News & Reviews Europe England Update on the update: Whatley Manor revisited

Whatley Manor, Chippenham
Room type:
Master Suite
Duration: 
15th > 16th June, 2017
Booked with: 
Direct with hotel

After my disastrous stay back in February, I was offered a comped stay of dinner and free night in the best available suite.  Not being one to turn down anything for free, I was sold on the idea.  So I checked back in just a few days ago, awaiting the armada of staff whom would be greeting me with such panache and exuberance that their act would become the origin story of a new Avengers movie.  Yet, and completely unrelated to my high hopes, they did not come through, and for the 3rd time in a row we were left dragging our own luggage into reception.

From here, things started to improve.

We must have had met every senior member of staff, from the F&B Director, GM, Duty Manager, High Priest, Chancellor and Lord of the Dance.  There was more attention than any other stay, which could be down to it being my first ever stay during the week with low occupancy, or down to them knowing I was on a comped stay.  Alternatively, they could have just improved, but I’m too sceptical to assume that.

The hydrotherapy pool was once again usable, although it is still definitely colder than it used to be.

The Dining Room was on fine form, with it deserving of a Michelin star that will likely come its way.  I have never experienced such an improvement in a meal before; it was like going out on a date with Margaret Thatcher and then on the second date she turned up looking like Halle Berry.

The problem comes in two places: food outside of The Dining Room, and the general state of the property.  What 5 years ago felt new now feels very tired.  Even in the penthouse, it just didn’t feel that luxurious.  There is a difference between going for a classic look that looks old but feels new and a classic look that simply is worn down.  You can walk into The Ritz Paris or Beau-Rivage Palace and feel it’s new, whilst appreciating the design is old.  Whatley Manor just feels worn.  The Internet was once again unbearably slow, although they have once again mentioned that any week now it will be getting upgraded to fibre.

The checkout bill for the drinks for dinner, plus lunch, some other snacks and a facial cream came to nearly £450.  If we were paying for dinner and a basic room, the stay would have been close to £1200.  At this price point, I’m unfortunately unable to recommend Whatley Manor in its current state.  They are due to start a refurb in Grey’s, their non-fine-dining restaurant, in September, then move onto room refurb begins next year.  Once this has happened, past glories may return, but I cannot feel that a lack of desire from the owners to pump money in over the last few years will have backfired by this point.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 19th Jun '17

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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