a weekend in hurley {the olde bell}: part one…

a nomadic abode

there’s something smugly satisfying about finally being rewarded with something you’ve long denied yourself…

the only problem being that the very same anticipation & excitement this creates can ultimately lead to a similar level of disappointment…

case in point, our recent pilgrimage to the olde bell

a stay at this historic coaching inn has been on my to do list for a while now: not only was it lovingly refurbished by one of my all-time favourite interior designers, ilse crawford of studioilse, but, on paper at least, virtually everything on offer here fits my definition of idyllic…

set in the tiny village of hurley, berkshire, the olde bell beckons you to relax, unwind & simply enjoy your surrounds…

the rustic, but elegant decor is suitably refined yet unstuffy, the service is relatively friendly & the pace relaxed…

even the food follows suit: from home-baked breads to hearty slow-cooked mains & comfort-inducing desserts like sticky toffee pudding, it’s all simple, unpretentious & satisfying fare…

a nomadic abode

throughout the complex of buildings there are all manner of reading spots & firesides nooks to snuggle up in during the colder seasons…

a nomadic abode

but come the spring & summer months & the focus is all on the lush & tranquil outdoors: this truly is a beautiful part of the world…

doors are thrown open, there are bikes available with which to explore the surrounding countryside & picnic baskets made to order…

there’s even an assortment of wellies in varying sizes lined up in reception to facilitate outdoor explorations should the weather take a turn…

a nomadic abode

&, best of all, there’s a summer kitchen serving rotisserie & bbq’d meats & an assortment of side salads all delivered to your numbered picnic table or blanket…

a nomadic abode

pretty much everything you could possibly need to enjoy the outdoors is there for the taking…

really, what more could one want?

so, with a special anniversary looming & a sunny long weekend forecast, we made our booking & set off to explore…

sadly, here’s where paradise got a little lost…

i pondered long & hard over which room to book, but being a special occasion & given i was first drawn to the inn because of its designer interiors, we plumped for one of the larger ‘ilse crawford’ rooms {a steep £410 for two nights} situated in either the characterful malt or main house {the oldest parts of which date back to 1135}…

the promise of the claw foot bath, aesop products & handmade enormous beds somewhat softened the fiscal blow…

but, whilst i’d love to give you a review of these refurbished historic rooms, i’m afraid that’s not possible because we never actually got to see one….

despite our booking, we were allocated a large room in the brick barn across the road from the main inn: a decidedly newer addition located effectively in the car park & touted on the website as “perfect for families sharing”…

it turns out it’s not quite so perfect for couples…

a nomadic abode

some would call the decor spartan, i would pitch it as pared-back: the crisp cottons, woollen blankets, linen cushions, fluffy sheepskins & rush carpets were not unlike those featured in the many online images i’ve seen…

a red roberts radio provides a vibrant splash of colour, but i can’t help but think something as simple as some blooms in a simple vase might help elevate the overall mood…

but whatever way you see it there were some undeniable issues: the lighting was poor & ill placed, the rooms were noisy {all those families sharing next door i expect} & the aesop products & claw foot bath were nowhere to be seen…

i could go on, but i’ll refrain…

to compensate for the room error we were offered a small discount & a complementary bottle of house champagne delivered to our room {it didn’t arrive}…

a nomadic abode

to complete our trio of day one mishaps, the restaurant booking we’d made in reception failed to show up on the system & we were seconded to the nearby bar whilst they ‘found’ us a table: suffice to say we were pretty famished by the time our meal arrived at 10.30pm, an hour & a half after our scheduled booking…

& so concludes my rant…

because, despite the somewhat shambolic nature of our short stay here, i would actually consider coming back…

{to be continued}…

 

{UPDATE: there may actually be a discrepancy between the room type & description advertised on booking.com – where we made our booking – and that of the olde bell website which caused the issue with our room booking! i’m investigating & will report back when i have an update! 09.05.13}

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10 thoughts on “a weekend in hurley {the olde bell}: part one…

  1. I feel incensed on your behalf. I hate being drawn to a place because of a beautiful historic building only to end up in the annexe. You are a bigger woman than I to be placated by a small discount. The enjoyment of the rest of the hotel sounds lovely and well-thought out. No doubt in part by the use of good design. I await the second instalment. Triciax

    • i’m trying to look at the bigger picture! i enjoyed the weekend on the whole, though it was pretty much continuously interspersed with ‘hiccups’… if they could get their act together i think it really would be rather idyllic…

  2. Oh nooooooo. This is not good AT ALL. I spend far, far too much time pouring over hotel websites, and I’m inevitably disappointed in the long run, but this is THE WORST. I need to hurry up and read part 2 in the hopes that things get better. Although those picnic baskets look really nice…

    • hah… yes, part of my problem is getting my hopes up too! but seriously, if they hadn’t screwed us over on the room i could handle the rest with much more aplomb! 😉

  3. Oh man, that bites 🙁 So sorry for your disappointment. I booked a stay at a big stately home myself a couple years ago only to find there was a ‘mix up’ with the rooms and we were given a room in a very modern annex. The dining area (there was a dinner included in the price) was in the same annex – couldn’t be more annoyed! I’m annoyed for you quite frankly! At least you had nice weather, eh? (how very English of me bringing up the weather ;)) xxx

    • yeah, there were some blips to the weekend, but at the end of the day we survived! i’m a sucker for character though so don’t enjoy having the rug pulled out from under me!

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