A bit of delay before this review could be posted onto the site - I left it a long time before posting my 2009 review and it appears under Trip Advisor rules you can’t post a review of the same place within 3 months. So the earliest I would have been able to post was sometime in November 2010 since that time I forgot until it was time to post reviews on other hotels. I think and hope management have addressed the restaurant problems referred to below.
We booked a 3 night stay, in September 2010, in a new signature room in the recently built walled garden area (part of garden wing). Unfortunately our overall experience this time around at Warner’s did not match up to my previous ratings given to this hotel or other Warner hotels we have stayed at.
The main problem was the Tree Tops restaurant. It may have been recently refurbished but there are now insufficient tables for the number of rooms, mainly due to the new 22 signature rooms that have been built for which tables have not been provided. Shortly after arrival we went to get our allocated table as is the usual practice and were told that we wouldn’t be getting one but they would try to seat you in the same area. Further more you now had to choose between 2 sittings for dinner and breakfast – you either took a later sitting for both or an earlier one – we weren’t offered an early for dinner, late for breakfast option. Later, when we came down for the late dinner sitting, we came down 10mins early (7.35) as we were told we could – there seemed to be tables available but were told to come back 10 mins later – 10 mins later there was a queue stretching back into the foyer. A lot of people were complaining about the situation ‘like being back at school’ was the comment of one couple who said that they would never return to Warners. We sat at different tables most sittings with different waiters/waitresses on each occasion.
The standard of service in the restaurant was quite mixed. In the past it has been to a high standard. Breakfast on our first morning was quite poor. There was no menu or butter on the table. We asked our waitress for some butter but this did not arrive for about 10 minutes by which time the toast was stone cold. Also the tea was tepid, our unnamed waitress was nowhere to be seen so we asked another for a fresh pot who instead of dealing with it herself just said she would ask out waitress to do it but she did not appear to and our replacement tea only arrived after we had finished eating (nearly half a hour after our arrival). We received no apology.
At dinner the service was much better though my drinks’ order did seem to be forgotten about on more than one occasion.
The other main problem that we experienced was with our signature room. The room itself is nicely appointed (see attached photos). The décor has been toned down somewhat in response to previous guests’ comments on the bright colours used in some rooms on older signature rooms. However we had a big problem with the noise that was coming from the ventilation system. It turns out that each of the new rooms has a fresh air unit situated above the ceiling as you enter the room and it is not possible to turn this off. Consequently when the room is quiet (no TV or moving around) you can hear the fan unit and also the air being pushed out (like an air conditioning unit). In addition the heating is provided by overhead vents – looking at the temperature controls it seemed to me the fan control did not fully work as the lowest setting was 2 bars rather than the one bar suggested. Anyway we knew that sound of the fresh air unit would keep us awake at night so we asked to be put into a different room – had we known about the noise we would not have made the booking.
We were moved to a recently ‘refurbished’ ambassador (standard) room in the same area of the hotel (garden wing). The room was acceptable – it appeared to be as large as the signature room and looked like it had been given a lick of paint. Unfortunately it looked like the refurbishment was somewhat limited – see photo of room where the radiator has been re hung. If you did not keep the bathroom door shut then you could hear the extractor fan (which could not be turned off or does not cut off after the light is switched off as is usual). In terms of sound insulation you could pretty well hear everything that was going on it the bathroom – the walls dividing the room from the bathroom seemed to be just plasterboard. The signature bathroom is fully tiled which probably helps on sound insulation. We were provided with complimentary bathrobes presumably to make up for some of the inconvenience however these were damp and one had no hook to hang it up. The bed itself seemed to be an improvement on previous Warner beds we have slept on - it was more comfortable not so hard and quite large and roomy. The room we were on was on the first floor and these I think are probably marginally larger that ones on the ground floor because they encompass the ‘overhang’.
Our booking experience was not problem free. We wanted to make use of an offer before embarking on our stay at the Bembridge hotel in August and tried to make the booking the day before our departure. We had some money in a holding account that needed to be transferred – the person dealing with our booking said she would ring us back but did not do so – we were left wondering as we departed for the Isle of Wight whether in fact our booking had been made!
We completed the express check out facility but this did not materialise. It appears when we were re-allocated the room by reception they omitted to re-allocate the room number to the charge card too.
The hotel food we found to be of the usual good standard and of course the hotel is situated in a very nice setting. Cricket St Thomas House public areas have been refurbished it appears since we were last there. The landscape gardens are worth a walk around. I wouldn’t say that they are newly landscaped though as the only differences to when went previously in 2009 was that many of the larger animals were no longer there, a new border has been put in where the visitors entrance is, the former monkey enclosure has been made into a bit of a water feature and there are some raised beds around the new ‘Experience Village’ which provides a new games room and the new Italian restaurant (Fenocchi’s).
If you are not in a historic room then there is a £7.50 supplement per person for each meal (though this now appears to have gone up to £10 per person on the website and if you are in a historic room you only get one night’s ‘free’ dining there). I believe the restaurant is also open to non residents.
The hotel’s website seems to have been updated since we booked. There are now more pictures of some of the rooms. We went on a tour of the historic rooms at the end of our stay. Each room has some historic character but they do vary in style and content and each carries a premium of up to £150 per night. As we went on the tour it was evident different people like some rooms and not others. Unfortunately from the website you can’t tell what sort of room you are getting and so I think paying a significant premium without knowing what room you are getting is off putting. It would improve the website if in-room videos of each room (including bathroom or suite of rooms) could be provided and the room identified).
Do be aware that with the garden wing of the hotel it is quite a long way to the restaurant. We counted over 300 paces (over 200 metres) from where we were situated. This was not a problem to us as we are mobile though anyone who found walking difficult may have struggled. In order to get to the Hamilton tea rooms situated in the Historic House a further walk of about 150m is required. Also as stated on the website a small part of the walkway from the Garden rooms to the restaurant is uncovered. If the weather is inclement then there is sudden change in temperature/ elements to deal with.
In other respects our stay was satisfactory. My overall rating is reduced to 3 stars to highlight the problems that currently exist with this hotel that need addressing by the management. .
I was advised by the hotel that my credit card would be refunded with the upgrade price within10 working days. This did not happen. Only after I phoned Warner (central reservations) did they see that there was a note on the system relating to my credit (but had not received any paperwork from the hotel) and then they went onto refund the amount to my credit card.
We wrote to Warner’s regarding some of our concerns and are pleased to report that we had a telephone call three weeks later from the head of customer care at the hotel who appreciated our feedback as it enabled them work on putting matters right.
In particular, in relation to the dining arrangements at the Tree Tops restaurant, the pressure on tables has been eased by an increasing uptake of diners choosing Fenocchi’s. There are plans to open an a la carte restaurant in Hamilton’s tea rooms in January 2011 which should have gone some way to alleviate the problem. It is apparently not Warner’s ‘mindset’ to have 2 sittings for dinner and that you should be able to have a table whenever you want it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A 239 bedroom AA4 star Country House Hotel, Set in stunning Somerset countryside amongst 160 acres of beautiful lakes and gardens. Our adult only policy and 1/2 board packages with nightly entertainment and pool with leisure club make us ideal for a short break. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Cricket St Thomas Hotel, Lakes And Gardens Hotel Chard
- Cricket St Thomas Historic Hotel
- Warner Cricket St. Thomas Hotel Chard, Somerset