I arrived late but the first impression was an unexpectedly imposing Victorian Gothic building after a drive through unlovely 1960s housing estates. The entrance is impressive and the panelling throughout the public spaces is immediately apparent.
Beyond the reception area is a great hall type space where the bar is situated, with a huge stone fireplace, gentleman's club style buttoned leather type furniture and above it, a galleried landing which leads to the bedrooms beyond.
So far, so good. The stairs up to the bedrooms were wide and equally baronial, with a Stannah stairlift fitted that looked so well-used and bent that anyone sitting in it would simply slide off the front. There was also the 1980s faded monstrosity of a faded, peach floral and flouncy 'tart's knickers' pelmet-cum-blind, which detracted somewhat from the beautiful and vast window, since it was not only dated, but vastly too small for the window.
The tired 1980s theme was sadly carried through into the bedroom I had, in cheap Ercol style furniture and faded blue floral curtains this time - which were detached from the runner so that they showed the lining and didn't meet in the middle. This was so totally at odds with the public space it was hard to believe you were in the same building - apart from the curtains.
I was pleased to see a spare blanket in the wardrobe as well as an extra pillow, but more of those later. The bathroom was clean, reasonably newly fitted though disappointingly without a bath. There was also an issue with a tiny basin with a glass shelf immediately over it - nice enough to look at but impractical for getting up close to do anything practical line washing without either bashing your forehead or drenching the floor. Nasty, very cheap and flimsy loo roll too..at odds with the complimentary toiletries and sewing kit/shoe shiner. Give me Andrex over those, any day!
Then there was the 'sleeping experience'. Having turned in gratefully at midnight or so, I found that the pillows were very firm well-stuffed and not very comfortable. However, that I could have put up with for the night: what was not bearable was the sound of what felt like furniture removals, cupboard door-slamming and industrial dishwashing (volume not to be underrated at 3am) downstairs. The thumps, bashes and scrapes were varied and although I stuck with them in the hope that sheer fatigue would win out, I eventually gave up at around 4:30am and started trying to ring to ask if the noise could be dealt with.
If I had been having a medical emergency, suffice to say I'd be dead by now. Despite ringing both reception and room service constantly, no-one picked up until 4:50am, by which time I was hopping and very thoroughly awake. I was told that nothing was going on - against a backdrop of ongoing noise, but that it would be investigated. However, nothing resolved and so, bug-eyed, by 5:45am, I had given up and resorted to breakfast tv to while away the time until breakfast and my much awaited taxi out of there.
What a waste of what could be such a statement building. Details really matter and this place just didn't impress on so many levels. If I hadn't needed sleep, it might have seemed like a creaky film set and been funny. As it is, I'd recommend giving this place a miss. less