I have just got off the phone for the second time to Whittlebury Hall and they still have not resolved the matter satisfactorily.
I tried to book the Deluxe Spa package for my husband's birthday present last month after I was emailed a special offer for £99 per person for an overnight stay in a Club room, dinner and breakfast and a dual 25min massage. Not bad I thought and I can just about stretch to that. We can only do the weekends though and so that added a further £30 to the total. I decided to still go for it though and called up to book for a date in early October. That particular special offer was due to run out on 4th Sept though. I could have chosen 3rd September but thought I'd enquire as to whether that particualar offer would be extended to give us a bit more space to book. The customer service girl said that the new offers would be coming out soon and that it was more than likely that this one would be extended as it was so popular, so on that advice, I gave my husband his present - detailing the spa and package - and told him he could book any date up to the end of the year.
So imagine my shock when I called yesterday to book the package and was told that it had increased by another £20 pp. Had I been warned that it may go up in price, I would have booked the deal for 3rd Sept, already being overstretched by the Sat supplement. I told the woman this but they simply did not care and insisted that I needed to pay the extra if I wanted that package. As far as I am concerned, I was misinformed and have been inconvenienced by the whole matter, especially as I now need to look for another spa to take my husband to. We are both really disappointed and cannot believe that this spa will not a) admit that they misled me or b) as a gesture of goodwill, offer me the package for the original price. They simply were rude and argumentive and I had to repeatedly ask for the managers name so that I could take the matter higher. As a previous reviewer stated - they simply couldn't be more disinterested.
I told the manager that I simply couldn't afford the increased price and would have to go elsewhere and she really didn't care. That any business could afford to lose not only that sale of £230 - plus any other treatments or drinks we may have ordered during the weekend - but the future sales from my repeat custom and that of my friends who will also no longer there, over £40 is quite amazing. The fact of the matter is - they don't care.
My advice to anyone looking for a spa break is to take your business to a place that actually cares about you! Whittlebury is a nice place but it's not amazing and there is certainly better out there. I'm amazed that they are still in business with an attitude like theirs. I guess you get what you pay for . . . buyer beware!
Really disappoting!! Unfortunately, spas are becoming very commoditised - 'get 'em in, get 'em out' - and this is a prime example.The spa is packed: as in, I queued for the steam rooms and my wife and I had to sit seperately around the pool when we eventually found a 2nd seat.By far the low point, however, was the massage. The lady didn't look me in the face, then babbled away the whole time (even though I kept trying to end the conversation (sorry, i like my massage to be in peace). She had very poor technique (not being a snob here, but when you are paying £60-odd you expect good quality) and the massage ended after 40minutes. I complained to the spa management and they are 'looking in to the matter'.Yes, it's cheap-ish, but, as always, you get what you pay for. Book somewhere else!!
WHERE IS THIS?
Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury, Nr Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 8QH.
This is a hotel, Management Training Centre, leisure centre and day spa as well as a golf course. It is just near Silverstone racetrack so I suspect it might get busy when there is a big race there so this might be a time to avoid.
I booked through Lastminute.com but then I did phone the hotel directly after booking in order to find out more about the spa and treatments they had on offer. They were delightful and explained everything to me, suggested that I visit the day spa website to see the treatments and also tipped me off about the fact that you can use the spa all day on the day you are booked in, you don't have to wait till check in time at the hotel. So you can get there for 10am use the spa and leisure centre and then check in to the room after 3pm. On the day you leave she also told me that if you check out of the hotel before 11am then come to the leisure centre, you can use those facilities in theory till 11am but in realty you can stay as long as you like as they can't really check unless you try to bill something to your room!
I paid £150 for two of us for one night with breakfast and an evening meal and I also upgraded to the heat and ice experience which was extra , I believe without the upgrade it would have been £138 for two people but I would recommend the heat and ice upgrade as it is more exciting than just the leisure centre. Any treatments that you want are booked directly with the hotel and are extra obviously.
We arrived at the hotel at about 11.30 and found it really easily. We parked the car then went to the hotel to check in. The receptionist gave us a card with our room number on it and explained that we would use that to charge anything to our room. I had to leave a credit card number at the desk but the bill can be paid in cash or by debit card instead when you check out.
We took our card and our swimming costumes in our small bags and went in search of the spa. It was right next to the hotel and easy to find. However we struggled to find the spa reception area and went heading off down the corridor to the leisure centre at first until some kind person pointed out the way to the two dippy women!
Finally we got to the spa reception area where we were checked in for the heat and ice experience. The young girl explained that the plastic watch was the key to the locker and told us which locker numbers were ours. The robe, towel and slippers were in the locker. She then explained how to get to the changing room, upstairs and the through the shop and then when we want to come back down the watch thing opened the door into the spa area. Okay so now we have a list of directions and our watch things etc and head off to find the changing room. We got there and then went to the lockers only to discover that neither of us remembered what number locker we had and that the numbers are NOT on the watch band so down we went again to confess our stupidity, get the number and retrace our steps to the changing rooms again.
The Spa reception area had a number of nice chairs and tables for relaxing in plus there was a table with herbal teas and jugs of iced water with slices of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit in them with disposable plastic glasses for you to help yourself to. Also on this table was an enormous bowl of fresh fruit piled high with various different fruits which you could also help yourself to which I thought was a lovely idea and I didn't see anyone grabbing handfuls greedily.
