My daughter and I stayed one night at the Rose and Crown, having arrived in the late evening from London. As there was a wedding reception going on until midnight, the hotel receptionist said she had put us into the “executive rooms” just across the car park so we wouldn't be disturbed. These rooms are newer and I believe offer air conditioning, but I was looking forward to staying in the original, old building, so requested a change back into the perhaps noisier part of the hotel. We weren’t planning on an early night, so any noise from the party was not a problem for us, but in fact we were unaware of the festivities I appreciated Liz’s cheerful willingness to accommodate my preferences without a blink.
The room (number 200) was just wonderful, more a suite really, with very low beams in the bedroom (just a couple of inches above my head and I’m only 5’2” tall), bulging walls indicative of the age of the building (a 14th century coaching inn) and a fireplace in the anteroom. My initial thought was that there wasn’t a right angle anywhere…just gloriously higgledy-piggledy slants, bulges and slopes. It seemed incongruous to sit in such an enchanting old room while connecting to the free wi-fi! The leaded windows looked out onto the street, but the traffic noise was not a problem for us, although I admit we are not light sleepers. The bathroom floor sloped – again in keeping with the age of the building. As some earlier reviewers have mentioned, the hot water was a challenge. In the morning, I was unable to figure out a way to get the water to come through the main taps in order to have a bath, but was happy to use the shower attachment while sitting in the bath, so turned on the hot water. I would say it took close to a full 5 minutes for the temperature to change from cold to lukewarm, and then, eureka, to hot water. However, reminiscent of my childhood when someone flushing the toilet would affect the water in the tub, I suddenly lost ALL hot water and was back to icy, quickly followed by boiling hot! So basically, yes, there is a problem with the bathing water, at least in this particular room, as it was totally unpredictable from one second to the next. However, the way I look at it is this: how often in my life do I get a nice, long hot shower or bath? And how often do I have the chance to stay in a 14th century coaching inn? Well, thousands on the one hand and once on the other. Personally, I think it’s worth it. Very worth it. But I would certainly caution anyone who relies on a good long shower in the morning, to request one of the modern “executive” rooms.
Another caution, mainly to Americans who frequent Best Westerns in the USA, the breakfast is NOT complimentary unless you have specifically paid for a room including breakfast. It’s about 9 pounds per person for a continental style offering, or 11 pounds, I think, for a cooked to order breakfast. We had a comical moment as we sat eating our yummy croissants, fruit and yogurt, discussing the low ceilings common to buildings of this age, and how we were lucky for once to be short. Then a crowd of fellow guests appeared: Great Britain’s basketball team! They must have spent their stay totally doubled over! Anyway, I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone who appreciates buildings of age and character and can tolerate some inconveniences as a trade-off. It still blows my mind that this wonderful old building is a Best Western franchise. I found it to be a memorable experience and one I would happily repeat. My daughter read this review and commented that it seemed more negative than it should be, given our enjoyment of the stay. I truly want to praise the place…I just feel that letting others know in advance about aspects of the hotel which may not be everyone’s cup of tea will allow for happy informed guests.
And a side note…we followed our stay at the Rose and Crown with a full day at the Colchester Zoo, which is a really lovely place to visit too. I certainly hope I will have a chance to visit Colchester and the Rose and Crown again.