I was fortunate enough to win one of Silver Travel’s prizes in 2019, a trip to Greece, but before we could take it up, Covid struck, and we were unable to travel. However, in its place we were offered a UK alternative – a stay in a Warner Leisure hotel – and we were pleased to have the opportunity to try a holiday we’d often thought about. Having read a previous review of this hotel by Silver Traveller Lesley, and comments by Dream-maker, our impressions of this visit were similar in many ways, but very different in others.
It’s a virus-conscious world these days, and although arrival and check-in went very smoothly, we were astonished that there was no temperature check, no request for proof of negative virus test or vaccinations, and no ventilation in the restaurant where of course people were gathered together. We’d have been happier to have had all of these!
Our initial impressions were otherwise good. Our room (which we had upgraded to one of their Signature rooms) was very nice, clean, plenty of space and with a nice view of the gardens. We did find the corridors rather narrow, however, and encountered more than one person in a wheelchair having problems manoeuvring into their room.
We were pleased to note a range of activities available each day, and promptly made bookings for those we wanted to do. We’d read on Trip Advisor that this is sometimes difficult as they get booked up quickly, but we had no such problem. We took a guided tour of the delightful grounds and gardens with one of the staff (a tree surgeon) who gave an excellent talk. The setting of this hotel is undoubtedly its best feature, and we walked around the estate ourselves on two further occasions. We also took part in rifle shooting and archery, which we’d never done before, and enjoyed both very much. We booked a slot in the swimming pool which was well-controlled given the current restrictions, and were surprisingly the only couple who enjoyed a wine-tasting session! One tip here is to book these activities early! However, the location of this hotel is such that there are plenty of attractions within a short drive, and we spent a couple of days exploring further afield in Somerset.
The entertainment each evening was of a high standard, with tables in the theatre well distanced from each other. There was a resident band and then usually a main act to follow. We particularly enjoyed the Neil Sedaka tribute singer, and the songs from the musicals put on by members of the ‘house’ team – good singers who could probably do well in ‘better’ settings! Again, we found other reviews we’d read online to be unfounded.
Our issues with this hotel concerned the restaurant, some of which may have been due to their new way of working owing to the restrictions, but some patently not. I assume that in normal circumstances, the restaurant works on a buffet system, which now it’s not allowed to do with table service instead. While the tables were well spaced-out, we soon discovered that the waiters weren’t sure how to work their tablets for taking our orders, and eventually unsurprised when they reverted to pen and notepad. This inevitably meant slow service, although at times we were surprised how quickly the food arrived, on one occasion before the drinks! We found the food to be quite good, rather like pub-quality, but with occasional mistakes such as breakfast of a few bran flakes swimming in a huge lake of milk, and later a dessert of ice cream served in a warm bowl. As in many restaurants, the waiters often seemed trained to be looking in the other direction when you wanted to catch their attention! The quality of service was therefore very much hit-and-miss, and this applied also to when we sat outside for drinks and often found that the waiters had disappeared!
Overall, the previous reviewers’ comments about a Warner stay being a bit like a cruise on dry land were quite accurate. If you want a comfortable hotel, with meals, daily activities and entertainment provided so that you don’t actually have to leave the site, then this is very much something you should try. For those with mobility problems, we saw that wheelchairs are available and there are ramps at all the entrances, so this kind of hotel would make for an excellent stay.
For ourselves however, we were pleased to have had the opportunity to try it, but won’t rush to return. We were happy to have ‘survived’ our first hotel stay since all the problems in 2020, but were often wary about social-distancing and people who seem to take little notice of it. The hotel was fine working at half capacity when we were there, but the thought of how busy it could be at full capacity would certainly put us off. Thank you, Silver Travel for the opportunity to try something new – maybe one day we’ll try one of Warner’s other locations!