Mrs SWSt and I frequently visit Stratford and try and stay at the Legacy Falcon when we do - an excellent hotel. Unfortunately, the last time we planned a trip, that hotel was fully booked and we had to find an alternative. After much searching on the internet, we found the Grosvenor Best Western Hotel which was close to the town centre and exactly the same price as our normal hotel.
One Way Street
Getting to the Grosvenor is a little bit of a nightmare, as it requires you to navigate your way through Stratford's slightly hare-brained one-way system. If you are coming from the direction of Coventry (as we were), you essentially have to enter the one way system and double back on yourself in almost a complete circle. Just before you come back out onto the road you left just a few minutes before, sits the Grosvenor Hotel - a large and reasonably impressive Georgian building. Keep your eyes peeled, because the left turn into the car park is not immediately obvious, and if you go sailing past, you'll need to go all the way back round the one way system again!
First Impressions Count
Initial impressions were that, whilst not as visually impressive as our usual hotel (a timber-framed old building), the Grosvenor certainly looked OK. Although it sits on the outskirts of Stratford, it's still an easy five minute stroll into the town centre and about 15 minutes gentle walk to the various theatres, so we were quite pleased with the location. Unfortunately, these first impressions did not last long. Things got off to a bad start thanks to a stunning display of poor customer service that made us feel like we were being a real nuisance.
Customer Service Excellence? What's That?
On arrival, there were no car parking spaces (car parking is very poor - just 50 spaces serving almost twice as many rooms. We parked our car as safely as we could and went into Reception to find out what we should do. There we met a very unsympathetic receptionist. She abruptly told us that if there were no spaces, we were allowed up to 30 minutes to move our stuff and then would have to move our car to one of the local pay and display car parks. She told us (without an ounce of sympathy) that there was a wedding and two events at the hotel and they had taken all the parking. The implication was that they were far more important than we were, because they were a bigger group and would be spending more money. Indeed, we got the distinct impression that she considered us deeply inconsiderate for having dared to book a room when they were so busy. It was a deeply negative first impression; and the hotel never recovered in our eyes from that point on.
I'll just take a moment to give you a little aside to contrast our experiences. The hotel we normally stay in has an even smaller car park. The first time we went there we also found there were no spaces. We also went and spoke to reception and their attitude could not have been more different. They were incredibly helpful and moved heaven and earth to get us a space, eventually telling us to block in another car, because they knew it belonged to a staff member. THIS is how you treat guests who are tired and flustered after a long journey: Best Western, take note.
Nor was this the only example of poor customer service that we witnessed. I overheard another receptionist telling a man that if there was no room in the car park his "only choice" was to pay up to £20 to park for the day in one of the local pay and display car parks and I witnessed another hotel employee refuse to help some elderly guests to the door with their luggage because it wasn't his job.
A Room With A View (of the Car Park)
The check-in process was far longer than it needed to be because the Receptionist was incapable of giving us her undivided attention and kept going off to deal with other customers. When we finally got to our room, it was mediocre at best. Whilst it certainly wasn't the smallest hotel room I've ever stayed in, it wasn't the biggest either. The double bed in the centre of the room took up most of the space with just enough room to pass by at the bottom and the sides. Apart from a desk (which took most of the rest of the remaining space), the only other furniture was a single wardrobe a desk chair, a stool (stupidly placed down one side of the bed near the window where you could fall over it in the night) and a TV. To add insult to injury, the bedspread had a couple of stains on it. It was clean - these were just marks that had not come out when washed -but it didn't exactly give off a positive impression.
The bathroom was equally small and Mrs SWSt (who is approximately 12 foot 6 in height) repeatedly banged her limbs on various things because there wasn't a great deal of room to spare. Even a titch like me experienced a few issues. Add in a ridiculously complicated bath, cheap toilet paper and a distinct lack of stuff to (ahem) liberate, and the initial disappointment just deepened.
Thankfully, we tend to be out and about most of the time and really only use a hotel room to sleep in, which is a good job, because this was not a room that encouraged relaxing. The walls were paper thin and we could hear the occupants of the next room giggling as clearly as if they had been in the room us, and I was kept awake at night by the loud snoring of someone in the room next door. OK, you expect a certain amount of external noise, but this was ridiculous. I have stayed in plenty of hotels over the years, and this was certainly the first time I have ever been kept awake by someone snoring in a different room. It's not an experience I want to repeat.
On the plus side, the curtains were very heavy, meaning that the room stayed lovely and dark and sunlight didn't intrude too much. Mind you, when you have to highlight the curtains as a plus point of a hotel, you know that you are struggling to find something nice to say.
In fairness, another plus was that free Wi-Fi was available in most bedrooms and this was easy to set up and pretty reliable. It was also surprisingly fast for a shared, hotel connection. Having said that, I'd much rather have no internet and a decent room rather than a rubbish room and free Wi-Fi.
