Travelling to London to enjoy a west end show/dinner package, we were swayed away from our normal city centre favourite Jolly St Ermin's by an incredible offer at the Hartsfield, a few miles south of London near to Gatwick and the M25.
The De Vere website shows two types of room, one classed as a contemporary manor double. The only bedroom photo shows a large bright and airy room with large bay window, covered bench at the bottom of a large king size bed, lofty ceilings and chandelier. Perfect for a romantic trip. The exterior and interior photos of the manor are also extremely inviting and classy. In the website's gallery, the site also repeats the picture with a caption suggesting "our 50 rooms have been recently refurbished to reflect the charm of Hartsfield Manor".
And due to the exceptionally good mid-week offer for a two night stay, we paid the extra for the contemporary manor double.
On arrival, the hall was everything it promised, large rolling lawns, stately mansion and panelled reception and staircase. Once past the fire doors, the hotel takes on a more drab, tired persona.
With no lift, the third floor room offered presented great difficulties for my wife with mobility issues, but to my horror, the attic room allocated bore NO resemblance at all to the advertised photos, with dark furniture and decorations, tiny windows and low sloping ceiling - quite oppressive.. I immediately negotiated once more the very narrow staircase to visit the reception, to inform them of their mistake. No mistake. This was apparently a contemporary manor double. However, they did kindly offer to move us one floor down to another contemporary double, which was a little larger.
Armed with ipad (the hotel at least does have a slow but working wifi connection) I returned to reception and demonstrated the photo. "Oh yes, that's our executive suite", which apparently wasn't available due to a wedding booking.
Dinner was satisfactory if not over-priced, the dining room would benefit from a little TLC (note the broken light shades over our table), and the room was comfortable, but we were so thoroughly disappointed it completely ruined our trip away, and we sorely wished we had spent the extra money and returned to the St Ermin in Westminster.
At checkout we spoke to the manager who said they would ask for the website to be updated, and said that actually we could have been upgraded to the exec room the previous evening.
Disappointed with the hotel staff's nonchalant attitude, I wrote to both DeVere and DeVere Venues in November, but did not get a satisfactory reply until January. The manager's explanation is that there is a range of styles of contemporary manor double, the executive room being one of those that could be offered (note there is no executive double on the website - you cannot deliberately book that room). So it's a bit of a lottery what you get.
We did eventually receive an offer of a single night's stay back at the hotel, but clearly this was of no interest as we do not visit Surrey often. We asked if they would extend this offer to a De Vere hotel, but that could not be arranged as apparently De Vere Venues is a different company to De Vere and while they are part of the same group, they do not interact commercially. Eventually De Vere offered a stay in one of the other Venues but then qualified this by listing a number which did were not included in the offer. De Vere seem to have missed the fact that our Christmas present was ruined by this experience, and a single night stay did not really compensate. Needless to say I have not taken them up on their offer and De Vere, once a favourite of ours, is now firmly on the NO list.
Incidentally the website hasn't been modified, and trading standards have been informed.
If this sounds like sour grapes, then I suggest you visit the website for yourself and then compare this with the photos posted with this review. I would post their original website image but no doubt that would breech copyright and be removed by tripadvisor. Decide for yourself whether you are receiving what you think you are paying for.
Disappointing outcome to what was a very promising stay. Which all goes to prove, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is...
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- Also Known As:
- Hartsfield Manor, Betchworth Surrey, UK
- Hartsfield Manor Hotel Betchworth