Had Living Social deal booked for 2 nights with my best friend. Arrived to friendly reception from Lindsay (she turned out to be a real gem). There was a young Scottish man also there, who had guided us in by phone when we had trouble finding the place. He stood and watched as two women, one of a certain age (me) heaved our luggage up the stairs to our room, nice! There was only one set of towels in the bathroom and one bedside lamp in our twin bedded room. This was reported and rectified later, although we were handed the items rather than have them placed in the room. The attic room was pleasant enough, tired and bad paintwork, but the beds were very comfortable. At dinner, the Fawlty Towers experience really kicked in. My friend enquired of the very young Spanish (I think) waitress what were the summer vegetables served with the lamb rump.She left, looking puzzled, then returned from the kitchen and happily informed us, "yes, they are vegetables". Trying again, we asked her which vegetables. Another trip and she came back with the info. We had the scallops starter to share - these were three very large king scallops, slightly undercooked but very nice all the same. The only other diner in the restaurant then had a trio of desserts in shot glasses delivered to the table only for them all to be overturned on delivery! The lamb was duly ordered alongside my wild mushroom risotto. The lamb was cooked pink just as desired and very flavoursome; my risotto was rather over garlicky and too cheesy but pleasant enough. In the middle of eating our main courses at approximately 8.45pm the same waitress returned and informed us that if we wanted dessert we had to order now or not at all. The chef was leaving. As last orders for dinner were supposed to be 9.30pm we were rather bewildered, and the lack of English speaking skills from our waitress didn't help. We promptly lost interest in desserts. On requesting to speak to the manager, we were told that there was no-one available present. I believe there are supposed to be three managers here, so we were puzzled and unimpressed to say the least. Lindsay, the lovely receptionist came to speak to us and apologized profusely, offered us another bottle of chardonnay which we'd had to accompany the dinner and she promised she would inform the manager who would be there the next morning. Subsequently, with other diners in the room, whilst we were again in the middle of eating (Full English breakfast for her, overcooked kippers for me) the manager appeared and apologized for the previous night. He informed us why the chef had left so abruptly - he had received sad personal news. We said that had that been explained properly to us the night before, we would have been more understanding about it. He then went on to share his own personal sad news which we didn't particularly wish to know and was none of our business. There was an eleven year old girl helping to serve us both days at breakfast, the manager's relative apparently, and although she was polite and charming I don't think it promotes a professional approach. This hotel obeys the unwritten rule of most establishments by the way. It doesn't matter how much you request well done toast, you will get slices of bread that may have been toasted one side if you're lucky, and the butter is served on a saucer, two teeny slivers at a time.
We spent an amazing day in Oxford (wonderful city) and arrived home very tired and footsore. Sitting in the bar area we were chatting pleasantly to four other guests (two of which had almost decided on packing up and going home early after a disastrous dinner in the hotel restaurant). We were sipping more chardonnay and decided to order some bar food. From a fairly limited menu, I decided on the prawn sandwich with marie rose sauce having asked and been answered that it came in brown bread. My companion ordered a cheese ploughmans. The waitress (different from dinner) asked if I wanted marie rose sauce with the prawns. She explained that unless she wrote down exactly what to order, the chef would not work off the menu! For example, there was a ham & cheese omelette listed, but as she had only put omelette on a previous order, that's exactly what he cooked, a plain omelette! So, after sorting that out, we were served our food. A prawn and marie rose sauce in white bread and a hunk of stale bread with two mean slivers of cheese, a couple of slices of apple, and bizarrely a small tub of apple sauce. Incidentally, this came at the princely sum of £5.50 for the sandwich and £7.50 for the ploughmans! When I mentioned that I'd been told that it would be a brown bread sandwich, the waitress said she thought it would be and that was the last of the prawns. My friend pointed out that her bread was stale and hard, and we both refused the food. After a little while, the chef burst into the room with two plates, a brown bread prawn sandwich (presumably the other white one had been scraped out) and the cheese ploughmans with a warm hunk of bread which strongly resembled the original. He thrust the ploughmans at my companion stating loudly and aggressively that he made the bread daily and it wasn't stale. She pointed out to him that the first chunk had been stale and he simply repeated himself then flounced out. The bread was probably the same chunk moistened and then warmed through, as it was rock hard within minutes. We asked for the manager and was again told that there was no-one available. Lindsay came to the rescue (she must work incredible hours!) apologized, and asked if the manager had dealt satisfactorily with our original complaint, to which we had to say, not really. She said that we had to wait until the next morning to speak to the manager, quelle surprise. This time, at breakfast, the same manager as before, stuck his head in the dining room, saw us, glared and left! After eating, we looked in his office, but no luck. Going outside, there he was. My friend then asked if he had been informed of the previous night's event. He replied in the affirmative, said that he had spoken to the chef and then went silent. Our response was "and?" He then went into complete waffle politician speak, that he wasn't going to prejudge, he had to speak to his MD and then do this and that. We looked at each other astonished. When we pointed out to him that again that there had been no manager available the previous evening, that we were forced to seek him out, we were not interested in the internal affairs of his hotel and had not even received an apology he stopped making eye contact. He said that he didn't want to speak to us in front of other diners, and my friend promptly reminded him that he'd had no such compunction the previous morning. He rambled on again, apologized but kept wittering on about following Company rules and that he had apologized several times and that was sufficient. When I pointed out that both myself and friend had our own businesses and that our customers were not the slightest bit interested in our personal problems, they just wanted the service they had paid for he had no reply. This man is completely ineffectual and has no idea how to deal with disgruntled guests. With more staff like Lindsay, a proper management system and some TLC to the building, this could be a cracking little hotel. What a shame!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Hotel: A charming Oxfordshire country hotel, a wedding venue and award-winning restaurant. Our twenty-two bedrooms are all individually styled, Bignell Park Hotel combines charm and character with first-class facilities. Situated in the peaceful village of Chesterton, just minutes from the M40 motorway yet with unbroken views across the countryside, you could not be further from hustle and bustle. Catering for both the corporate and leisure markets, our service is unobtrusive yet always attentive... For both business and pleasure, Bignell Park is the ideal location as a hotel. Only 2 miles from Bicester Village Outlet Centre, the perfect location for relaxing with a glass of wine after a hard days shopping. At Caparo Hotels, we believe that business should be a pleasure and peaceful pleasure is the best regeneration. English heritage: Situated in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside and enjoying magnificent views, the Bignell Park Hotel offers quality hotel accommodation and is the perfect location for exploring the very best of English heritage and beauty. So whether you join us for business or pleasure, we think you will want to stay at the Bignell Park Hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bignell Park Chesterton
- Bignell Park Hotel Chesterton, England, UK