The changing rooms had the lockers, separate shower cubicles and toilets. There were also hair dryers for use of patrons and in the showers were shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in big containers on the wall and you just pushed the button to get the required amount so there was no waste. The hand wash and hand cream on the basins was Molton Brown and very nice but not sure about the shower stuff as there were no labels on the container.
HEAT AND ICE EXPERIENCE:
Having achieved getting changed and finding our lockers, locking them again, getting in to the spa area and finding the Heat and Ice we felt very pleased with ourselves. I'm not sure if it was because everybody walking around in white robes that made us lose all thinking power but we seemed to be having more trouble than other people knowing where to go and what to do.
Once in the Heat and Ice area you have to hang your robe (with slippers in the pocket) and towel on a hanger and then remember which hanger number you put it on! Then you can start to experience the various parts of the area. We spent quite a lot of the time in the lovely warm round pool which had jets of water squirting at your various wobbly body bits depending on which jets you chose and how you stood or sat. In the middle were big nozzles which squirted warm water at your neck and back which was wonderful for you when you were under it but the spray coming off splashed anyone nearby which was not that pleasant.
Beyond the central pool other excitements included the foot baths which nobody seemed able to make function, a warm marble bench which was actually quite hot, two stone loungers (trepidariums) that were heated and always had someone on them so we didn't get to try them . To add to the wet experience there were a number of different showers offering various experiences, a bucket shower, a drench shower and experience showers which appeared to have mood lights but we were not able to make them work for us. Then there were rooms that either heated you or if you were brave enough you could also experience the ice cave which was freezing cold, had cold showers and buckets of ice for rubbing on your body. We positioned ourselves in the sauna just opposite the ice cave and were entertained by other brave or stupid people sharing ice with friends. My particular favourites were the aromatherapy crystal steam room and the caldarium which was not as hot as a steam room or sauna but still very warming. Next to the sauna was a sanarium but for some reason we managed to miss this one so I'm not sure what pleasures awaited you there.
FOOD AND DRINK:
We felt a little peckish after an hour or so and having managed to retrieve our lovely white robes we went in search of something light to eat. We wandered to the leisure club which appeared to have a restaurant but they only offered the rather yummy looking lunch to people booked in the day spa we think.
They turned us away and sent us upstairs to another relaxation area and we spotted a display table of food. And menus on tables so sat ourselves down hopefully. The food on offer included a muffin at £6, tea at £3.75, a cheese plate with small portions of about 6 cheeses, 4 biscuits and a sliced up quarter of an apple for £7.25 or an afternoon tea for £14.50. Astonishingly expensive we thought. I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl and suggested we share a cheese plate but my sister who was paying for lunch as I had treated her to the night away, ordered a cheese plate each. I would suggest if you decide to go that you pack a few sandwiches in the car and pop out to enjoy those or take advantage of the free fruit on offer as these prices were ridiculously expensive.
We returned to enjoy the Heat and Ice experience until about 3.30 when we decided that we had had enough and would go and check in to our room. The man at reception was lovely and handed us our plastic keycards and pointed us in the direction of the lifts. The hotel was huge and we went down so many corridors to get to our room. Every time we went to or from the room we tried a different way but all were equally long and complicated and we usually ended up coming down in a different lift, it was all most confusing.
Everywhere in the hotel and the spa was immaculate, very smart decor, comfortable and quietly calm and efficient. The lobby area was huge, open and airy with a number of areas to sit on brown leather sofas, plush carpets and lovely flowers arrangements. The Silverstone bar area was also huge and looked very traditional, comfortable and pleasant but as we did not have a drink in there I cannot comment on the prices or atmosphere.
As I was going with my sister I requested twin beds and that is what we got. The room was quite large with twin beds, a double sofa bed, coffee table, TV unit and also a desk with plug in internet access which I did not use so I'm not sure about the cost. In the wardrobe was a unit with a combination safe and tea/coffee making stuff including two hot chocolates and two packets of biscuits and of course the kettle with posh cups and saucers.
The beds were really comfortable and there were plenty of pillows. The window opened up onto a flat roof area but it did mean that you could have fresh air and the window open while you were in bed which I like.
The bathroom was fresh, clean and big with a bath and shower over the bath, a toilet and bidet then two basins and a large mirror. We also had lovely little Molton Brown bath gel and shampoo and soaps. We brought some face packs and foot treatments with us so we did spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom cleaning up after the relaxing time. We found the bidet quite useful for washing the foot mask off! We also had two white towel robes as well as the thick soft white bath towels so were able to relax with our face and foot masks in our soft white robes and be extremely comfortable despite looking very strange but we did not care.
The decor was tasteful and the furniture comfortable and there was plenty of space for the two of us and it would be okay to have an extra child in the room too.