It's not even as though the hotel is cheap. A double room costs around £100 per night (based on a weekend stay). This is exactly the same as we have paid previously at the Legacy Falcon, a far superior hotel in almost every aspect (although it has become much more expensive of late).
Our whole experience at the Best Western in Stratford is best summed up as deeply disappointing. Mrs SWSt and I return to Stratford several times a year. I can guarantee one thing: we will never be staying at the Grosvenor Best Western ever again.
Best Western Grosvenor Hotel
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
"This Georgian style hotel is one of the most distinctive hotels in Stratford upon Avon, the delightfully rambling ground floor exudes tremendous character with small, intimate lounges, creating an ambience to match the Shakespearean past of this historic market town.
The Hotel is close to Stratford Upon Avons many attractions, the high street and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and is the perfect hotel in Stratford and for visiting the rest of Warwickshire."
Taken from the hotel's website at www.bwgh.co.uk
I stayed at the three star Grosvenor hotel to watch a recent RSC production. I wanted a hotel that was easy to get to from the railway station and close enough to the theatre to walk to. It would also be nice if the hotel was not too far away from the town centre, but this wasn't a deal-breaker.
I've never been too bothered by what the outside of hotels look like. Even Fawlty Towers had a pleasant facade. After a 15 minute walk from the station, wandering through the town centre, the white walls of the Grosvenor welcome you from a distance. I would have prefered to not have to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke at the entrance - perhaps having a marked area a few metres away, instead of right outside?
The foyer was small but not unpleasant and it was possible to appreciate some of the "delightfully rambling ground floor". It was like a warren, with bars and lounges all interconnected. It felt clean and efficient, while maintaining a certain chaotic charm.
Checking-in was done quickly and efficiently. I had reserved a room through the hotel's website, so all I needed to do was register a credit card for payment and any additional expenses.
Best Western, the chain that owns the Grosvenor, allows you to use Nectar points to pay for a percentage of your accomodation. For further details, see the Nectar website - www.nectar.com
I had requested the simplest option, a bed for one night. For what this meant in practice, see the information at the bottom the review.
If I had wanted to, I could have paid extra for a variety of options. If I had wanted the convenience of eating in the hotel, I could have paid for breakfast or dinner. I could have upgraded from a standard to an executive room, at an additional cost of £10. For the additional features this would have given, see the information at the bottom of the review.
The executive tarif would have given me air conditioning which I would have been grateful for. My standard room had a ceiling fan which made virtually no difference, apart from the electrical buzz giving me a headache the following morning.
I was not planning on being in the hotel for any great amount of time. I wanted to explore Stratford, clean myself up and get to the Theatre. My room fitted this requirement perfectly. The bedding was comfortable, there was more than enough storage space for my belongings and the bathroom was very clean.
Aside from the migraine-inducing ceiling fan, my only other issue was the noise outside during the night. It's perhaps a little unfair to have this influence the review of the Grosvenor, as there is not a great deal they can do about noise outside. But, were you thinking of staying there, I would want you to be aware of it.
I had a very poor night's sleep caused by noise from groups of people outside the hotel on two seperate occasions. The noise seemed to be coming from the hotel grounds and did not disperse, leading me to conclude it was in some way connected to the hotel - either an event, or group of people staying there. While some noise is inevitable on a Saturday night, I think a degree of consideration is needed, especially at 3am.
Personally, I don't think I would have wanted to stay in the Grosvenor for more than three or four days. This was confirmed on the Sunday morning, when much of the ground floor was taken up with a christening party. Had I wanted to sit in the lounge and read a newspaper, I would have been swamped by children running around.
Overall, I was pleased with the Grosvenor Hotel as a base for a mini-break, where I could drop my stuff, clean up and continue exploring. It was clean, comfortable and the staff were efficient. Stratford town centre was five minutes walk away and the RSC theatres could all be reached within twenty minutes of walking.
Single Occupancy £140.00
Double / Twin Occupancy £140.00
Colour Television with news channel
Direct Dial Telephone
Complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits
Complimentary bathroom amenities
24 hour room service
Single Occupancy £155.00
Double / Twin Occupancy £155.00
Iron and Ironing Board
Free, if under 16 and sharing a room with parents. £35 per child, if they are in seperate rooms.
Reduced prices for meals.
Advise the hotel at the time of booking if you require cots or rollaway beds.
Health and Fitness
For the duration of your stay, you receive complimentary use of the Stratford Leisure Centre, a short distance from the hotel. This has a pool, gym, sauna and steam room.
The hotel has 3 packages and a team of advisors. It is a licensed venue for civil ceremonies.
The hotel regularly regularly hosts murder-mystery weekends and offers other seasonal packages.
The Best Western Grosvenor Hotel
Stratford Upon Avon
Tel: 01789 269213
Fax: 01789 266087
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.bwgh.co.uk