More about Macdonald Swan Hotel
Disappointing All Around
The first impression of The Swan Hotel is one of disappointment . The MacDonald website's picture shows the hotel sitting in a rural setting - while not fabricated, the reality is far from the idyllic setting they would have you assume as the hotel in fact sits directly on the main Ambleside-Windemere road and traffic noise is an issue. Photo imagery aside, the hotel's service and restaurant are also well below the mark.
We spent two nights in the hotel over Easter break and fell in love with the local village of Grasmere and the surrounding fells. However, for the price, I would recommend staying in Grasmere Village itself, either at the less expensive Best Western or one of the many quaint guesthouses.
We had two rooms at the Swan for my wife and I and our two teenage sons. Both were reasonably sized and clean. However, both bathrooms hosted a black fungus around the tub and basin that led one to question the cleanliness of other parts of the room.
The hotel's downfall is its restaurant. On the first night we ate at the hotel pub and, though service was slow, we enjoyed a nice meal. One of us had a three-course 'pub special' that included a lovely sausage and mash dish with a soup starter and a fruit crumble dessert for a reasonable 13.95. Imagine our surprise the next evening when we booked the main restaurant for the fixed price dinner and found the same items on the menu for 36.95! Two of our diners that night in the main restaurant ordered a fish dish that arrived on their plates in tin foil and they were left to extract the fish bits from the foil themselves. When I commented upon presentation about a dish of pork chops only offering two very small chops (6 bites total) I was told that the kitchen had run out of chops and these were the last two. Restaurant staff seemed meek and inexperienced and never during the course of the meal were we asked by a waiter or the everpresent maitre'd as to whether we were enjoying the experience. I was left feeling as if the head chef was on holiday and the dishwasher had been left to make do. The menu was imaginative, but the result was disasterous and the service appalling. If one is to charge London prices, the experience must be better. This restaurant wouldn't last a week in London (or anywhere else with a choice for that matter).
Upon checking out the next day, I took advantage of the receptionist enquiring about our stay to relate our poor experience in the restaurant. Typical of many establishments, she got the 'I'm sorry' portion right, but followed with the ubiquitous 'but it's not my responsibility'. When will so-called 'service' establishments learn that this only exacerbates an already disappointing experience? In this case, a simple "I'm sorry, I don't know how that could have happened but I will relay it to the maitre'd tonight' would be a good start. And if MacDonald hotels were really to train their staff properly, she and other client contacts would be empowered with something simple like a 10 or 20 pound discount certificate to be offered and used during the clients' next stay. Seldom would such discounts be used, but it would certainly go a long way toward appeasing a disappointed customer.
In this case, I can honestly say that MacDonald's has most certainly lost my future business in the Lake District and I will at all costs avoid their hotel restaurants in the future.
Looks the part, service ropey
Booked a couple nights stay in the MacDonald Swan Hotel using a promotional code. Two nights B&B for £190 for the two of us. Worth the money. The hotel was welcoming, warm and very traditional. Couple of downsides. Firstly, the service in general was tardy. There seems to be enough staff just not moving themselves. Secondly, £7.25 for two coffees with one piece of shortbread. Just seems expensive and tight.
Gardens were lovely, bar and couches very comfortable. I would recommend this place. Seemingly it would have been £300 without the promotional code. I would have found that too expensive.
Overall, worthwhile stay in a beautiful part of the Lakes.
Central touring point
After reading some of the other reviews here I was sceptical about the trip I had arranged. However, I must say that my experience must be classified as positive in terms of service. The staff were helpful and courteous to a level at least equal to that I have encountered elsewhere while holidaying in the UK. I do agree with some of the other comments here that the hotel was 'tired'. An old building such as this not easily extensively refurbished, but paintwork and carpeting are items more easly addressed. The accommodation was clean and the food fresh. Pricing was an area that I felt was a little above the mark. Overall, I would recommend a stay here on account of the atmosphere and proximity to the many attractions within the area. It proved a central touring location for the entire Lake District area.
we stayed in grasmere to celebrate st george's day (I know st george's day is april but better late than never... we are scottish after all!). In terms of location, the hotel is very well positioned right on the entrance to grasmere village. The communal areas of the hotel (bar, restaurant, reception) are very welcoming and in good order, however, I feel the rooms are past their best and could do with some investment... the heating in the room was very difficult to control and only the bottom half of the sash window opened (not ideal for a ground floor room!). The upholstery in the room was stained and soiled, the bed was too big for the size of the room and the general comfort level in the room was probably not value for money given that the room rate was £190 per night!
