We stayed five nights at the Grand Hotel Royal in October 2013 in a room with a balcony and view of the water. We were here to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary which we noted in our reservations online. All the Trip Advisor reviews about the furnishings in the room and hotel; the appearance of the exterior grounds; the pool and waterfront facilities; and the buffet breakfast are accurate for sure.
Upon arrival to our room we saw there were a half dozen pieces of ripe fruit in a straw gift basket. There was no note, so we were unsure if it was meant to recognize our anniversary. Separately, however, on the desk was a general note from the manager welcoming us to the hotel, but also not acknowledging our anniversary.
We had just spent five days in Rome and hadn’t anything to wear. Upon arriving at our hotel room in the evening, we had no choice but to wash some clothes in our room which we hung in the room to dry overnight.
With the clothes still wet the following morning, we asked the front desk where we could find a laundromat to dry our clothes. The front desk told us of one laundromat, which turned out to be at the farthest end of town (15 minute walk). When we arrived, it had a line waiting to use the machines and was very expensive. We headed back to our room with the wet clothes, and without any other known option we hung our clothes out on the balcony.
The first opportunity the hotel staff had to demonstrate that the elegance and refinement of this hotel was not confined to its furnishings, came when my husband was at the front desk just a few minutes later making an inquiry, and was told to remove the clothing that had been hung on our balcony. While chambermaid assistance was offered to help remove the clothes, there were no alternative solutions offered.
While we understand that it may have been “not very nice” to hang these items, we were in a tight spot because they did not dry at all in our room overnight. The hotel did not appear to be fully booked as this is now late October. Regardless, when a hotel guest does something that is deemed inappropriate, there is a way to address it to the guest without snobbery or condescension, and at the same time, leave them to resolve it on their own.
We did some digging online; discovered another Sorrento laundromat much closer to the hotel; less expensive; and not busy. Problem solved -- on our own, with more lost time, albeit without effective solutions from the hotel staff.
Later that afternoon we purchased a bottle of wine to enjoy on our patio. I took it down to the reception desk to get it opened and despite the fact that there were no hotel guests being waited on, I stood there, bottle in hand, waiting to be acknowledged. Finally, a staff person acknowledged me and then looked at the bottle I was holding; looked at me; looked at the bottle again, and when he said nothing, I asked if I could get it opened or get a corkscrew. He told me to go to the bar and ask the bar tender. I went to the back area of the hotel and saw the bar had not yet opened as there were no lights on. I walked through this bar and through the gardens towards the back patio and saw a waiter by the pool and decided not to chase him down. Rather, I went to the store and purchased a corkscrew.
Neither of these incidents soured us to the hotel; it did, however, refrain us from asking for directions, recommendations, or room service or having dinner in their restaurants. Even without the above two incidents, we found the reception desk staff while perfunctorily professional, anything but warm and welcoming to any questions a hotel guest may have. We walked in and out of the hotel countless times during our stay, and we are hard pressed to remember anyone going out of their way to greet us upon return or acknowledge our departure for the day or evening. Perhaps because it was shoulder season or approaching off-season, there was no bellman, doorman, or concierge present in the lobby area -- so the front desk personnel constitute the only human factor for making guests feel welcomed and taken care of.
These incidents were annoyances, but we did not consider them significant enough to complain to hotel management. However, after two nights at the hotel, we received a tri-fold questionnaire asking about our stay; it had our arrival and departure dates and room number and someone’s initials on the inside flap. We were impressed that they requested feedback during our stay and not at the end or after, so we went to the trouble of filling it out, and responded to their invitation to explain any issues or recommendations, which we did in a three page hand written attachment. Unfortunately, after submitting the feedback we never heard from anyone in the two subsequent days of our stay.
In our writeup we detailed the issues above and restated that when making the reservations we noted it was our 25th wedding anniversary.
It’s one thing to leave a hotel with complaints. It’s another thing to respond to a hotel’s request for feedback during our stay and to not hear back from anyone, with two nights and two days remaining in our stay. We note particularly that hotel management goes to great lengths on Tripadvisor to acknowledge customer feedback. That makes it even more disappointing that they do not show a comparable degree of care and responsiveness to the feedback of guests while at the hotel.
Our experience based on interactions with staff was disappointing, and will be the sole reason we do not return to this hotel. While we understand there can be disappointments even at the finest hotels, there’s simply no excuse for management to completely ignore their guests, let alone handle awkward situations without tact and assistance.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This elegant and refined five-star hotel in the heart of the city of Sorrento is situated on a cliff top above the sea, overlooking the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, and set within a large, historic park with an assortment of exotic plants, marvellous camellias and orange and lemon trees. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Sorrento
- Grand Hotel Royal Sorrento