisfied, but not blown away, by the accommodations. Initially, there was an odd inexplicable odor when we entered the room. We opened the windows and the smell was generally gone within a few hours. The room is plenty large with a nice seating area that we used for three games of Scrabble over two nights (thoughtfully provided by the Inn, along with other games and puzzles all in good condition). The bathroom is also a good size by any standard. The advertised “jetted tub” is a standard-size bathtub with jets. Again, nice, but not exciting. Shower pressure was adequate, but hot water was sparse in the morning hours and improved later in the day. The amenities usually found and expected in a $200 suite were sorely missing here: Soap was of the paper-wrapped Motel 6 variety (“White Rain”) and the small lotion, shampoo and conditioner was of a similar variety with Inn logos. Institution-white towels were scratchy and uncomfortable. No robes or anything else (except a makeup cloth and small paper wrapped sewing kit) was to be found. Ironically, the nicest personal touch was the toke envelope left by the housecleaning crew. They could definitely do better – especially in their top suite.
There is a small LCD TV in the room with a DVD player (and an odd assortment of DVDs), but it is strangely located on the side of the bed in an armoire (I had to lay on my side to watch before going to sleep). A better spot would be hung forward of the bed over the nice gas fireplace. Isn’t that the purpose of LCD TVs: to be hung on the wall? Again, a potential nice touch overlooked.
The service did not impress over the next two days. One employee, Ellen, was friendly enough, but initially answered our request for dinner suggestions by directing us to a drawer of unorganized menus. Eventually, when we pressed further, she recommended a restaurant on the other end of town that we learned upon arrival is closed on Mondays (the day we wanted to visit). We ended up at a random steakhouse in town that was very good.
Innkeeper Frank flew by us several times without stopping to say hello even once. Co-innkeeper Julie graciously served us breakfast with a polite smile – twice -- without introducing herself by name (or asking ours). In fact, we only knew it was Julie by her photo on the internet. While there is certainly no requirement by innkeepers to greet their guests, we missed this sort of personal touch from our previous two B & B stays reviewed here on Tripadvisor. We were also somewhat surprised that Julie did not ask if we enjoyed our stay when we checked-out with her. In retrospect, it was a fitting end to the indifference we experienced at the Inn (and in the town of Manchester overall).
What was even more interesting to us is that the Inn dog, Chai, was also indifferent! Chai was not interested in fraternizing with guests -- except at breakfast when a table of Canadian visitors snuck scraps to her when Julie wasn’t looking.
Moreover, one ever-present employee has a “punk-like” look to him with a substantial nose ornament. We are a relatively young “hip” couple – and have absolutely no problems with nose rings and other eye-catching body decorations. But, it struck us as odd at a $200 per-night hotel accommodation to have front-line staff without limitations on this sort of thing. Progressive? Perhaps.
With all of this said, there are several good things worth mentioning: Everything was absolutely spotlessly clean. We literally could not find a spec of dust or dirt anywhere. The queen bed was very firm and comfortable with luxurious feeling linens and fluffy pillows to sink into. Lighting was ample (although a general overhead light was lacking). An air conditioner and ceiling fan kept the room cool and comfortable. The small personal (although not private) balcony with two chairs (with a view of the parking lot, carriage house, grounds – and then the mountain in the background) would have been nice had the weather cooperated.
Finally, the food also reflected the overall mood here: Crisp and tasteful, but nothing particularly special. One morning the menu consisted of pancakes and bacon. My request for scrambled egg whites in addition was accepted. The second morning was a “cheese omelet or eggs any other way you’d like”. The pancakes were perfect – but, just pancakes. No berries, or other fillings. Bacon was crisp and tasty, but cold on both mornings. The omelet was essentially a slice of cheese folded inside of eggs. Again, nicely presented – but, impersonal and boring.
We cannot recommend the Inn at Manchester. While it is certainly meticulously clean, and country-club sharp – it is cold, impersonal and essentially a solid Hilton or Westin in a B&B’s clothing. That’s not what a B&B is about for us. But, then again, that’s just us.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in Manchester Village, this accommodation has 21 rooms and offers a full breakfast. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Inn At Manchester Hotel Manchester
- Inn Manchester
- The Inn At Manchester Vermont