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Christmas at Cranage
Cranage Hall (Cheshire)
Member Name: jo1976
Cranage Hall (Cheshire)
Date: 14/12/09, updated on 18/07/10 (390 review reads)
Advantages: Attractive hotel, good facilities, excellent party atmosphere
Disadvantages: Expensive bar prices, rude waiting staff
Last week, my husband and I celebrated Christmas with his work colleagues at Cranage Hall in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. As this was some distance from home, we treated ourselves to a night away in the hotel without the kids, making a good night even better! Cranage Hall is part of the Principal Hayley group of conference venues and hotels but for us it was the setting of our Christmas 'do' and a well-deserved night away.
Our party had taken advantage of one of the festive Christmas events offered by Cranage Hall. We paid £32 per person for a three course Christmas evening meal and an additional £49 for our double room including breakfast. This seemed like a very good deal considering standard room charges are around £85 for a standard double room with breakfast. As we were taking advantage of a party booking, we made our reservation a few months ago by telephone and had been looking forward to a pleasant night away ever since.
I was very pleasantly surprised when we pulled up outside Cranage Hall. The exterior is very grand and imposing and it was much bigger than I expected. Our sat nav managed to direct us to the hotel without any problems as the hotel is just a couple of miles out of Holmes Chapel, in the village of Cranage. There was more than adequate car parking available, despite the hotel being packed with other Christmas revellers, although it did mean a short walk over to the main entrance as all of the closest spaces were taken.
The hotel reception was very welcoming and we were asked to pay for the room in full on arrival, having left credit card details over the phone when we booked the room but not actually paid a deposit as such. Staff on arrival were friendly and professional and we were directed to our room without any problems. One couple in our party did have a problem on arrival and had to wait half an hour for their room to become available. To give the hotel their due, they were given complimentary bathrobes, a bottle of wine and chocolates to apologise for the delay so this certainly seems like a hotel that cares about the guests.
The bedooms were clearly sign-posted, in spite of the seemingly never-ending corridors we had to walk through. Our double room was surprisingly spacious with all of the requisite facilities, including an en-suite bathroom with bath as well as shower. Everything was fresh, clean and well cared-for with sufficient bedding and tea/coffee making facilities as you'd expect. Our room even included an iron, hairdryer and trouser press so were able to make sure our Christmas party wear was looking at its best! The TV was a decent size although the reception was terrible. Luckily, we had no intention of sitting in our room watching TV when there was a party to go to!
For the Christmas party night, we met up initially in the hotel bar downstairs where we were greeted with our complimentary drink (some unidentifiable concoction including cranberry juice.) We were called up to the Stevenson Suite just before 8pm and seated. There were a large number of seperate parties seated within the suite but each party was clearly marked and there was plenty of space between tables so it didn't feel as though we'd all been shoe-horned into one space. Christmas meals can be a bit chaotic, with everybody forgetting which items they've ordered and so on but Cranage Hall had cleverly dealt with this issue by listing everybody's individual menu choices on the table, so there was no chance of trying to swap to a more appetising looking meal on the sly! The food itself was pleasant enough festive fare. I had the vegetarian option which was Goat's Cheese Roulade, followed by a Mushroom and Chestnut Bouginonne and a Chocolate Orange Torte. My other half enjoyed his Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup although both of us felt that the pepper couldn't be tasted at all and the soup could easily have been passed off as tomato and basil. It was pleasant enough, nonetheless. The traditional turkey dinner also seemed to go down well with everybody and I could certainly see lots of empty plates and heard no complaints about the quality of the food.
The only slight disappointment during the evening itself was the attitude of some of the waiting staff. They were clearly busy, seeing to the needs of around 200+ guests, all needing their meals at the same time. Nonetheless, a little courtesy and good manners goes a long way. I was surprised to hear one of the waiters snapping 'I'm busy!' over his shoulder at one of the members in my party! I wouldn't expect that sort of response to a simple request in McDonalds, let alone in a high quality hotel. Likewise, my request for tea at the end of the evening, rather than the coffee on offer, was met with a rather curt response, rather than the courteous reply I had anticipated. Thankfully, the ambience of the evening, an excellent DJ with a great set list and wonderful company, meant the evening wasn't spoiled in any way.
The only other issue that had the potential to put a dampener on the festivities was the cost of the drinks. A glass of lemonade cost a mighty £3.30 (!) with two glasses of Rose coming to £13! To add insult to injury, one member of our party paid for his two glasses of wine with a £20 note and was initially only offered £3 in change, until he pointed out the mistake. That could have been an even more expensive round! Luckily for me, the compliimentary half-bottle of wine included in the cost of the meal was more than enough alcohol to keep me happy. I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol nowadays. We still ended up staying up until the upstairs bar closed and then the fun continued downstairs in the Residents' Bar which was still going strong when we finally crawled to bed at 2am!
Thankfully, breakfast was served between 7-10am, the following morning so we managed to get ourselves up in time. The breakfast was a self-service hot and continental buffet affair with a very impressive selection of hot and cold items on offer, all regularly replenished throughout the morning. I was particularly pleased about the variety of items available that were suitable for vegetarians and enjoyed a generous helping of fluffy scrambled eggs, mushrooms, hash browns, tomatoes (both tinned and fresh) and baked beans. Very nice it was too!
We needed to check out by 11am but left shortly beforehand, ready to go back home and regain control of our offspring and step back into reality! If we had the time or the desire, we could have made use of the hotel's leisure club and pool and I would love to go back and sample these at some point! I would jump at the chance to go back to the hotel for another night away, especially as part of this sort of Christmas package as it worked out at really good value overall.
Cranage Hall, Byley Lane, Cranage, Holmes Chapel, Cheshire
England, CW4 8EW
Tel: 01477 536 666
Summary: A great venue for a festive party
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