Our package included a three course evening meal in the Aston dining room. We had booked for 7pm but the restaurant is open for meals until last orders taken at 9.15. The menu looked really tempting but some of the items had a surcharge to pay. Wine obviously is not included in the package either but we shared a bottle which cost about £18.50 between us and we had ice water as well. My sister had scallops as a starter which did have a £6 surcharge and I had a chorizo and spinach terrine. For our main course i opted to pay a supplement and tucked in to half a lobster tail while my sister had a lamb dish both had lots of fresh vegetables accompanying the main meal. As desserts were included we decided that we would indulge, I had a chocolate cold mouse- like pud while my sister had a fruit crumble with nuts. You could have had Wagyu beef for a supplement which was tempting but my seafood passion won. If the desserts did not grab you then a cheese board selection was also an option. The food was excellent, well cooked and presented and the staff waiting on were all extremely polite and very efficient. They do state that you have to dress smart casual for dining and the elegant white robes are not allowed in the dining room.
This was also included and was on offer from 7.00 till 9.00 I believe. It was a buffet service as is normal in large hotels. The staff show you to a table set with all necessary crockery and cutlery the coffee or tea is offered by a waiter walking around, top ups are also offered. The buffet offered fruit juices, fresh fruit cut up or whole, cereals and also dried fruit and yogurt. Also available were Cheese and cold meats, pastries and different rolls and bread and finally a huge area with cooked stuff which included mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, bacon and eggs cooked in different ways. All you could possibly require and as much or little as you wanted to eat.
There was a bill put under our door in the morning and if you wanted you could put the invoice, debit/credit card number and keys in the envelope provided and pop it into the Express checkout which we did.
THE LEISURE CENTRE:
Having checked out we took our bags to the car and kept just our small swimming costume bag with us and returned to the Day Spa, walking on through to the leisure centre. Here you are given a wrist band but no number as you can just choose any open locker and once you lock it then that band only will open it. You have to sign in and technically you should leave at 11am but nobody rings a bell and says get out so I think you can stay as long as you want to in reality. There is nowhere to eat so that might limit how long you fancy staying. There are water fountains near the pool and also in the Heat and Ice Experience so you should not get de hydrated if you are sensible.
In the leisure centre there is a large pool with jets at one end which I saw working but each time we went to try them they went off, perhaps someone knew we had stayed after 11am and switched them off. The pool was a really pleasant temperature, quite cool but the centre itself was quite humid, several people were just relaxing on the wooden loungers around the pool but we must have taken too long with our breakfast and they were all taken. The Jacuzzi was in the corner in a Romanesque columned area and it was pleasant for a few minutes but it did get quite hot in there after a while. The sauna was obviously very hot and after just a couple of minutes I had to return to the cool of the pool.
An extremely loud very small lady was running an exercise class in the pool and quite a number of people were joining in but we decided against this however you could still use the rest of the pool to swim or float around in. We had another try at the water jets but were unlucky again so we thought maybe we had had enough and went to enjoy a shower, hair wash and dry ready for departure.
The leisure centre also had keep fit and yoga classes on offer but I believe you had to book but there was no extra charge.
I would thoroughly recommend Whittlebury Hall hotel and spa as I felt it was fantastic value for money. There are a number of packages on offer besides the one I bought on Lastminute.com and over the Christmas and New Year period they are offering stays including dinner and breakfast for £49 per person per night which at the time of year is amazing value. If you are interested then this is the link to the hotel website:
The package that we had is still available on lastminute.com and I have no hesitation in suggesting taking up this offer as it is amazing value and a thoroughly enjoyable, relaxing experience.
Thank you for reading; I'm sorry you could only experience this through my review. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
As a treat for my friends birthday I paid for me and her to spend the day at Whittlebury Hall and although we didn't spend the night there, just one day using the spa and facilities was a very interesting experience.
The first obstacle that we faced when visiting Whittlebury Hall was actually finding the place. We decided to scrap the sat nav as it wasn't working properly and my friend, reckoned that she knew the way. Being unprepared was a very bad idea as, you can probably guess, we got extremely lost and ended up just driving round the villages surrounding Whittlebury. After stopping about five times to ask directions, we finally reached the village in which the Spa is situated! Luckily we found it quite funny driving round the country villages with wandering sheep making me have to brake suddenly but I would really recommend taking directions or a sat nav with you to avoid getting completely stressed out before you even get there!
The village of Whittlebury itself is very pretty and the hall is set back quite far from the road so you don't hear the traffic. It feels really peaceful and isolated which is nice as you feel like you are really escaping the stresses of everyday life away from any worries that you might have.
The hotel has it's own carpark right next to it and we had no trouble getting parked even though we visited on a saturday which I'm guessing is probably quite a busy day. The hall itself looks really impressive from the outside and the very expensive cars parked right outside the doors show that wealthy clients are regular visitors to the spa. After venturing inside, the first thing that hit me was how calm and tranquil the atmosphere was, with low lighting and relaxing music playing in the background. It seemed a bit strange at first to be so calm after our stressful journey but after a while you get used to it and it feels normal to talk in hushed voices all day.
I have read some reviews that complain that the customer service leaves a lot to be desired at Whittlebury Hall but we didn't see any evidence of this. On arrival we were met with very helpful reception staff who made you feel really welcome and as if nothing was too much trouble. We felt so comfortable talking to the staff that we went back to the reception at various points throughout the day whenever we needed to ask anything.
