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“Great potential but not quite there yet”

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Henderson Castle Inn
Ranked #6 of 6 Kalamazoo B&B and Inns
GreenLeadersGold level
Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Level 6 Contributor
143 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Great potential but not quite there yet”
Reviewed December 19, 2012

My wife and I recently returned to Henderson Castle for our Anniversary celebration. I say returned as we spent our first Christmas there many years ago when it was a private residence. This was our first experience with the location as a B&B. I had high expectations due to my memories of our first experience there. The building is still fantastic. The room we had was beautiful with a painted ceiling and a gas fireplace. However, the overall atmosphere misses the mark. It seemed like there was just too much going on for the staff levels. Instead of a normal familiarization tour we were told we could wander on our own. We took advantage of this and were able to go to the roof top to check out the view which is fantastic. However, we never got the feel of the history of the building. That is an important part of a B&B experience for me.

Another part of the experience is feeling at home. For example, I like a B&B that has drinks and snacks available for the guests to access on their own. At this B&B there were offers but you had to find someone and ask for assistance from the kitchen. It wasn't just available on demand. It would have been nice for them just to have a coffee/drink service in the dining room. The Henderson Castle is also a restaurant and a spa which seemed to make the B&B aspect an afterthought. When we checked out I could not even get someone to print us a bill. The person I did corner just said to turn in the keys. I asked for a bill to be sent to me but I haven't received one yet. I was planning to add a tip to the payment but wasn't given a chance to do so.

We had a few technical problems with the room - insufficient hot water for a morning shower, a TV remote that stopped working so we had to disconnect the TV to turn it off, and no directions for proper lighting and turning off the gas fireplace. These are small things but again with the general activity level in the house I didn't feel that I should bring them up.

A strong negative in our visit was the noise. Our room was on the main floor and there was a large gap at the bottom of the door so we heard everything going on in the check-in area and the restaurant. There was a wedding party in the lobby on day 1 which was very loud. The following morning there was a women's group in the restaurant having a good time but again with loud voices. If I ever returned I would definitely select another room on an upper floor.

The real disappointment was the food. With all the buildup of having a French chef as the owner I expected fantastic food. I have had some great French meals here and in France. However, the food was pretty basic. We had the 4 course dinner and we could have had a similar meal at any local restaurant. The salad had a dressing with little to no flavor. The Tomato Bisque was very good but it was my wife's so I didn't get very much. The rolls were hot but pretty ordinary. The main course (fish and pork) was good. My pork had BBQ sauce that could have come from a bottle. BBQ sauce isn't what I would expect from a French chef. Finally the fantastic desert was a carrot cake which was as plain as could be. It could easily have been store bought. It was the same carrot cake we were then served for breakfast. It looked like the 11 course meal was more French but I shouldn't have to go to that extreme for a memorable dinner. The breakfast was also pretty plain. I had an omelet which was well done but not extraordinary. One small glass of juice was all we received as the server was very busy and never came back to refill our glasses or really check on us. I had to ask for butter for the toast and then jelly for the same. Service was slow. We actually left the table and wandered around the hotel for a while as we waited.
My conclusion was that I was a low priority to them and I can understand that. There was so much going on it pushed the staff to the limit and they could not provide the service they probably would want to. I hope that they find the right mix to make the inn profitable. It is a beautiful place which looks as it is still in need of some repairs (roof). They will need the cash to keep things going.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Michael R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
flmoyet, Owner at Henderson Castle Inn, responded to this review, February 21, 2013
Dear Sir,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a long review who does have some very good point , but also are not necessarily correct . For instance , we do offer a narrated Tour every day from 12 noon to 4 pm they are 10 $ per person and the fund collected are reserved to replace the historical roof within the very near future. The tour take 45 mns an average and as you can understand we can't physically give a private tour to every guest for this 15.000 square foot Castle. How ever what is important here is your feeling and your experience and that is what does matter the most to us. Therefore I do apologize if your experience was not 100 % perfect and we will be working very hard to correct this little details. Has you witness you visited us during the holidays in the middle of Christmas party hosted by the restaurant. We are sometime victims of our own success I guess. I do appreciate your comment very much. Again thank you so much for taking the time to write this review.
Sincerely,

