The hotel is expensive. However, this was a special occasion – our wedding anniversary – and therefore I decided to splash out with the (not unreasonable) expectation that high standards and levels of service would be guaranteed in return. How wrong I was.
The standard of the hotel is OK but nothing special. The location is also rather disappointing. The back of the hotel faces the millpond and that is pretty. However, the front of the hotel backs onto the main road through the uninspiring village of Tuddenham and is quite noisy.
The one good thing about the hotel was the food. However, the service was very poor. The staff were friendly, but either they are not well trained or have not fully grasped the level of service that should be provided for a hotel of this purported calibre. Or, simply, they are understaffed and cutting corners Whatever the reason, the service provided does not justify the charges.
We arrived in the bar just after 8pm and were told that if we wanted canapés they would take 20 minutes to prepare with the suggestion that perhaps we should give them a miss. Accordingly we asked for olives (twice) before receiving them. We were not taken up to the restaurant until just before 8.45, by this time very hungry.
The taster menu was good and the chef is to be complimented. However, the lengthy wait between courses was totally unacceptable and, quite frankly, ruined our evening. When the cheese plate arrived my husband asked for a glass of red wine which took around 15 minutes to arrive, by which time the cheese had been eaten. When my camomile tea and petit four arrived it was 11.30, almost 3 hours from first sitting at our table. At this point we had been the only people in the restaurant for at least an hour, just waiting for courses to arrive. Needless to say it was not conducive to a memorable anniversary meal or evening.
Next morning we arrived at the restaurant about 9.30 for breakfast. There were no other guests or staff in the restaurant. We sat for 10 minutes waiting for someone to come before my husband knocked on the kitchen door to let the staff know we were waiting. We still had to wait a further five minutes before anyone came to our table.
In contrast the following evening we stayed at the Swan in Lavenham (best room), paid considerably less, and both the food and service were outstanding.
As a travel professional and reviewer I am used to staying in top class hotels – both in the UK and overseas – and understand that occasionally things go wrong.
When they do, management’s response in acknowledging any shortfall is vital and says much about the business. However, despite registering my disappointment when checking out and also writing to the manager over one month ago they have failed to respond to my letter. The cost of our one night stay with dinner & wine came to £457 and the management can't be bothered to respond. Not a hotel to be recommended. Enough said.