When you check into the hotel you are given a locker key with a number on it and then are shown where to get changed into your bathing clothes ready to use the spa. Inside your locker is a pair of slippers along with a white robe to match, which you are expected to put on over your bikini/swimsuit instead of your clothes. Everyone just walks around all day in their robes and slippers and it feels like you are in some kind of institution, a good institution mind you but still very strange!
After we'd had a giggle about how huge our robes were and how funny everyone looked walking about in what was effectively a dressing gown, we entered the spa area which contained a large jacuzzi in the middle and about 5 or 6 smaller rooms around the edge. This is where the heat and ice experience that Whittlebury has been promoting as one of its best features is situated.
The heat and ice experience is based on the concept that it's really good for your skin to go from really hot conditions to freezing cold temperatures. Don't ask me how or why but no doubt some clever scientist thoght up the idea. The heat rooms consist of a couple of saunas and steam rooms, each with different aromatherapy oils and salts to provide different health benefits.
There is also a heated room that isn't unbearably hot which was my favourite as I start to feel a bit ill after too long in a sauna. This was like a little wooden hut where you could sit or lie while bird sounds were played. Sounds a bit cheesy I know but it was amazing how relaxing it was!
There is one ice room which is basically a room full of buckets of crushed ice that you can rub all over your body to cool yourself down very quickly. Another way of cooling down quickly which is only for the very brave is a bucket full of ice cold water that, when you pull a lever, crashes all over you taking your breathe away. I'm aware that this sounds like a form of torture rather than relaxation but it was all strangely calming and my skin felt gorgeous afterwards.
The rooms are only tiny and do get quite busy especially the most popular ones. There were a couple of smaller facilities in the same area, such as some heated sun loungers, but these were almost impossible to use as there were only a few loungers and way too many people!
One of the things that ruined the experience a bit for us was that there was a group of 4 lads staying at the spa who were obviously a bit bored and who kept trying to chat us up while in the saunas and spas. Everywhere we went they seemed to be and it got a bit irritating by the end of the day!
After we'd had enough of the spa bit we went and dried off and got into our robes. As you are in and out of water your towels can get quite wet but reception will swap them for cleans ones whenever you ask. The showers in the changing rooms were really nice as they were all individual and there were plenty of hairdryers and big mirrors to make yourself a bit more presentable ready for dinner!
The food was one of my favourite parts of the day and fitted with the detoxing theme of the entire place. All of the food was very healthy including salads, pasta and loads of fruit and veg and jugs of water with slices of lemon or orange were placed around the dining area for you to help yourself to. I'm a vegetarian and had loads of options to choose from and the staff try to cater for any dietary requirements.
There was also a bar where you could order a particular drink but these were quite pricey and we didn't really want to ruin our healthy day with a big glass of coke!
After dinner we were booked in for two treatments, a pedicure and a body polish. To receive your treatments you have to wait in a very plush area to be called by your own personal beauty therapist. We were booked in for our body polishes at about 2.30 and got called in on time. We were hoping to have our treatments in the same room but were taken to individual treatment rooms which are similar to any you find in a normal beauticians.
The body polish was a very strange experience and consisted of the therapist rubbing your entire body with a body brush. This lasted about half an hour and the therapist was very friendly but I didn't really find it that relaxing as the brush was a little bit hard and felt rough on the skin. In hindsight I think I probably would have prefered a massage but my skin did feel really soft after my treatment so I was happy.
Our next treatment followed the body polish and was just a standard pedicure. They did everything possible to my toes and I left with a lovely coral colour on my toenails that stayed on for over two weeks. Again the beauticians were extremely friendly and made you feel really comfortable.
After we had been pampered we ventured down to the pool which was really nicely lit and had a kind of grecian feel with decorative artwork on the walls. There are sun loungers all around the pool but not enough for everyone so you may have to wait a while before you can grab one. One of the things that I found most amusing about this area was that there were also phones around the pool, not in case of an emergency, but for people to order drinks. You really can be incredibly lazy here without feeling guilty.
Overall I loved Whittlebury Hall and felt so relaxed after my day there that I didn't want to go to work the next day. As for prices the spa isn't cheap and it works out even more expensive if you want to stay the night! Saying that though, they do have a range of offers that are good value and you can just enjoy a basic day there without spending a fortune. For example at the minute one of their promotions is a buy one get one free offer and for just £89 two people can eat in the restaurant as well as have full use of the pool and saunas including the heat and ice experience. This is worth it just for a day as you can spend hours literally doing nothing here! As for the treatments, to give you an idea of prices my body polish cost £35 and the pedicure was the same price. The prices aren't cheap but then how often do you get to pamper yourself?
I'm not sure what the overnight Whittlebury experience is like but am looking to book a visit for my sister's birthday. They also do packages that allow you to stay overnight for example for £140 per person you can stay for two days and one night including three meals, use of the spa and a treatment, which isn't too bad for a special occasion. There are many different packages and price combinations so if you are interested it's probably best to visit the website at www.whittleburyhall.co.uk for information.
I stayed at the Whittlebury Hall with my girlfriend when I took her rally driving for her birthday. If you are researching this hotel and planning to go to Silverstone, I don't think there is a hotel closer. We were attending the rally school which was just around the corner.
I had booked a package which included 2 nights stay, breakfast and dinner on both days and the 'Heat and Ice' experience at the spa. I can't remember how much it cost me then, but at the moment they are offering this package for £65 per person per night - i.e. £260.
