Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sopwell House

Taking advantage of the girls being away with Guides for a couple of days, we stayed at Sopwell House last night.

We first visited the Verulamium Museum. I would describe this museum as scoring very highly on quality, although there's slightly less to see than I expected: we spent about an hour there. We walked into St Albans for a bite to eat (finding that many of the pubs we passed seemed to have menus that were a little upmarket for our taste - we just wanted something basic to share, so ended up in one of the Wetherspoon's.). We walked back through past the Cathedral and through the park.

The hotel itself is pretty good. (You would hope so, as it's pretty expensive!)

Our room was comfortable and spacious, although the hotel is pretty large and it was a bit of a trek. One odd thing was the in-room tea and coffee facilities. Many of the electrical sockets were of the old round-pin variety - plugging the kettle in meant putting it on the floor in an awkward place. Also (and this is a common failing of many hotels) there was basically enough supplies for one cup, and that's assuming you don't both have a sweet tooth.

We swam in the pool. There's quite a lot of refurbishment of the spa area taking place, so changing facilities were a bit of a temporary oddness. It was pretty busy, but that's not really much of excuse for running out of robes (and, while I'm on the subject, no robes in our room either).

We treated ourselves to the Valentine's special dinner. That was really very good. We were given a glass of bubbly and canapes beforehand, and all three primary courses were excellent. My only criticism was that they were a little slow in taking our order and bringing the starters (and they seemed a little disorganised - we were asked twice whether we wanted any water and which wine we wanted).

There was clearly some fairly major function in the hotel at the same time - it sounded to already be in full swing as we came down for dinner but there was a continual stream of new arrivals in black tie or extravagant dresses coming to join the party.

Breakfast was disappointing. Stocks of some items were running low and weren't getting replenished promptly - some items were stale as a result. Overall, the choice wasn't all that great. I found the cooked breakfast to be incredibly bland - potatoes, sausages, eggs all had very little taste.

Melanie wanted a spa treatment so I had a massage as well. I can definitely recommend this. The refurbishment works impacted this as well, to the extent that they were actually using rooms at the other end of the hotel, so we all trooped back and forth in groups.

Overall, an excellent stay, but they do need to improve the breakfast quite a bit.

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