AN INSPECTOR CALLS
He pays his way... and tells it like it is
CREWE Hall in Cheshire certainly has an interesting history, but the leaflet explaining it to guests is almost indecipherable.
Grammatically it’s all over the place and the timeline is impossible to follow. ‘The site of the mansion dates back as far as 1170,’ it says. But presumably the actual ‘site’ dates a lot further back than that.
Anyway, it came into the Crewe family in 1608 and was completely rebuilt internally in 1860 following a fire.
It then fell under the wing of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1936 and was used as a prisoner of war camp for some 2,000 high-ranking German officers.
The main house is impressive, complete with an ornate Victorian chapel and marble hall. But about 15 years ago, The QHotels Collection added a hideous modern wing, housing most of the bedrooms, various conference rooms and a spa with swimming pool and gym.
My room in the original building is defiantly old-fashioned. And it’s in better nick than the passages leading to it, with their scuffed paintwork and worn swirlywhirly carpets. The bar and brasserie is in the new wing. I perch on a stool and ask the barman if the Australian chardonnay is oaky.
‘I’ve no idea, mate,’ he says.
I’m paying £148 for dinner, bed and breakfast on a special autumn rate. This gives me a food allowance of £32, which doesn’t go far, given that the steaks start at £34 (plus £2 for a sauce). Call me stingy but I’m determined to remain within my limit. The cured salmon starter is £12; pork schnitzel main course £19.50. That’s £31.50.
I’m seated near the entrance to the restaurant. A female member of staff is stationed at a desk, from where she meets and greets — and is in the habit of singing along to all the tunes playing over the Tannoy. I could do without her accompanying Amy ‘ Whinehouse’ on Valerie.
Breakfast is a buffet affair, during which I am reminded that fried bread is one of the most delicious foods ever to be invented. But if the best thing about a hotel is its fried bread then something isn’t quite right.