Upon arriving, the hotel is very grand and beautiful. You'll see this from any pictures you see online. We arrived early as the heat and ice experience was on the day of arrival - many reviews had mentioned long check in queues (which we did note later on) but when we arrived there was no queue, we were greeted by a very friendly young lady who took our bags, offered us a carry bag for our swimgear and pointed us in the direction of the spa.
The heat and ice experience wasn't anything exciting, but it allowed full use of the facilities. This included several 'experience' rooms - such as a steam room with salts added and what appeared to be menthol in another. Being a guy I can't get excited about a spa, but it was very relaxing and my girlfriend loved it. We spend time relaxing and then decided to head up to our room.
The rooms were very traditional, this is an overall feel the hotel gives. It was a nice room with everything you'd expect - coffee/tea, a TV, robes, Molton Brown soaps/shampoo, etc. The bed was a little too hard for me, but overall the roooms were very nice if a little dated.
The food was very good, although one night it seemed as if it had been cooked and reheated in a microwave. The service was better than I expected, it almost felt as if we were treated like royalty. The waitress seemed very apologetic when she came over to top up our wine or ask if everything was OK. It's nice to have good service, but it can be taken a little far - although I'm sure there are some people for whom good service would not be enough and they would expect the best. We were there because it was a good deal!
I have read lots of varying reviews for this place and as with everything, peoples experiences will be unique to their visit. I can honestly say that I cannot fault the establishment. We did see the long check in queues and perhaps if we had to wait in it this would be a different review but everyone we dealt with was more than helpful and had a smile on their face. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and I would not hesitate in booking again!
(To add: We went for a drink in the bar one night before dinner and they have free nuts on the tables, excellent addition!)
Hotel looks quite smart and well presented, but customer service is non-existent. It amazes me how they survive the credit crunch with their general attitude.
We arrived for a spa break, but actually missed the day because they had no lockers left due to over-booking. Apparently they have no control over people extending their stay. Having spoken with the Manager we were persuaded to try again the next day and were allowed to stay after the 11am deadline, which was very generous of them considering everybody just stays anyway!
Just to make matters worse, she then suggested we had a good drink to forget our experience! I dont see getting drunk as the solution to such problems and I actually came for a detox/healthy weekend not to get drunk in their overly expensive bar!
Overall the facilities looked good, but ruined by a lack of attention to detail and non existent customer service. There was absolutely no information, no tours of the facilities and no welcome on arrival. You were simply handed one towel, a robe and slippers and left to get on with it. The towel needless to say got wetter and wetter as the day progressed.
Dirty towels were piled up in the changing rooms and litter was strewn across the floor. It looked more like the public swimming pool rather than an expensive health spa. The footbath didnt work and the whirlpool was closed due to maintenance. The chemicals in the pool were so strong people were having coughing fits and the steam room and sauna was packed. The heat and ice experience consisted of different sauna/steam rooms of varying temperature, a couple of cold showers and a colder room with an ice bucket! There were no friendly or any staff around to offer advice or check safety and it was extremely noisy and overcrowded.
It was more like Butlins. Why anyone would chose to spend their money on such a stressful and noisy environment I have no idea. I have been to other spas where you leave feeling as though you have been thoroughly pampered and feel totally relaxed. You do not get this feeling at the Whittlebury. They seem more concerned to pack as many people in as possible to make money, customer satisfaction is not a consideration. No medical history is taken and no supervision of equipment in the gym, so customer well being is also clearly not a consideration.
You can get a similar experience at your local leisure centre - a dip in a pool with hundreds of others, a sauna and a steam room and a workout on some gym equipment. The surroundings might not be as attractive, but you will at least feel safe in the knowledge that all health and safety regulations have been followed. There are plenty of other alternatives, I strongly recommend you try one. You won't feel pampered here.
Terrible customer service, and be warned, KEEP your reciepts, a month later, they sent my mum a large invoice for products and treatments she had paid for on the day, all I can say is thankfully she used her credit card and had the statement as proof of payment. She had spent nearly £500 and this is the way they treated her! My sister complained to the manager the day after we'd been and never got a reply, I sent the manager a complaint letter by special delivery, so I know they received it, but I too did not get a reply, they are so rude. ADVICE- choose a different spa, do not go here. From Caroline Burton, Oxfordshire.
I booked myself and four others in for the twlight spa experience in August 2008. On arrival the spa had split our party up so one person had to change on their own in a changing room on a different floor. Also the check in process took 20 minutes as their was only one person checking guests in.The main problem was the horrific fumes in the heat and ice experience. Unfortunately this meant that we could not use the facilities. When we complained to staff we were informed that lots of other individuals had also complained and that their manager would address the issue. After numerous telephone calls and an email we are yet to hear anything back from the spa.Therefore I must conclude that their customer service is appalling!
