If this hotel was half the price and didn’t claim to be an AA 4 star, then I probably wouldn’t be writing this. I can only say that Fawlty Towers springs to mind!
The Woolacombe Bay Hotel entrance is quite grand when you walk in, but that is where it stops!
We requested a sea view room, which we were given, though a tad on the small side. As for the sea view ……… well yes and no. The view depends entirely on how you stand, either bent over or standing on tip toes….. why? Well some bright spark designed the upvc windows with the sash at eye level, so as you enter your hotel room the beach and sea are not visible, unless you are either very short or very tall. I guess if one squatted this would be good for toning the thighs and also standing on tip toes would be good for the calves, so maybe I’m being a little hasty here!
As for the most memorable part of the stay and not in a good way…. We had booked the 4 course dinner in Doyle’s dining room the night of arrival, though I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to manage four course, how wrong was I? Each course was bordering on nouveau cuisine, the second course being a sorbet and that won’t fill you. I might add at this point that before we booked at the Woolacombe Bay hotel, we had narrowed our choice of hotels down to two. The deciding factor when we looked at each hotel’s menu was that I am an avid soufflé fan, whether savoury or sweet. The Woolacome hotel were offering a smoked cheese soufflé, with a coulis so that did it for me. I was really looking forward to this. We sat in the dining room in anticipation of the smoked cheese soufflé and suddenly there it was in front of me, well I nearly fell off my chair! I had been presented with what looked like a flattened omelette which wasn’t even in a dish and dried coulis (I think) on the side. My jaw dropped and I think the expression on my face said it all. The waitress apologised and said that it had looked fine 30 seconds before!!!! Faulty towers could not have beaten this. She offered to take it back but I was so shocked and couldn’t be bothered to wait again I numbly said, no it’s fine ( I can’t believe I said that). I continued to sit there, staring from my flattened omelette then to my husband and back to my omelette. Never in all my omelette, I mean soufflé days have I ever been presented with an excuse of an soufflé masquerading as an omelette. The waitress then returned, again apologising profusely and asked for me to choose something else. This time I did and chose a fish dish. It arrived almost immediately, so I can only gather that some poor guest was having to wait for his fish dish. This leads me onto portion size, all I can say is that we left the dining room still hungry! During our dinner (if you can call it that) that waitress returned again, still apologizing and said that the manager was very sorry about the omelette, oops I mean soufflé and would like to offer us a cheese board….. what? We declined. A little later the waitress returned again and this time the manager had said there would be no charge for our bottle of wine. We felt very sorry for the waitress as she had been left to deal with the omelette fiasco, at no time did the manager or the chef come out to us and apologize themselves. The soufflé/omelette should never, ever have left the kitchen! What is laughable is that in the menu there is a piece written by the chef who has supposedly worked there for 10 years, so it’s not like he doesn’t have the experience. So sadly the dinner we had been looking forward to was a huge disappointment, though we do laugh about it now, as you couldn’t have made this up if you tried. We have nicknamed this ‘soufflegate’ and has become quite a joke amongst our friends!
Breakfast was a reasonable choice. sadly the eggs are precooked and left to turn hard in a tray under a lamp, though kippers, smoked haddock, poached or boiled eggs can be ordered separately, but this is not offered by the waitresses and we only realized when we looked through the menu. In fact the second morning when realizing there are other choices I ordered the smoked haddock and although good, was 3 times the size of the fish I’d had at dinner the previous evening!
The dining room which is used for evening dinner and breakfast was not full of guests by any means, yet each time we were all herded and crammed to one end of the room. This was particularly annoying at breakfast, as clearly this is done for ease of staff and not paying guests. In between serving guests they are getting the empty tables ready for lunch. So what is written in their menu, that the hotel want their guest’s breakfast to be ‘a relaxed affair’, couldn’t be further from the truth, when guests have to put up with the rattling of crockery and cutlery when staff laying the other tables.
Bathrobes are not in the room but are available on request. This took two requests before I could get one.
