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“Dirty, unmaintained, cold and noisy... but friendly and cheap”
Review of Brave Old Oak

Brave Old Oak
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Brave Old Oak
Ranked #27 of 28 Towcester B&B and Inns
London, England, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Dirty, unmaintained, cold and noisy... but friendly and cheap”
Reviewed January 22, 2012

I'm still chuckling at the guy who gave this place five starts and mentioned it was under new management. Nothing at all has changed since the 1 star reviews written before that "five star" comment. There is still no fixed lock on the communal toilet door!

I've stayed in three different rooms at the venue in December 2011/January 2012 and whilst it's better than the other two pub venues I stayed in (which were even cheaper, but far less friendly), it suffers from one basic problem - it's filthy and has not been maintained for decades!

Not only does the communal toilet still have no lock, most of the time it has no loo roll. The only light in each room runs to about 40 watts and isn't near the bed so reading is difficult. All of the rooms had an additional shaving light over an in-room sink - none of which worked, same for the old CRT TVs. Don't look under the bed or behind the wardrobe - great thick wadges of dust, peas, and empty bottles. Enough said! Not one of the heaters in any of the rooms (plug in the wall wired hot air contraptions) worked for more than about 10 seconds - the equivalent of someone breathing out for 5 seconds after sucking a polo. the biggest room didn't have a heater at all and was like a walk-in freezer and when I complained they did go out and buy a new heater but it was equally ineffectual. Bottom line: in Winter be prepared to sleep every night with two shirts and two sweaters on. They have no double-glazing and the windows don't close properly which not only makes the rooms really cold if the weather's bad but also very noisy. Although the rooms all look out to Towcester high street which is a "village road" it gets used by heavy lorries from about 5am onwards.

From what I can make out this pub and the others in the area (apart from the much more expensive Saracen's Head, which recently got renovated) rely on regulars who like the low prices and can cope with the run-down "service". The pub don't do breakfast but give you an evening meal "up to the value of £6" for the all-inclusive price of £25/night. Food is excellent, if basic, but during my stay the "curfew" time for ordering a meal suddenly changed from 8pm to 7pm with no advance notice. Often food runs out eg one time ordered a lasagne with garlic bread - it arrived with no garlic bread "because we've run out - maybe give you a bit more next time". At least the next table were warned ahead of ordering their "steak and chips" that "we've run out of chips". Be prepared! Also be prepared for not being shown that the place is locked up in the morning and you have to go out through the fire escape. Fine when you know ahead of time - a nightmare on your first night when nobody's told you, you don't know the layout of the place and there's nobody at all around!

The barman/manager/waiter is friendly but run off his feet, having to serve a busy central pub and deal with meal service and check people in and out. It's clear that no money at all has been spent on the place for years, and while they're constantly full because of lack of other accommodation in the area, why should they change things? If you have transport there's a much nicer travel inn for about £50 just up the road.

It's much less noisy than the first pub I stayed in (The Peacock) which had loud music/karaoke until past midnight every night) but beware Wednesdays which are Quiz Nights. The quizmaster uses a microphone that seems to be wired throughout the main pub so that every room can hear his voluminous tones full blast through to just past 11pm. For the number of people gathered it's pointless having a mic so it's a shame as otherwise, at least during weekdays, the pub is quite quiet. In theory they have wi-fi. It's intermittent and can disappear for whole days at a time, but heh! it's free.

I survived four weeks here working in towcester before finding a B&B that is much cleaner, much warmer and much less noisy, albeit a bit further out. If you're desperate this place will serve, but if you can afford it and have transport I'd consider paying twice as much for the Travel Lodge down the road which is cleaner, quieter and much more what you'd expect from a commercially run service.

Room Tip: Ask for one of the few rooms with an en-suite shower. The water trickles like a tap, but is much mor...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Ian S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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21 reviews from our community

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    9
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Loughborough, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
195 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 160 helpful votes
Reviewed December 4, 2011

Called in here on a Friday evening for a quick cheap meal whilst on route to Bournemouth. First impressions were good, restaurant/pub clean and spacious.
Pub is part of Marstons chain and the food is typical pub grub. Good variety, good quality and very reasonably priced. Staff very polite and attentative. Didn't have to wait long for food whch came piping hot.
Will be back when in the area.