I have never experienced such disinterest in a complaint made to a hotel. We stayed for four nights over the Easter weekend, during which we attended a tribute night. We spent a boring and annoying three and a half hours eating the three course meal included in the ticket price, with inaudable music playing in the background of a much louder noise level from the numerous hen parties who also attended. Seconds before the tribute band took to the stage we were advised that a different group would be performing; the hen parties rushed to the stage and we couldn't see anything. We could, however, hear a tuneless group. Our complaints have fallen on deaf ears, as have the complaints of others - there were 30 people at reception wishing to add their names to the complaint list. A bit much for £160 - not even a sorry for ruining my husband's birthday, refusing even to put a candle in his pudding, on the grounds of fire safety. Puzzling then that numerous other tables had candle laden desserts and birthday cakes carried to their tables. I have just been told that a letter "resolving the issue" has been sent to me, which apparently says "sorry, but no compensation". Hopeless!
I've probably stayed at Whittlebury Hall about twenty times over the past three and a half years when attending work-related courses. (Before reading this review be warned that any of my negative comments about the hotel are probably influenced by the fact that when I've stayed there it's never been for pleasure - the days of boredom I've spent within its walls listening to people talking about IFRS accounting and deferred tax have probably made me more negative than I would otherwise be!)
The first view you get of the hotel is magnificent. As you are driven up the long drive you can't help but be impressed by the style of the two-storey building and the grounds that surround it. The reception area as you enter the hotel is also impressive and quite grand looking - the area has very comfortable huge leather couches and a warm atmosphere. The hotel was built in 2003 I think but still manages to feel a bit olde worlde. Reception staff are always helpful but not overly welcoming. I've never heard of anyone having any issues with bookings being incorrect or rooms not being available.
Straight after check-in is where you will come across the first problem with the hotel - the layout is simply unfathomable! Having stayed there as many times as I have you'd think that I'd be able to navigate my way around the hotel (which is on only two floors) relatively easily but you'd be wrong! The numbering of rooms is strange to say the least - bedrooms on the second floor for example are all in either the 200 or 400 range (who knows what happened to the 300s!) and don't appear to follow any logical order. There are signs indicating where you can find your room but it's a bit frustrating to still need to rely on the signs when you've been there for five days in a row and still can't make it to breakfast in the morning without following the signs! The hotel is built around a series of courtyards (containing outside games such as draughts) which I think accounts for the strange layout. The 'inventive' layout prevents the hotel from appearing clinical but makes navigation difficult to say the least!
The rooms themselves are lovely. Each room has a king size bed and flat screen TV as well as the usual tea/coffee, hairdryer, desk, phone etc that you'd expect. The bathrooms are also excellent - the tiles are marble and most rooms have double sinks. The rooms are tastefully decorated and always spotless.
Once you've finally made it to your room and negotiated your way back to the eating areas you've got a choice of restaurants to choose from. Bentley's is the main restaurant (which I would guess would seat around 300) and there is a smaller more intimate restaurant called Murray's (presumably named after Murray Walker because many of his quotes are inscribed on the walls). The food on offer is of a very high standard, although there is not always a huge choice available. The last time I dined in one of the restaurants there were only five main course options on the menu, and three of those were fish. Each item on the menu always has something fancy in it - there's never just a plain steak or chicken breast. Also, the menu can get repetitive if you're staying for more than just a couple of days. Breakfast though, is fantastic. There is a buffet with all the usual foods on offer - sausage, egg, bacon, toast, fruits, cereals and fruit juices. You can go back to the buffet as many times as you like. However, it can be difficult to get served tea/coffee. Quite a few times I've had to go without because I've been running late and not able to get a responsive member of staff to serve me.
The hotel markets itself as being a spa and corporate events hotel and also makes a lot of the fact that it is located very close to Silverstone race course. I sometimes feel that there's a bit of a contradiction between being a spa and a corporate events hotel. I remember being at the hotel on Valentine's Day a couple of years ago while on a course and there were lots of couples who were staying there on one of their spa deals - most of the couples weren't particularly appreciative of the fact that they were sharing their fine dining experience with several tables of rowdy twenty somethings taking advantage of the free bar tab they had!
Apparently the hotel is the place to stay for the racing drivers when it's race weekend at Silverstone, so if you're a Formula 1 fan then the bar is a great place to hang out if you want to meet a racing star. The bar is decorated with pictures of the some of the many racing stars who have stayed at the hotel, which gives the bar a distinctive atmosphere. The prices in the bar are extortionate though - you're looking at £5 per drink.
There are all the usual facilities at the hotel that you would expect, and others that you wouldn't - golf course, spa, gym,19m swimming pool, aerobic and dance studio, sauna, steam room, tanning rooms. I don't usually have time to use many of the facilities at the hotel when I stay there but I've never heard anyone complain about any of them. The hotel can also arrange other activities such as clay pigeon shooting, dry slope skiing, go-karting, helicopter flights, horseracing at nearby Towcester, horse riding and hot air balloon flights, so there's definitely something on offer for every taste. The hotel often has special events on offer as well - forthcoming events include a Take That tribute evening, an Abba tribute evening, mother's day lunches and murder mystery evenings. There is always a reduced hotel room rate on offer if you're attending one of these events.
My other main complaint about Whittlebury (other than its layout) is its remote location. The nearest train station is at Milton Keynes, approximately a £30 taxi journey away and the nearest airports are Birmingham and Luton. The £60 taxi fare to the airports is very painful! An important point to note is that there's no cash machine or availability to get cashback at the hotel, so you need to make sure you've got enough cash for the taxi back to the airport!