Francois Moyet
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (64)
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
526 reviews
123 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 284 helpful votes
Reviewed November 25, 2012

Never been anywhere like it. A magnificent old 19th century mansion on top of a hill overlooking the city of Kalamazoo. The basic structure is original, including the stained glass, and the abundant antique furnishings, ornaments, paintings, tapestries etc. were bought mostly in Europe more recently to fit with the décor. Each room is themed (we stayed in the Dutch Room) There is also a Victorian Room, a Tibet Room, French and Italian rooms and various others. In all rooms it is like sleeping in the middle of a museum of antiques but with modern conveniences such as wi-fi. The bathrooms are enormous and also themed.

There is a very upscale (and expensive) restaurant in a gorgeously decorated and ornamented room that we did not have time to try except for breakfast, which was superbly prepared by François, the French chef and owner. He specializes in French toast, so we tried it and it was the best we have ever tasted. At the time of our visit François had not obtained a licence to sell wine, but you may bring your own.

It is not possible to check in until 3 or 4 p.m. because they do tours of the entire place and they need the rooms unoccupied until that time – a minor inconvenience if you arrive early. But if you do, take a tour because the history of the place is fascinating. They will store your luggage and deliver it to your room if you decide to leave for the afternoon. If you are staying more than one night I assume your room is off limits for the tour.

Just because this place is old, don’t think it will be decrepit. It’s far from it and superbly well maintained and restored. It’s worth taking the tour even if you don’t stay here.

It’s a historic site, museum, B&B, restaurant and spa all rolled into one. There is a small ballroom on the third floor, now used for receptions, weddings, etc. and to top it all a hot tub on the roof!


All in all, staying here was an extraordinary experience that we will never forget.

Room Tip: Every room is an experience like no other! See the visual tour on the web site - better than the ph...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank What
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
flmoyet, Owner at Henderson Castle Inn, responded to this review, February 21, 2013
Thank you so much for your kinds words and very nice review we truly appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Francois
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed November 13, 2012

I've been living in the Kalamazoo area for 2yrs and have always wanted to visit Henderson Castle. What better time to give it a try then on a weekend visit from my family. Our excitement made the expensive $13/person breakfast a non-issue. Short lived however, as we were very disappointed with the limited menu and poor quality of food.

We shared a small fruit plate accompanied by freshly baked bread (which was good). Two options for breaskfast, french toast or eggs with toast. When presented with this limited menu, we had to inquire further about sides including bacon and/or sausage.

The french toast was soggy and the eggs overcooked. 0/4 of us enjoyed our high price meal and left feeling hungry and wishing we went to a more reasonably priced restaurant.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
8 Thank Necole K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
flmoyet, Owner at Henderson Castle Inn, responded to this review, November 26, 2012
Thank you very much for your comments. I'm not sure what generate your review.But I'm very sorry than than you did not enjoy your breakfast. Our menu offer for 12.99 $ coffee or tea , juice, fresh pastry of the day and any choice of eggs from poached egg, omelette, fried eggs ,scrambled egg, and of course my specialty the french toast. Now I'm french and do the original french toast and may be it does look or taste different of the one you may order else where . I use real french bread and soak it into and batter of organic milk and eggs with real vanilla and almond with cinnamon. Then I pan fried them golden brown served with home made organic whip cream with fresh fruit and Michigan low sugar home made maple tree syrup. I will be delighted to talk to you and offer you a new visit for a second experience feel free to call me any time.