Quick tip sign up to Marston email update and get a voucher for a "free pint"

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank SLLough
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Plymouth, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed October 31, 2011

Mess up with booking, but sorted out. Rooms were not en suite. Items of rubbish and thick dust on top of the wardrobe, unidentified sticky mess on shelf in wardrobe cobwebs on the wall obviously not cleaned for a while. Shelf above sink was broken, nowhere to hang towels, and no bin in the room. Carpets in the room and the hall were dirty. Toilet roll holder was broken. The staff were friendly and was given a free evening meal in lieu of breakfast. Food was reasonable.
Worst accommodation I have stayed in for a long time, far better facilities are available in chain hotels for the same price.
Very noisy until approx 0100 due disco/music.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank John P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Towcester hotels

1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 24, 2011

Passing through Towcester in October, I called in for lunch.
Probably wouldn't have if I had read the reviews of this place!
The bar has a nice atmosphere and the staff were very helpful. I was able to change the menu slightly, to accommodate my food allergies. The new manager even supplied water for my dog in their car park. Incidentally there is a lovely short circular walk at the back.
Very clean. When I am in the area again, I will be calling in.

  • Stayed October 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank thebeauf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lancashire
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2011

I have stayed at many hotels, in this country and abroad, and usually on a budget - so not fancy places. Unfortunately however, this was the worst I've had, except for a hostel in the interior of Turkey about 10 years ago. I booked for 2 nights 1-2 Oct 2011, but it was so bad I cancelled the second night (I have to say, the staff were nice at all times and very good about giving me a refund).
On arrival I had to pay up front without seeing the room, which I could understand once I saw it. The shaver light over the sink was broken and did not work. There was no towel hanger. The carpet was very sticky and dirty. The outer window of the secondary double glazing could not be fully shut (as the frame was rotten). Of the two non-ensuite bathrooms, one had no toilet seat and the other no lock on the door - both were very dirty.
Their website did warn me about the disco (and I was also told on the phone) - however it went on later than I was told, was very noisy owing to lousy sound insulation, and afterwards people were talking very loudly on the street for a long while.
The good points? The cooked breakfast was fine and very nice, cooked by Luke who was most obliging. All the staff were friendly and polite at all times. Its just a shame the owner doesn't spend a bit of money on the place. Reading the earlier reviews it looks like nothing has been done to sort out any of the problems they found.

Room Tip: Get one that's not over the bar.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank silverflanger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Preston, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2011

Check in was OK – had to pay on arrival, without seeing the rooms!!! (1st mistake) £50.00

We were show to our double room in the older part of the ‘Inn’ – above the bar & main door
The room was on a slant (to be expected, for the age of the building); Light didn't work above the room sink; nowhere to hang hand towel; carpet was unclean; bed was pushed up against the wall ... no room for it otherwise; 2 thin pillows in the one pillow case …. still needed another pillow! secondary glazed (good) - but you could not open the outer window, because the inner window was in the way!
Next door (twin room) - unable to get the TV to work.

Bathroom was across the corridor … No soap at the sink (took one from our room); No shower; could have done with a good scrub with bleach; there was some kind of fly emerging (dead) the window frame (see photo); tiles had fallen off the wall; loo roll holder on the floor (from the wall).
The separate toilet (& emergency escape route!!) had no lock on the door; no soap. Both toilets had run out of loo roll – asked as the bar for them to be replaced (twice). Only then did one get a (1) single roll!!!

Disco in the pub till 13:00 – 13:30 ...We came back down & sat in the beer garden untill it finished. In our rooms we could hear loud music (speakers attached to the pub ceilings, right below our room – which must have been very thin floors), once the music stopped the talking carried on, in & outside the pub.

Breakfast had been agreed when checking in for 09:00, we were unable to go through to the bar (where breakfast was to be served) as the door was still all locked up (08:50). Had to go looking for the staff to inform them we would like our breakfast.
The bar area had not been cleaned properly from the previous evenings trade – dirty carpets; sticky tables.
Breakfast was good (fry up) – had to ask for: cutlery; serviettes; refill of coffee. No: juice; side plates: sauces. But he was polite.
Went to pack for check out, arrived back down in the bar – good ½ hr. later, breakfast pots were still on the tables (x5 settings – how many had stayed that evening!). No body to hand the keys over to – found nobody so left them with a gent in the kitchen, then left via the fire exit at the back.

Would not have stayed only a friend had booked, and we had been on the road a few hours!
On the high street which was handy for us.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Messagetoothers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tonbridge, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2011

Dirty. Very noisy on a saturday night (disco under rooms). Broken locks. No lock on one toilet. Very poor decor. At the pre-arranged breakfast time (8am) there were no staff and everything was locked. Had to leave via the fire escape at 8.45am.

Room Tip: go elsewhere
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank icchedzey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Brave Old Oak

Property: Brave Old Oak
Address: 104-106 Watling Street East, Towcester NN12 6BT, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Northamptonshire > Towcester
Hotel Style:
Ranked #27 of 28 B&Bs / Inns in Towcester
Number of rooms: 8

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