The costs for staying at the hotel are as follows (although a room can cost up to £1,000 if you're staying there on a race weekend so be warned!):
£140 single occupancy during the week
£125 single occupancy at the weekend
£165 double occupancy during the week
£150 double occupancy at the weekend
Now, I think that's quite expensive, but the hotel is nice and I suppose that's the kind of price that you'd expect to pay for a hotel of this caliber.
Overall, I'd recommend this hotel as a place to stay - but probably not if you want to go on a romantic break - the hotel is too big and there are too many people staying there at corporate events to get an intimate atmosphere.
Whittlebury hall is a management training centre, hotel and spa located in Whittlebury, which is not far from Silverstone in Northamptonshire. It's a place I'd passed time and time again on my way to University a few years back, and from the road it looked magnificent. Set back from the road with a golf course for a front garden, the building looked enormous and luxurious. My boyfriend had received a Ferrari Experience from his family for his last birthday, which was to take place at Silverstone... we decided to make a weekend of it as the experience was to take place fairly early in the morning which would mean leaving very early if we were to set off from home on the day. As soon as we decided that we'd go down the day before I mentioned Whittlebury Hall, knowing it was only a couple of miles from Silverstone and knowing (or at least hoping) it would be a real treat! BOOKING *************** Our first port of call was the internet to try and get information about the place and most importantly, prices! Whittlebury Hall has its own website at www.whittleburyhall.co.uk which gives plenty of information and pictures about what you can expect from Whittlebury Hall. Prices as currently quoted on the internet are £260 per night for an executive suite, and between £95 - £155 per night for a superior twin or double bedded room. These prices are a guide depending on whether you also want evening meals as well as breakfast etc. The website gives you the option to check availability for your chosen nights - this is done by filling in the gaps on a form. Response is not immediate, but within the day we had an email confirming availability of the room and what was included, which requested us to email or phone to confirm the reservation. We phoned up, gave a credit card number to secure the room (no money was taken at this time, they just require a credit/debit card number to secure the room). WHAT WE EXPECTED *****
********** Our confirmation email and confirmation letter that was received shortly after confirming the reservation explained that we had booked a superior double room for one night - our booking also included evening meal in the Table d'Hote restaurant as well as breakfast. In addition, during our stay we would have free use of the spa facilities, which include a 19m pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and fully equipped gym. The price of our stay would be £160. This is more than I've ever paid for a night for two in a hotel, but this did look nice, and it did include a posh evening meal and use of the spa. Other spa treatments could be booked prior to the visit or during the stay (e.g. facial, massage, hair cut etc.). All information about the hotel confirmed it was a non-smoking hotel in general, which was good to know - as a non-smoker it's not very nice having to stay in a hotel room where people have been smoking, no matter how much it's been cleaned and aired. However if you requested a smoking room they did have a few available. ON ARRIVAL *************** The place looked as great on our arrival as it had when I'd passed it all those times years ago. The drive leading up to the hotel passed up the side of the golf course and next to a small field with horses in. We pulled up in front of the hotel and made our way to reception. The receptionist who we first dealt with seemed polite enough, though nothing over the top, but she explained to us that we had been allocated a smoking room. We immediately asked for this to be changed to a non-smoking room as this is what we'd wanted, but she said there were no non-smoking 'superior double' rooms available. She said we were welcome to take a look at the room, and if it was not going to be ok she would try and swap our room. Fair enough, we thought, and after she'd given us directions to the room, off we went to take a look. As soon as we ope
ned the door we could smell stale smoke. The room looked nice enough, but neither of us fancied spending the night surrounded by the smell. If you smoke, it's probably not noticeable, but to us, it was - and when we were paying £160 for the privelege we wanted our room not to smell! Back to reception then... This time we were met by a different receptionist. We explained the situation to her and she seemed very uninterested in our problem, despite us already having been told by the other receptionist they'd o their best to find us another room. A quick look at her computer screen and she told us there were no other rooms available. This just sounded ridiculous - it's a huge hotel after all. We told her we'd be willing to take any double room, not just a superior one, but still she said there was nothing without even looking us in the eye or apologising for the inconvenience or error in the booking. We asked for a reduction in the charge for the room as an alternative to leaving and for the inconvenience - she still kept her head down, and without looking at us muttered that it wasn't possible. She seemed totally uninterested despite the fact that we explained that this was a lot of monet to us, and we weren't prepared to spend it on a room that smelt, when all the information about the hotel specifically stated that all rooms were non-smoking unless you specifically requested smoking. It's fair to say we were getting annoyed with her by this point - not because she couldn't wave a wand and solve our problem, but because she never once looked us in the eye, or made any attempt to empathise with our situation, or apologise for anything. All of a sudden, however, she decided that actually there was a room, and she thrust a room key onto the counter. I asked if there were two room keys (one each) like we were offered for the original room, and again, without raising her head she more or less threw another one onto the
