We stayed at the King's Arms last weekend for the Graham Greene Festival in Berkhamsted. We hadn't stayed there since it was refurbished and reopened. The refurbishment has been done well, and our room looked good (attractive decor, nice old fireplace) and a comfortable bed.
However: although the King's Arms clearly sees itself as a top-class small hotel, the lack of attention to detail and inefficient management lets it down and stops it being a comfortable place to stay.
For example, despite lots of space in the room, there were no drawers, cupboards or shelves in either bedroom or bathroom, just a cupboard with a hanging rail. So there was nowhere to unpack toiletries, jumpers, underwear etc, and we had to live out of suitcases - not what you expect in a hotel like this. There was just one mirror, in the bathroom, and nowhere to plug in a hairdryer and see yourself while drying your hair. It was a double room but there was only one bedside light. There was a big wallmounted TV but there was no comfortable place to watch it, as it was fixed facing not the bed but the fireplace, and there was only one armchair.
I would like to recommend that the designer of the room actually spends a night there and thinks about the practicalities of staying there, which are just as important as lovely lovely fabrics and big cushions.
However, the real low point was the lack of any hot water on Saturday morning, so we had bracing cold showers. To make matters worse, having reported this, there was still no hot water on Sunday morning either. Other guests were similarly affected. The duty manager was apologetic and no doubt did his best, but in any efficient good-standard hotel, this should have been fixed at once. In fact I see from previous reviews that it has happened before, so it should never have been allowed to happen again.
I didn't find - as some previous reviewers seem to have - that staff were rude. They were unfailingly pleasant and polite, and tried to help. But management seems ineffective. I am hesitant to be too critical of the weekend duty manager, who seemed rather inexperienced, and I did wonder if the staff in the hotel are getting any sort of useful back-up from head office.
On the plus side, the breakfasts were good and speedily served, and the location in the middle of the High Street is excellent. But it would take a lot of pluses to outweight the huge minus of no hot water in the morning.
I notice that in response to previous reviewers' criticisms on this site, one Amy Kilpin from the hotel company has posted some formulaic responses, which seem to be saying that the hotel is really very good (because it does lots of training etc) and inviting the reviewer to contact the company so they can 'look into your experience'. I think this exactly demonstrates the way in which the King's Arms management seems to be well-meaning but clueless. Amy's comments miss the point entirely. For myself, I wasn't impressed; I spoke to staff at the hotel about it and got an acceptable reduction in my bill; I won't be going back; I don't need anything more from the King's Arms; why would I waste time discussing my 'experience', as I have already made all my comments in this review? So I suggest that instead, the hotel company reads the comments on this site (many of which report a series of recurring problems), takes them seriously and does something about them.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Kings Arms Hotel is a fine dining restaurant, boutique hotel and bar. Recently refurbished this historical building has been modernised offering quality in all departments. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Hotwire and Cheap Tickets so you can book your The Kings Arms reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.