I have made a long report to take into account all the facts.
I had to book at quite short notice and unfortunately this was the only hotel I could find near the meeting I was attending. I stay in hotels for over 100 nights a year and as such am well aware that most hotel websites lie about the facilities that are offered and so take what is shown with a pinch of salt and a gut feeling. I was apprehensive about this hotel especially having seen that there was only one review and it was to avoid it... now I know why!
On arrival the outside looked pretty grim and uncared for, and the full noise of the M4 roaring past about 250 yards away did not bode well for the sinking feeling that was growing. The hall was smelly. My partner went to the desk and absolutely no formalities were confirmed. The entrance hall is tired with a coloured glass bauble imitation fire in the grate, and the stair carpet is worn and threadbare We were shown upstairs to our room (room3) the room had recently been painted to a very poor standard, however it was clean, dry and didn’t smell! The en-suite shower room is tiny and if I had been a size larger I doubt that I would have been able to get into the corner shower. I am a size 18. (We ran out of hot water on the first morning, which I did not report at the time).
I had a quick look at the bar area which has just been redecorated and was a cold tiled floor with café style tables and chairs and about as welcoming as an igloo. I guess its easy to wash over with a mop though. So we avoided that and went into the dining room for dinner. This is reasonably well decorated with unimaginative contemporary furniture tightly fitted into the room. There was only one other person in the dining room at the time, it still took over 25 mins for our meal to arrive. The food was very good. (The management claims that he was full that night) as the bar only had 1 guest in it and at breakfast the following morning there were only a couple of people were in the dining room (peak-time 8-8.30) – I suppose they must have all been eating elsewhere. Breakfast took 20 mins but was again good. The staff members serving in the dining room at all times were pleasant and helpful. (thank goodness).
We stayed a second night because to be frank, we were too tired after our business day to seek out anywhere else.
Dinner the second night… I asked for a Ceasar Salad with chicken as a main course. Ceasar Salad is a dish with crisp torn lettuce, dressed with an anchovy dressing, parmesan cheese and crisp croutons, and a little chicken. What arrived was soggy chopped lettuce with tomato, fat filled croutons and a lump of chicken sliced on top, no sign of any parmesan or anchovy dressing. I started to say this to the waitress who said I would probably find the cheese under the lettuce! It wasn’t there. She brought me some parmesan on a saucer.
I was woken up during the night by the night porter ringing the phone at 1.30am. I was not impressed.
Breakfast on day 2 was good but again slow…. 20 mins. There were more guests in the dining room.
On departure.. the manager wandered to the reception with a phone clamped to his ear and asked what I wanted… I asked for the bill and was presented with a lump sum amount. I asked for a breakdown and the manager was very irritated that I asked to see the breakdown in front of other guests and left it to a colleague to try and decipher the shambled list – even she had a problem. There was a 10% service charge added to the first nights dinner bill. This in my view is discretion for the client to make – not the hotel! I refused to pay it. The colleague and I settled on a figure and we completed our transaction. On return home in the evening I was greeted with an email from the manager saying that he had ‘waived’ the service charge – however due to a miscalculation he had charged my credit card with £4.05 which was outstanding. (poor addition) and that he had run a successful business for 23 years on that site. He did however give a list of the charges which were correct.
I responded by thanking him for his note and reiterated that it would have been more helpful if he had done this at the time rather than be openly annoyed that I was questioning this in front of another guest. I had no objection to paying for anything that was outstanding, but was not prepared to pay extra for a service charge when I was already paying £90 for little more than a 2* hotel. I also asked if it had been so successful why there was only one dreadful review on TA
He replied sarcastically that he was full all week – and that he was sorry but we weren’t a priority … we could put our views wherever I like and to concentrate on living our lives and them to run theirs and thank God we wouldn’t be gracing them with our royal presence again! I certainly agree with that comment! So why was a resident not a priority at dinner? I thought that this was the essence of running a hotel. I certainly won’t forget my stay!
On their website it states that customer care and service are the priorities of the current owners who have been there for almost twenty years, establishing an excellent reputation in this period. Furthermore the staff at the Datchet Mead would make our stay one to be relished and recalled with fondness
It also says that the bedrooms have all been, recently, refurbished to a high standard, this in my view be a question of debate; hurriedly painted is a more accurate description