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Reviewed February 26, 2014

Although this was the first time we had stayed overnight at Cottage in the Wood, we have visited on a number of occasions for Sunday lunch over the years. For special occasions it has been our venue of choice and we have both recommended and brought relatives here when we have wanted to impress, as both the stunning views from the restaurant and the fantastic quality of food, has ensured we have returned time and again over the years.

It had been a while since our last visit and we were long overdue a return, so when we spotted a Living Social deal which offered a one night stay including breakfast, a bottle of wine and £20 per room towards the cost of dinner, we thought it was too good to be true.

Let me start by saying that not everything about our stay was negative - firstly the plus points.
Our room in Pinnacles (number 26) was lovely with lots of thoughtful touches. We brought our dog with us and found that the pet friendly room included a doggy bowl, dog bedding and even bonios and poop scoop bags (also the room is helpfully on the ground floor and has direct access to the courtyard and woodlands) so was handy for the 3am loo visit - the dog, not us! The home-made shortbread in the room, the offer of proper fresh milk from the nearby fridge on the first floor for those who don't like UHT pots - all lovely little additions.
Based on the quality of the accomodation alone I would have given 5 stars and an 'excellent' score for our visit.

Sadly our stay was let down by the dinner menu which was uninspiring. I have read other reviews and I note that some other visitors have really enjoyed dinner at Cottage in the Wood recently. Each to their own of course - we are all individual in our expectations and what we feel constitutes a good meal. However our group of four found it very difficult to find anything on the menu to tempt our tastebuds. Some of the flavour combinations just seemed too conflicting, the menu overall felt very heavy with too much emphasis on gamey flavours and and the overall impression was, I'm afraid, of a chef trying very hard to impress but not quite getting it right.

There was nothing from the selection of starters that I really liked the sound of which I have to say is extremely unusual for me. When I visit a restaurant I am usually so spoilt for choice that I could happily work may way through the entire menu list. Not so here. We read and re-read the menu trying to find something - anything - to tempt our taste buds.

After much deliberation My partner chose wood pigeon but wished he hadn't. He described it as akin to eating overcooked very strong, tough liver. In desperation I chose the carrot and ginger soup which was nice enough but frankly I cannot remember the last time I had to resort to soup as usually there are so many other starter options to tempt me. My mother and daughter both passed on starters after finding that the only option they fancied - roast tomato soup, had gone (obviously there was a big 'run' on soup that night - perhaps the other guests felt similarly about the other starter options!)

Main course choices were similarly uninspiring - three of us chose the gressingham duck which was passable but not amazing. Mine in particular was rather tough and I passed on this information to the waiter at the end of the meal - annoyingly there had been no 'check back' to ask if all was well part way through our meal - the waiter apologised and muttered that he would pass on my comments to the chef. The advertised 'fondant potatoes' to accompany the duck turned out to be two tiny thimble sized potatoes which appeared to be roasted rather than fondant. The carrot puree was just that - okay but again nothing amazing.

My husband ordered the salmon and mussel ragout served with lobster and crab tortellini - again it turned out to be nothing special. A slab of salmon served on a bed of shredded vegetables and the lobster and crab tortellini turned out to be a single ravioli sized parcel and wasn't particularly flavoursome.

Desserts - again, we all scratched our heads. There was little to tempt us, no wow factor.
Three of us opted for the cheeseboard which had an amazing selection of cheeses but we twice had to ask the waiter to replenish the biscuits which were rather a meagre portion. My daughter opted for chocloate sensations which she enjoyed.

At the end of our stay we filled out the guest questionnaire and passed on our comments to the receptionist who showed genuine concern regarding our comments about the dinner menu.

Would we return? - yes but on a B&B basis only. I am genuinely sad to say that unless the food improves we would probably dine out elsewhere and I don't make this comment lightly as in the past we have had some genuinely wonderful meals at Cottage in the Wood. I'm not sure what has happened recently but it is no longer on our list of top places to eat out.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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1  Thank Helen N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pattinfamily, Owner at The Cottage in the Wood, responded to this reviewResponded March 4, 2014

If you are sad so are we. The menu that you ate from has been well received, so I'm at a bit of a loss to know what went wrong here. There have been no changes to the chef brigade for some years now and with the same head chef for 15 years or so. So, I'm sorry that the food elemnt of your stay was unsatisfactory and therefore your break not the crowning success that it should have been. To err is human and we do try to exceed expectations whenever we can. I'm sorry we let you down.
John

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Reviewed February 25, 2014

We could not really fault this hotel in terms of service, comfort, cleanliness and style. The cuisine was excellent and reasonably priced. The view from our bedroom was awesome. Also it was just a short walk from the hotel to the Malvern Hills. A good family-run hotel where each guest is made to feel special.

Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
3  Thank BillandMaryJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pattinfamily, Owner at The Cottage in the Wood, responded to this reviewResponded February 26, 2014

Many thanks for posting a review. We are delighted that you enjoyed the food, service and views and hope very much to welcome you again in the near future!

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Reviewed February 20, 2014

We cannot rate this hotel highly enough from the comfort of our room to the friendliness of the staff and that is without mentioning the excellent meal we enjoyed in the restaurant. We would certainly like to return, with friends and family so that we could share the experience and enjoy walking on the Malvern Hill again.

Room Tip: We had a room in the Pinnacles, and what it lacked in view it more than made up for in comfort and style - apart from which we had enjoyed views all day from walking on the hills, and you can't see much at night anyway! I was very impressed that for a last-minute booking we had such a spacious room with beautiful, well-designed soft furnishings, incredibly comfortable bed and large bathroom.
  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank pb7Somerset
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pattinfamily, Owner at The Cottage in the Wood, responded to this reviewResponded February 24, 2014

Thank you so much for posting your review. We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay, especially as it was to mark a special celebration! We look forward to welcoming you again in the near future.

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Reviewed February 18, 2014

Positives - great views! The Tourist Information chap told us you could see a long stretch of the M5 lit up for the length of the horizon but as my partner pointed out with views this extensive why bother looking for a motorway (fair point & couldn't see it anyway).

The chance to walk on the hills could not be closer. A path next to the main hotel leads straight up. Absolutely ideal. For a walking holiday this location is simply superb but if you want to explore (as we did because it was too wet) all the views around, wells, fountains, buildings and the town (rubbish, except for the priory) it is also ideal.

Our room was in the actual 'cottage' which is the diminutive building of the three but it as cute, warm and so very comfortable with lovely views from the window. A contented sleep indeed.

Negative - the food in the hotel restaurant is okay but not special. I had ox cheek which was very tender but a thimble-full amount is cheeky (and too dry) when served only with mash and a couple of veg so I was left wishing I had ordered the copious fish risotto which the table to my left had. I'd have been content to eat their leftovers, so pitifully small was my offering on the plate. The bread, made on the premises is sublime. Forget the main. Just grab as much of their mustard bread with lots of butter and order a starter. Best bread on this planet. I struggled to persuade 2 small offerings from the miserable waiter but if you have more luck you will be kindly rewarded.

Now the sting - the wine...I simply will not return here because this aspect of the business is frankly an insult...if you want a bottle less than £40 they are all gone! A helpful list of wine that is no longer available is handed to you and guess what, they are the only ones you can afford so you are left having NO choice but to pay a premium price for a wine at dinner (or drink water) and I was very angry with this situation. The Vacqueras was a stunner though...

Last sting. The unexpected VAT charge. Even if you think you have booked a special offer forget it. The price quoted when you book is not what you pay and I suggest very strongly that when, if, you book at this establishment you ask for a very explicit final cost so you don't feel foolish and abused like we did.

In short, not the sum of its parts, a curate's egg. It trades off its location (why not?) and pretends to offer value but that is simply not true. For loaded people only. If it is a special occasion like ours (anniversary) go elsewhere. When a review tells you that for £300 you get a one night bed and some nice bread just avoid. What a pity...an afterthought, the breakfast was unsurpassed but weirdly no bread available other than the ubiquitous sliced variety disguised as toast.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank lee966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pattinfamily, Owner at The Cottage in the Wood, responded to this reviewResponded February 24, 2014

Thanks for posting your mixed review.
We are delighted that you enjoyed the views, comfortable Cottage room and your sleep.
However, we did have several wines out of stock and for this I apologise. With such an extensive list of over 600 wines, it is inevitable that some are out of stock. We always have our house wines available, of which there are ten to choose from and all under £20.
We include VAT in all our prices, so am not sure why this was a problem. We appreciate your honest comments so that we can maintain and improve standards which is always a challenge.

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Reviewed February 18, 2014

Cottage in the Wood in Malvern is set in an amazing location with fantastic views. The hotel was easy to find and the hotel staff friendly and considerate. They were especially helpful in redirecting us when we found our route diverted due to the flooding in the area. Our double room was comfortable and well equipped with everything we could need including a huge bath with good power shower above and extra touches such as fresh milk for tea making and shortbread biscuits which were delicious. We had a fabulous 3 course meal on the evening and a superb full English breakfast in the morning, both meals had at a table by the huge windows overlooking the wonderful view! It was altogether a relaxed and wonderful stay - and the hotel is dog friendly too! Perfect!

Stayed: February 2014
2  Thank mswheeldon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pattinfamily, Owner at The Cottage in the Wood, responded to this reviewResponded February 24, 2014

Thank you for your detailed and postive feedback. The 30 mile views are breathtaking on a clear day and we are glad that you managed to take advantage of a window table to enjoy them!
Kind regards. Maria

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