Friday the 13th and we arrived at Ramada Farnham looking forward to a close friend's wedding the following day which was starting at 10.30am with the civil ceremony and going on all day ending with a dinner and dance reception finishing at 11.30pm. We'd chosen to stay at Ramada Farnham as it was just 6 miles down the road from the wedding venue and I was reliably informed that it would only take 10-15 minutes to get there from the Ramada. That as well as the fact that I managed to get a fairly low room rate for my husband and myself including breakfast due to the bride having made a deal with local hotels in Farnham for her wedding guests as long as they were booked 6 weeks or more in advance.
Apologies in advance for the length of the review but I've broken it down into sections for clarity.
We arrived just after 2pm and the check in process was very easy and friendly. We were slightly miffed to be told the room was on the 2nd floor and there was no lift as we had quite a bit of luggage to carry for our 2 day stay. We were advised how to get to our room and told that breakfast on the Saturday morning was from 8-10am and 8-12 on the Sunday (which we thought was great as we wanted a lie-in on the Sunday).
We found all the staff we encountered at reception over our weekend stay as being more than helpful. Not having had the best of experiences with another Ramada branch; I was a bit worried about what to expect but the staff at Ramada Farnham couldn't have been more helpful if they tried. I asked for directions to the wedding venue we were going to the following day and the lovely Rada at reception looked up the details and even gave me a printout of how to get there from the hotel - although hubby had looked up the details before we arrived at the hotel - it was still nice to also get clarification from a local person. When we asked for the room to be changed as it was too small, there was no fuss made or any suggestion about paying an extra charge.
Overall rating for reception and staff: 5 out of 5 stars
When we arrived at our room we found the key card to work very easily (from experience in other hotels, these electronic key cards can be very hit and miss). As soon as we opened the door to our room, we both gasped in shock at how small the room was. The double bed seemed to take up most of the room and ever heard the expression "Not enough room to swing a cat?" Well that was the room we were given, the wardrobe was small and inside was a large ironing board but really nowhere to put it if we needed to use it! The bathroom was also small and looked very dated and there was even mould on the shower sliding doors which made me feel quite uncomfortable, my heart sank! Hubby went down to the car to get the rest of our stuff and called me a few minutes later to say he'd spoken with the receptionist to say we hated the room and she offered us another larger and more modern room straight away which was on the 1st floor.
The "studio room" we were moved to was quite a bit bigger then the first room and as soon as we got in we felt quite relieved as I was quite worried it was going to be a disastrous stay. The room was almost twice the size of the first room we'd been given and the bathroom was definitely more up to date. The toiletries in the first bathroom had been very minimal and even in this one there was just one small bar of soap, one small bottle of conditioning shampoo, one hand towel and bath towel in the bathroom. The toilet roll hadn't even been replaced from the last guest as it was almost finished but there was a spare one on the 2nd toilet roll holder. The bathroom was spacious and the toiletries seemed to be a step up from the previous room - the first room only having a small bar of soap and conditioning shampoo, the second room having a vanity kit and shower cap too. There were extra towels in the wardrobe which was bigger than in the first room and had about 12 clothes hangers available. We were definitely pleased with the size of the room, bathroom and wardrobe space. Friday 13th was looking better!
We found the shower to be of an excellent standard, both hubby and I agreed it was the best shower we've had in a hotel for quite some time!
Another positive about the room was that the sound proofing seemed to be excellent. I've found in some hotels that when people walk past in the corridor and have a conversation it filters through to the room. We didn't hear any outside noise in our room during our stay. Room service was very efficient - we were out for the best part of the day on Saturday and our room was made up with replacement toiletries. The room had a refreshment tray with tea, coffee, etc, but it was somewhat hidden in a set of drawers - not that either of us drinks tea or coffee but there were 2 bottles of still and sparkling water we didn't find till late on Saturday evening on the refreshment tray which we could have done with earlier!
