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“What a shame”

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The Captain's Quarters
Reviewed September 15, 2005

I would like to add a couple of comments to the the last review.(Aug 14)I agree entirely with their views.We stayed in the Madison Suite and when the dishes were being cleared away at 12.45am we were kept awake by the noise,(due to the pleasant weather we had to leave the windows open a couple of inches and the kitchen did the same)There was only three hangers to hang your clothes on three hooks.There was the noisiest bed side table I have ever encountered--a large fridge--for holding two small bottles of water.Due to it being so noisy we turned it off at night which defeated the object of keeping the water cold.The bathroom needed a couple of shelvesThe bed side lamps would only turn off together which led to a few grumbles as I like to read before sleeping.Last gripe-what a nuisance having to take your shoes off everytime you came in.
I was not aware that it was communal eating around a large table which is slightly uncomfortable as whatever I require always seems to be on the other side.(Murphy's law)
I would like to add a few good comments !!
Beautifully decorated.Wonderful shower.Fab sofa.Comfy bed.Best homemade fudge and biscuits I have ever tasted.Tasty coffee.
I also think the Madison was well overpriced.What a shame but in my opinion this B/B did not live up to the Sunday Times review.

  • Stayed: August 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
11  Thank 2409NELLIE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 1, 2005

It is what the reviews don’t tell you that is crucial in considering whether No. 1 Sallyport can be recommended – it definitely cannot, in my and my wife’s experience of the place in June 2005. It is only fair that people spending something approaching a four-star hotel price for a b&b should know what they might encounter.

Based on the rave reviews in various newspapers and guidebooks, we and some friends booked a four-night stay and went with high expectations. We were all sadly disappointed. I cannot do better than to reproduce the letter which I wrote to the owner on our return. While the letter did not call for a reply, one might have thought that a note of apology might have been forthcoming but there has in fact been no response whatsoever. My letter in its entirety (except for the omission of our friends’ names) reads as follows:

‘Your strident tone, when trying to insist that I should pay you £45.00 more than you were entitled to charge when we were leaving on Friday 10 June, simply underlined the conclusion which my wife and I had already reached about your establishment. Beautiful though it undoubtedly is (and even though your cooking and presentation of food are excellent), No. 1 Sallyport is not a place where one can stay comfortably or relax. After four nights, we left feeling in need of a holiday.

We booked some time ago on the basis of rave reviews in the press, and arrived as planned last Monday. We were in the Lowry Room and were awakened before 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning by noisy traffic just outside our window and no more than a few feet from where we were trying to sleep. Then there were tremendous noises, seemingly all around us. It turned out that wheelie bins from numerous properties were being dragged first one way, then the other, over cobbles in the alley beside the building; as far as we could tell, they were being mechanically emptied into a refuse collection vehicle in the street, with the crashing of the emptying being interspersed by the thumping of the vehicle’s crushing mechanism. Once the refuse vehicle and its accompanying noise had moved down the street, we were left with more ‘ordinary’ traffic noise which increased as the hours went by. The several recessed manhole covers in the street outside your building cause almost every vehicle to make a double thump as first its front wheels, then its rear wheels, go over one or other of the manholes.

It was impossible for us to get to sleep again. Our friends ……. were awakened by the wheelie bins, as were (so they told us) the couple in the Suite. (We did not see the people in the Manhattan Loft at all.)

My wife and I were planning to leave on Tuesday morning following this ghastly experience, but when we complained about the noise you offered us another room, saying that the refuse collection is only once a week and that we would not hear the traffic from the Manhattan Loft. We agreed to this room change.

It was only when we were in the Loft that evening that we realised what an extremely awkward and uncomfortable room it is. It is impossible to stand up straight in the room except within an imaginary corridor about five feet wide down the centre of the room. Anywhere else, including at either side of the bed, one has to stoop to avoid banging one’s head on the sloping ceiling. I am short – for anyone taller, this ‘corridor’ would be narrower. I must have cracked my head twenty times or more during the remainder of our stay.

We found it much too warm in the Loft on Tuesday night. The heater was pouring out heat which we could not stop despite turning both controls to zero and switching the machine off at the wall. The noise which had ruined our first night was replaced by the heat which caused a disturbed second night (and opening the windows did not help, either). Apparently, this is a storage heater which took some 36 hours to cool – this 36 hours covered our second and third nights with you. When we mentioned the heat to you on Wednesday morning, you simply told us to turn the heater off (which we had already done). It seems odd to have this type of heater, as it ensures that the comfort of your guests is entirely dependent upon the predilections of the room’s previous occupants.

