“ Address: Belgrave Road / Torquay South / Devon TQ2 5HG / Tel: 01803 294 373 „
"Enjoy a holiday at one of the finest 3* Devon Hotels in Torquay" and "Outstanding service in the heart of Torbay - whether it's a business trip, romantic getaway or Easter Break in Torquay - our personalised service will ensure your holiday is relaxing and a truly memorable experience" is what it said on the website!
Early October 2010 saw us staying at the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay for three nights for a late summer/early winter getaway. We found the hotel on lastminute.com and the cost was £210 for the three nights for a standard double room including full breakfast each day for the two of us. We looked up the hotel and from the website it looked nice enough. It was advertised as being very close to Tor Bay beach which is apparently Torquay's most popular beach as well as very close to Torre Abbey Gardens.
We arrived at around 6.30pm on the Friday after a 6.5 hour journey due to someone trying to commit suicide on the M4 and causing huge traffic problems for anyone on near that motorway. It rained heavily for the whole journey and only once we got into Torquay did we spot some sunshine and cheer up a bit. As we drove into the small hotel car park we felt a tinge of disappointment as the hotel exterior didn't look very welcoming from the outside. Certainly nothing like the exterior we'd seen on the website. We decided not to judge the hotel by its exterior as we walked inside with our luggage. Another couple followed us in moments later. We stood at reception for a good 5-10 minutes before the receptionist appeared. There was no bell to ring for service (we had a look around to check). We asked a chap in a chef's uniform who seemed to be hanging around for a few minutes if he knew where the receptionist was, he just shrugged and walked away. When the receptionist turned up, although she said sorry for keeping us waiting, we felt more like a disturbance than being welcomed. We were given our room key and given directions to the room, it was two flights up and there was no lift. I had to ask where breakfast was in the mornings and what time, the information was not volunteered although we were asked if we needed a paper or alarm call. We also asked where the swimming pool and sauna and gym were and were pointed in the opposite direction of our room up and down some stairs.
As we struggled up to room, we grumbled at how far away it was from reception and just how many sets of steps we had to go up to get to the room. We were both out of breath by the time we got to the room. During our stay we found it quite annoying having to use so many different sets of stairs to get to our room. In reality it was only one flight from reception to the first floor landing and then another flight to our floor but we were out of breath every time we got up to our room, so it felt like we had climbed more than 2 flights (I'm not even THAT out of breath when I come up 4 flights of stairs at work sometimes). There were small stair lifts which took you up the first set of steps to the first floor so I can only assume disabled access is just available on the first floor. It didn't seem overly practical for anyone who might be in a wheelchair though. There were three steps up to some communal toilets situated near the bar area which was halfway between reception and the first floor but no disabled access to these toilets. I found these toilets to be lacking in tissues at the sinks (i.e. empty boxes) and toilet roll in the cubicles on the second and third day of our stay which made me wonder how often the staff actually check these facilities.
As for the car park, there is a small car park at the front of the hotel near reception for about 16 cars or so and another at the side of the hotel, in total they can accommodate 50 cars.
As we entered our room, on first appearances it looked ok, nothing special and it just had a rather bleak feel about it. Strangely enough even though we'd only booked a standard double room there was a separate room between the main bedroom and bathroom which had a single bed, bunk beds, a desk with stool and a wardrobe which we found amusing (no reason really for finding it amusing apart from us not having any kids so no need for this extra room at all) - this room was just used to put our clothes up in the wardrobe and to get to the bathroom. If we hadn't have been given this double set of rooms I imagine we would have found the double room alone quite cramped as there was not really enough space in there to have a wardrobe as well.
The bathroom was spacious enough but definitely in need of some repair. The floor had quite a few cracked tiles and the window sill needed a good clean. The toilet was clean as was the shower but the toiletries supplied were very minimal, a couple of sachets of bath/shower gel and shampoo and two very small bars of soap. I was pleased to see a soap dispenser in the shower but much to my annoyance found out very quickly that it was empty (and it wasn't refilled during our stay either)! There was just one set of towels in the bathroom - a face, hand and bath towel (which were of decent quality), we checked the wardrobe where there were some spare blankets but no spare towels. On wandering around the hotel later, we found the storage area where we just helped ourselves to another bath towel.
The bed was quite comfortable but for some reason I didn't have a good sleep on any of the 3 nights we stayed. There was not really any outside noise so to speak (although we had to sleep with the window open as the room was fairly warm.
There was a rather tatty old folder on one of the tables in the room which had hotel information in it. Obviously they don't take pride in appearance as the pages were quite poorly photocopied and stuck in the polythene sleeves which made them quite messy looking. All the information required though was available in these folders.
We were highly amused when reading the fire notice on the inside of the room door to read the sentence "IF YOU HEAR THE FIRE ALARM LEAVE THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY VIA YOUR NEAREST FIRE ALARM"!!! I even took a photo of that typo as it made me chuckle so much.
The hotel has 2 restaurants both of which closed too early in the evening for our liking so we didn't have any evening meals in the restaurants. One of the restaurants I believe is only open till 8pm and the other till 9pm. We chose to eat out every evening as being limited to those times was not to our liking.
