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Grosvenor Hotel (Stratford)
Member Name: SWSt
Grosvenor Hotel (Stratford)
Date: 30/01/13, updated on 30/01/13 (44 review reads)
Advantages: Free Wi-Fi; nice heavy curtains make for dark rooms
Disadvantages: Totally inadequate parking facilites; appalling customer service; mediocre rooms
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
Summary: Staying here is a mistake we will not be making twice