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Four Seasons Hampshire in meltdown

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We were down at Four Seasons Hampshire over the weekend, which I know is a weekend break spot for many of our readers.  It was a complete disaster.  I have never, ever, seen more people in a hotel making complaints.  You couldn’t turn around without finding another guest creating a scene.

The cause of the problems is that the restaurant and bar are closed until August due to a major programme of refurbishment and renovation.  The website promises “a series of pop-up dining experiences” instead.  This a lie.

There is no replacement bar at all – you are directed to the tiny bar in the Library.  The ballroom, which has about as much atmosphere as a Debenhams in-store cafe and has no natural light, is being used for breakfast and dinner.  It is like eating at a particularly bad wedding.

Four Seasons Hampshire

(It also isn’t clear what they have done to the Library.  The refurbishment here is finished but all they have done is installed uglier wallpaper and replaced the furnishings.  In the lobby, the floor has been replaced by a new marble version which is so shiny that it looks totally out of place in a historic building.)

In theory, refurbishment shouldn’t mean that a hotel should cease functioning.  In reality, it seems that the kitchens are now nowhere near where the food is consumed and the cooking capacity has been sharply reduced.  We waited an hour for a lunch in the Library to arrive, just to find that my wife’s Reuben deli sandwich had been burnt to a crisp – and the staff had tried to disguise this by placing it upside down on the plate.  Luckily, because we were sat by the counter area, we could entertain ourselves during the wait by the constant stream of diners complaining about the non-appearance or incorrect appearance of their meals.

The next day, an eggs royale I ordered for breakfast arrived cold and looked dreadful anyway.  The best bit was when my wife ordered pancakes (£12 supplement).  Instead of a large US-style plate of pancakes, three tiny mini-pancakes appeared.  There were exactly the same pancakes which were available, for free, on the kids breakfast buffet.

Midweek, the hotel serves a cut-down breakfast because it is quieter.  Monday, of course, was a Bank Holiday this week so the hotel was fairly full.  This didn’t stop them removing at least 50% of the food that was on the buffet on Sunday morning.  My wife thought that the buffet on Monday was worse than the Holiday Inn Sheffield version where we were recently.

Even the kids events were screwed up.  The kids parties they normally hold during school holidays were arranged for 5pm to 7pm – far too early.  The best bit was that the evening buffets (no a la carte available in the ballroom) didn’t start until 6.30pm.  If we’d sent our kids to the parties, we couldn’t have gone to the evening buffet afterwards because the kids would have eaten already.  We also couldn’t go to the evening buffet as a couple because there was only a 30 minute cross-over with the party.

When we checked out I was met with total indifference when I listed my complaints, probably because I was complaining less than the person in front of me who insisted that the manager come down and see him.  The fact that we have probably done 75 nights at this hotel since it opened meant nothing.  Our bill was also wrong although I didn’t spot it until I got home.  There was an email address on it to contact with any queries but, 24 hours later, I have still to receive a response.

The wi-fi – which didn’t work at Christmas in the run of rooms overlooking the walled garden – still didn’t work consistently.  I resorted, yet again, to working off a 3G signal tethered from my phone.

Overall standards of maintenance have also dropped.  This was the best maintained hotel I knew – most people have would guessed it opened a week before they arrived.  That has now gone out of the window. It seems that they have given up on routine maintenance whilst the major works take place.  A collapsing toilet roll holder in our room was the least of our issues and the general condition of the public areas was poorer than usual.

If you’ve got a booking here between now and the end of August, when the Four Seasons Hampshire refurbishment programme is due to end, I strongly recommend you cancel it.  Chewton Glen or Coworth Park are decent alternatives.  I feel sorry for people who go now and who haven’t been before, because they won’t realise that it isn’t meant to be a total shambles.


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Comments (92)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • SydneySwan says:

    Where do you place the Four Seasons then in the pantheon of worst hotels in the UK? Is it ahead (i.e. worse) than Fawlty Towers? Or does it challenge the Hotel In Eastbourne the Major used to refer to as being the worst?

