“ 3***. Market Place, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 2NZ. Tel: +44 (0)1285 658 507. „
**Dooyoo policy is not to add a hotel restaurant listing if the hotel is already in the database. Thus I must follow their guidelines and write this under the hotel as the restaurant would be rejected**
In October my mother was celebrating her 70th birthday and she and my step-father had their 35th wedding anniversary at the end of the summer so my sister and I decided to arrange a long weekend away. Nobody was much in the mood to go too far due to a couple of the group having had problems with back pain so we ended up in the south Cotswolds for a few days. Our meeting point was Cirencester, a town I didn't know at all and which my sister had only visited once before. Target time of arrival was half past one and in usual fashion my husband and I turned up a few minutes early and my sister rolled up with everyone else half an hour late.
In the half hour we had to wander around the town we soon realised that there didn't seem to be too many places to eat. Since the rest of my family are utterly useless at making decisions and my husband can't cope with all their fluffiness over food choices, we decided to pick somewhere and then bully everyone else to go along with our choice. Turning up our noses as 'Sausage and Chips for £1.50' (vegetarian option - chips for £1) from a dodgy looking place by the Forum car park, we picked a hotel on the Market Place called the Fleece for no better reason than it was the place where we happened to be standing when my sister rang to say they had just arrived.
We were taking a lot on faith as the outside of the hotel was almost completely hidden behind scaffolding and tarpaulins but the little we could see suggested it was a nice old historic building. The menu looked manageable - not cheap but not eye-wateringly expensive like many such places in the Cotswolds - and since it was 2 pm by the time they arrived, nobody was in too much mood to debate the venue. We headed in through a side door, passed through a rather busy bar which reassured us it couldn't be too awful, and through a quiet seating area to the restaurant.
The restaurant was very nearly empty with just one table taken in a corner. It was late for lunch so we weren't too bothered by the emptiness and asked a passing waiter if he could move a table to make us a space for 6 people. He quickly did this though we did wonder if he was going to deposit all the glasses and cutlery onto the floor as it was a rather shaky manoeuvre. He brought us some menus and left us to wallow in the indecisiveness of the rest of the family.
A waitress appeared and told us in a style rather more American and less 'Cotswoldian' that her name was Rebecca and she'd be our waitress and would we like to order drinks. With a request for several pints of bitter and glasses of coke and a request for a jug of water she headed off on her cheery way. Meanwhile the interminable indecisiveness of food choices started to set in and even my husband was vacillating between 'ham, egg and chips' and 'fish and chips'. Eventually after the lovely Rebecca had been back several times with drinks and jugs of water, everyone had come to a conclusion about what to order. My sister went for a 'small' fish and chips, her partner for a steak and ale pie, my step-father for a large fish and chips, my mother for an omelette, I took a 'fishmongers deli board' and hubby flipped back to his ham egg and chips. Prices ranged between £6.95 for the omelette and chips up to £10.95 for the large fish and chips and the deli board.
Service was neither extraordinarily fast, nor exceptionally slow and as we'd not all be together for a few months nobody minded the wait as we had a lot of catching up to do. Most went off to hunt down the hotel toilets after their journey and my mother asked if they had a disabled toilet as she couldn't face heading up the stairs. The receptionist said they didn't have a special one but there was a ground floor loo that mum could use with just a couple of steps to get to it.
There had been some debate about how small the 'small' fish and chips were compared to the 'large' fish and chips but when they arrived there didn't seem to be too much difference in the portion size. Mum's omelette was very 'hearty' in size, the pie was too far away for me to see and the ham egg and chips looked to be pretty generous. My 'deli board' was pretty impressive in all respects other than the bread which was supplied. With a mound of smoked salmon, a second mound of very nice delicate Marie Rose prawns, two large gougons of fried fish, a mound of rocket, a small 'boat' of pickled vegetables, the single slice of bread was far too little to do the job. Nice touches included the muslin-wrapped half lemon and the little pot of tartare sauce complete with what looked like an ice-cream spoon. The quality of all the ingredients was good and the quantity of all except the bread was fine. but I couldn't help thinking that being mean with the bread had thrown the whole meal out of balance.
When we'd worked our way through all the food, we resisted puddings. By this point it was about half past three and we were running out of afternoon and parking time. My mother had a hot chocolate with marshmallows which surprisingly didn't have any whipped cream, my sister and I had cafetieres of coffee and the rest went for a second round of beer. As you can spot, sis and I were the designated drivers. Lunch for the six of us with drinks during and after came to something like £85. I didn't see the bill but sent my husband off to settle it quietly when nobody was paying attention. As we left we realised that maybe we should have taken our coffees and beers into the gorgeous old lounge area with its beautiful fireplace and big soft sofas. Mind you the two with back problems might have needed to be winched off the sofas if they'd given them a go.
All in all I can't say it was a bargain meal, but in just a couple of days we came to realise that nothing's cheap in the Cotswolds and on balance, this was not bad value at all.
If you have a car - pick another hotel. There are about seven parking spaces at the back of the hotel and once you are in.....you'll need all of your reversing skills to get out again. It is also likely that someone will block you in and if you leave early in the morning and they aren't up and ready to move their car, then tempers may fly. I was put into this hotel by the organisation I work for, so it was not specifically my choice, but as I had stayed in other wonderful Jarvis Hotels before I was really looking forward to it. How disappointed I was. The receptionist, after being extremely unhelpful as to where I should park, (all the spaces were taken when I arrived) then watched me struggle with my bags through the doors before venturing a "Would you like any help?". When I asked for help to my room, he stated that he couldn't leave reception and said it wasn't far. It may not have been far in his mind, but the corridors were narrow and there were numerous stairs to negociate before I finally fell gratefully into my room. It was November and the weather was chilly, however the room was swelteringly hot and my attempts to turn down the heat were not met with success. My request to reception was met with "the heating cannot be regulated for individual rooms" The TV was from the dark ages and the leaflet that promised radio must have been written for another hotel, as I couldn't find it. The teletext did not work and the remote control was intermittent in its cooperation. The bed was rock hard. but very roomy and there were plenty of pillows and extra blankets. Don't rely on the hair dryer.....ha!......I should say the instrument of torture that burnt my hand, whilst puffing ineffectually on my hair and the hose of which finally became detached from the main unit on the wall. The moral of that story is always take your own. Although the leaflet in the ro
om advertised a breakfast in the room option, the leaflet for leaving on the door handle was missing. This was resolved by a visit to reception. Beware the advertised 24hour room service....it finished at 10pm. Beware the advertised "always open to customers" bar, it didn't open until 6pm. The selection of drinks in the bar was very poor. "We don't get many customers", the Barman explained. "Ever wondered why?" I retorted, as I downed my warm coke. The restaurant served a very limited menu for £13.95, but I opted for a room service meal at £8.95 (there is a hidden service charge of £1 which you only find out about when you check out). All in all I was very disappointed with the service and the hotel, hence my desire to add this review. I should stress that this is not my particular experience of other Jarvis Hotels though, so don't let it put you off trying their others, especially those with the Seabastian Coe leisure centres. Just avoid this one! Please note the price quoted was a special discount for my company. I did not note the standard price as I had no intention of ever staying here whilst I was footing the bill!