We stayed at the Lamphey Court Hotel as we were spending a few days in Pembrokeshire and wanted a hotel that had an indoor pool. On first impressions, the hotel looked good. The drive up to it is pretty impressive and you can see how the place used to be home to the local gentry.
Once you get inside the room however, things change somewhat.
As we have two young(ish) children, we were put in the studio block - a group of rooms away from the main house. Upon entering the room, we were immediately struck by the aroma. Fusty is not the word. The room smelt like it hadn't been used - or cleaned - for 20 years! The fittings were tired, the beds were soft. In short, the room was a massive disappointment (especially after we'd travelled 255 miles to get there!)
I WILL praise the pool and spa area, which we then went to with the kids. Although the pool was VERY cold (I was told the temperature couldn't be turned up any higher!) it was perfectly serviceable and a reasonable size. The spa was not working (a spa member told me it had been out of action for several weeks) but the steam room was very good. The changing rooms were a bit hit and miss. Hit: the showers, which were hot and had shower gel. Miss: the lack of space - with just one changing room in the men's and very little space to get changed apart from that!
(Note: it's worth pointing out that, if you have children, the swimming pool is actually part of a member's only spa complex. Children can swim, but only at certain times. I actually felt a bit sorry for the members as they tried their best to swim up and down, whilst my two kids were shouting and generally being crazy. Also worth noting that most of the members seemed incredibly tolerant of children and were actually very friendly!)
The hotel also comes up short in terms of dining - or rather, the lack of it! We had paid a higher rate to eat there in the evening, as we thought it would be easier than having to drive around looking for places with two hungry children in tow. After a long drive and a nice swim, we were all set to eat there on the first evening, before my wife received a call from reception informing her that the kitchen 'had no gas' and so dinner could not be prepared that night.
Disappointing? Extremely. Yes, these things happen, but read other reviews on here and you'll see that apparently this isn't necessarily an isolated experience.
In the event, things worked out extremely well, as we ate at the wonderful Lamphey Hall Hotel the first and second nights, which was great value, absolutely delicious, with a wonderful ambience and fabulous service!
Perhaps naturally, when my wife was frantically looking for alternative places to eat the first night, she stumbled upon a few negative reviews of the Lamphey Court Hotel - which led her to see that they have actually been renovating their rooms for a while now. When we mentioned this to reception, we were told that the room we were in HADN'T been renovated at that point - bad luck for us! However, to be fair to the hotel (and, in particular, Catherine, who sorts out all the bookings) they did move us to a nicer room for our second and third nights. NOT a refurbished room I hasten to add, but a nicer room all the same.
(Note: the room we were moved into was upstairs in the Studio block. I believe it was room 232 or 237. When I left the room for the first time to go to the car, I nearly fell over the edge of the stairwell outside! In my opinion, the wall is nowhere near high enough and I am amazed that no one - particularly children - has ever been killed or seriously injured. It's probably about 30 feet to the car park below. I did mention this to the lady on reception and think it's something the hotel needs to get sorted as a matter of urgency - they really do need either a higher wall or some kind of barrier).
Another positive was the breakfast. Full English (Welsh?!) was very good and the choice of cereals, cheese, meats, fruit etc. was pretty good. Not incredible, but not too bad. (Could do with a few pastries, though.)
Interesting point: when I was sitting in the steam room, the lady I got talking to told me that the owner of the hotel lives in Switzerland. From what I can gather, he's not terribly 'hands on' which, in my opinion, is not a good thing. I believe that he has a potentially wonderful hotel on his hands but needs to a) invest heavily in the rooms, restaurant and spa area and b) take more of an interest in his investment. It's not super cheap to stay there and, for the money, ALL the rooms should be renovated, it should not take WEEKS to fix the sauna and the restaurant should never have 'no gas'!
In conclusion, I would recommend this hotel, but with a heavy caveat. Be aware of the shortcomings and check beforehand whether or not you have a refurbished room. And also check if the sauna is fully operational!
Finally, I would like to say a word for Lee, the Manager. He is a very nice chap and I believe he is trying his best under what are trying circumstances. He took my comments on board when I was checking out and I think he does his best without a lot of support from the man that owns the place.
Not a terrible hotel. But could be a whole lot better. less