Come down to Dorset for a winter break, said our friends. Stay in a country pub "far from the madding crowds," said our friends. Enjoy some fresh air, the market towns and go back for a hearty dinner in the evenings, said our friends.
Sounds too good to be true, sadly it was. the country pub, this country pub, is indeed, off the beaten track and it is quiet. So far so good if only we could get in! Eventually we made contact and were shown upstairs to a very well appointed room with all the facilities you would wish for - a pleasant surprise that continued to improve with a very comfortable bed, large fluffy towels, an excellent shower, quality toiletries and a convenience tray that included bottled water and the ubiquitous television set.
Washed and changed we made our way downstairs to meet our friends for dinner. Oh, what a difference.......The bar/lounge area is as grubby as the bedroom is clean - designer sofas and wall seating with cushions everywhere not a bit of comfort in sight. The service, if you can call it that is further than laid back and for the prices charged, really far too casual. There seems to be no difference between staff and management; all wear the standard casual dress, jeans and t-shirt or casual top and there is a general air of indifference.
When entering the formal restaurant, feeling by now a tad overdressed, neither the service or presentation changed one iota. Laid back I can understand, casual I can accept, but when you are to eat, I expect a certain standard, which , sadly did not materialise. Tables were not laid, those awful paper napkins, no bread offered, wine, expensive too, was just dumped on the table NOT EVEN OPENED. Not to put you in the right frame of mind for the meal methinks....The food when it arrived was not exceptional, it wasn't even average, I have to report. The soups were pleasant but barely warm, the scotch eggs, nice eggs but the scotch tasted like paper mache'. Main courses, remember we had been out in the fresh air......, were poorly presented with little to eat, miniscule lamb chops, a burger that itself was tasty and filling if only the bun had not been so stale, and steaks served on those irritating boards that reduce them to cold chewy lumps within five minutes, accompanied by a "salad"(a fold of cucumber) a mushroom and a few chips.
No one attended the table to ask whether we were enjoying our food(you wondered if they already knew!) so when they came to clear we declined puddings. Shortly afterwards our friends left and we went up to bed.
After an excellent night we came down to breakfast to be confronted with certainly the dirtiest K.P. (surely he wasn't a chef!) I have ever seen -and from his aroma he had just emptied the waste food bins! He took our order and then we went through the same laid back service, a chipped pot of tea, little fresh fruit, no real choice of cereal, and much later we were offered toast.....all served without any regard my this person.
Mercifully we were not to be confronted by this person the following morning although the lack of professionalism was still very apparent.
With the continued increase of these country pubs offering up-market B & B accomodation together with establishing a reputation for food, managers and Pub groups must realise if they
are going to expect return business and word of mouth recommendation they must operate to a minimum standard considered reasonable by the seasoned traveller.
Having one without the other is not acceptable - sorry.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Stapleton Arms in Buckhorn Weston is a new style country pub with rooms situated on the Somerset / Dorset / Wiltshire border close to the A303, A30 between Shaftesbury and Sherborne. Close to Wincanton Races. The four individually furnished bedrooms offer supreme comfort with fantastic beds, Egyptian cotton linen and state of the art bathrooms. The menu which changes daily features great classic dishes all supporting our philosophy - quality food cooked with fresh local ingredients, sensibly priced. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Stapleton Arms Hotel Buckhorn Weston
- The Stapleton Arms Buckhorn Weston, Dorset