My partner and I selected this hotel for our first ever holiday as a new family with our 6 month old baby. Having been through a bit of a stressful time adjusting to life as parents we looked forward to playing with the little one, putting our feet up and maybe enjoying a glass of wine over a meal.
On arrival at the hotel we were welcomed in a friendly manner. While parking at the front of the hotel is not free, when we explained that we had a lot of stuff to unpack the porter helpfully offered to drive the car to the rear (staff) carpark for us as this was much nearer to our room, while my partner and i, with baby in tow were given a lacklustre but nevertheless helpful introductory tour of the hotel and its main facilities.
We were then shown to our room, which was a lovely suite formed from two rooms which had been linked together. Soon after, the affable porter (Ken) appeared and kindly helped to bring in some of our luggage.
Having unpacked and started to relax we decided that we would quite like to have our meal delivered to our room for our first night. The room service menu offered little choice and appeared to offer little value, with prices appearing on the extortionate side. For example: Sandwhich - £15 & Fish & Chips - £22.
Undeterred by the price, my partner and i both cajoled room service into providing food from the restaurant menu and opted for the haddock and mushroom risotto to start with steak to follow. The risotto arrived first and in good time. It appeared the usual affair, large plates under large silver domes. We were initially disappointed to find that the large plates were actually bowls with a miniscule dished section in the centre - the ammount of food seemed inadequate. What followed was further disappointment when we found the risotto rice was undercooked and therefore hard to the bite.
Room service phoned to see if we were finished - a really good idea for timing second courses we thought - however, it still took some time after this for our steaks to arrive. When they did, my rare steak was a real let down. It seemed to have been dried out by reheating under a grill and tasted like it had been cooked in dirty oil. Coming from the north east of scotland we are perhaps spoiled by good beef, cooked well. This offering fell far short of my expectations. All the more as this hotel has been held in high regard for its food and this further reinforced by its pricing strategy. I ate the steak as i would have gone hungry otherwise, but raised the issue with reception the following day.
When the chance came the following morning for the kitchen to redeem itself, my partner ordered smoked haddock and curried rice dish. She found the rice tasting awful and the fish to be raw in places. It was promptly sent back. I on the other hand went for the cumberland sausage dish which was by all accounts fine.
Before we left for the day we raised the issue with reception who took note of my concerns and said they would take this up with the kitchen. To be honest, i felt a little let down as i don't believe food of this standard should be leaving a kitchen with two rosettes. But perhaps time has passed and standards have lapsed.
The remainder of our five night stay we dined out. One of the objectives of our holiday was to eat at and perhaps drink at our chosen hotel, but this was clearly not possible due to the standard of the food. We tried the Swan Inn hotel a couple of miles down the road and found the menu exciting, varied and very very good - both in terms of quality and value for money. We opted to dine there for the remainder of our hoilday. we even enquired about suite availabity at the Swan Inn. If they'd had a suite, we would have checked out and stayed there on the spot. But this was not to be.
So, we didn't take the opportunity (risk?) of dining in either the hotel restaurant or the brasserie for the rest of our break, which was a shame, but not a chance either of us were prepared to take. We did use the swimming pool which was nice and quiet. We took drinks in the conservatory a couple of times and found this to be for the best part pleasant although the in-house pianist for entertainment is perhaps a bit of a jaded concept, tinkling out jazz variations of old rags.
For the best part when the staff broke their icy exterior and showed some personality the place seemed to take on a new light. I think hotel management should look to their staff to do more of this, as this can really make or break a hotel. For the best part the staff we dealt with were friendly, couteous and personable, but i couldn't help but feel that the atmosphere was lacking and that this was down to management's expectation that staff should be seen and not heard. Come on, it's not the victorian era anymore!
Just to reinforce, Ken and the housekeeping staff were particularly friendly, helpful and made our time at the hotel memorable.
FInally, on our last night we sampled the bar and found the snug to be a lovely little room, but again lacking clientelle or atmosphere. The barman seemed eagre to talk to us and we wondered how long he'd been in there looking for customers to serve/chat to!
All in all, the Lakeside is a good hotel, with some nice things that make it good, but with little things that let it down, made all the more intolerable by our lost faith in the ability to provide wholesome food.
I am no hotel manager, but i would urge management to rethink their pricing strategy and get back to basics on the food front. Why not dine out at the Swan Inn and see what they are doing? For the four nights we ate there, they got it right every course, every night.
Gummers Howe Suite was very nice and provided ample space for our needs. A bit of a walk from recept...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.