The Talbot was full to the gunwales over the weekend of our stay. A month ahead, the Best Western (BW) website said no room at the inn. I called them anyway. They said that they did have a room. It was one of the last rooms available and my comments should probably be set against that.
The Talbot is in Leominster (pronounced ‘lemmster’), an architecturally attractive, though otherwise unremarkable market town in Herefordshire, surrounded by chocolate-box countryside. Goering didn’t redesign Leominster, so it retains examples of all styles from the past 500 years or so, which is pleasing. If you’re visiting by train, you needn’t go via Newport or Crewe; there’s a service from London to Hereford, whence it’s one stop (10 minutes) to Leominster. There are also direct rail links from Manchester and Cardiff.
This is a soundly run BW hotel, scoring in most departments. Being BW, it’s independent, saving us from the corporate facelessness of Holiday Inn et al. The AA gives it three stars which may err towards the munificent but I’ll not dissent. The building is ancient and thus architecturally very interesting (see ‘Goering’, above), with many original features. The restaurant scores highly and the members of staff generally are excellent.
I didn’t recognise the Talbot from the more scathing reviews and I wonder what these folk expect. If they want a 26-storey glass and steel box, with air-con, fawningly obsequious staff, a helipad, swimming pool and gym, then don’t go to the Talbot - or Leominster - that simply not what they’re about. The Talbot exemplifies the principal hotel in a provincial English town.
CHECK IN/CHECK OUT
Check in was seamless. They clearly have the right man for the job; he greeted us with a friendly smile, quickly found our reservation and processed us efficiently. When we left, the wireless POS terminal was playing up (see RF interference below) but, again, the receptionist (a young European woman) coped with aplomb, apologising but concentrating on sorting out whatever needed to be sorted out. Top marks, here, I’d say.
This was clean, attractive and invitingly-presented, with solid furniture and plenty of space and hangers in the wardrobe. There were wooden beams, structural and cosmetic. The latter had been attacked with a chisel to suggest that some artisan had toiled over them. You get tea ‘n’ coffee (and beezer bikkies), as you’d expect and they’d thoughtfully supplied a fan, which we needed, as it was stifling, even for June. Shared facilities included a shoe shining machine and a selection of confectionery, with an honesty box.
I wondered if our room was actually intended for single occupancy. There was only one tooth mug and while the bed was a double, it wasn’t huge. This impression was reinforced by the room’s greatest, er, idiosyncrasy, the bathroom.
There was no door, just a curtain and no extractor fan (you couldn’t rely on the windows). You’ve GOT to be soul mates to cope with that! Then there’s the comedy plumbing. Empty the washbasin and it starts to emerge through the bath plughole. Both bath and washbasin take an age to empty and then gurgle contentedly for about ten minutes, contemplating a job well done. There shouldn’t be a knack to flushing a lavatory; I found that it was in the wrist action. We got there eventually, though.
On comedy features, I think that the whole building has RF attenuation problems. While I could get a GSM signal, there was no analogue radio on the alarm/radio and the DTT suffered constant interference, even on the radio channels. I wonder if this is why the POS terminal had problems. If not Ghostbusters, I think they need to call a radio engineer.
The main problem (largely outwith their control) is noise. The room faced the front and was only one floor up. She Who Must Be Obeyed (who knows about these things) said that the disco opposite was playing some kicking tunes. It did so about until 2.00 am, whereupon, the plastered youth of Leominster turned out, with their industrial language at 120 dB. This was followed by our neighbours, as they got in at about 2.30am. Interesting conversation they were having, too, audible as it was through wafer-thin walls.
Both the bar and the restaurant impressed and, again, the staff shone. The lad who greeted us was affable and sensible but without obtruding. He obviously knows his customers, as we were left to select from the menu over a drink in the bar. We were called to table when our starters were ready. All the while, they also had a big party (15+ covers) to serve. They did that at remained attentive to us.
The dinner choices were varied and included red meat, white meat, fish and vegetarian (wot that?). The wine list could do with some expansion but any list that features Grüner Veltliner can’t be all bad. I do wonder if Chef needs to curb his enthusiasm. The dishes were exquisite but, really, vanilla sauce (‘jus’) with halibut? And what, exactly, is basil custard? The Monty Python Recipe Bok springs to mind. That didn’t detract from an excellent meal, though.
If I’ve any comment, it would be to have a second member of staff available to pitch in at the bar when it’s busy but that’s only a half-suggestion.
Breakfast offered imaginative and varied fayre. It was again served attentively. More marks scored here.
Hmmm. £100 per night for two sharing in a 3-star in the provinces is Croesus territory and did not represent value for money. There again, £60-odd for three courses with wine was almost giving it away, given the quality of food, wine and service.
If asked about accommodation in Leominster, I’d say that you could do significantly worse than the Talbot. Would I stay there again? Yes.
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- Also Known As:
- Best Western Leominster
- Leominster Best Western
- Talbot Hotel Leominster, United Kingdom