My darling husband of two years, (we are 71 and 69) warned me in advance not to make any arrangements for Valentine’s Day, just pack a nice dress and overnight essentials! On our arrival at the location the approach up a long drive to an imposing Victorian building before us greeted us. And I really was expecting so much from this introduction.
However, our initial introduction to the hotel at reception was immediately dispiriting. This Valentine surprise for me from my husband was for a 4 star hotel night in a deluxe room. Check in had been offered on his reservation from 12 noon, instead of the usual 3.00 p.m. but a rather surly receptionist on our arrival at 1.00 p.m. airily told us that the room was not ready and certainly not available until 3.00 p.m. Eventually we were offered an alternative after some remonstrating – not a good start. With no porter in sight and my husband with some mobility problems, me with a hip that was not behaving itself, I dragged the case up and she led us up 22 stairs to the next floor.
The Charles Kingsley room was large, with an en-suite off a little entrance hall, but the view was not enticing. This dual aspect room had a view of a pitched roof immediately to the right and the “garden view” from the left window was more or less hidden by more buildings unless you lay in bed and peered from there. The room should have had a bottle of champagne and fresh fruit waiting for us on arrival but of course that was not there, although it did arrive approximately 20 minutes later. On investigating the bathroom it really was tired and desperately needs some renovation to the tilework and floor which was cracked in places and must be nightmare to keep clean properly. However, worst of all in a supposedly 4* hotel, the bathroom door needs a really good scrub down to remove dirty drips and marks that have been totally ignored, obviously for some time.
Somewhat disappointed now and trying not to spoil my lovely husband’s wonderfully planned treat we trotted down to afternoon tea and scones where a dear young man by the name of Ben rescued the situation by seating us by a roaring log fire and served us. While the scones were not as fresh (and they were supposed to have been warmed through but were not) the clotted cream and gorgeous homemade strawberry jam addressed our thoughts to a certain extent. The lounge area where we were seated is spacious and comfortable, with nooks and crannies you would expect from a Victorian building.
I have no idea how much my husband put his hand in his pocket for this treat but I do hope he feels he got some value for it. While the dining and breakfast room service was unexceptional they were well presented and the service of them good. Built in 1880 Audleys Wood Hotel features de-luxe rooms (with dual aspect views!?) and two suites – the “Lavinia Fenton” and “Jane Austen” – but, if just taking our room into consideration, the rest of the rooms are tired looking and need an injection of oomph, this hotel really needs to earn its 4* rating, regardless of staff like Ben, who, we sincerely hope, feels very much better soon.