I bought three vouchers for afternoon tea and bed and breakfast for six people through Itison in January. I booked the accommodation and afternoon tea shortly after purchasing and stated at that time that one of our party required gluten-free catering. When we checked in last weekend, I again mentioned that one of our party required gluten-free catering and the Receptionist confirmed that they already had a note of that. Thirty minutes later, we went through to the area where afternoon teas were being served, three rooms in total. There was nobody to greet us and we wandered from room to room because there were no tables for six available. In the last room there was one table for four and another table at the far end for two. The waiter told us there were no tables for six available and asked if we wanted to go down to the The Brasserie in the basement for our afternoon tea, which we declined. Eventually, another waitress suggested that the two empty tables be put together to accommodate six.
Once we were seated, we had to wait 30 minutes for our "champagne" (I would use the term loosely as we saw bottles of Prosecco and one of the members of staff mentioned the word Prosecco). We then waited another 10 minutes and we asked where our afternoon tea was and, again, mentioned that we required one gluten-free selection. Ten minutes later - 50 minutes after we had arrived - one of the staff came back and said that there was no gluten-free bread, but that they could provide gluten-free cakes. These consisted of two chocolate brownies and two almond slices! At that point customers at another table (possibly the lady who has already written a review about gluten-free bread not being available) told us that they had stayed in the hotel the night before and there was no gluten-free bread available for them the previous evening or for afternoon tea, despite requesting it in advance. Anyway, back to the afternoon tea: the "homemade selection of cakes, pastries and mini desserts" which were supposed to be part of the offer, were quite definitely not homemade. In fact, I had seen the same selection in the freezer section at Costco! The tea to accompany the sandwiches and cakes, arrived 20 minutes after the food. The waiter initially brought us two one cup teapots for six people and when we stated that we didn't have enough tea for six, he brought us another small teapot, which still only provided enough tea for three people!!! I might also add that the crockery on our table didn't match, there were no teaspoons set out and not enough knives for everyone. I also noticed that some of the teapots had chips on the spout - not very appealing to the eye. The whole afternoon tea experience was dismal, to say the least.
On to dinner now. We had pre-dinner drinks in the Library and two of the drinks we ordered were not available. We booked into the Brasserie Restaurant and we ate from the A la Carte menu. Two of the starters were supposed to have king prawns, but in fact consisted of four to five smallish prawns - at £8.95 per head, this was not value for money. Most of the main dishes we ordered were around £18 per head, and although nice enough, were nothing special. We also ordered a bottle of wine on the wine list, but surprise, surprise, this was not available either! After dinner, we went back up to the Library to have a nightcap and yet again, no Amaretto, Grand Marnier.
Now to the bedrooms. Although the rooms that the three couples had were nice enough, our bed was so hard because the mattress in our room was thin and hard. During the night we were kept awake by a buzzing from the electricity box located above the bathroom door, a problem which affected all three bedrooms.
I would say that all members of staff were extremely nice and helpful, but it was quite obvious that not enough staff are employed to give good customer service in the restaurants and public areas used for afternoon tea. The staff were running around like headless chickens because they were so busy and it didn't make for a relaxed atmosphere. I must also say that the building and grounds look a little shabby. The public rooms were nicely decorated, but there is a tired look about the place.
Melville Castle need to get their act together if they want to get people back through the door!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Melville Castle, once home to the influential Dundas family, is set within a 50 acre estate of wooded parkland on the picturesque banks of the river North Esk. Located just 20 minute drive from Edinburgh’s city center this luxurious castle offers the tranquility of a country setting on the doorstep of this thriving city. The 32 classically styled bedrooms offer all the luxury & comfort you deserve and our friendly team will take pleasure in catering to all your requirements during your stay. The Castle provides Bed and Breakfast accommodation and there are a number of award winning and highly recommended restaurants within 5 minutes drive. At one time the hunting seat of Mary Queen of Scots, the Castle was commissioned by the first Viscount Melville in 1791 for entertaining, which it continues to do to this day. We have ample free parking and a frequent 24 hour bus service to Edinburgh from the bus stop at the Castle Gates. Complimentary city maps and bus timetable are available at reception. Whether lounging with a drink next to a crackling fire in our library bar, or relaxing over a game of croquet on the lawn, we are sure you will enjoy your stay with us! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Melville Castle Dalkeith, Scotland