Did I find anything positive about Aphrodites? Sadly, I couldn’t. You might say being there was like winning a glass of wine. Sounds lovely; until the realisation that you’re chained in a dungeon to drink it and there’s a slug in the glass.
On the hot summer day we stayed, my simple pleasure would have been to enjoy the sun in the “garden area” between slipping in and out of the pool. I consider that a reasonable and fair expectation for my £130 night’s stay, wouldn’t you?. A double door and then another door in the glass of the spa were standing open with the garden on the other side of the threshold but with a ‘no access’ rope across. When enquiring how to get in the garden we were told to walk back through the lounge, through the dining area, back through reception, out the front door, through the car park and round the side of the building (where people on the street could look in). I was so incredulous I asked “can we not just go through here?” and a voice behind us interjected, “you can’t go through there”, continuing, in a dismissive tone that implied ‘it’s obvious and you must be stupid for asking’ “it’s a fire door.”
It is not a fire door; a fire door is heavy and must remain closed at all times to prevent fire spreading. This was a patio door signed as an emergency exit (see images on website of the conservatory and gym areas). The instinct of a toddler understands every door is an emergency exit; the front door is an emergency exit, but clearly this isn’t to say it can never be used other than in an emergency, especially when it is already standing open and your ‘guests’ have paid £130 to enjoy what is on both sides of it. This was the first instant my partner and I felt disrespected and valueless as guests.
In the ‘spa’, when my partner asked for the “relaxation corner with gentle bubbles” (described in the information in our room as a ‘jacuzzi’) to be turned on, the woman said “it’s not a jacuzzi, just a relaxation area” – it did nothing; it was mis-sold lies.
The ‘sauna’ in the ‘spa’ was warm – maybe like a conservatory that’s had the full sun on it – but which is most definitely not a sauna. When I asked the woman if she’d show me how the sauna worked she came and quickly pressed a button before I could see her action – basically disregarded my request to have the controls explained. When queried about the temperature she relayed it was at the maximum allowed due to ‘health and safety’. A sign inside said ‘do not put water on the coals’. So fundamentally a wood lined warm room it not a sauna – it was mis-sold lies. Again.
Then came the total destruction of our anniversary night... the information in our room stated ‘robes are available’ but when I asked I was told there would be a charge, but that towels were available for such use in the spa. Not perfect but ok. So now, to get to the sunny garden from the pool to sunbathe, I need to travel through the building, as directed, in my supplied towel. As I signed out of the area I checked with the woman (for she is not a lady) if it’s ok to keep the towel with me to come and go and she told me “You’re not allowed; it’s policy.”. This was not only annoying, as the literature boasts they “recognise the importance of the responsibilities to manage the environmental impacts of the activities” and yet would rather launder a number of towels when one would suffice, but also embarrassing as I now had to take off the towel. So, in indignation, I continued on my way to the sunny garden, in bathing suit minus towel, and made it two steps before an acrid, venomous voice spat “CAN YOU DRESS BEFORE GOING THROUGH MY RECEPTION!”. Imagine the horror! I felt like a Victorian child who’d angered nanny. I put on my summer dress right there and was so upset I went not to the garden but to our room where, but three minutes later, my partner entered with shock on his face after also being belittled. He described how the woman had stopped him upon return from the pool, and virtually interrogated him, with tangible disdain, because he didn’t have his shirt on; repeatedly demanding, to the same answer, not once, not twice, but three times if he “had come down like that”. Then followed a lasting, staring silence. She then hissed at him; “cover yourself up”. There was no instruction anywhere of a dress code in the place that was our home for the night, and neither did any staff make such point. How dare this arrogant woman set herself so high and mighty against paying guests when she runs what’s described locally as ‘the sex hotel’.
Disgusted, we descended to reception and spoke to the woman about how terribly we felt she’d treated us. My partner is gentle, and I’ve never before ever known him raise an issue with anyone. She angrily denied any fault on her part, talked over us, said we’d “not listened to the rules”, that I was “aggressive” and “mumbled under my breath”. After paying £130 to be a ‘guest’, being lied to about the facilities, insulted and embarrassed in such a despicable way, I should think most people would consider ‘mumbling under my breath’ an understandable reaction and, as a paying guest, my every right.
Our experience was ruined and we wished to leave. We asked for our fee back but the woman denied it to us. We stood there telling her we wanted to go somewhere else because it was our anniversary and it was spoiled and she denied us. As soon as giving our money back arose she finally altered her tone from sharp to sweet, patronisingly telling me to “take a few breaths”, “have a glass of wine” (not that it was offered), and ‘they could order us a taxi to town if we’d like’. Hateful. She hijacked our money, cheated us out of the “haven of peace and tranquillity” we’d paid for, would rather have miserable people under her roof hating the place and ruin their short break than have the grace to, at the last, make any kind of attempt to make the situation good.
We’d only booked within the last 24 hours so little chance that trade would have been lost. We’d been in the building less than 1.5 hours.
As a matter of interest; the next morning another member of staff had a great row outside our window, finished the shouting with “you can shove it!” and marched away. We couldn’t see to be sure but the second voice sounded like that of the woman. What a happy place.
Even if the emotional upset hadn’t caused my dreadful night’s sleep the continuous noises, as something like a boiler kept rumbling on and off, made sure of it. Also there was only a piece of voile on the skylight above the bed, no blind, so at 6am the bed was lit up and even just resting was intruded upon.
We’d planned to pay the “small additional fee” for the extra 1.5 hours late check out but it was actually over 15% extra so we did not.
The pool was cold.
The fabric of the bedspread and headboard were tired, that of the cushion on the chair insulting, and the curtains cheap fun-fur fabric with neither lining nor hem.
There were no blinds on the windows, which could be viewed into from the car park, meaning, unless the curtains stayed closed we would have had to make sure we were covered up moving around the room – the amour had been killed already but would have suffered with this privacy issue.
The double sinks were cramped and could not be used as such – you couldn’t stand in front of one due to the box fixed to the floor as a step into the bath and the second was squeezed in so close to the wall with the towel rail on it that I scorched myself on it.
The tea tray was like that from a greasy-spoon café and was placed hiding a hole in the wicker table.
There was no light in the tiny sauna in the room, no water dish and it wouldn’t heat up – I didn’t bother asking for help with it as I couldn’t enjoy anything about the place anyway.
The complementary biscuits in the tin were already open and stale.
A super king bed is not right with only a king sized duvet on it.
The sound proofing between rooms was terrible. We could hear voices and other sounds from neighbouring rooms – had our ill treatment not already killed our anniversary stone dead I would have felt uncomfortable being amorous with my partner knowing the sound travelled both ways.
The times for using the facilities were restrictive – check in at 3pm, out of pool by 8pm and no entry to pool after 7pm. Firstly I feel 8pm is early to stop use of an expensive private spa but, beyond that, adding a last entry time of a whole hour before closure is simply unreasonable. Prohibited use of swirl baths between 10.30pm and 9am only means the sound proofing is inadequate.
Avoid Aphrodites. It’s a hateful place. We wished we’d read reviews before we booked.