Americans especially will not understand the concept of people who appear to be nice but offer terrible service, but this is not uncommon in the UK especially at old-school bed and breakfasts where the owners still think that the place is to be run for their maximum convenience rather than that at the guest.
I had chosen to stay at this place because they had advertised flexibility in breakfast choices, and because I love Scottish kippers but detest greasy fry ups. I had phoned, and the lady-owner had been perfectly charming and agreed to get me kippers.
When I arrived I found my room to be immaculately clean and beautifully appointed. The bed turned out to be extremely comfortable, nicely-arranged tea and cookies were thoughtfully left, the bathroom was absolutely proper -- a great place to stay at a budget price.
But then came the discussion of breakfast. I told the owner (the husband of the lady I'd
spoken to earlier I believe) that the only way I could do a hike I wanted to do the next day and catch a ferry across Loch Lomond afterwards was to leave on a bus at 8:30 so I would like breakfast at 8 o'clock. But, the owner said, this was impossible. Breakfast could not be served before 8:30.
This seemed astonishing not only to me but to other hikers I met later in the day: it seems that many places do not serve earlier than that. The owner at my place had told me that he worked hard and it was too difficult for him to make breakfast available earlier. Another hiker told me that the management and his lodging had relented and offered him an 8 am breakfast. But 8:30 is apparently the norm, despite the fact that this is the site of some of the most stunning scenery in the world and active outdoors people would surely want to be out at first light to experience its charms to the maximum.
So, I went out without breakfast, thinking I would at least get my kippers today, a Sunday, when I had no plans to get up early. The owner told me that on Sundays breakfast did not start until 9, so I assumed there was no hurry. About ten past nine I told him I would like my kippers and he said ok. I had a shower, did up my bags and went down at 9:40 -- to be told that they stopped serving breakfast at 9:30 and I could not have kippers. The owner did bring me toast and tea, and to his credit he also deducted 10 pounds off my bill for the missed
In addition, he went beyond the call of duty and very kindly phoned round several taxi companies to get me a cab -- hard to find on a Sunday morning.
So here is this mystery situation: Glenfern is an immaculate bed and breakfast with obliging management -- but obliging within strict limits. Go beyond those limits and you will be out of luck. The good news is that Tripadvisor now exists to educate managements of traveler expectations. So, with a few more frank reports on both the good and the bad about bed and breakfasts in this region, things may change. The management seem like really nice people, after all: they simply need to learn about how to respond to modern expectations.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Glenfern Guest House is situated in the delightful village of Balloch, where a warm and friendly welcome awaits you from the owners, Susan and Frank Deans. Their wish- to make your stay in this beautiful spot as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. The Guest House is just a short stroll from the southern shore of Loch Lomond, in Scotland's first National Park. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Glenfern Guest House Balloch, Scotland