Many other things are just not right about your establishment. One example out of many I could give is that the showers in both rooms we occupied had unreliable settings, so that, for no apparent reason, the temperature of the water veered from icy to scalding and back again. It was thus painful, unpleasant and worrying to use the shower.

When I asked for the bill on Friday morning, I was prepared to pay what had been agreed, although I did think that you might have offered a reduction for our particularly dreadful first night. However, on the contrary, you wished to charge me more per night for the Loft than for the Lowry (though they are advertised as being the same price as each other); you wished to charge more for corkage than the amount specified in the brochure you had sent when confirming the booking; and you tried to insist that I should pay an extra £25.00 for the room change. This, as I told you, was outrageous - if there had been any suggestion on Tuesday morning that you would make such a charge, we would have left immediately.

Our whole experience at No. 1 Sallyport was disappointing and disheartening. The acid test of a hotel or bed and breakfast establishment is whether one would wish to stay there again or recommend it to a friend. We would not.’

And many more things could be said about this place, some perhaps relatively minor, but they all contributed to an overall bad experience for us. Perhaps others might be luckier.

Stayed: June 2005
36  Thank David N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2005

Alas, this was a great disappointment to my husband and I; after reading the Sunday Times review regarding No.1 Sallyport and the description of the Smugglers Suite I ran to the computer to book immediately. I had been searching for somewhere special to take my husband for his birthday and this was also our first night away together in 6 years since the children were born. I called the next day and spoke to Elizabeth the proprieter who confirmed my reservation and accepted payment in full at my request. I received a note from her confirming that I had booked Smugglers. We arrived on my husband's birthday, excited by the thought of the beautiful room and the huge tub to look forward to before heading out to dinner. On the way in we passed Elizabeth who said a brief hello and then we were asked to take our shoes off...a little bizarre I thought and not all together appropriate considering my outfit but nonetheless we complied. We were shown to our room and my first impression was disappointment; I thought it was nothing like the photos on the web and not as described...even worse, when I looked in the bathroom, there was no tub!! We realised we were in the wrong room and explained this to the lady who had taken us up. She proceeded to tell us we had been 'upgraded' (what?...with no bath?!) and that we were lucky as we would not be charged any extra! I explained I did not want an upgrade but the room I had booked but that apparently wasn't an option as the people in that room the night before had decided to stay another night... She then asked us to decide on breakfast for the next day and to choose a time and could we do it quickly...I didn't want to pick breakfast at 5pm the night before...I certainly couldn't see the point of picking a time between 8.30am and 9.30am...from the sublime to the ridiculous. I looked around the pleasant but to us, inferior room (it didn't have a BATH!). Everything was of a very high standard and it was a lovely room...but not as nice as the one we had booked and...it didn't HAVE..A..BATH! I felt so disappointed I wanted to leave but my sensible and calm husband...who was also disappointed...made me see sense and we decided to just enjoy what we had. I put the kettle on (of course) and sent my husband down for some more milk. He chatted pleasantly to Elizabeth and then casually asked her why we were given another room. She reiterated what the other lady had said, including it being an upgrade and us not being charged any extra...?! My husband explained to her (very nicely, he doesn't like to upset people) that I was a tad (too, too nice) disappointed regarding the room and the bath. This is where we enter a kind of bed and breakfast twilight zone...or Tales of the Unexpected moment...she became very defensive and said but to quote a few...this is my home and I don't want anyone staying here who is unhappy (very profitable home)...that room cost me £30'000 (my first house cost that)...I work very hard (yes, so do we)...but it's an upgrade (maybe the bath is behind a secret door we missed..?)...and so on and so forth...until she abruptly stood up and left the room. My poor husband was perplexed and shouted..."um..thankyou for the milk...the room is lovely..." into the empty space. His retelling of the tale was the highlight of my visit. We had never been to Berwick upon Tweed before and therefore were counting on a recommendation for dinner...we were too scared to ask and tiptoed out, hoping we wouldn't be seen and ended up in a Wetherspoon's after a 30 minute walk around a deserted part of town. We snuck back in...taking our shoes off of course...and went to our lovely, very expensive, upgraded room....where upon I had a shower. You may be wondering why I didn't have a bath. The next morning, we were apprehensive about going down for breakfast. We walked in to find Elizabeth chatting to a couple of guests but when she saw us, she walked out. We uncomfortably ate our breakfast which was ok...snuck back upstairs, packed and left. This is the first time we ever left a hotel/bed and breakfast early. I believe that Elizabeth is a perfectionist and has very, very few complaints therefore has no idea how to deal with it when she recieves one. We didn't actually complain however...god knows what may have happened if I had went downstairs as I had every intention of complaining. The room MAY have been an upgrade and I am sure it did cost a fortune but my expectations were not met at all and any good business...especially the hospitally trade...knows that meeting expectations is the most fundamental, important job of all. And to not meet those needs but deal with a complaint in a courteous manner, doing your best to rectify the situation is the next. This is a night I will never forget...and if I have to wait another 6 years to go away with my husband...then I want photographs of the bathroom.

