Dear, oh dear, oh dear! Whatever has happened to the Horse and Groom at Charlton since Marco Pierre White took it over?
My 6 friends, myself and my husband have stayed at the Horse and Groom in Charlton twice before and have never had anything to complain about – in fact quite the opposite – we have enjoyed our stays.
This year, however, since MPW has taken it over, was a complete litany of disasters.
We arrived on Friday, 26/07/13 and asked if we should check in. The person behind the bar said, “No, I don’t have your forms.”
The next morning, we all came down for breakfast at 9am and were served by a delightful, if somewhat apologetic waitress, whose task it was to tell us that there were only 2 sausages between the 6 of us who wanted the ‘full English’. She then left us to decide who the lucky recipients of the last available sausages would be. Strange, as the hotel had known we’d be coming for a whole year and could easily have predicted the necessary provisions.
The choice of cereals and juice was utterly unimaginative compared to previous years and there was no yoghurt or fruit. In fact the cereals available were reminiscent of a 1950s Blackpool B and B. This was Marco Pierre White’s place in 2013 for goodness sake!
We asked for the toast several times and it came out 4 pieces at a time, barely toasted.
The range of herbal teas was extremely limited.
When the breakfast finally came after an hour, the chef had somehow managed to make them all overcooked and yet barely warm, quite an achievement – the haddock and kipper were especially cool!
Each cooked English breakfast had 1 mushroom on it –and I’m not talking a Portobello mushroom here!
We had to ask for more mushrooms, marmalade and butter (which was rock hard).
At 10.30 we left the table. I asked to speak to the manageress and was told she was in bed!
I wrote a letter of complaint there and then as advised by Simon Calder and left it for her consideration at her leisure.
I know she received it as when the reservations manageress called me on our way home, she alluded to some of the things I had written. However, the manageress made no attempt to see us either that evening or the next morning or indeed at any time during our stay.
That evening, my friends asked if they could have a bar snack. The bar-man said, “No, we don’t do snacks.” No olives, nuts etc.? A kindly waitress took pity on them and found them some cheese and biscuits.
On Sunday morning we came down for breakfast at 9am, with some trepidation.
Actually, it was all a bit better, but there was no yoghurt and fruit, which I wanted, despite it being on the menu and we had to ask for the beans which were supposed to come with the English breakfast. The lovely young waitress said had she known she could have got some when she was getting the juice! (Why is the waitress doing the buying?)
Incidentally, the public Wi-Fi was pretty useless, the shower in room 2 did not work and the hot water was either scalding or cold. (Health and safety?)
There was an unpleasant smell by the back guest entrance and an empty dog food wrapper and dog bowls in that area by the kitchen. (Health and safety?)
On Sunday evening my friends came in at 10.45pm and asked for a drink. The young boy behind the bar tutted, rolled his eyes and threw down his car keys on the bar.
Again, a young waitress obliged.
Monday morning arrives – can it get worse? Yes, it can. The charming cleaner informs us there is no waitress, hence breakfast is unavailable. She could get us a cup of tea if we wanted? We said, “No, that’s ok – who do we discuss what we are going to pay with?” No, she couldn’t touch the till and when we again asked to see the manageress, we were again told she was still in bed. This was 9.20am by now. So, even if we had wanted to pay there was no-one to pay.
So this was hardly a moonlight flit. No-one checked us in or out. What kind of manageress of a hotel is still in bed at 9.30 am? A rather inexperienced one with no management skills who is clearly out of her depth, perhaps?
We then left and drove into Malmesbury, where we had to fork out £60 for breakfast.
On returning home, we looked at Tripadvisor and were very sad to discover that since MPW has taken control of this once excellent small hotel, the negative reviews, particularly about the residential experience, are piling up.
This is the first negative review I have ever had to write.
The superior room seems to be the only 1 with a good shower - watch out for the scalding water from...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.