News & Reviews Europe England Review: The Langley, Slough

The Langley, Slough
Room type: Brew House Garden Room
Duration: 14th > 16th February, 2020

It’s a new year and a new era.  They promised us not much would change upon leaving the EU, but if that’s the case, why am I suddenly visiting Marriott’s?  With a repeat to North Island coming up next month, I’m hoping to go full blown hipster in that time and make it all come across as ironic.  I don’t know how many points I accumulate from these stays and whether Deliveroo drivers accept them as tips, I only know that I’m now competing for page views in the points space.  That’s like picking a fight with Tyson Fury because he picked up the last Cliff Richard Christmas album.  It’s shit and no one wins.  But because I’m either too proud or stupid, I paid for my stay, so let me tell it from that perspective.

When’s my picture going on the wall, entitled “Idiot that paid to stay here”?

Visiting a new hotel is all about timing.  You don’t want to go during the grand opening and find yourself fighting a poltergeist as Geoff suddenly realises he forgot to call in the exorcist that his line manager has been bugging him about for 6 months, but you also don’t want to leave it so late that you’re the last person to visit and be subjected to 3 years of constant bullying, harassment and belittling from your neighbours for not having been.  I know what that’s like, as the police have regularly asked me to stop.  The Langley opened June 2019, so 8 months later felt a reasonable time to visit.

There were 2 reasons I was not going in with high hopes here: 1). It’s an English countryside property and 2). It’s a Marriott.  Combined, surely not even the hard product could save it?  Not even those immensely Photoshopped pictures on their website would come to rescue the day.

The arrival certainly suggested it.  As we drove in and parked in front of the hotel, all the staff must have been on their break.  We’ll just take our own luggage and figure out where to go next.  I guess they’ve not had that training programme yet.  The stay list also lacked the most basic of requests, like toothpaste – they must have needed HQ to sign off on it.

Two’s company, three’s a crowd, what about 2 and a dog? As this was Valentine’s Day and we decided to make it as romantic as possible by taking our dog (Apollo AKA Olof/The Professor/Mr Fluffles), we had to book the Brew House, which houses 21 of the rooms. This is a separated area from the Main House, which is where you find all the facilities and 20 rooms.  With Storm Dennis on full attack, I failed to understand why anyone would voluntarily choose to be in the Brew House with us.  It’s not like the rooms are of decent size; ours being an apparent 27 sqm, but that probably included the plumbing.  It felt like the walls were sitting in my chest, whilst I was paying Mayfair rates for it.  If ever there was a great name for a prostitute into sadomasochism, Langley is it.

Not even Storm Dennis could prevent me walking around in my bath robe, although I expected to end up on the news whilst walking across the carpark and being blown away.

The rooms do feel classy, but equally generic.  The size is without a doubt the issue here: a single vanity bathroom, which is just as well as if two people went in that room at once you’d be in breach of some building violations.  It felt more claustrophobic than Parasite.  It comes with an enclosed small terrace, but it’s absolutely useless and our dog couldn’t use it for anything other than mournful looks at us that translated into “what the fuck do you expect me to do here? Break dance?!”, so we may as well have been in another room.  The housekeeper was also scared of dogs, so it was all planned beautifully.  The only reason I would want to spend any time in that room is because being outside was worse.  At least they include a large TV.  I think it was large, it may have just been 2ft from our faces at all times.

I’m sure it’s always just a coincidence that any mistakes on the bill works in the hotel’s favour, but at The Langley it was starting to feel like a conspiracy. Every single one was wrong and I had to waste 15 minutes of my life, plus a whole heap of trees via printouts, just to get the correct final bill. The receptionist was really kind and wanted to get it sorted though, so in the end just started wiping things as she was fully aware of the incompetence of the rest of her team. Some staff stood out, but they’re mostly in a world of their own, where you chat to them twice in a few hours and they act like they’ve never seen you before. I don’t blame Marriott for this, this is just what being in England is all about.

Now for all my negativity, there are some fundamental flaws here that are nothing to do with Marriott.  First, the food is incredibly slow to arrive when it did finally turn up you’ll mostly wish it didn’t.  We sent back half the meals we ordered.  Their breakfast buffet selection is pitiful.  For Valentine’s, we tried Cedar, their fine dining, which obviously is twice-the-price as normal for exactly-the-same, although I doubt they advertised it that way.  It was edible.

If you’re not in Cedar, the rest of the offering in between their Churchill Bar, Drawing Room or Spa is mostly boring food like pizza, sandwiches and salad.  I ordered a salad and said I wouldn’t order that again, but come the next day and there’s nothing else on the menu that I would order, so I crawled back to the salad and begged for forgiveness.  When I asked for something off menu, it was an immediate “no”.  Not “I’ll check”, just “no”.  Not even Dominic Cummings is this ruthless.

You can tell that money has been spent here, but it’s badly backed up by the soft product.  Still, Apollo enjoyed his food, especially half the Valentine’s dinner we gave him.

So why would you go here?  The spa, gym and grounds are exquisite.  Seeing that it was the weekend of manufactured love, it was comforting to see the spa was, for the large majority, peaceful enough that the facilities were usable without needing to start a sword fight.

It is not quite Lanesborough standard, but it’s not an insult to discuss it in the same breath.  The indoor offering is impressive: pool, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room and hamann.  The lucky ladies have a dedicated area with much of the same, yet without having to be subjected to their husbands asking them what’s for dinner.  Outside there’s a pool, but this is February guys, so don’t expect any pictures.  Lucie loved her facial and if both of us weren’t ill, I’m sure we’d have pretended we would have used the gym.

The Good

  • This will prove to be a very convenience location for people needing to stopover at Heathrow

The Bad

  • Food
  • Room sizes
  • Anything involving the bill

The Luxurious

  • The spa
  • The setting

Conclusion

Try as they might to put it as Iver, I am naming this The Langley, Slough.  There’s a special place in the British psyche – that Ricky Gervais is entirely reasonable for – that makes Slough just roll off your tongue and land in the Job Center, even though it’s right in the heart of the most affluent area in the country.

It does summarise it better though, or at least gives a better sense of what to expect.  Four Seasons is as close to a chain hotel as I feel comfortable.  The Langley was like crossing the picket line.  It’s hard to pinpoint whether it’s a new hotel opening or management, but the soft product needs serious work.  What felt like a chain was where their attention was focused: signing in, rigid procedures and cost saving practices.  I do not consider The Langley good value for money.

The rooms are deeply disappointing, so the only reason to visit is the spa and grounds.  This works well for us, as we are moving to Gerrard’s Cross, which is only 15 minutes away.  I would happily come back to use the facilities.  As for a hotel, I see no reason to ever visit again.

You are much better off staying at Coworth Park.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 16th Feb '20

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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