  • Stayed: May 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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27  Thank HelenMcGinn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 11, 2005

We were attracted to 1, Sally Port bed-and-breakfast by a recent review in the Sunday Times where it was shown as the top of their top ten bed-and-breakfast places in the UK in 2005. The two of us went with two friends. Whilst the establishment has 4 rooms and offers just bed and breakfast on weekdays and dinner at week-ends, we had dinner on Monday, our first night (of 4). Both breakfast and dinner, when available, is in the old kitchen on a large communal table so it is probable you will meet with other guests, as did we. The rooms are well appointed and all 4 are very different. We were in room 2 (Smugglers Suite) and our friends spent their first night in room 1 (The Lowry room), which is opposite, also on the first floor. They moved (see reason below) to the attic room 3, (Manhattan Loft). There is also a room which we did not see over the kitchen.

The building is very convenient near one entrance to the old Ramparts which surround the town. It is comfortable, clean and full of nick-knacks. The food is excellent and the place prides itself in its wide choice of breakfast especially the full Scottish breakfast complete with Haggis and black pudding. The evening meal we took was also really excellent and cooked by the owner Elizabeth. She now has a new cook to help her.

However we had problems. First of all the rubbish is collected from wheelie-bins about 4.0 am on Tuesday mornings; not just the wheelie bin for this establishment but what seems like all the buildings in the neighbourhood These wheelie bins are all pushed over the pebbles in the very early morning by the council collection operatives and then pushed back by the owners, also over the cobbles from 6.0 am onwards. We were all woken up and kept awake from 4.0 am. On top of this the road outside the front of the building has a loose manhole cover and traffic moves over this all night and kept our friends awake. They asked to be moved as they were exhausted and "Madame" reluctantly agreed to move them up to the attic room on our second day.

Beware! The attic room is just that, a converted attic. You can only stand upright in the very middle of the room and when we were there (in June) they still had the nightstore heating full on in the attic room and whilst our friends switched it off immediately, it took over 24 hours to cool down.

And certainly in our room we had a duvet full of "hollow fibre" and with a rating of 13.5 tog. We were far too hot for June nights. At around £100 per room per night we expected down filled pillows and duvet or at least a lower tog rating.

You have to take your outdoor shoes off when you arrive to protect the floors. There is a small guest kitchen between rooms 1 and 2 on the first floor where guests can make themselves tea and coffee and help themselves to lemon drizzle cake and biscuits.

This really is a quite remarkable little establishment and would be all the better if "Madame" were a little more guest friendly. She objected to our friends wanting to change their room and said no-one else had ever complained of the noise. She charged them £25 for moving their room saying this was the cleaning fee to put their old room in to condition for a new guest even though the cost of the room was on a 24 hour basis. ie if you stay for 1 night you pay for one night and if you stay for 4 nights you pay for 4 x 1 night. She argued with our friends and was adamant that the £25 was non negotiable.

Then she charged us corkage on our own bottle of wine we had with our evening meal at £3 per head for 4 people. There were only 3 of us drinking and her advertised rate had been £1 per head.

Then she wanted to know why my wife had not eaten her smoked salmon with her cooked breakfast. My wife said she had not ordered it; "Madame" went into the kitchen and came back with the "order" saying that whilst the smoked salmon was clearly ordered by myself only, she assumed my wife wanted it too.

We really felt unwelcome and this is such a shame. Eventually, after argument, she did agree to reduce the corkage to the advertised rate for the 3 people drinking and she dropped the £25 charge but with very bad grace. She also again told our friends, when paying their bill, that they must have been mistaken by the noise in their room and she even sought confirmation of this from the new guests who occupied the room after our friends had moved.

This was all quite a shame. It could have been so much more enjoyable had she been more hospitable. We won't go back and we won't recommend it to others but it is quite possible that most people will be delighted - but beware Monday nights! or take earplugs.

23  Thank angric
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Captain's Quarters

Address: 1 Sallyport | Off Bridge Street, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 1EZ, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Northumberland > Berwick upon Tweed
Hotel Style:
Ranked #45 of 45 B&Bs / Inns in Berwick upon Tweed
Price Range: $124 - $189 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Captain's Quarters 5*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Singled out as one of The 50 Best British Hotels by The Independent - 6th Jan 2007. The Times had this to say: "Bed and breakfast doesn't come much better than 1 Sallyport." ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
1 Sallyport Hotel Berwick Upon Tweed

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