This is our second visit to the Priest House, but it will also be our last unfortunately. When we last visited it was an independent hotel, now it is part of the Hand Picked Hotels group and whilst being a chain isn't always a good thing, one thing I hope for with being part of one is consistency of service. This was not in evidence during our stay from Friday to Sunday on the Download festival weekend (we stayed during the festival last time as well).
First to the basics. We booked an executive double with breakfast included and the bedroom itself was fine. It was pretty small and it did feel there is a large part of the hallway that is a complete waste of space leaving a rather snug bedroom. The bed wasn't great (very soft) but OK and the bedding was nice. The bath shower combo (one of my pet hates as you will see in previous reviews) was a little awkward to position yourself in for some reason but it was clean. There was a huge unsightly crack at the base of the sink (see picture) but it didn't detract from what was a nice modern, if again rather small bathroom. The air conditioning worked very well and the tea and coffee facilities were much appreciated, as were the full sized towels (we're used to American serviettes!)
The 'free Wi-Fi' was pretty pointless. We couldn't connect in our room (No. 40) and the only place we could actually get a signal was in the bar. If I was here to work I would not have been impressed. The staff are very friendly but in the main they are ineffective and not very helpful, the exception to this was the guy who checked us in on the Friday afternoon.
Examples of the poor service that we received include returning at 11.30pm on Friday night, calling the number stated on reception and getting nobody for what felt like an age. Eventually a guy appeared and provided us with our key and checked in an understandably annoyed lady who had been waiting as well.
Breakfast is lovely, but waiting to get it can be hit and miss. On Saturday we were seated fairly quickly but served by an overly familiar guy who seemed more interested in chatting than providing us with food. As a result despite ordering two breakfasts, my husband's turned up very quickly but after waiting for 10 minutes, it became apparent that mine wasn't. Chatty man had been in and out but neglected to realise the error, when I asked, apparently the kitchen couldn't read his writing and decipher a 1 from a 2 as our orders were the same!
Sunday morning was worse; four separate parties were waiting in the dining room with no service or person to be seen for at least 10 minutes. We seated ourselves and waited patiently only to see two staff members eventually walk past the doors, look in and then hear people in the kitchen but still have nobody come to serve us. Eventually someone did come in and one of the guests gave the staff a piece of his mind for the wait and lack of service, good for him. They subsequently managed to mess up his order as well - not good!
On Saturday night we arrived back around 11pm and yet again nobody was about and despite calling the number, nobody came. When the (same) night person eventually showed up I asked him if there was any chance that we could extend our stay by another night. Rather than check, he merely shrugged his shoulders, said 'I doubt it' and suggested I ask in the morning - completely unsatisfactory as I needed to make alternative arrangements, which I did. He made no attempt to look for me and clearly couldn't be bothered.
The reason that the service and staff are so lacking in this hotel appears obvious. They are completely focussed on weddings which appear to be the hotel's bread and butter (and also accounted for hideous music blaring out until 12.30am on both nights). In my opinion they need more staff to actually pay attention to those who aren't part of a wedding party. The hotel is not cheap and it sells itself on its location and its service and if it wants to retain non wedding business, in my opinion, it needs to reassess.
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- Also Known As:
- Priest House Hotel Castle Donington
- Priest Hotel Castle Donington
- Priest House Castle Donington, United Kingdom