  • Genghis says:

    OT data point. Just got another HH Barclaycard voucher after recently reapplying

    • Gareth says:

      What gap did you leave?

      • Genghis says:

        Just under a year

        • S879 says:

          I am thinking of cancelling mine too but the other card I have is AMEX Gold but a lot of companies don’t accept AMEX. Which card would you recommend through which I could transfer easily to HH as a good redemption?

          • Genghis says:

            I’ve just got the HH card so I can pick up some more HHs as I find them quite hard to come by.
            Options of picking up HH points from other cards include:
            Amex Gold / Plat as 1 MR = 2HH
            Virgin Black / White as 2 Virgin points = 3 HH. Tesco->Virgin->HH

          • Genghis says:

            As to whether it’ll be a good redemption depends on what you’re planning on eventually using the points for.

          • s879 says:

            Thanks Genghis. I usually use points for HH hotel redemptions.

          • s879 says:

            However, while I cancel the Barclaycard HH I need another non AMEX card. Arent the Virgin ones AMEX too?

          • Rob says:

            Virgin is both with very good Visa earn rate.

    • Mike says:

      If you fell into the Thames you would come out smelling of roses

    • Boi says:

      Where would people recommend to use voucher in Europe ( not Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Dublin or Uk)? Planning to use our 2 vouchers for a weekend away for my birthday in October.

    • rams1981 says:

      Hilton card is a decent use of spend for tax bills I think – 0.45% charge.

  • Stu R says:

    “Even the kids events were screwed up” …. can we stay British and ditch all the nasty Americanisms please? 😉

    • Jerry says:

      No. Go elsewhere if you don’t like acceptable uses of English.

      • Afasam says:

        Who says what’s acceptable? Just curious.

      • Stu R says:

        Did you not spot the wink? (i.e. slightly tongue in cheek) Perhaps you should go elsewhere if you don’t like my opinions? 😉 <==

    • Leo says:

      I’ve missed the “Americanism”. Where is it?

      • Stu R says:

        Is not “screwed up” a more recent US import? I just get tired of people saying stuff like “awesome” when I promise to ring them back; the Grand Canyon is “awesome”, me promising To return their call is not ….

        If not, my error, and apologies!

  • Kevin says:

    No photos of the meals? Does sound dreadful but without giving indication of the hotel prices paid for the room it is hard to judge. Sounds similar to an experience recently at Staverton Park but I wasn’t paying on that occasion.

  • Jonathan says:

    We long since stopped staying at Four Seasons Hampshire and moved all our business to Coworth Park which has better service, a better hard product and infinitely better food. The last time we went to Four Seasons Hampshire we thought the spa area was tatty which is in complete contrast to Coworth Park where everything always looks brand new. You should give it a go sometime Rob!

  • Dominik Wellmann says:

    I echo your views on the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire. As a member of the gym/spa I have seen a decline in standards over the last year or so. This is not acceptable when paying more than £2,000 per annum for membership. I agree that for weekend retreats there are better alternatives and I will be moving my gym membership to a David Lloyd Club. The biggest issue is that a management is simply not listening.

    • James A says:

      You pay £2k a year for gym membership?!

      • Andrew says:

        I suppose it depends on what you get for your money.

        I pay £300 a year for mine in Oxford (which includes unlimited personal training), but no pool and bring your own towels.

        • Fenny says:

          I paid £238.50 last week for a 12 month membership to the leisure centre opposite work. Unlimited swimming, gym use and exercise classes. All I have to do is actually turn up!

        • Relaxo says:

          I find it hard to fathom what “extras” could be worth £2k for a gym membership! Maybe if it included a golf club membership but dosent sound like they have a course there.

  • Neil says:

    Only 4 Season experience was a midweek corporate thing a few years ago which was very different. Sad to see standards decline… Don’t they know who you are, Rob?

  • Krankyfly says:

    There is always a silver lining you just need to find it!
    At least you were not queueing for 3 hours to get out of LHR after finding out your flight has been cancelled.
    Now, you can be happy.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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