“ Priory Road / High Wycombe / Buckinghamshire / HP13 6SL / Tel: 01494 471013 „
High Wycombe, supposedly the largest town in Buckinghamshire, turned out to be rather smaller than I expected. Having said that, it does have some rather charming Georgian architecture just not at the end of town where I was staying, which was somewhat careworn, shall I say? Still, as I only going to be in town over a weekend for a wedding, all I really required was somewhere to sleep, preferably inexpensive and near the train station. The list of recommended local hotels that the bride had thoughtfully provided only listed accommodation of the £75 to £100 per night variety, and aware as I was that as I was booking somewhere (a) close to London, and (b) in peak holiday season, I thought that it was prudent to extend my search elsewhere in the hope of finding something more palatable to my financial tastes. After spending some time on Google searching for likely candidates, I found the Abbey Lodge Hotel, an establishment that was just a few streets from the train station, was described as recently refurbished, and had en suite double rooms at £60 per night for bed and breakfast. While not exactly cheap, it was certainly more affordable than most of the other local hotels I had looked at, and seemed to be a good choice for my stay.
As it turned out, the location of the Abbey Lodge Hotel could not have been better for us. I had brought a print-out from Google Maps to help navigate us from the train station to the hotel, but we barely needed it the walk took less than 10 minutes, even with baggage. It was also only a short walk away from the town centre, so shops, a supermarket and plenty of restaurants and take-aways were within easy reach. The road the hotel was on may have been a little scruffy, but the building looked tidy from the outside (especially in comparison to the derelict and boarded up house next door) and it even had a brown road sign to help visitors find the place from the main road. The reception area was quite cosy, and alongside the reception desk was a living room with sofas, newspapers and a TV for visitors to relax in. Check-in was perfunctory (names given - keys taken - directed upstairs) and the room was easy to find, although with the building being fairly old this did involve negotiating fairly narrow stairs and random steps along the way. Potential guests may wish to note that there was no lift in the building.
Our room was at the top of the building near the back, overlooking the hotels modest car park. I dispute the hotels website claim that the rooms were attractive and individually decorated, and would instead describe them (or at least mine) as small, plain and adequately furnished. Other than the bed, there was a tiny wardrobe, a TV with poor reception, a desk, one chair (despite it being a double room), tea and coffee making facilities, a hairdryer and the worlds smallest bin. The advertised satellite TV turned out to be the SKY news channel only, and fans of Channel 5 will be dismayed to note it was unavailable. The bathroom had both a bath and shower, and provided some toiletries (soap, shower gel, shampoo) although neither the washbasin nor the bath taps were able to provide any cold water during my stay it was a choice between hot and tepid only. (Have you ever tried cleaning you teeth in warm water? Yuck!) It was fairly basic and unexciting, but clean, and gave us what we needed to live in it over the weekend.
The bed was thankfully made up with a duvet rather than the layers of sheets and blankets you sometimes still find in hotels, although I found it to be less than comfortable, especially in the pillow department. I got up in the middle of the first night to seek out the extra pillow that is usually provided and found one but minus a pillowcase. The yellowed stains put me off sleeping on the pillow at first, but in the wee small hours I grew so desperate for something comfortable to rest my head on that I wrapped it in a sheet and placed it below the pillow I had in bed already. I slept very badly on both nights I stayed in the Abbey Lodge, despite it being in a very quiet area with no guests in the adjoining rooms to disturb me. I actually slept better on the train going home than I did in the hotel bed!
As a further point with the room, when we returned to it on the second day of our stay, I was dismayed to find that it had not been cleaned. The towels and been replaced, and the extra towel I had asked for at reception that morning was provided, but nothing else had been done. I can live with the bed not being made, but the fact that the tea and coffee tray, and the bathroom toiletries, had not been refilled and the overflowing bin had not been emptied was very disappointing. It would have taken minimal effort to perform these tasks (especially given the small number of other guests in the hotel at the time), and it just looked sloppy and unprofessional to have left them.
I always find the breakfast to be the best bit of any hotel stay. I normally eat quite sensibly, so the opportunity to live dangerously and have an exciting sugary cereal and real butter on my toast makes me quite giddy with pleasure! The Abbey Lodge Hotel serves breakfast in its basement restaurant, a pleasant room that could easily accommodate all the guests staying in the hotel at once, so there is no queuing just pick a table and help yourself to the food. A waitress appears intermittently to take orders for tea and toast, while coffee, cereal, juice, dishes of tinned fruit and tureens on hotplates containing bacon, sausage, beans and scrambled eggs are there for guests to use as a buffet. I cannot normally stomach a cooked breakfast first thing in the morning, and the sight of dried up bacon and rubbery eggs that had been kept hot for goodness knows how long determined that it was not going to whet my appetite that day either. My Other Half tucked in and pronounced the cooked breakfast to be good, but you must remember that after years of eating over-spiced food he only has one working taste bud these days! The buffet was like the room: adequate but underwhelming. Some fresh rolls, croissants and yoghurts would have been a nice addition to the selection.
My stay at the Abbey Lodge was a mixed package. The location was excellent, the hotel quiet and extra towels were provided when I asked for them, but on the other hand, the bed was uncomfortable, there was no cold water available from the bathroom and the room wasnt cleaned and restocked during my stay. Breakfast was very average and the reception staff variable. The receptionist who booked our taxi to the wedding venue and checked us out was polite and helpful, but the one who checked us in and worked during our first evening there was a bit unprofessional. As we relaxed in the living room area before going out that night, she had her boyfriend with her on reception. I had no problem with that, but the fact that she told him to shut the f*** up in a loud voice while we were sitting only feet away was not the sort of service I expected from a hotel that described itself as homely.
If I ever had cause to return to High Wycombe, I would be unlikely to stay in this hotel again it was just not worth £60 a night, quite honestly. While staying in the town, we had dinner with other wedding guests at their hotel restaurant, and after hearing them heap praise on the establishment the Ambassador Court Hotel (see www.fardellhotels.com/ambassadorcourt/index.html) - I think this is where I would choose to go next time. Certainly, the food they served was excellent and service friendly, and at only £5 per night more than the Abbey Lodge, it looked far better value.
The Abbey Lodge Hotel