Today was originally the only day of the road trip we'd booked. It was our halfway point, and probably the most expensive single night of the trip. It was a resort hotel in the English Lakes District, and a relaxing spa getaway for us after weeks of suitcase and hostel living.
Our night in Moffat was lovely. We'd taken a room in the Bonnington Hotel - really a bed and breakfast - where our lovely hosts Leslie and Paul provided a fantastic reception. They were the best, softest beds we'd had in weeks, with a private en suite and included hot breakfast in the morning. They were utterly charming and made us feel like absolute royalty for just thirty quid each for the night.
We had planned to head straight to Lodore Falls Resort in order to make the most of the facilities and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. We got to Cumbria in just a couple of hours and dropped our bags off to be held until our room was ready. I wasn't made to feel particularly welcome upon entry - not frosty, per se, but given how much we were paying it was not an overly warm greeting. The club chicken sandwich I ordered without bacon came out as a cold, plain chicken sandwich. When I asked, I was told I had ordered the chicken and smokey bacon sandwich, not a club. After some fuss, they took it back and brought it out a while later - toasted, but cold. Hmm.
I went up to the room, which was now ready, and it was thankfully rather nice. A good size, with nice beds, large bathroom and space for all our bags. No lake view, sadly, but not a bad garden outlook either. I did a quick tub of washing and then headed out to see the spa facilities. Again, I was a little disappointed b the slightly tired pool, sauna and gym. I did a bit of a workout but the wet area was filled with the elderly and the very young, making it rather unappealing. I returned to the room and had a bath instead, something I hadn't done in years. It was fine, but not exactly the spa day I was expecting.
Sam had headed down to dinner, and an hour later I did too. From the moment I walked into the restaurant, I was made to feel unwelcome. I asked if there was room for one, unbooked person to dine. 'One ten?' the waiter asked, and after my confused look, asked for my room number. It was, indeed, 110. She sighed, and looked around frustratedly. 'Well, would you mind being there?' she asked, pointing to a corner booth. I could tell she didn't really want to waste a table on me, so I looked around for Sam, who was finishing, and said I could join him to save table space. She flounced off, and muttered that she'd just cleared everything off his table.
After dragging a chair over, she tossed down a clutch of cutlery and a napkin. I watched as other diners had their napkins laid on their laps. It's not a big thing, and I don't care about doing it, but it was indicative of the level of service I was to receive that night. A waiter came out and offered me a choice of breads. Another man soon arrived and asked what I'd like to order. I told him that no one had given me a menu yet. I had a peruse and ordered the chicken, then asked what tap beers they had. They had two options, and I picked one. They brought out the other. At this point, my orders at the hotel had twice been gotten wrong.
In a short time, my main had arrived, and was nice. I watched as the waitress that had seated me circled past diners eating before and after me, asking how their meal was. I was, conspicuously, the only table she didn't stop at to check how things were. I'd barely put down the cutlery before they were asking if I wanted dessert. I said I'd need a few minutes to decide, but in another minute's time he was back again, impatient. I ordered a pudding. It came out quickly, and again, was quite nice.
My menu included two courses and coffee, and I waited thirty minutes to be asked what I'd like to drink. I watched other tables be served dessert and then coffee without anyone approaching me. My water glass had been empty for ages too. Eventually, I flagged down a passing waiter and asked for a hot chocolate. Again, it was nice. The chefs and the food itself was perfectly lovely for a pricey waterfront hotel, but for some reason I was treated as a second class citizen all night. It was baffling to me. I think they had a wedding elsewhere in the hotel, but it wasn't everyone in the room getting poor service. It was just me, and I hadn't done anything. Sam, who had just eaten, was shocked.
It was a disappointing end to the day. Given how much we'd paid, and how much we were looking forward to the luxurious accommodation, it was frustrating to feel like nothing lived up to our expectations. A tired pool, a small sauna, a limited gym and terrible service. In Moffat, we'd had the same size and comfort level of room, albeit without the spa, but with brilliant, convivial hosts that made every request feel like it wasn't a hassle, and who went out of their way to make our stay pleasant. It was nearly five times cheaper, too. I had simply asked if they had a table free - and bear in mind, we'd told reception on arrival at 11am that we eat at different times - and they didn't hide their dissatisfaction.
I'm a reasonable person. I work in customer service. I know if you have a function on you often have a lot of plates to spin. But if she'd said, 'sorry, unfortunately we can't because of a function and the guests that had booked in advance', I would have understood and headed over to the bar. Or, 'You can grab a seat, but due to a wedding your meal might be half an hour', which I would have been fine with. Sadly, they just treated me as a burden all night and seemed anxious to get me out the door as soon as possible. It just goes to show that service is everything, and even the best facilities can be soured by poor staff attitudes. Hopefully tomorrow, wherever we are, will be better.