Value Score No Data
Good For Couples
$300 AND $15 FOR A ‘FREE’ TRANSFER?
I thought I was booking a great hotel in a great location. I was half right. Horsley is a wonderful and picturesque village. The Hotel is staffed by a bunch of incompetent liars in my humble opinion. I saw this hotel as being set among historic grounds and that is was normally £200 ($300), but was on sale for just £55 ($80)! OK, repeat after me: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. It was. Not good. It seemed to start ok. I noticed that the hotel was a few miles from the train station, but they advertise a FREE shuttle service between the hotel and the train station. OK, let me repeat this – FREE. So I booked the hotel through hotels.com and I even rang the hotel to confirm they had a free shuttle service. On the day, the hotel actually rang me to ask what time I would be there. I guessed, but told them I would be there on a certain train. They reconfirmed my collection. Later I realised I was running late so I rang them and told them the later train time. No problem! They said they would collect me from the train station. Then the train was delayed. So I finally found a staff member on the train and he gave me the revised time. I rang the hotel – no problem.
So then I found myself at the small and deserted Horsey train station in the dark. Within a few minutes I was the only person there. So I waited. And I waited. Then I rang the hotel and they confirmed that the driver was on the way. So I waited. At some point I am thinking – I have had 4 phone calls with them and still no collection.
Then a young man with large silver Mercedes pulled up and opened the back of the car. I greeted him and checked he was my transport to the hotel. He said yes and off we went down dark roads. As we drove along this guy starts telling me all the repairs he has just had to make on the car. I mean detailed work, parts, and especially the prices. He seems to really want to explain how much money he has spent recently on the car. I found this whole arrangement unsettling.
Finally we arrived at the hotel and the guy doesn’t seem to want to open the back of the car so I can get my suitcase out. I am standing there waiting and he says “That will be £10 ($15) please”. I already found this guy smarmy and I kept thinking this is really not right. I told him that we needed to get the case out of the car and he finally opened the car for me. Then he asked for the money again. I said, let’s go to reception and we will get that settled there. He explained that he was in a hurry and needed the money. I kept thinking this guy is trying to scam me. I told him no, I will sort everything in reception. I went the wrong way at first as he had no intention of telling me where reception was. When I did arrive in reception he was right behind me. I asked to check-in after getting 2 people behind the desk to actually pay attention to me. A lady finally started to take my details when the driver asked for the money again. The lady stopped what she was doing. I explained to the driver that I had booked FREE transport to the hotel and in 4 phone calls no one had ever spoken to me about any changes to this arrangement. I then asked the lady top proceed with my check-in and issue my key. She did nothing of the sort. The driver began to whine and I explained that I had not booked him, or contracted him for work and I had no intention of paying him – or the hotel – for a FREE shuttle service. The receptionist then bizarrely joined in. She said I needed to pay! I told her no way and that I wanted to check-in. She and the driver started again with I needed to pay. I finally told the lady that I wanted my key – NOW. Nothing. I asked her to get a manager and a gentleman appeared. He also said that yes, it was £10. No way. I explained again that no one in 4 phone calls had mentioned that my FREE transport had been withdrawn. The manager then started having a 3 –way conversation with the lady and myself. It transpired that the normal driver (and his van) had fallen ill a few hours before. They also explained that hidden somewhere on their website that the FREE transport was not always available!
I explained to all 3 that I had booked on another website, that my reservation made no mention of possible to changes to a FREE service. I even handed them a printed copy of my reservation. Further I challenged them to show me in the website I used about FREE becoming £10. Still nothing happened and still the driver whined.
Finally after 10 full minutes the driver realised he wasn’t getting money from me and said something bizarre like “I am worried about you” and went to leave. I told him that he had nothing to do with me and he could go whine somewhere else. Did I finally get my key? No – not at first. I started to get the idea that they were not actually let me check in. Finally – after asking for about the 10th time, was I finally given my key.
At £200 a night I expected luxury. What I found inside was a very standard looking room from a 3-star hotel. The mattress was slightly below average when I tried it out and it proved to be so all night. The bathroom had the most damaged toilet bowl I have ever seen in a UK hotel. The tile floor also needed to be replaced.
I quickly changed clothes so I could enjoy their advertised gym and indoor swimming pool. When I finally found the ‘gym’ I found a flooded and nasty changing room and the ‘gym’. It was a large shabby room with threadbare carpet and a mixture of old pieces of equipment. After a run I went for the pool. And it was locked. EARLY. Yes, they had decided to shut it more than 30 minutes early that night. Great! So I went back to change for dinner. But guess what? Yes the Restaurant had also closed EARLY! I could sit in the bar and get bar food. No thanks. So I walked down the road and had a bad meal at the restaurant nearby. There must be something in the water here.
The rest of my stay was actually spent exploring the amazing historical grounds. Horsley Towers were erected by the Earl of Lovelace around 1856. His grand Victoria towers and other smaller buildings on the estate are majestic and full of character. They are definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
When I did check out the next morning, the new staff went stiff the second they heard my accent. Always nice to be talked about behind your back. When I asked about my FREE shuttle – they practically turned white. I was polite and they seemed confused by this, but then an older gentleman arrived in uniform. He was the normal driver. He was great. He told me a lot about the history of the property and the hotel. We had a great conversation and I left him with a tip at the train station.
I can highly recommend that businesses DO NOT use this hotel. With some of their advertised prices and odd behaviours, you can do better elsewhere. The UK is full of great old manors and even castles you can host your business events at. Why take a chance at having things close early with a very large group? This is a large hotel in a small village. The only other options are limited, although the nearby Duke of Wellington Pub is excellent.
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