Lovely hotel, completely let down by poor quality staff.

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glenc's review of Alexander House Hotel, Turners Hill, West Sussex

★★★☆☆
Alexander House Hotel, Turners Hill, West Sussex

“Lovely hotel, completely let down by poor quality staff.”

Written on: 18/09/2012 by glenc (307 reviews written)

Overall the hotel is a lovely building in a beautiful location. However, there were just far too many small, niggly issues that all mounted up to somewhat overshadow the loveliness of the hotel, the room and the location.

Pretty much all the issues, in my opinion, were down to poor quality staff.

It wasn’t focused on one or two people but seemed pretty much to pervade the entire hotel. Most staff forgot to do something at one point or another or made some pretty basic errors – see below for the list of issues we encountered in our 48 hour stay:

1) Booked a spa for two, in a shared room, when we arrived they hadn’t taken note of it being in the same room and so had to go off and organise this whilst we waited. Not a massive issue and they were very efficient with sorting it out.

2) When we checked in I was asked if I wanted a paper in the morning – I did – but it did not arrive. When I reported this I was simply told that they’d forgotten to do it and now they’d run out. (No offer to go and get me one from the local shop !)

3) We went down to Reflections in the afternoon to check out the menu for that evenings dinner. There were no customers there and 2 staff. We asked one member of staff for a menu. She appeared a little flustered and said “I’ll go and find someone to get you one”. She then went behind the bar area and we were left standing there for several minutes. I told my wife that Id go and chase her up – my wife told me not to be impatient as she’s obviously sorting it out for us. A few more minutes passed and my inpatients got the better of me so I went over and asked her if she had a menu - we’d been in her line of sight the whole time. “Oh sorry, I forgot”. The guy stood next to her (the other member of staff) then went off and got one.

4) Bizarrely I discovered that our duvet did not have a cover on it – instead it had two loose sheets – with the duvet as a sandwich in the middle of these two sheets. I only found this out on the first morning when we woke up to have a rather unpleasant looking duvet (not even feather?) wrapped round our bodies as the loose sheets had fallen off during the night. Pretty grim I must say. I reported this, expecting a big apology and it to be rectified, but after the housekeepers had been and gone I still had a duvet between two loose sheets. So I reported it again and it was then sorted out. I shouldn’t have had to chase it up and it shouldn’t have happened in the first place – why would anyone put two loose shoots on a duvet? Plain odd.

5) We decided to try out reflections in the courtyard on our final evening. My wife ordered fries with her main course. They did not arrive. Again someone had forgotten them – when they did arrive her chicken was getting cold – not ideal (that said, they did bring them out very quickly after we mentioned it to them).

6) The biggest issue I had with reflections was the fact that my Jersey Royal potatoes came with sprouts on them. You probably know that potatoes that are sprouting are very old potatoes. You probably also know that the sprout is toxic and can make you unwell. When I reported this the waiter was very apologetic and I asked for the chef’s opinion as to how this happened – he came back promptly and told me that the chef had told him he “took the potatoes from the wrong pile”. Bizarre that a ‘chef’ could possibly send out a meal with sprouting potatoes and also it made me wonder why he was keeping a pile of old sprouting potatoes in the kitchen. I’ve got to say this really put me off my meal and gave me major concerns as to the quality of produce and more importantly the quality of the staff that were preparing my really quite expensive for what it was meal. It was very disappointing as it ruined our dining experience.

7) We ordered breakfast in bed for the final morning but after the obvious issues with the kitchen we decided to cancel it – so I called down to reception to cancel. Tried reception over 10 times – no answer. All other buttons on the phone (eg housekeeping, concierge etc) just went to a dead line. So kept trying and after 15 minutes finally got through to someone.

8) Despite getting through to reception and cancelling the breakfast, it was still on our final bill so I had to go back into reception after I’d paid and get that sorted out – a fitting conclusion to our stay I guess as it was riddled with issues.

There were other little bits and pieces which normally I wouldn’t mention but they all added up to a poor hotel experience - like no milk sachets left with the tea so we had to call down to reception to get some milk sent up (the next day milk sachets were left), one of the showers was full on ‘hot’ (ie it would burn you to go under it) and the dial was stuck and couldn’t be moved (I did mention this to staff but nothing happened – not a major issue as there was another shower in our suite), our ‘welcome’ to the hotel was the concierge coming out and in a less than friendly tone telling us to move our car (I parked next to the disabled bay – although I didn’t know it was the disabled bay as it had a car in it obscuring the sign). Fair enough that we should leave room next to the bay for wheelchair access, but it wasn’t done in a very friendly manner which put us both on edge as the first touch point with the hotel.

Also, whilst it was great to have air con in the room (it was 30 degrees outside!) it would run at night and then switch to low/off for a while and come back on with an almighty thud each time – even the heaviest of sleepers would be woken by it – so we had quite poor sleep as it’s either be woken up every few minutes with the air-con thudding into action or get very much overheated on the top floor. Surely the hotel could afford a better aircon unit?

On a positive note, the massage was lovely, the spa was pretty good and as mentioned above, the room and building were fantastic. It’s just such a shame that the staff were, in my opinion, not of a sufficient level or standard for the hotel and as such made so many mistakes.

In my opinion it was a disgrace sending out sprouting jersey royals with my meal (I’m still annoyed by this now!) – at the prices charged for pretty simple food in pretty small portions you should at least have a proper trained chef overseeing the dishes – this clearly didn’t happen in this instance as they would not have sent that dish out. The restaurant was very quiet so it wasn’t due to being too busy.

Such a shame the hotel experience was ruined by poor staff. How it achieved a 5 star rating recently I do not know. The staff are definitely only of 2 or 3 star quality.

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