I've visited The Smoky Mountains over thirty times in my life. My family and I come at least once or twice a year, and have we have stayed at all sorts of places--i.e. hotel/motel rooms, campsites, timeshares, gorgeous mountain chalets with all the amenities, etc. We enjoy trying new places. It's part of the fun of vacation for us.
That being said, I decided to take my husband and kids to check out the Sydney James Hotel during our last visit to Gatlinburg (June 2011). I'd vacationed there as a teenager in the mid-to-late eighties, and had enjoyed the cool pool, as well as the creekside view. I was hoping it would be a nice place to stay the next time we ventured to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge.
We went to the front desk and asked if we could see a room. They said they hadn't finished cleaning the rooms yet, and directed us to the indoor pool area to wait.
In a word--YUCK! The pics of the pool we'd seen on the internet must have been from when they first put the pool in* (circa 1987-ish). It didn't look like it had been cleaned since then, literally. The water was murky at best, there was brown film on the sides of the pool, and garbage (candy wrappers, cans, cigarette butts, etc) was strewn all around.
Also, the pool area was very dark and dank. I remembered it as being kinda cozy and inviting, but now seemed scary and gross, even in the middle of the day. The idea of the "grotto" is great, but due to the lack of upkeep, it kinda reminded me of stories I've heard about the Playboy Mansion's Grotto--ICKY! I would NOT let my children go near that water.
I was ready to leave then, but the guy from the front desk showed up and said there was a clean room available to see, so we proceeded to it.
The room was TRASHED--it had not been cleaned. To add insult to injury, the carpets were filthy, we saw a roach, and the entire room smelled foul. Plus, the "balony" was tiny--barely enough room for 4 people to stand, much less sit. Also the creekside "view" was horrible--a rundown, vacant hotel on the other side of the creek, and more trash lining the creekbed.
The guy giving the tour apologized for showing us the wrong (uncleaned) room, and offered to take us to a clean room. I declined.
The only quasi-good thing I can say about Sydney James is that the gentleman showing us around the grounds seemed genuinely embarassed by the state of the hotel, and was very apologetic.
It's really sad that this hotel has fallen into such disrepair. Although the balcony was small, I could've overlooked that if everything else (maintainence-wise) was up to par. Unfortunately, it just isn't.
I think this hotel lures people in with the very out-dated pics of the pool and the creek view. I doubt seriously if they have much in the way of repeat business.
I'm glad I didn't book a room here before seeing it firsthand--it would've ruined my family's whole trip. Do yourself a favor and find another place. You couldn't pay me to stay here now. This is, BY FAR, the worst hotel I've ever seen in Gatlinburg--hands down.
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- Also Known As:
- Sidney James Mountain Hotel Gatlinburg
- Sidney James Mountain Gatlinburg
- Sidney James Lodge