The dressing table area was near the bathroom and I felt this would have been better near the window as the lighting was not exactly adequate. A powerful hairdryer was available along with an ironing board, iron and trouser press. The ironing board was quite small and once put up it restricted access from the room to the bathroom so it would be more practical to have this somewhere else in the room. Can't win them all though. At least the iron and board were available and didn't have to be requested from reception.
We did find on both nights of our stay that the room was unbearably warm. The weather wasn't hot outside, in fact, it rained for most of Friday and Saturday and the temperature was quite cool outside; yet the room was uncomfortably hot on both nights. This was despite keeping the window open as far as it would go and keeping the fan on permanently whilst in the room. We were advised that it was due to the building being of brick construction but we felt this was a shame as the bed was comfortable and we could have had a good sleep had we not felt so warm. I was quite miffed having to go to a wedding on a Saturday morning after having slept less than 2 hours.
I'm unable to provide exact pricing for the rooms as they seem to vary hugely in price. We got our rooms for £60 per night inclusive of breakfast having booked some months in advance and we were advised that some of the wedding guests who hadn't booked in advance were quoted £140 per night when trying to book a week before. Another guest who stayed paid £110 for a room (single occupant) and had to pay an extra £11 for breakfast on top. I don't think I'd pay anything more than £80 a night for staying here! Room sizes available include: standard double room, twin executive bedroom, family room for 3, executive double suite. The room we had was a standard double room which included a work desk, flat screen TV with on demand movies, with internet usage as a payable extra. Free wifi was available in reception/lounge areas.
Overall rating for room(s): 3 out of 5 stars
At reception on arrival we had asked if we were able to use the hotel swimming pool and leisure facilities and were advised that these were free for the use of guests. We could see the pretty garden from our room window through which was a path to the pool and gym but as it was raining heavily we were advised by reception how to get to the Sebastian Coe Health Club through the inside of the hotel so we didn't get wet. The receptionist at the pool entrance was very friendly and advised us to go through to the changing rooms and out the other side to the pool. The pool wasn't exactly big but it was sufficient for our needs. Within the pool area was a children's pool and a spa. The pool was just the right temperature although it was a bit of a shock re-entering the pool after spending 20 minutes or so in the spa which was somewhat warmer. The steam room and sauna both had clear instructions for use with advice on who shouldn't use them. Both wall charts said heart patients should avoid; so hubby didn't have a go. I tried out the sauna for a while but not being too keen on them generally I exited within a few minutes.
The changing rooms were clean and had shower cubicles as well as individual changing rooms and lockers were available for a modest 50p. As we had brought towels with us from our room, on leaving the pool area, the helpful receptionist provided us with a couple of fresh towels to take back to our room which we thought was very pro-active. I didn't use the gym personally but hubby managed to make use of the facilities for an hour or so and said it was very well equipped and spacious.
Overall rating for leisure facilities: 5 out of 5 stars
The bar area had a variety of tables and comfy chairs as well as lower tables with comfy sofas. The bar was not manned when we initially walked in but there was a clear sign telling guests to press a button for service. Within moments of pressing the button a barman appeared and served our drinks. The bar is certainly not cheap, it was £4.00 for a single single malt whiskey and over £4.00 for a regular glass of rose or over £6.00 for a large glass. The White Zinfandel I had was delicious though; so it was hard to resist having a couple of glasses of this, one in the bar and one with dinner.
The Arts Restaurant is manned by some of the same staff who man the bar. We were greeted by a very jolly chap called Gareth who's been with the hotel for 5 years. He gave us a selection of tables to choose from and then explained how the menu worked. You can choose from the a la carte menu or 3 dishes for £22 including starter, main course and dessert. We didn't actually fancy many of the dishes available on this menu so went for the a la carte. I went for the chef's soup of the day which was potato and leek which was around £5.50 and hubby ordered chicken skewers which were also around £5.50, for main course I had breast of chicken with potatoes dauphinoise and beans which was over £15 and hubby had deep fried haddock chips and peas which was just under £12. We shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and have to admit that each and every item we had was delicious, served within a very reasonable time of placing the order and the service was impeccable. When we asked for the bill, we found that we had been charged £24 for a bottle of wine which we hadn't ordered. The waiter was very apologetic and resolved it straight away but it did make me wonder how often people would check their bill carefully enough and possibly pay for something they hadn't actually ordered and/or consumed. We noted that the room service menu seemed to have the same items listed but some items seemed a bit more expensive.
