Friday, 16 May 2014

Hotel Review: Queen's Hotel, Cheltenham.

I was recently invited to go and stay at the Mercure Queen's Hotel Cheltenham, which is part of the Accor Hotel group. I've stayed at a number of Accor Hotel group hotels in the past, including more recently the Pullman Resort Bunker Bay. The 4* Queen's Hotel is part of Accor's mid-level Mercure hotels, and after reading decent reviews online, I was rather excited.

I asked one of my closest friends from school, Katie, along for a 'girl's night' as we've both been so busy recently we've barely had time to catch up. You may remember here from this blog post, when we had a night out at Dukebox in London. We headed off to Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon and after hitting some traffic we arrived at around 6pm, just in time to check in and grab some dinner before heading out to see what the nightlife of Cheltenham had to offer. 

From the outside the hotel is absolutely beautiful, and the interior of the hotel is also really gorgeous. Upstairs the wallpaper is 175 years old, really pretty, and the same wallpaper that's in the Houses of Parliament!

The lady at the check-in desk was really friendly, and we were soon in our room and unpacking the most important things for a girls night...Minstrels and Malibu. Duh.

...before jumping on this huge whopper of a bed!

We then ran into the bathroom expecting it to be a larger-than-life one judging by the size of the room, only to run into the wall. It was absolutely tiny, probably one of the smallest hotel bathrooms I've ever seen - even smaller than the ones in Paris! It was also in desperate need of an update, not only was it tiny, but the bath looked as though it had seen better days. The bathroom was so small I couldn't even take a photo of, anyone?

The bedroom was the opposite of the bathroom - big and spacious, with a small living area, large wardrobe, TV, and a mini bar with complimentary soft drinks. They also provided a robe and slippers...however there was only one robe, and one pair of slippers...and as there were two of us this meant we had to have one slipper each and take it in turns with the robe. Hey ho, at least there was complimentary wi-fi! The room itself is in desperate need of an update and a lick of paint, it's all very dated, the huge floor-to-ceiling sash windows however made this room beautiful. 

We got changed and headed down for dinner, where I had a bit of a fried fish fest. Because dinner was included in our room rate*, we were only able to choose from the set menu. I was majorly craving fish, however the fish of the day on the set menu was salmon, and I don't do salmon, so I asked for the fish and chips off the full menu instead. The staff were lovely and very accommodating, and said that that was fine. I then spied the salt and pepper squid on the 'nibbles' part of the full menu, 'oh what the hell, can I have that as a starter please?', again, they were very happy to let me change their entire menu around.

The salt and pepper squid arrived and it looked delicious, however I couldn't taste any salt and pepper and the batter was so soggy I could barely cut them. This made my heart sink, as I started to dread my cod arrived...and sure enough...soggy. Egh. Katie had the leak and potato soup to start with and she said it tasted of pea soup. For mains she had the burger, and although the patty was good, the bun was incredibly dry (she covered it in mayo to try and hide the dryness).

Despite the poor starters and mains, the desserts were incredible. As you all know, my favourite dessert is the simple Creme Brulee, and I have to test it wherever I go. The Creme Brulee at the Queen's Hotel Napier Restaurant was probably the best Creme Brulee I've ever had (it was even up there with the RAC's Lavender one!). The top was so thick and gave the most beautiful 'crack', with the vanilla cream below lovely and cold and creamy - just how it should be. Katie had the Knickerbockerglory, which she said was well worth the extra calories.

We then went back upstairs to get changed and ready for Kukui just around the corner! As Katie's a student, I thought it was the perfect chance to take full advantage of acting like a student again myself, so we had a fair few Malibu and Coke's before heading to Kukui. Kukui is a tiki bar right in the centre of Cheltenham, and although it was awesome (good music, good/cheap cocktails, good atmosphere), I felt so old. *sob* However, we had a great night and it was lovely being able to just walk 5mins to the hotel and roll into bed!

Kukui Cheltenham Tiki Club
Breakfast the following morning didn't finish until 11am, and check-out wasn't until 12, so we planned for a relaxing sleep-in before slowly making a move to get up and start packing. While packing we noticed a Nespresso machine tucked away at the side of the TV stand - fancy!

We got down to breakfast at 10:30am, just in time for a a hot breakfast before they closed, to be told that they'd actually stopped serving breakfast at 10am that morning due to a wedding fair being held at the hotel...and they had failed to tell their guests this. We weren't the only people standing there expecting our breakfast to be turned away and told to go 'elsewhere', there were a few other people who weren't too impressed by this.

The restaurant manager tried to pass the blame over to the lady on the check-in desk who 'should have told us', but I'm guessing that it was miss-communication between the hotel staff and that they may have forgotten to tell her...especially as so many guests seemed to be misinformed. The hotel didn't know I was there to review them, however as the breakfast and dinner were included in the 'room rate' that their PR company booked, I queried with the restaurant manager what would happen if breakfast was included in the room rate we'd 'paid for' if we didn't eat breakfast? The manager told us that they could compromise and do us a favour by serving us cold cereals and fruits in our room. Cereal? Fruit? For Sunday breakfast!? In our dark room instead of the lovely sunny restaurant looking out over the pretty garden!? No thanks. 

We left bitter and disappointed, grabbed our stuff, checked out, and went to get breakfast elsewhere instead. By this time it was 11am and we didn't know Cheltenham, we had no idea where to get breakfast from or where would still serve it at 11am...the only place we had seen was a Weatherspoons next to Kukui the night before, so we went there. To be fair to Weatherspoons their Eggs Benny and hashbrowns was pretty damn good! But I couldn't get over the rudeness and cheek of the staff at Queen's Hotel, more than anything I'm disappointed that I didn't get to try the breakfast in their Napier Restaurant as according to reviews it's very good. If I was a paying guest I would have been absolutely fuming and demanded my money back, it just showed a serious lack of effort or care for their guests. 

Thanks for saving us Weatherspoons!

I think the Queen's Hotel is probably lovely if you get one of the modern and updated bedrooms with a larger bathroom, and if you get breakfast, however I think we may have just been unlucky in our experience. The service in the restaurant was very slow (it took two hours to have 3 basic courses), the room we were in needs a little modernizing, we could have done with a bathrobe and slippers each instead of one between us, and breakfast would have been nice. I'm really not sure how it's managed to hold down 4 stars - it certainly isn't up to the standards of any other 4 star hotels I've stayed in, but like I said, maybe we were just unlucky and caught them at a busy weekend.

*We received our room and dinner complimentary for review purposes. Despite it being complimentary this does not in any way influence my views, and everything I have said is my 100% honest opinion.

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