The second most memorable fiasco was trying to find the swimming pool and lack of towels, soap and shampoo in the changing rooms. The corridors are poorly sign posted and trying to find the indoor swimming pool was certainly a challenge! Found other guests also trying to find the pool. After a number of aborted attempts the pool was eventually found. Upon finding the said swimming pool, there weren’t any towels and found that I needed a coin for the locker, neither of which I had, as I thought leaving money in my room would be the most sensible decision so off back to the room I went, trying to retrace steps and at least the room numbers were signposted. I decided to get changed in our room, this meant I had to walk through the hotel corridors in my hotel bathrobe trying to find the pool again. By the way bathrobes are not in the room, you have to ask for one, so after two attempts at calling housekeeping, two eventually arrived, better late than never I guess. Yet again trying to find the pool I went the wrong way and nearly gave up, then recognized some stairs and carried on. Eventually made it to the pool….. realized I had forgotten my towel, but couldn’t be bothered to go back to the room for a third time, so resigned myself to going back wet in my bathrobe, once showered in the changingroom, I looked in the shower, no toiletries, no shower gel, shampoo, soap, nothing! I thought of giving up on the idea of having a swim, but then thought that it had taken so much effort to get this far, I would just have to shower back in the room. Not ideal, but I was having to go back wet either way, so swim I did. I must say at this point, that the photo of the pool on their website makes the pool much larger than it actually is. I counted 15 strokes from one end to the other (length ways). I then spotted a therapist from the spa walking along the poolside and asked if she knew where I could get a towel from and also shower gel/shampoo. She came back with a towel and a sachet of something, so I carried on swimming. Thought I would finish off the swim with a session in the jacuzzi. Didn’t realize that they closed the Jacuzzi at 8pm and found it to be covered. However I had started my swim before then and didn’t see anyone closing the Jacuzzi, so clearly had been covered over much earlier! Thinking I might get my shower in the changing room after all, I then looked at the satchet the therapist had given me and it was body polish, so that wasn’t going to do anything for my hair, so back to my room for a shower, dripping all the way back to our room – delightful!
Other irritating points are - mobile phone and wi-fi signals inconsistent, very poor. Took ages to find a spot, sitting outside on the balcony, was the best. Apparently the best spot is next to reception, now what a surprise!! Irritating omissions….. no shower cap in room, thankfully I had taken my own, only a conditioning shampoo, no conditioner.
Radiator didn’t work in the bathroom. I reported this and was told they would send someone to fix it, this didn’t happen.
The first night we were there we went to the Information desk which is adjacent to the Reception desk, asked if they had any local information of things to see and do. We were told they only 3 leaflets but were not local to the area and would cost £1 each! What!! We had wanted to plan our next day that evening but couldn’t, as the Information desk doesn’t hold any useful information whatsoever. So we had to visit the Tourist Information the following morning, who I might add, were absolutely delightful and so very helpful.
The TV is a good size, but only 10 channels! There was a decent sized mirror which was opposite the pseudo ‘sea/beach view’ (if you duck) window. However, as the sun goes with the reflection from the mirror you get blinded both ways, so best to wear sunglasses in the room, or close the curtains, which defeats the object of the sea/beach view (if you duck) when squatting or standing on tip toes, or face the walls at right angles to the beach/sea view window or mirrored wall.
On the plus side, there were tea/coffee making supplies, hairdryer, iron, small ironing board and small safe at least. However would we stay at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel again? Well that’s a resounding - NEVER!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Much of the Hotel has been lovingly restored from the mid 1800's, creating it's unique and tranquil atmosphere. High ceilings, chandeliers and comfortable, quiet lounges are a testament to that era, and where first class modern amenities are required, they have been skilfully incorporated into the existing Woolacombe accommodation. We place high value on our staff. Trained to be attentive yet unobtrusive and to provide the kind of personal service that is so often hard to find. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Woolacombe Bay Hotel
- Bay Woolacombe
- The Woolacombe Bay Hotel Devon