“ Address: Oxford Road / Beaconsfield / Buckinghamshire / HP9 2XE / Telephone: 01753 893891 „
Little things do matter; I think everyone knows that. It's important to pay attention to the little details or you risk blowing the whole image.
I once went to a big important meeting at the New York HQ of a company for which I worked. A very important lady from a big supermarket buying group was sitting next to me, exuding that kind of arrogant confidence that Americans do SO well. She had a smart but rather conservative suit, nice shoes, a fancy branded bag and a Mont Blanc pen. Her jacket came off as the meeting progressed and as she leaned forward to make a point, I caught sight of her bra. It was grey. That particular shade that you get when your husband 'accidentally' puts one of his black socks in with the white wash. In one instant all my sense of being intimidated by her professionalism evaporated - fancy clothes, fancy gear and a 'washed-with-socks-bra'. You can't get the image back again when it's blown.
So what does that have to do with the Bellhouse in Beaconsfield? The hotel is quite simply trying too hard and forgetting that all its undies took a spin with the black socks. There's a swanky pool, quite a nice looking restaurant but when you go to the lift, there's a big lump of the wood veneer hanging off the facia. And when you walk along the really very long corridors in search of your room, the carpets are dreary, grubby and worn and the lights are so dim you can't find your key in your bag. The staircases look like something from my old secondary school - dated and dreary. The view of the grass at the back is spoilt by some ugly big shipping containers. There are some nice touches like swanky sinks in the bathrooms but in places it's just so shabby that no amount of that clever stuff that promises to get your whites white again can make sort out the greyness.
I spent three nights last week in this rather dire hotel and I'm still wondering what ever possessed the company I work for to book us in here. Oh yes, maybe something to do with the room rate of £87 which isn't bad for this sort of area and certainly beats the rack-rate of £160. But didn't they notice that there's NOTHING around here for anyone to do? At risk of offending anyone who loves Beaconsfield, what's it for? What's there? (that's a rhetorical question - apparently there's some kind of model village). Why would you need a large hotel in Beaconsfield? In its defence - and in the sure and certain knowledge of offending another townsworth of people - the only good thing about the place is that it isn't Slough (where I spent the days last week). The only people I can imagine needing a hotel like this would be cheating couples in need of a discrete place that's handy for the motorway.
I arrived on Tuesday evening and parked in the car park - big and full of spaces. That's pretty much all you need from a car park. Finding it wasn't difficult either - another plus point. Leave the M40 at Junction 2, turn north and then right at the first roundabout and 2 miles later the hotel's on the right. It was so easy I remembered the way after seeing the map on the website just once.
Walking up to the entrance I got a strange sense of flashback - this looked like the hotels that 90% of all the people I've ever known who got married had their receptions in during the late 80s and early 90s and bits of it look like they've not been touched since then. I was expecting some over-emotional bridesmaids in meringue dresses crying in the corner whilst the DJ played 'My first, my last, my everything'.
Walking through the main doors - which probably ought to be automatic but aren't - there are seating areas on either side with big comfy but rather dated sofas. The reception desk is straight ahead and decorated with several teddy bears in dressing gowns - cute and reminding us that there's a sort of health club on sight. The receptionist took my credit card and swiped it for £300. I asked why and she went into a long complicated explanation that this was to cover the possible extras that I might charge to my room. I asked why this was necessary as I spend a lot of my life in hotels but I've never been asked to give my pin number when checking in. She just shrugged. Bearing in mind it was a company booking, it wasn't as if they needed to worry that any of us would do a runner without paying.
With my card key in my hand I was directed to the lift which was the shabbiest little box I've seen in a long time. I went up one floor and then took a long walk along a really cold corridor with the dreary carpet and the poor lighting. Opening the room I found a slightly different dull carpet continued into the room which was small and crowded.
The room looks like it's been furnished by MFI. On one side there's quite a nice desk unit with a couple of sockets, a phone and a desk-light and a hairdryer. There's a comfy chair, a couple of bedside tables, a double bed, a wardrobe and storage unit with a TV on top and a distinct lack of flat surfaces. Where was I supposed to put my suitcase? Well there's one of those silly fold-out bag stands that fall over the moment you try to put anything on them and much as I don't like them there wasn't a lot of choice about where else to put my bag unless I wanted to leave it on the floor. Oh, nearly forgot, there was also a trouser press. You can't be a four star in the UK without one but having one really doesn't make up for all the other blurgh-ness about the Bellhouse.
The room was cold but quickly warmed up when I turned up the radiator. The décor was pretty grim - dark blue, dark red and flecks of cream. The curtains were red and when I pulled them back the first morning I found a lovely view of a roof. On the down-side there's absolutely no mobile phone signal at this end of the hotel. On the plus side there's free WiFi which I really appreciate. There's no mini-bar but bizarrely there is some kind of computer game console thingy (yep, not something I know anything about). There's a weird problem with the electricity - it pulses every now and then and the lights flicker. I've not dared to plug my lap-top in for fear of a power surge (another long story - IT department bought us all portable power surge preventers and they didn't fit).
The bathroom is tiny with a couple of nice touches. There's a heated towel rail but the towels aren't on it so what's that about? The sink is one of those cute ones that stands up above the worktop - like the classic Philippe Starck sinks that were really popular a few years ago but this one was china rather than glass. Give it a year or two and it's going to be really dated. The bath was one of those that's designed to be a shower bath - wide at one end and really narrow at the other. If I'd been any taller (I'm about 5 foot 8) the shower would have been too low to wash my hair. The toiletries were dull and there were just two towels - one large and one small. Any ladies with long hair will know that you need TWO big towels - one for your hair and one for your body. And ideally I'd prefer that neither of them looked like they'd already been used.
On my first evening I briefly managed to get a phone signal for just long enough to call a colleague and meet him in the bar. After that I didn't get a signal again for 3 days. The bar area is large and has absolutely no atmosphere. There are two big seating areas with sofas and a dining area that overlooks the swimming pool. We ate in the bar on the second evening and the food was over-priced, undersized and served extremely slowly. There's also a restaurant which I used on the first morning for breakfast. The breakfast selection was very good and there's also the option to have room service breakfast included in the price, if you take a continental option, or for a surcharge of £4 for a cooked breakfast.
In total about 14 of us were booked in at the Bellhouse and everyone I spoke to seemed to dislike the place but nobody could quite put their finger on why. The main reasons given were the small rooms, the general dreariness of the place and, in one case, the lack of a minibar. A few colleagues had stayed here before and, as one put it, he remembered it as having been nicer in the past. It's just a rather soul-less and dull hotel. The company I work for uses the hotel a lot but I'm not particularly looking forward to a return visit.
Over 140 rooms decorated in modern design complete with amenities to make your stay more relaxing. Offering facilities for all your travel needs. Just a short distance away from the hustle and bustle of London and Windsor Castle.