We stayed here in 2006 in room 6, a glorious room with a huge bay window looking out over the Solent. On a last minute whim, we decided to stay at the Priory Bay again. Our reception was third rate. A crone came running up the entrance steps and asked us if we were self catering, clearly envisaging the doubtless relished opportunity to consign our Ford Focus, parked as it was next to a Bentley, to the wooded parking area for plebs. No apology was offered as we checked in.
I doubt that a single penny has been spent on the hotel’s décor in the intervening six years since our previous visit. What in 2006 was quirkily reminiscent of a genuine country house is now beyond shabby. In some regards, room 1 was charming. We had a substantial balcony which was wrapped around the outer perimeter, set with a table, parasol and chairs. Every morning we tempted red squirrels onto the balcony with peanuts. Some of the upholstery was dreadfully stained. The corners in the bathroom hadn’t been dusted for some good while, from the gathered cobwebs.
Dinner in the island room was disappointing. We ate from a chefs recommendations menu which consisted of three choices and were dismayed to be presented with exactly the same menu on our second evening. It was only then that the restaurant manager advised that we may dine from the Oyster Bar menu, which gave a much wider choice. The menu is ambitious but beyond the chef. On one occasion I was served clearly unripe figs in an uninspired salad. Some dishes were good, but dinner simply shouldn’t be the lottery we found that it was.
Breakfast is first rate. The lovely man in charge of the breakfast room is to be commended for his solicitous and good humoured service. I have no doubt that, were he in charge, the Priory Bay might turn a corner away from the far reaches of mediocrity it is presently hurtling toward. The breakfast cook executes hot dishes with care and elan. Breakfast highlights all that’s good and bad about the Priory Bay. It is all very well to eat breakfast watching the red squirrels but less so looking out through a windowpane from which petrified flies are hanging from disintegrating cobwebs.
There is a room above room 1. If it is occupied, you must rise when its occupants rise. The lack of sound insulation is appalling.
There is an evident dichotomy in the staff. Whilst some are lovely, some are simply beyond awful. I address myself most especially now to the boot faced man whom we took to be senior management, suddenly present at reception on our last day, who comported himself as if there were a very bad smell under his nose, during our brief exchange, together with the awful woman determined to prevent us soiling the cobbled car park nearest to reception on our arrival. May I remind you that you are employed in hospitality. Your present efforts, should you be making any, which I somehow doubt, are utterly unacceptable and may result in your employer loosing business.
Finally, I wouldn’t have bothered with a review had we received a decent response to our customer satisfaction survey, on leaving. It would appear that an appropriate response to our comments is considered to be a letter from a receptionist, who hoped our journey home was good and also let us know that our responses had been, ‘ taken on board ‘ ( and consigned to the bilge, I have no doubt ). Laughably, the receptionist also looked forward to welcoming us back. £900+ for four nights of this ? I don’t think so. If you’re determined to stay here, for heaven’s sake, dine out and bring some throws to cover your room upholstery.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Priory Bay is the Isle of Wight's leading country house hotel. Set within a 60-acre estate, it's period buildings have spectacular views out to sea, with gardens and woodland running down to the bay. It inspires our chefs to use the finest seasonal ingredients, whether foraged, farmed or fished we are passionate about local produce. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Priory Bay Seaview
- Hotel Priory Bay
- Priory Bay Hotel Seaview, Isle Of Wight