Outstanding historical building. Disappointingly poor service.
Booked for a Valentine's date night, 4 poster and DBB. Really looking forward to it based on website gallery. Favourable first impressions and very friendly, professional reception. Regrettably that's where the positive experience ended.
I don't complain for the sake of it, and will be as constructive as possible.
Our 4 poster room (33) was cleaned and presented in good condition, and the decor (newly renovated?) was ideal for the style of room. However, we kind of thought the room would have been more quirky and in keeping with a castle rather than the high ceilinged box it was. The walls were very thin and we could hear the neighbours quite clearly. Fortunately there wasn't a noise issue from them. The bed was clean and looked inviting, but the mattress was the wrong side of firm for our taste, and we slept fitfully all night Not the relaxing experience I was hoping for. The bathroom was clean but the suite a bit dated, the shower had a pitiful flow of water, and neither of us bothered using it the next morning, preferring to wait until we returned home to our own power shower. Sadly, there was a definite smell of drains in the bathroom, not overpowering but noticeable by both of us. I know it's a really old building and the upkeep of the plumbing must be challenging, but a smell of musty drains is not what I expect when I'm paying this amount of money.
Moving on from the room, our real disappointment was the dinner service. There was a wedding on (which I'd been warned about) but the 2 staff who were running the Farmers Restaurant seemed to be lacking in confidence and I never felt that they were completely on top of the service for a total of 5 couples. There was no warmth or personable interaction and I didn't get the feeling that they knew how to make the dining experience faultless or enjoyable for the guests. My food was gorgeous though. We both had the terrine for starters and enjoyed that. I had pan fried duck for mains and loved it, Mrs Foxy had the steak & stout pie and really enjoyed the filling, which was well cooked and tasty. However, the thick crust pie was too dry and hard and she thought it had been overcooked. Everything else on the plate was enjoyable. I had the sticky ginger pudding and that was scrummy, but again Mrs F seemed to luck out with her choice (lemon meringue). As she said, it was lemon meringue, but not as she knew it. Served in a preserving jar, it consisted of crisp meringue shells with layers of lemon curd and whipped cream. Too sickly was the verdict. Maybe she's too picky, but she knows her food,and she wasn't delighted by the whole offering for dinner - all of the courses were tasty in parts but the whole was a disappointment. Finally, I asked for an Irish coffee to finish. This seemed to cause some confusion, and when it finally arrived, it appeared to be a normal flat white coffee with some whisky poured in. The presentation was not like any Irish coffee I've ever had before, and it was almost as if someone had said 'make a white coffee and stir a shot of whisky in' .
Onto breakfast. We were in at about 0915 (service finishes at 1000), and there were plenty of tables available. Quite a few remained uncleared from the previous occupants. Just like dinner the previous evening, no-one (different staff) had a grip on the breakfast service, and there were about 2 or 3 waiters running randomly between tables taking / delivering orders. Mrs Foxy just wanted juice and toast and had to wait for some fresh glasses to arrive and then a queue built up at the toaster waiting for bread. I ordered a full breakfast with scrambled egg, and told the waiter that Mrs Foxy didn't require a cooked breakfast. Three times the same waiter came back to check the order. A few minutes later, and Mrs F had finished her cereal and toast and I was still waiting for my cooked order. A younger waiter then came over and asked if I wanted to order! Other guests who had arrived well after us, received their cooked breakfasts, and after about 20 mins I had to get up to track down my own plate. Sure enough, it miraculously appeared just as I arrived in the doorway! Breakfast itself was fresh, hot and tasty, but the poor service meant that I was sitting, quietly simmering, waiting for a very simple order, while others were served around me. Both dinner and breakfast needed someone to be in charge. The lack of control and staff experience lets the whole restaurant service down, and is the principal reason for this average rating.
So, all in all, a very disappointing visit. We paid and left and it was almost as if no-one really cared whether we'd had an enjoyable time. I've stayed in many hotels around the world, some sad, some grim, some ultra luxurious, professional but impersonal. I told Mrs Foxy that I've had better DBB experiences in 99% of Premier Inns (and associated restaurants) around the UK and for less than half the cost of this visit. Having read the responses by the director of Walworth Castle to customer reviews, I'm sure the intent is there to create a memorable experience for all guests, but based on the evidence of our visit, there is still a long way to go.
I'm sure we'll return at some stage (we have a wedding invite for here later in the year), so we'll be able to check progress. I sincerely hope the comments above are addressed; the hotel is a stunning building with incredible history and set in gorgeous grounds. Currently let down by some issues in the rooms, but mainly by lack of experience and supervision in the restaurant. A great shame. less