counter. Then she turned away. No directions, no smile, no nothing. THE ROOM *************** The room was ok. Nothing special, just ok. There was everything you'd expect from a hotel room, but nothing more. I don't know what I'd expected, but it seemed a bit of a let down to be honest. You can get the same standard of room in most hotels / travel-lodge type places. It was clean enough, and fairly spacious. The bathroom was also spacious, with two sinks, shower, bath, toilet and bidet. There's not really much else to comment on - it was just ok. THE SPA *************** We decided to explore the hotel a bit and ventured to the spa, swimsuit and towel in hand! At the spa reception we were to hand over our door key in return for a spa key with a locker key attached. The changing room areas at the spa were clean and tidy and after getting changed and our belongings locked away we ventured to the pool area. This area looks gorgeous, and more like what you'd expect from a posh place like this! The pool area is decorated in a kind of Roman ruin style - there are pillars dotted around and all the walls are painted to look like scenery, carrying on the same theme. There are green leafy plants dotted around and it really does look nice. In one corner of the pool area sits the jacuzzi - it's surrounded by a few pillars and plants, which maes it feel kind of separate to the pool area, but still included, giving you a view of the pool whilst you sit in it and relax. At the other side of the pool are doors to the sauna and steam room. Unfortunately the steam room wasn't working during our visit, but we still visited the sauna. The sauna was very small, fitting only four people in comfortably, though a couple more could squeeze in. The treatment area was in another area of the spa. We didn't have any special treatments booked, but went to take a look. The area seemed full of pampered
people relaxing in bathrobes in chairs presumably waiting for their next treatment. It looked luxurious again, and what I would have expected from the place. THE RESTAURANTS *************** As we had family staying in another village not far away we opted out of the evening meal at the hotel. Out initial impression of the staff meant we weren't particularly sad to let this go! However, before we left the hotel to meet up with family we stopped at reception to ask if they had a map so we could work out where we were going - the man we spoke to this time was extremely helpful and photocopied a page out of the map so we didn't have to write directions down. Our only experience of any of the restaurants came at breakfast. This was a great experience. We were shown to our table and served tea/coffee. Breakfast itself was self-serve, and there was a huge selection. There was plenty of cereal choices and yoghurts, about 5 or 6 different types of fruit juice, about 10 different types of fruit, croissants, pan au chocolate, bread, pastries, and a fry up selection giving you the chance to pick and choose the contents of your cooked breakfast from bacon, sausage, hash browns, mushrooms, beans, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, tomato and black pudding. Toast was brought to our table. The staff in the restaurant were very polite and helpful, and the food was great. The hotel offers four restaurants, so there is plenty of choice for an evening meal. Breakfast is all served in just one restaurant, though you can choose to have your breakfast delivered to your room for a charge of £5.00. CONCLUSION *************** I enjoyed my stay, despite the bad start. It's fair to say that one receptionist who was disinterested in us did set a bad tone to our visit, which is a shame, as the other staff were all fine. She gave us the impression we weren't worth the hassle and was trying to fob us off with a room we did
n't want. I couldn't help thinking in the back of my mind that this was partly because we were a young couple (early twenties), and not posh enough! Another middle-aged smartly dressed couple who were swapping their room when we arrived (I don't know the reason why) didn't seem to be having any problems changing their room. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe she was just having a bad day... I wouldn't go back there. I've been there and done that now. I'd only half-heartedly recommend it too. It's ok, but you can get just as good a room and service in the majority of cheaper hotels. The spa was great, but didn't justify the expensive price, particularly as the steam room was broken. If someone told me they were planning a visit then I'd tell them it was quite good there, but if someone was asking me if there's anywhere worth staying in that area of the country I'd make other suggestions before Whittelbury Hall. * * *
Whittlebury Hall is a new conference centre and health spa in Northamptonshire. It is easy to find as it is just a mile or two from Silverstone. This does have its' downside as you can hear the cars and bikes testing all day, but on the upside many of the drivers and riders stay at the centre. Rooms are huge with double sinks, baths and showers in even the cheapest rooms. Room service is good and you can order real food rather than healthy rabbit stuff if you want. There is a restaurant where the food is great but the service a little erratic. There have been quite a few staff changes since the place first opened, but none of them seem to have made much improvement. If you find a waitperson who is helpful, hang on to them. The spa itself is fantastic, with a great pool and gym. Don't worry if you are not super fit. They serve burgers at the poolside bar and you can get drinks delivered from the bar to the jacuzzi! The spa offers a huge range of treatments, from massage and reflexology through seaweed and mud wraps to allergy testing. Each is individually priced so you know what you are letting yourself in for. The spa is mixed and being attached to a conference centre and golf course you do get more men in this spa than most - I'll let you decide whether this is a good or bad thing! Occasionally you'll see a Schumi, or Button, in just thier gym kit, again this may not work for all of you. As much of the business at Whittlebury is mid week corporate do's they are still offering some great weekend packages, but expect to see these die down when there's racing on at Silverstone, A goo weekend deal makes a stay here with treatments little more expensive than a weekend at an ordinary hotel. For business the conference centre has excellent facilities with rooms of all sizes, and a wide range of equipment available. There is also inclusive running coffee and snacks
in the bar all day, and a large lounge for break outs or informal meetings. Again the conference staffing is a little erratic, but I get the feeling they try hard, so with very specific instructions they do well. The bar closing time is a little Draconian with 11:00pm bedtime every night, apparantly a stipulation of the bank who are Whittleburys biggest customer. I'd recommend Whittlebury for both business and pleasure.