We stayed here as 2 couples aged 24-29 for my birthday in the middle of October, arriving late on in the evening we managed to find The Malthouse quite easily despite it being dark.
We were greeted on arrival by one of the owners who was v.friendly and professional, explaining all that we needed to know throughout our stay and asking if we had any questions. We were each shown to our rooms which were excellent - ours had the four poster and was of a decent size with a large bathroom and a walk-in shower, excellent!
Breakfast the next day was as you would expect of a full English but with locally sourced stuff. It was served piping hot and was excellent! There was also a choice of fruit / cereal etc. so plenty to choose from.
Plenty of pubs in the area and most of them serving real ale. The Royal is just a 2min walk down the hill from The Malthouse and serves food up until 9pm which is handy if you arrive late in the evening such as ourselves. We went the first night and it was spot on. The second night we went for a meal at The Bulls Head Inn which was fantastic and relatively cheap. They have a small restaurant at the rear which seats about 40 people so you may need to book in advance although we didn't.
The Malthouse is only a short drive from Alton Towers Resort (less than 10mins) so we thought it would be rude not to go. we got the Towers 2 ticket for an extra day (£5) as we were there during 'ScareFest'. I would recommend the 'Zombies! Scare zone' and 'Nemesis Sub-Terra' the latter of which is at the park all year round!
One thing I will say is that I have been to Alton a few times and not always to go to Alton Towers - I always get the impression that although the village and the surrounding area benefits greatly from the nearby theme park, some of the locals don't seem to like to acknowledge it's presence (this is just a personal observation). As we were there late at night we could hear noise from the theme park, which I understand is a bone of contention amongst some of the locals. No noise to be heard from our fantastic room at The Malthouse of course.
All in all we had a fab time in Alton. It's a brilliant place to go even if you're not visiting 'the place what shall be named'.
Would I go to Alton again? Yes
Would I stay at The Malthouse again? Definately!
I hope I've covered everything and hope this helps!