* Prices may differ from that shown
My fiancé and I thought we'd found a brilliant bargain of 3 nights for the price of 2, staying at the 4-star Kingston Lodge Hotel. The tariff was £95 per night for a double room and this included breakfast, so we thought we'd got a good deal for what was supposedly a luxury hotel. We picked this hotel because of its close proximity to Richmond Park, which we wanted to explore.
We were really looking forward to our short break away, as we have no plans to holiday abroad this year. The photos on the hotel's website got us really excited as it looked really luxurious.
When we arrived at the hotel it looked smaller than I'd imagined, but it was still quite nice looking and there was plenty of parking available. The receptionist was friendly enough and we checked-in without any problems. So far, so good.
But our good mood didn't last long. We were allocated room 217 and it was awful! It was dark and dingy with yellow stained wallpaper; as if someone had spent a lifetime chain-smoking in there. We both sat on the bed and it was so soft it was like sitting on blancmange. I immediately telephoned reception and requested a room with a firmer bed, praying that it would be better than this room. The receptionist put me on hold whilst she checked to see if there was an available room, but her finger must have slipped from the secrecy button on the phone as I heard her colleague say, "Well all the rooms are the same!"
Nevertheless, she gave us room 214, which was an improvement on room 217, in that the decor was slightly better and the bed was more comfortable. The room was still a bit shabby, the pillows smelt disgusting and it was not the luxury 4-star that we had expected. It was so depressing. However I didn't bother trying to request a different room as I'd already overheard that 'all the rooms were the same'.
The photos on the website are incredibly deceiving, as the rooms look quite modern with plenty of light. In reality, the décor is old fashioned with peeling wallpaper and gloomy Victorian portrait pictures on the walls. The bathroom was OK but not great. It was clean, but there was a huge crack in the sink and the grouting in the tiles around the bath could do with whitening. The shower was nice and powerful, but we couldn't enjoy it because of the annoying sticky shower curtain syndrome.
The TV was old and the speakers were on their way out, so the sound quality was terrible. The hotel boasts they have Sky TV, but there is only a handful of extra channels, mainly the news and Sky Sports.
The room didn't have a window; instead there were double doors that opened out onto a balcony. Unfortunately it didn't overlook the 'the charming courtyard garden with its contemporary style fountain' and we got a view of a low office block, which was so close that I could clearly see inside their office and the workers going about their business, which meant that they could also see us!
We didn't think anything could be worse than the dire room, but the terrible food service managed to make the whole experience worse!
We didn't have dinner in the restaurant because the prices were honestly ridiculous. For example the Lamb Shank was £15.95, but they charge an additional £2.75 for side dishes like potatoes and vegetables, when really they should be included in the price of a main course. Luckily we had found a great pub and a Thai restaurant down the road, but we made the mistake of deciding to have a dessert in the restaurant on the first night. We ordered 2 Sticky Toffee Puddings with custard and for £4.75 I didn't expect something that could have come straight from a school dinner canteen, but disappointingly that is what we got. The waitress was pretty useless, as she didn't bring us spoons to eat our puddings with, so I had to go and ask for them. I don't know which country she was from, but she needs to learn that it isn't customary in the UK to eat custard with a fork. If you eat here (at your peril) then check your bill carefully, because I witnessed another couple complaining that they had been overcharged for 3 main courses and 1 starter; yet again not the customary way we eat in this country!
The hotel really needs to let guests know what the restaurant etiquette is, because everyone had to guess whether we should wait for someone to seat us or just to pick a table and sit down. We optimistically assumed that it being a 4-star hotel that a waitress would come and take our hot food order, so we sat and waited. No one came, so we watched other people and saw that they had helped themselves to the buffet located at the other end of the restaurant from where we were sitting. Nowhere on the menu did it state that this is the system and should you require any other items (like poached or fried eggs) then to order them from the waitress. We weren't the only guests who looked completely lost and confused at breakfast. By not telling people to help themselves to the food, we felt like the waiting staff were ignoring us. I actually heard one man say to his wife "What have we done to deserve this?!"
We were also disappointed that it was a buffet and that the food was not freshly cooked to order. With regards to the continental breakfast, the juice wasn't chilled and the croissants were left by the open door so they went hard and stale very quickly. They normally charge an astronomical £13.95 per person for breakfast and we were relieved the cost was included in the price of our room, otherwise it would have cost us almost £85 for 3 days breakfasts!
The restaurant was never full, but the 2 waiting staff always looked rushed off their feet as they had so much to do: clearing dirty plates, laying tables, taking food/drink orders and restocking the food and crockery. I felt quite sorry for them until I saw one waitress drop a knife on the floor whilst laying a table, then pick it up and put it straight back on the table! This was disgusting and did not do my appetite any good.
> ROOM SERVICE:
We did not have a good experience with room service either. We ordered 2 Cajun Chicken sandwiches at 11pm on our last night. I thought they would come in about 5 minutes because the boy I spoke to said "Yes we have lots of Chicken sandwiches" which made me think they were pre-prepared. But after waiting for 30 minutes I phoned again to see why it was taking so long. Apparently he had 3 orders for room service at the same time. I find it hard to believe that so many people had the late-night munchies. 15 minutes later the sandwiches arrived. I could not believe it had taken 45 minutes to make a couple of sandwiches! Plus the chicken did not have any Cajun flavouring at all, so that added insult to injury of the £5.95 charged for each sandwich. By this point we were too tired and hungry to complain.
We also noticed that room service trays were left out in the corridor for a long time after the food had been eaten. For example a breakfast tray was still there when we returned from our walk at 4pm which we thought was disgraceful.
Finally there is a lot of inconsistent information given to guests. In the folder you get in your room it says there is a room service charge of £2.50 to have breakfast in your room, but on the order form the charge is £2. In the folder it says Check-In time is 2pm, whilst on the website it says it is 3pm. Also, in the folder it says room service is served from 7am-10pm, but on the menu it says it is served from 10am-9.30pm. There are no lift facilities.
I have written a letter of complaint to the hotel manager as the room and the food service in no way justifies the 4-star rating or the high prices. We weren't expecting a four-poster bed or a roll-top bath with gold taps or anything, just a room that you would enjoy spending time in and a restaurant that didn't resemble Fawlty Towers. Unsurprisingly I haven't had a reply to my letter.
This review has been posted elsewhere on the Internet.