Sincerely. Francois
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Travelers are raving about these Kalamazoo hotels

South Haven
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 9, 2012

I recently booked a stay and got ripped off - lost $110 to a cancellation policy that was not explained. Really pissed me off and was completely inappropriate. Let me explain. I held a room for an early morning arrival Tuesday morning - like 2 a.m. thinking my return from Detroit would put me in to Kalamazoo about that time. I was SUPPOSED to attend Game 5 of the World Series and when they lost Sunday evening - got swept I called the first thing in the morning on Monday indicating my reservation needed to be cancelled due to something beyond my control (no game 5 to be played). What I did not know was that my card was already clipped for the reservation. The French owner told me too bad as I cancelled like 18 hours prior and would not provide ANY refund. He was less than polite and frankly did not care that I am a prominent member of the community and business owner myself. Sensing my growing anger he offered up a $25 gift certificate for another stay...completely ridiculous gesture in my opinion. I said no thanks and hung up the phone. Be careful with this place they are not about pleasing people or being fair. Very sad and poor business ethics if you ask me.
Lastly, when asked if he was full that night (Monday night in November most unlikely) he claimed he did not know. Stay at your own risk.

Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
Helpful?
7 Thank Luvthelake47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
flmoyet, Owner at Henderson Castle Inn, responded to this review, February 21, 2013
Dear sir,

Thank you for your email. I'm truly sorry about your disappointment but you canceled your reservation the morning of your arrival. As i explain you we do have a 8 day cancellation policy witch is BOLD on our web site when you did book it on line. I was kind enough to offer you a gift certificate for an other date than you decline. There is no hotel in the world who have done differently . It is an industry standard procedure. Again I'm sorry if I was not able to satisfy your request and hope to see you an other time.

Sincerely,

Francois
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2012

Delightful owner and management, accommodations quiet and comfy, delicious and perfectly prepared food show evidence of customer service top priority. They offer dinner which we did not do because we had plans elsewhere. Beautiful gardens and a spa on site.

Room Tip: I took my young daughter and she loved the attentive service and hottub on the roof overlooking city...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank ZoomMomma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2012

We only stayed here for one night as we were looking to break the journey between Sandusky and Chicago, but I was so pleased that we found this place and decided to stay here.

As the other reviews have said, the castle is amazing. It's decorated to a fantastically high standard, and is such a glam place to stay!

Don't miss the hottub on the roof looking out over the town- we had it all to ourself, and the roof lit with fairy lights created a very romantic atmosphere!

Breakfast in the morning was fresh fruit, muffins and then eggs cooked to order. I'm not a huge fan of French Toast, but when my boyfriend's arrived I couldn't resist trying some, and it was amazing!

If you're looking for an original place to stay in the area, you really can't go wrong!

Room Tip: Any of the rooms are beautiful, but we would have maybe preferred to have been upstairs rather than...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Rebeccallama
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michigan
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2012

What a remarkable find in a lovely neighborhood in Kzoo! We travel to Kzoo often and this is our first time at the Henderson Castle. We will definitely return. The castle is beautiful and very unique. We stayed in the cottage because the main house was booked. The cottage does not have any antique furnishings and is more like a regular hotel room, but comfortable and clean. The hot tub right outside our room was a bonus! Breakfast was a wonderful experience, talking with the other guests and enjoying the viola music that Josh played for us. What a wonderful way to start your day that you won't get just anywhere! If you like staying in traditional hotels, than this is not the place for you. You have to embrace the surroundings and enjoy the unique experience.

Room Tip: For the true experience stay in the castle.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ajaMichigan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Henderson Castle Inn

Property: Henderson Castle Inn
Address: 100 Monroe St, Kalamazoo, MI 49006-4433
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Michigan > Kalamazoo County > Kalamazoo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 6 B&Bs / Inns in Kalamazoo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Henderson Castle Inn 3.5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to The Henderson Castle, the most popular bed and breakfast in Kalamazoo. Whether you're local or coming from Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing, South Bend or Chicago, you'll find us to be the best destination for your anniversary, birthday, wedding, graduation or romantic getaway. Situated in the historic West Main Hill neighborhood, you're minutes away from the theatres, shopping and vibrant night life of downtown Kalamazoo, but secluded enough to enjoy a quiet night free from the noise of the city. When you're with us, you'll have a royal experience. Wake up to an incredible breakfast prepared by our French chef Francois Moyet. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Henderson Castle Hotel Kalamazoo
Henderson Castle Inn Bed And Breakfast

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