Review: A bad hotel experience in the Scottish Borders

Now, you know me. I LOVE Scotland.

I love to share my love of Scotland.

Occasionally though, bad experiences do occur in my pursuit to share this boundless love with you.

This post is one of those times and so I suggest that you stop reading now if you don’t want me to shatter your Brigadoon!

Are you sitting comfortably? I shall begin

Following an enjoyable few days (not so much the nights) staycationing in rural Perthshire, we moved on to a hotel in the Scottish Borders for a final night before heading back to reality.

The Scottish Borders is vast, beautiful, yet often overlooked when it comes to tourists, perhaps due to its relative proximity to the big central belt cities: Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Give it a chance though and you will find spectacular scenery along with a fantastic array of things to see and do.

Whether the dramatic history of Sir Walter Scott and exploring ruined castles is your thing; or if you lust after a vibrant arts and crafts scene; seek to witness the traditional Scottish Borders Common Ridings; enjoy delicious local produce; or breathing in the sea air on the beautiful Berwickshire coast – there really is something for everyone in the Borders.

This time, we opted for a hotel in the central borders region, just outside the small but thriving Edinburgh commuter town of Peebles.

As we were only staying for one night, we wanted somewhere that we could hole up for dinner, bed and breakfast whilst taking in the gorgeous surrounding countryside.

The hotel we chose is part of a very well known chain of hotels, and in this case has a championship golf course attached to it. The Dinner, bed and breakfast (DBB) rate was £160pn.

This was marketed as a “deal rate” and since the hotel had 4 star status, we had quite high expectations about our stay there.

Sadly, the experience was marred by a catalogue of irritating service issues.

The issue that upset the apple cart from the off was that despite being on a DBB rate, they could not offer us a table for dinner until after 21.15.

When we challenged this as being slightly ridiculous, we were abruptly told, “we do advise guests to book their evening meal in advance of arrival.”

I have a couple of issues with this statement.

Had we been advised, either in the booking confirmation or via a quick courtesy call from the hotel, that this would be required, of course we would have done this.

We were not advised of this.

Secondly, when you have guests on a DINNER rate, arguably, it doesn’t take a genius to work out they will be staying for dinner and therefore, will require a dinner reservation.

Perhaps then, some dinner slots should have been held back for residents, rather than us being left high and dry in favour of non-residents in on a Friday night.

We sat in the bar and watched guest after guest arrive only to have the same conversation about dinner tables. After us, tables were only available after 22.00. Each time fault being inferred at the guest not having pre-booked.

Needless to say, there were a lot of unhappy customers that could have done with a complimentary coffee or tea to kill the ten hours or so until dinner.

Nada.

Oh wait. Maybe that’s because a cup of English breakfast tea (using a tea bag) was priced on the lounge menu at £4.55.

I. Kid. You. Not.

What is really irritating is that this hotel is just far enough out of town to be able to rely on having a captive audience stuck paying through the nose all afternoon.

It’s certainly not the Ritz.

I have attached the menu below.

By this point we were raging. The other service issues just added to this.

Highlights included:

– Our king size double room turning out to be a twin. This was rectified, however, took time;

– noticing that there were loads of free tables for two in the restaurant before 21.15, yet we had not received a standby call.

(The issue appears therefore to have been a muck up of staffing levels, the hotel leaving themselves unable to cope with demand);

– being charged for two bottles of wine at the end of dinner when we only had one;

– the waiter telling us his medical history and why he couldn’t drink rather than just giving us the wine recommendation we asked for;

– the sauna in the spa being broken; and

– berry tea, green tea, earl grey tea….but no English breakfast tea in the rooms.

(Yet another minor irritation that we would not expect from a 4 star hotel.
I refer you back to my previous point on tea being a tradable commodity in this hotel at the price it’s sold at.)

In fairness to the hotel, the evening meal was of a reasonably high standard when it did eventually arrive at around 22.00. Unfortunately, we were way over it by then and too annoyed to take pictures to share with you.

You may be surprised to know that we are not fussy nor high maintenance guests in any usual set of circumstances. The clunks in this overnight stay over seemingly simple service process were highly irritating. The complacency of the staff was painful.

I have decided not to name and shame the hotel here at this time.

You may recognise the description of this hotel if you know the area, or are planning a stay. This post is also the subject of ongoing correspondence with said hotel. Although we raised our issues with staff at the time, we felt compelled to follow it up with an email in the hope that the feedback can only improve the customer experience.

We will continue to road test accommodation in the Scottish Borders, as it is a beautiful part of the country, well worth a visit despite this rogue encounter of ours.

We had a delightful stay previously at the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, which I would highly commend.

I have a busy week of events ahead and so look forward to returning to a more positive week of posts again next week!

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6 thoughts on “Review: A bad hotel experience in the Scottish Borders

  1. Wowee-what a shame that you had a bad experience on the last night of your holiday.
    Literally spat my tea out when I read the price of their tea! Clipper tea bags are not that special. I’d be pretty peed off if there wasn’t normal tea in the room to wake me up.
    I’ve stayed near Peebles and it’s a lovely little place. I’d recommend The Horseshoe Inn in Eddleston-food is to die for.

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    • I know. So annoying to be feeling really chilled out after a week off only to end up uber peeved on our last night. Its the little home comforts that make or break things sometimes. The Horseshoe sounds lovely, thanks for the tip. My personal favourite for food is in Melrose – Burt’s Hotel. Great people watching and grub – hunting, fishing & shooting crowd!

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