When you hear the words ‘work in progress’ about an hotel, it can often have an ominous ring, conjuring up visions of half-built hutches on the Costas.
But when it’s the historic Glendower Hotel at Lytham and St Annes, on the Fylde Coast of Lancashire, it’s a pleasure to go along and share the experience of a place working hard to improve its already impressive reputation.
Part of the Best Western family, this hotel on the North Promenade has also been part of the town’s fabric since the 1800s – when for years the lovely building was a ladies’ college – and it inevitably began to feel its age.
Like St Annes’ iconic pier and even the entertainment capital of Blackpool just up the road, its glittering heyday might have been overshadowed in recent years with the headlong rush for package holidays abroad, but its rolling refurbishment programme has breathed new life into a top-class slice of British tradition and has managed to keep that classic seaside feeling, without it feeling at all dated.
The rooms are a case in point, for although the building itself looks a time traveller’s dream of gorgeous Victoriana, you open your door to find fixtures, fittings and facilities as clean, crisp and stylish as in any trendy new-build.
My booking was made at the last minute, so I couldn’t opt for a room with a balcony or a great view of the Irish Sea, but I did get a standard double that would put many a pretentious 5* to shame.
The only thing that could be described as old school is the service, which is efficient, cheerful and attentive, something that’s sadly lacking in a good few other places I’ve stayed in.
That was underlined during breakfast service on the morning after a large, official Saturday evening ‘do’, when dozens and dozens of guests emerged within about half an hour of each other.
There were so many guests that the newly-revamped and rather swish Coast Restaurant, not surprisingly, just wouldn’t have been able to accommodate everyone at once, so one of the Glendower’s large function rooms had been set up in advance, with staff ready for action.
Sunday being Sunday, we didn’t get up at the crack of dawn and we made our way to breakfast a bit later than we would on a working weekday, only to find the whole theatrical operation already in full swing.
No problem – we were greeted and seated in a matter of moments and served with coffee; then after a couple of visits to an impressive juice/cereal/fruit/cold-cuts buffet, we had spot-on waiter service with a hot breakfast cooked to order and delivered within minutes, along with lashings of fresh toast and constant coffee.
Once service was over (and I did notice that no one was left unserved, or arbitrarily turned away at the cut-off time) the tables were cleared with military precision by staff, who were unfailingly polite and smiling, which again is something you don’t see every day, either here or abroad.
We missed out on staying for dinner, due to a function elsewhere on the Saturday night and a need to get home early on Sunday, but I was nosey and asked around about the menu, and I didn’t hear a negative word, except that some diners were disappointed they couldn’t stay an extra night to have another meal.
Sadly, we didn’t have time for lunch, either, but I consoled myself with the thought that Lytham and St Annes is not too far away from my home in the Pennines – and I might need another trip to the seaside quite soon.
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