OK so I we just had a Friday night away at Pennyhill Park as our last weekend away before oiur baby comes, and I basically feel like I have been mugged.
Where to start - Firstly the facilities are good (espec the spa which is huge and has lots of different areas and things to try out). The rooms are also OK (we got upgraded to a junior suite so it was basically a big room, the decor in teh room itself is a bit faded and shabby but the bathroom was brand new and really lovely. Kind of felt like two different rooms walking between two though, since the bathroom was super modern and nicely fitted out with TV on the bath etc, while the bedroom felt like an old school corporate hotel. A bit odd but still fine.
OK so the spa is good, and so is the room - so why do I feel like I got mugged then?
The main thing to report is that they are really let down by their inexperienced and impolite staff. The service in the Brasserie both at dinner and breakfast was nothing less than shocking for such an expensive hotel. Service was 3 star or less. At dinner the food was nice, though not exceptional. They also do the thing where your main course seems like a normal price but has nothing with it, and when you add the sides it gets expensive very fast. We had to ask every time we wanted a water glass filled, and had to remind our waitress (twice) about our wine order. It is very clear that the girls they have working there, while nice girls, are not professional waitresses, but students or similar earning a few extra quid. That is fine in a pub and what you would expect for the price, but really not fine in a five star hotel, especially given that the prices are so high. To give an idea our meal was £129 for two people including just 4 glasses of average wine, and my wife only had a rocket salad to start and no dessert - to me in a Brasserie setting with inferior service this is frankly appalling value for money. Prices I remember that shocked me were £11 for a chocolate mousse dessert that was tiny, and £5.50 for a single Espresso. I work in Mayfair and regularly go for lunch at the best restaurants here, and this is high even for there...
The bad service continued the next morning when we came in for breakfast. It is a self service buffet which is fine except you would have expected to be able to order a la carte for hot food, but the bacon and eggs etc are all pre-prepared under hot lamps like you get in a motorway service station. Anyway all I therefore required from our waiter was a cappucino and a latte, but the waiter I gave my order to needed reminding THREE times, and the third time he was rude about it and rather than apologising said he hadn't got to it yet. I asked him if he remembered the order and he said "Yes, two black coffees". I think by the look I gave him he then realised that I might complain about his tone so he was then really ingratiating and actually retook the order. Our coffee eventually arrived after we had finished the rest of our breakfast. Not a great start to our "relaxing break" I think most would agree.
We then went back to our room and realised that because of the slow service it was now 10:55 and that we had a spa treatment at 11 but that checkout was also at 11. So I called down and asked if it would be OK to checkout at 12 after our treatments so that we didn't miss any part of them. I got a flat NO without it even being considered. After a hasty pack we then went down to reception, where we waited for 15 minutes because there were only 2 staff on duty at reception and it was heaving with a wedding party all leaving. Eventually having waited for 10 minutes or so without getting any nearer the front of the queue, my 8 months pregnant wife and I carried our own bags down to the spa (don't worry I carried the heavy ones), and arranged to leave them there. We missed 15 minutes' worth of our treatments as a result, and I don't think I've ever had a massage feeling so unrelaxed. It was anyway not a great massage, again the staff member was very young and clearly very inexperienced and in her first job, as all the staff at PH seem to be - cheaper that way I guess...
In conclusion my thoughts on Pennyhill Park are that you can only get away with the prices you charge if your service is commensurate, which right now it definitely isn't. Otherwise we will certainly not be back as there are MUCH better hotels for the same money. It has a very corporate kind of wedding venue feel, real conveyor belt, and if you are on a couple weekend we would suggest that there are many better options available before you settle for Pennyhill Park.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Pennyhill Park is a magnificent country house hotel in Bagshot, Surrey, set amongst 123 acres of gardens and parkland including a 9 hole golf course. This five-star luxury hotel offers everything from unmatchable luxury spa breaks and treatments, afternoon tea in the Ascot Bar, lunch and dinner in The Brasserie and is a perfect venue for weddings, conferences and special occasions. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pennyhill Park Hotel And The Bagshot
- Pennyhill Park Hotel And Country
- Pennyhill Park, An Exclusive Hotel & Spa Bagshot, England - Surrey