Fawlty Towers: cut them some slack

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Some reviews the Good Hotel Guide receives are so bad they would be funny if they were not true. We call them Fawlty Towers reviews after the sitcom of the same name based in a Torquay hotel and run by the infamous Basil Fawlty with his wife Sybil and hapless waiter Manuel.

Here’s a taste of the latest:

‘Cut them some slack,’ I say on our first night. ‘We all have our off days, perhaps the chef called in sick’. We are a party of nine having supper at the local hotel. The staff scurry, it’s a bustle of a night. Eight meals arrive, one has been forgotten. It’s easily done. We register our loss,15 minutes later it arrives.

I think they forgot to kill it. Any rarer and it would be off the table and roosting in the eves. Second circuit, and whatever it was is now certainly dead. We finished our offerings long ago but we sit companionably round and witness the fowl’s devouring. The bill shows that we have been charged twice. It’s easily done.

Lunch time and our nine has shrunk to two. We try carppacio of beef. It is served with best sliced white cut into triangles, but along the edges a bloom of mould. Back to the kitchen it goes, despite being, “fresh today”. Perhaps the replacement bread they bring was yesterdays, but at least it was mould free.

Evening and we’ve given up eating here. We order two beers and settle down to check our e-mails. I soothe a runkle in the table cloth and am stabbed by something sharp.

There, amongst the drumlins of material, are slithers of glass. ‘There seems to be some glass here,’ I remark. ‘Throw it on the floor’ comes the advice from behind the bar. ‘Just how much slack,’ enquires my partner as we walk unnoticed into the night, ‘would you like me to give them?’

‘My bedroom was small and lacked character. The bed was not very comfortable . The walls between the rooms are thin: I could hear a fellow guest’s movements and just about make out his snoring. In the dining room, the waiter service lacked warmth and sensitivity. I asked if they could turn it off the piped music (there was almost no-one else staying that night), but the waiter said he couldn’t. The table-cloths are covered with perspex to reduce cleaning bills.’

‘Breakfast was served from a gloomy buffet in the corner of the dining room. Frozen fruit salad was available with bread to toast yourselves. Jam and marmalade appeared onlywhen requested. Anything else that was required had to be ordered from a separate menu with a full English cooked breakfast costing £11. A depressing experience. Surely, at a cost of up to £180 per night per room, there should be a proper breakfast? Part of the pleasure of having a night away is a delicious and leisurely breakfast served at your table.’

‘We saw nobody who was in obvious charge of the establishment and, although the staff were friendly, there was a disturbing lack of professionalism, attention to detail and concern for the client’s enjoyment. The mass of hidden extras suggests a business being run solely for profit rather than the satisfaction of the client.’

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