The breakfast very good but the service was not very well organised and we had to remind the staff that we hadn't been served... it seemed to us that, although there seemed to be plently of staff there were only a few actually doing their bit!
I stayed two nights at the Swan in July 07.
I was on a single room rate and the room and single bed were actually quite small. Amenities were otherwise fine although the decor probably needed a little sprucing up. The TV also needed updating as it had a wire aerial on the top so the reception on all channels was fairly poor.
The public rooms were very nice however and the bar area had a nice gastro-pub feel. I also enjoyed the breakfast where the cooked dishes were freshly made to order. Staff were friendly.
I have stayed in the Lake District many times and normally in Bowness or Ambleside. As such, I found the location on the outskirts of Grasmere a little too quiet and would prefer a location where it was easier to walk out to places to eat and drink in the evening rather than have to take the car. Having said that, there are lovely views of the fells from here and there are good walks right on the doorstep.
It's probably also worth noting that there is no T-mobile phone reception either in the hotel or in a mile or so radius.
Overall the hotel represented quite good value for money, given the extremely high rates charged by other hotels in the area during peak season.
This hotel has an identity crisis!
It's not a country house hotel (despite the Macdonalds website impression), it's not a country pub and it's not a B&B.
We had a disappointing stay. We booked a quality break using their website and got a terrible room (Room 2). We were told it couldn't be changed so we had to suffer being in a room directly above the dorrway where the kitchen staff smoke, chat and move the bins around.
The room itself was clean but contained cheap furniture - two shelves broke in the 3 days we were there. The beds were uncomfortable and the bathroom was so small that the sink is in the bedroom!
Breakfasts were poor - the chef couldn't poach an egg properly despite several attempts.
Restaurant menu was impressive but the food didn't quite live up to expectations on the night we dined.
One good point - the staff were genuinely helpful and friendly.
We won't be returning.
we stayed 2 nights the service from start to us checking out was excellent.we had a delux room which was very very comfy. lots of fluffy towels and robes for extra comfort. The staff could not do enough to please us.The food was fantastic.This hotel we were informed is having a few million spent on it soon so we will look forwood to going back.
Service secon to none
We stayed at the Swan with our 2 german pointers - not expecting a great deal from a 3 star hotel.
What a great time we had - the staff are exceptional, the hotel warm and comfortable - no one could do enough for us - dinner and breakfast could be served in a special room so that the dogs could sit with us! Breakfast porridge and kippers were good.
The manager gave us coffee whilst we read papers on Sunday with some visitors - complimentary - my friends are all going to saty there next time they go to Grasmere - dinner at the Jumble Room was excellent too.
We were expecting a 'country' hotel but actually found a hotel that is trying to be upmarket but not entirely suceeding. Food and drink prices were very high and the menu rather limited. We visited the week after New Year which meant that it was very quiet. We went out one night to return at 10 to find the front door locked and all the staff in bed. However, the staff were very friendly. Bedroom was nice (room 18) and they were very accomodating with our enormous dog! Overall, a nice place but overpriced....
a lovely hotel
We have just returned from a 4 night break at the Swan and had a lovely time.
We have stayed in Macdonald Hotels before and after reading the previous reviews we went with an open mind.....
Firstly, the staff are very friendly and helpful and couldn't do enough for us. The food and service was also good but typically at hotel prices!
I had read in a previous review that the hotel was due to be refurbished. The main reception/bar/restaurant area has been done and now looks like the standard we would expect from a Macdonalds hotel. This area has a relaxed feel to it and it was lovely to spend the evenings there.
We were told that they are slowly working their way through the hotel and the rooms will be done soon. The rooms were comfortable and clean but are dated so an upgrade is overdue.
Overall we were very happy with our stay and would return in the future. The hotel is situated on a main road just out of Grasmere village, the Macdonald Website pictures don't reflect this. However it is an ideal base for a stay in the Lakes. It is about a 5 minute walk into the village, which would be ideal in the summer months as parking could be a problem in the village.
Sabs & Sue, Sans Shoes.
Grasmere From Loughrigg