Firstly, the booking process was smooth, we decided Tuesday morning that we wanted to get away for a couple of nights at a hotel enroute to a stay elsewhere we had already arranged, and so we booked a room for that night without hassle.
However, on arrival we were informed that the hotel had emailed us a check-in form, and I was asked if there was a way we could access our emails to complete it. When I explained that the only way we could get to it was to return home, the receptionist offered to print it out for us to complete there and then. Now why we couldn’t simply “speak” our details to her to enter onto the system, I have no idea – she was behind a very tall Perspex screen and we were wearing face-coverings as requested. In fairness I was impressed that she used an antibac wipe on the pen before she passed it through to me to use. But I then felt extremely disappointed because the form she printed was totally blank of any of my details (and on our return home I discovered the one they emailed was the same too, and had only sent this and a separate email to e-check in a couple of hours before our arrival when we were already travelling) so what on earth was the point of my booking through Best Western as a returning customer? They had my name, address, phone number and membership number as part of the booking process, and yet this all required to be filled in on the form – hardly good customer service to welcome back repeat customers. It was even worse because I couldn’t access things on my phone to immediately let them know my membership number, but once in the room when I was properly able to connect to wifi, I located it and on our way out we stopped at reception to give it to the lady, and she said not to worry she had it already because it had pulled through on my booking – so this really does beg the question why I had to fill in a form when they had the info already? Other brands manage to “pull through” my data from a central booking point and I am only asked to sign, for example Holiday Inn, Premier Inn and Ibis – brands we use regularly. This check-in experience really disappointed me and I started to regret being loyal to a hotel we had stayed at previously.
Then we got to the room. It was no where near as good as last time. It was tiny, and even the wardrobe only had one door because of where the “desk” had been installed, it came across what would have been the second door, so you had to “lean in” to get to the second rail in the wardrobe. I was amazed to see a folded suitcase stand in the wardrobe and was thankful we didn’t need it because if we had put it up on the only part of the floor big enough to take it, we would have been unable to get into the bathroom. However, we did book last minute and the room was clean.
However, I do not understand the hotels thought processes. We were clearly told that due to Covid, they would not be coming in to our room during our stay. No problem there, we understand the reasons for this. However, why on earth was the room not properly prepared to receive guests? We clearly booked for 2 people for 2 nights, but we only had one bath-towel, and the tea and coffee things were what they would normally leave in the room for a single stay and a single guest, further shown by only a single sachet of hot chocolate being left on the tray. Surely if you know a guest is staying more than one night, and that there will be more than 1 person in the room, then housekeeping should leave more than 1 towel and plenty of tea & coffee things to cover the whole stay? Yes we can ask for extras at reception, and we did but clearly there are instructions to only give out 6 small milk-sticks on each time of asking because this is all that different receptionists gave us. If you use the whole of the stick of instant coffee in the mug in the room, you need at least 3 milk sticks to make it drinkable, so only giving us 6 each time meant we could only have one drink each. It is a usual thing with hotels to only allow a small amount of milks yet leave 4-6 teabags and 4-6 coffee sticks.
Maybe these rooms are usually used for single travellers, and having two bods in it was not the norm, and this is why they only left 1 towel, and 1 set of tea/coffee/hot chocolate. To be honest, given the size of it and the restriction on using the wardrobe etc, it would be far better to hold this room (37) out as a single room and not a double.
The duvet was really really thick so we were too hot, staying at the beginning of September when the weather was mild. What was really funny though was that the duvet was a helluva lot longer than the duvet cover – maybe it had shrunk in the wash – because the duvet itself stuck way out of it. The pillows were flat as pancakes, no support at all, and we certainly needed the spares from the wardrobe to try to get any form of neck support – again cheap pillows in use, and not a patch on Premier Inn who offer a choice of decent sized pillows that give proper support.
Sleeping was interesting because the room lacked decent soundproofing – it sounded like the bods upstairs had a dog that ran up and down for a fair amount of the night. Also the toilet was really noisy refilling, and so was the one in the room next door as I was awoken more than once through the night when our neighbours used their loo.
Bathroom wise, the corner shower cubicle was tiny, and anyone bigger-boned than us would have really struggled. I also screwed back on the toilet seat which was so loose it hung off to the side – surely housekeeping should have noticed it was loose when they cleaned and should have arranged for maintenance to fix it before guests used the room?
Bar and restaurant area – all the staff were keeping safe with masks or visors, and all of those we met over our 2-night stay were cheerful and friendly, they are a real credit to the hotel. We were very impressed with the way in the evenings that when a table was finished with, as staff cleared the crockery etc they put a laminated card on it stating the table hadn’t yet been sanitised – what a great idea as this lets other staff and also customers know to wait before occupying it – brilliant!
Breakfast – we were aware that due to Covid arrangements, there would be no buffet, but full table service. The cooked breakfast was as we expected and good, however we were disappointed with their “continental” option because this was sweet only, ie cakes, croissants, jam etc. What’s happened to the savoury option of sliced cheese and ham? This could easily be offered as part of the table-service choices, and can be a nice change to the full-english but still be savoury.
Smoking area – this is still the dark and dingy area to the front of the main entrance, not good if you are a little claustrophobic, and appears to be wholly inaccessible to anyone with reduced mobility as you need to use steps to get to it, plus it is at what is potentially the furthest possible point from the bar area. While I understand not allowing smokers on the tables around the garden entrance to the bar area, there is enough room to have a smoking area off to one side at the edge of the car park, which many people used anyway and then had no choice but to drop butts on the floor because of a lack of ashtrays or bins around there.
Check-out - when we checked in the receptionist did tell us that they would email the invoice to us at the end of our stay and charge the card we had lodged. When I asked what the value of the charge would be, she told me they had emailed the invoice, but when I explained we would not be home for a week and no access to emails, she did tell me the value and offered to print out the invoice. We wanted to check because it is far easier to get things put right while you are still at the premises, rather than when you have got home and they already have the money. (we did see one person charging drinks to someone elses room so wanted to check this hadnt happened to us too)
Come on Best Western - accept that not everyone has access to emails on their phones and give people the option of what they want you to do. Having an "email only" policy is also discriminatory towards the odler population who don't use technology in the same way as youngsters.
Our first stay at the Valley Hotel in March 2019 was really good (see my previous review) which is why we opted to return to it when we were passing through the area. However this time we were left disappointed and wishing that we had booked one of the pubs-with-rooms that line the main riverside road of Ironbridge. This time certainly wasn’t worth the extra cost that the Valley Hotel charged compared to other local offerings, and I did not feel that being a Best Western member counted for anything. less
Joanne Boddison, General Manager at Best Western Valley Hotel, responded to this review
Dear Previous Guest,
We are very sorry to learn of your disappointment with aspects of the stay; it our genuine intention that all of our guests leave having had a positive experience, so please be assured your comments have had our full attention and investigation. The safety of our guests is paramount. We have been assessed and awarded as being a Covid -Secure Hotel and this brings with it many changes for guests and staff that we are all very quickly trying to adapt to. My apologies for those aspects of the stay that have changed and impacted upon your enjoyment. I have noted all of your maintenance concerns for investigation with the team along with you comments regarding items in the room. We really do value our loyal and returning customers, and once again our apologies that we did not exceed your expectations. We have the same team as your previous visit, who have the same focus and intent to provide all our guests with a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience. I do hope you will return again in the future, and should this be the case please contact us directly with your preferences and concerns, and we will do everything possible to provide you with a very enjoyable stay.