Having been advised (after asking) what time breakfast was; we went down at around 8.30 - 9.00 each day. Breakfast we were told was available from 7.45 to 9.45. We had breakfast every day in the hotel as it was included in our room rate, the first morning when we went in for breakfast; there was no one to seat us although there was a sign at the door advising guests to wait to be seated. We stood around for 5 or 6 minutes, another couple who came in behind us waited for a few minutes and then went and sat down so we followed their lead. We wandered around the corner to find the buffet breakfast with 6 or 7 people standing around as the bacon had run out. When we returned to our table someone appeared after a short while asking if we needed tea or coffee which we declined but asked for toast. This was delivered fairly quickly. On the Saturday and Sunday of our stay we found that food items ran out several times in the buffet and people were stood around waiting for these to be topped up. The breakfast area was quite busy on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. On the Monday morning, we were the only ones at breakfast and we had to order our breakfast to be served at our table.
We had a couple of drinks at the bar on the Friday and Saturday evening after returning from having dinner at local restaurants. The bar prices were quite steep, I recall paying £14+ for 2 doubles with mixers on the first evening and they had no decent single malt available so hubby ended up leaving half of his drink as the one he was given didn't taste too good. For a small glass of rose and a tiny bottle of pineapple juice it cost around £5. The worst thing about the bar is having to ring the bell for service and then having to wait absolutely ages for someone to turn up to serve you and neither of the times that we went to the bar were late - between 9 and 10pm if I recall correctly. On one occasion an elderly chap rang the bell at the bar and I went out for a smoke and when I returned he was still waiting for someone to turn up to serve him. We worked out that it took over 15 minutes for him to get served. I don't know if this was specifically a problem on this particularly weekend as they had a line dancing group in the downstairs ballroom so the bar was being manned most of the time downstairs but leaving the bar unmanned for the remaining guests wasn't exactly their best idea!
The bar area itself was very pleasant with decent quality and comfortable sofas and chairs and tables and a nice feel to it with easy listening music played just at the right level. There was a smoking area on the patio which was covered in part for when it was raining. There was also a smoking area outside the ballroom on the lower ground floor but this was mostly occupied by the line dancers group (therefore a "private party") during our stay so we didn't venture down there.
We didn't do much exploring around the gardens outside as we were out for pretty much most of the day times and it rained in the evenings. What we saw of the gardens from the inside of the hotel looked very picturesque though and it would have been nice to have a wander round had the weather been better in the evening.
We used the hotel's indoor heated swimming pool 3 times during our stay which was a pleasant experience except for the fact that we noticed the ledges around the swimming pool were not being cleaned (well not during our 3 days stay anyway). The pool was 1.4m deep throughout which felt like a good depth and we found it to be the perfect temperature at all times. There were clear signs around saying that under 16s must be accompanied at all times. The Jacuzzi didn't work throughout our stay and neither did the sauna. There were no staff available to ask about these not working and we couldn't be bothered to check with reception. The changing rooms were quite small but seemed sufficient for the hotel's size. At no time on the 3 occasions we used the pool were there more than 5 or 6 people in there and for the most part on 2 of the 3 occasions we were in the pool alone. There was a gym on site too but we didn't fancy using it as the room was fairly small and not well lit. Who am I kidding? We didn't go away for 3 days to do exercise in a gym *chuckle*.
The hotel also has an outdoor pool which looks very inviting on the website but as we visited in October, this was covered over due to the weather. There is also a sun shower available which costs money to use as well as there being an onsite hairdresser who I understand provides massage and other treatments on request.
Both hubby and I found that almost every member of staff at the hotel that we came across; be they at reception, breakfast or bar - staff were just about polite but not in the least friendly. One of the receptionists managed to crack a smile at us a few times when we asked questions about where to visit nearby or where to eat but we didn't find any of the staff welcoming or warm nor did they display any kind of pride in doing their job. It made us quite determined that if we visit Torquay again we definitely wouldn't choose this hotel - having recently stayed at a hotel in Farnham where the hotel had a few issues but the service provided by the staff was fabulous and friendly, we feel that good service goes a long way to getting repeat business! I don't know if it's because the staff at The Grosvenor hate their job or hate their employers (or maybe they just hated us?) but it left both hubby and myself very cold at the lack of friendly service received.
Overall I'd give the Grosvenor Hotel a just above average rating of 3 out of 5 stars. If the staff were friendlier; if the restaurant was open later; if the bar provided a better service level; I might have been inclined to give a higher rating but as it stood, I wouldn't really recommend the hotel to others. If you do choose to stay here, might I suggest you book through lastminute.com as their prices are much lower than those quoted on the hotel website. The hotel website does seem to make the hotel look a lot nicer than it actually is which is a shame but not surprising but if you do want to stay there, as well as checking the rates on lastminute.com it might be worth checking out what "special offers" are available at the time. Going back to the quote made at the top of this review, "outstanding service" is definitely not something they should be boasting about if our experience was anything to go by.
The hotel's address is:
Tel: 01803 294373
p.s. if you're wondering about my title - The Grand Hotel is fairly near to The Grosvenor and looked far better from the outside BUT as we didn't stay there I can't comment on whether it would be more "grand" or not...