Dinner is available from 6.30 to 9.30pm 7 days a week with lunch available from 12 to 4pm most days. I did note that there was contradictory information regarding the restaurant opening times in the hotel handbook in the room.
The music in the restaurant during dinner was quite mellow and non-intrusive which made for a lovely atmosphere during dinner. The staff were really attentive and efficient the whole time we were in the restaurant.
Breakfast is served also in the Arts Restaurant from 8-10 on Saturdays and 8-12 on Sundays which we thought was great as we wanted a lie-in on the Sunday. A full buffet breakfast is available with cereals, yoghurts, fruit, various pastries, bacon, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, sausages, baked beans, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, various juices, etc, which you can help yourself to, as well as tea and coffee which is served at your table. We found the breakfast items to be amply stocked on both days we had breakfast and items were replenished before they ran out so people weren't standing around with half a plate of breakfast waiting for more items as I've seen in other hotels. On weekdays breakfast is available from 7-9.30am.
Overall rating for bar/restaurant: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall I'd be happy to give the Ramada Farnham a strong 4 out of 5 stars. It would have receievd a full 5 stars if we'd managed a decent night's sleep on either night. We couldn't fault the service provided by the staff at all times. They really do their branch justice. I don't imagine having the need to stay at this branch of Ramada again (unless someone is getting married).
I would add here that the rooms we were given would definitely not be suitable for disabled guests as there is no lift in the hotel. There are rooms on the ground floor which I can only assume would be allocated to disabled guests if necessary (from what I've read on the website there are only 2 wheelchair friendly rooms available). The entrance to the hotel is disabled friendly but getting to the pool or gym would be quite difficult unless you went through the gardens and the slopes seemed a bit steep for a wheelchair user. Also the pool is one floor down from the changing room and with no lift, I'm not sure how wheelchair users would get access to the pool and spa, etc.
Overall rating for hotel: 4 out of 5 stars
Hogs Back Ridge
Tel+44 (0)844 815 9046
Fax+44 (0)1252 783 113
3 miles from Farnham Station
5 miles from Farnham Airport
6 miles from Guildford Station
20 miles from Thorpe Park
The hotel has a civil service license and the ballroom holds up to 180 guests.
5 conference/meeting rooms available with free internet use.
Free parking available for up to 150 cars, 96 hotel rooms over 3 floors.
All no smoking rooms.
Check-in time from 2pm, check-out time midday.
Room service is available 24 hours a day.
NB: A WARNING - I'd advise anyone staying here NOT to use the free phone in reception to call a taxi - we booked a taxi on the Saturday afternoon to take us back to the wedding venue for the reception as we didn't want to drive; the wedding venue was 6.1 miles away (we checked when we went earlier in the day). We were quoted £12 by the firm over the phone. When the taxi (a black cab) turned up they said they had given the wrong price and it would be £40 - we asked if they were joking, £40 to go just over 6 miles? The driver came out with some nonsense about it being out of the area - she also had no idea when I said "You must know roughly how much it would cost to do a 6 mile journey?" Luckily some other guests were getting into a taxi they had asked reception to book for them so we told the black cab to go away and jumped in with the other guests. Our bill came to £17.50 or so for 7 passengers! We also met another wedding guest in the bar later in the evening who said they had also been quoted £40 to go 6 miles earlier in the evening and had had to ask reception to call a separate cab. I really don't know why they allow this free phone in reception to call such a cheeky company! We live in London and black cabs do NOT charge £40 to go 6 miles - the cabbie even had the cheek to say she would do us a deal and charge us around £27!