This was our second Travel Zoo visit to the Bell Inn at Brook. Having had such a good experience last year, we went as a party of 6 with 4 friends having told them of our great first experience. On arrival, the staff were welcoming and our rooms excellent so we were full of anticipation for the weekend. First impressions are important and sadly the cream tea did not live up to our previous experience with only one small scone per person and artificial cream - not the real stuff! - to accompany. Disappointing to say the least. Having asked for another scone, it was explained that this could be provided at an additional charge.
We were asked to provide advance menu choices for the evening which we were happy to comply with. However, nibbles of olives & bread were an additional £3 per head as were extra veggies @ £3 per portion. On questioning, the waiter assured us that veggies were provided with the meal and that this was for those requiring additional portions.
At dinner, the starter of duck confit terrine was not accompanied either with bread/toast/salad garni which made it heavy to eat and detracted from enjoyment. The main courses although delicious, were somewhat meagre with the meat carefully arranged on the plate and the 'veggies' consisting of an artful smear of mashed potato and one of spinach, leaving even those of us with smaller appetites feeling a little cheated. This was a pity as, with a party of 6, we would have expected to linger over dinner enjoying a couple of bottles of plonk and coffees and had intended to eat in again the next evening. Instead, we retired early for the night and the next night dined in the pub down the road where the food was excellent and much cheaper!
Breakfast on both days was a chaotic affair with only one hard pressed waitress to look after a busy dining room, and service the hot breakfast buffet. It also seemed as if she might be doing the cooking as well (!) because on both days, the buffet was not kept stocked and guests were unable to make a complete breakfast without waiting for more food to come. On our first morning, there was a queue of 8 guests who waited at least 10 minutes for bacon/sausages & eggs to all be present at the same time! A very poor show! On politely raising this with reception, we were assured that this must have been a one-off and was not the norm. Sadly, this did not prove to be the case with a repetition of the previous morning and we left the Bell after our two day stay feeling that having had a successful first foray into the world of Travelzoo in 2012, it appeared that they had either had a change of management or simply jumped on the bandwagon by sacrificing quality & customer satisfaction to increase profit. All in all, we had a very pleasant weekend in the New Forest but felt responsible for encouraging friends to join us at a venue which fell short of our previous expectations.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to The Bell Inn, which has been part of my family since 1782. Inside we have made stylish updates to our historic New Forest hotel without spoiling any of its traditional and rustic charm. With open fireplaces, flagstone floors, elegant reception rooms and two superb 18-hole golf courses we are unlike other hotels in Hampshire. With nature’s larder on the doorstep our team of talented chefs create seasonal specials, mouth-watering menus, and have unique access to game from our family’s New Forest estate – a true ‘Estate to Plate’ dining experience. Whether staying in one of our 28 tasteful rooms, enjoying local ale whilst relaxing on comfortable sofas in our dog friendly bar, dining with us exploring the flavours of the New Forest or playing a round of golf on our New Forest Hotel's oldest course, we look forward to welcoming you to this timeless and magical place. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Bell Hotel New Forest