Years ago we had many enjoyable visits to a family run hotel at Grasmere called the Gold Rill, which was excellent in every respect. The hotel is set in a quiet part of the village, with very well kept gardens and has some beautiful views of the fells and lake nearby. I’m informed it changed hands in 2015 and is now called The Grand.
We were greeted on arrival and my initial impressions were of a well run hotel with recently refurbished public rooms, an improvement to the old layout. However the hotel is cashless which I really don’t like, an errosion of freedom and one that shouldn’t be happening. On the way to our room I noticed three surveillance cameras, is that really neccessary? If you must record every guests movement then please be more discreet.
Our room was modern and our initial impression favourable, but several things just not right. Firstly, a dressing table with no natural light with the bed positioned in front. However, I kept accidentally knocking my elbow on the low partition that stuck out whilst thats no big deal, it served a constant reminder to the thoughtless design and probably made the room awkward for anyone less able. The bathroom looked modern enough but like a fridge with a slate floor, very cold on the feet and no bath. We were informed there were complimentary slippers however, you can’t wear them in the shower. The room also had air con, a fridge, decent sized TV, plenty of storage and a tea/coffee maker with the wireless network connection available. My verdict: Very good lake view and well equipped room although layout not so good, but no bath?
We’d booked for dinner the first night as the receptionist had informed us most places were shut and the restaurant would be busy. Like the public rooms the restaurant is modern with tables well spaced. However, I can’t say I was too impressed with my game casserole which was very salty. Unfortunately, even in 2019 some one saw fit to treat my meal like an icy road. The meal was also in a bowl – why? This made it difficult to eat and I should have requested it on a plate, as per the previous 61 years. Whilst the game casserole came with a small portion of brocolli and mashed potato, it appeared in general anything additional such as chips or vegetables were extra to the main dish. therefore, your fairly expensive meal gets dearer if with chips, vegetables or both. My verdict: Overpriced, a lot less salt please.
I then browsed through the wine list to discover it was nothing but corporate theft. There was no provenance, I prefer a little explanation of what I’m about to buy, for example: ‘Muscadet: A crisp dry white perfect with fish‘ will do. We opted for a mundane Australian Syrah (Shiraz) at £26 but wanting a Cote de Rhone Villages or Gigondas to go with the game, an Argentinian Malbec was £50 a bottle? Come on, that is robbery. The next day I found our humble Shiraz in the Co-op for £8.25 ending any further wine purchases! For an £8 wine, I fully expect a hotel will charge double plus a bit say £18 to £20. I am no stranger to paying for good wine, but this was over three times what it could be bought for. My verdict: The wine is way overpriced, my meal ruined with far too much salt.
Afterwards the bar menu revealled equally excessive prices: Gin & Tonic £12, Cognac and Armanac cheapest around £9 following which, I diddnt recognise any of the other drinks. Sadly, high prices resulted in public areas being near deserted removing the jolly atmosphere that once prevailed. Back in the days of the Gold Rill, a selection of fine single malts were available from the bar without needing a second mortgage, sadly not anymore.
Heres what they really miss: I will happily pay around £5-6 for a G&T and there were three of us, so every night spent £15 to £18 over the bar and at that price the profit is still at least 100%. Instead they got nothing for being downright greedy. My verdict: don’t bother – guests we spoke to agreed it was over priced and staff also confirmed their dislike for high prices stunting bar sales.
Later on we turned in. After a 10 minute search I eventually found the light switch under the dressing table. God only knows why the numpties put it there, only to discover we were sleeping in something that resembled the end of the runway at Gatwick airport. A smoke detector almost directly over our bed had two very bright green LEDs flashing about every 20 seconds, visible with my eyes shut. The televisions red LED shone like a searchlight. The air conditioning system also sported a selection of green lights whilst an eirie glow in the hallway contributed to the unwanted display. Sleep did not come easily. The next day we bought some Blu Tak to deal with the offensive, unwanted illuminations. My verdict: Too knackered to state anything constructive, but the Blu Tak worked a treat.
The next morning, breakfast was a revalation with a fine selection of just about everything and good coffee followed by the full English. Finally, something positive to talk about. We did joke about taking an extra slice of bread may be spotted on CCTV automatically adding a fiver to our bill. My verdict: Breakfast was very good and by far the best experience of our stay.
Overall verdict: The public rooms are nice but excessive bar prices mean they are sparsely populated to deserted in the evening, the jolly atmosphere that once prevailled long gone. The restaurant was sort of OK, but expensive evening meals once the cost of vegatables is added made them poor value. Breakfast by far the best meal for me. After Mondays experience, we diddn’t want to chance another dissapointing meal so we ate elsewhere for the rest of the week. The over priced wine and bar prices served a fine deterrent to any alcholic refreshments. The room was well equipped with a comfortable bed but illuminations at night meant disturbed sleep and it was just not very well laid out. Our view of the lake very good.
So would I stay again? Well, I won’t exactly hurry back, so in a word: No.