Beauty Rooms & Health Club at Barceló Billesley Manor Hotel
About Beauty Rooms & Health Club at Barceló Billesley Manor Hotel
Barceló Billesley Manor, If you are thinking about booking don't bother, its glory days are well and truly behind it. My partner and i were excited to get away on a midweek spa break and tried hard to enjoy this place but would have to give it a final grade of F for Fail!I will start with the positives. The waiting staff were friendly and professional, pretty much the only element that lived up to a 4 star billing. The massage and facial treatments were also good, with decent, friendly staff... The gym is small but adequate. The pool is small and busy, though it has set times for children which was a fair enough compromise. The bottle of Jacques Cartier bubbly (£5 wholesale) and chocolates upon arrival was a nice touch.Now a litany of Barceló Billesley’s many failings we encountered in our two nights there:Firstly I will make a general observation: I'm not sure if all spas act like this but Barceló Billesley Manor feels like it always has its hands in your wallet; not very conducive to relaxing... The room was festooned with tacky cardboard stand-up advertisements for the in-house services “Only £38 for a message”. The first thing I did was gather them up and place them at the back of a low shelf. The wi-fi was unsecured but only as far as a 3rd party site that wanted your credit card details to access the Internet. I was under the impression that wi-fi was free as standard in all leading hotels? I guess the lack of competition in this out of the way country nook leads the proprietors to consider their guests as a helpless captive market? The “Too far from Starbucks” syndrome?Disappointingly the TV had no satellite channels and lacked half of the free to air channels advertised. Fortunately I had a good book.The room was generally clean but the sink which was a semi-transperant round basin had a ring of dark brown mould clearly visible at its base. I am not blaming the staff, it’s just a bad design, impossible to thoroughly clean. It has no place in a modern 4 star hotel, but it seems to me that the Barceló Billesley ceased caring about such details a long time ago...The dinner was quite tasty however was let down by the meagre portion size; is being hungry after three courses common in spas? We felt lucky to have brought a few snacks and fruit rather than go to bed hungry.I can confirm our room was generally too cold as other reviews have also reported. It was basically the same temperature as outside, we stayed there at the beginning of a particularly chilly March.Shower temperature was a joke, all over the place, difficult to get hot enough. There was hot water in the sink tap but the shower seemed to have too much cold to rise above tepid.The walls in our room, which was built fairly recently and tacked onto the original historic building, were too thin. We were slightly disturbed by our neighbours returning and able to hear movements and muffled conversation. Fortunately they weren't too rowdy.The swipe card to our room suddenly stopped working mid stay necessitating a frustrating trip back and forth to reception.The one lunch we had there was ridiculous and overpriced. On the package deal they give you £10 credit towards lunch but that doesn't go very far. A steak was £16, which is not unreasonable for a good quality. However I didn't get to find out about the quality as first they were out of steak... then they were out of lamb... then they were out of salmon... honestly the poor waiter was back and forth to the kitchen like the Monty Python cheese sketch. So finally I had to settle for a burger which at £14 pounds was ridiculously overpriced and with attendant fries was totally contrary to the healthy rational for attending a spa.. I am used to inner city prices and you could get the same or better for around a fiver at most pubs. To add insult to injury, my partner had the £12 bean burger which again was hideously overpriced as it was suspiciously similar to a Linda McCartney vegetarian 200g patty, which retail at £1.19 for four, that's a whopping 4000% markup! This was at 1:15pm on a Friday, so as it seems highly unlikely that this busy kitchen actually suffered a post apocalyptic food shortage, I am forced to assume the kitchen staff just couldn't be a%sed to cook a slightly labor intensive meal and break their preparations for the evening service.Our final dinner was slightly marred by 2 extra drinks being added to our bill, luckily we spotted these in time. The wait staff were fine about taking these off when we noticed them and we only signed an amended docket. However the final straw came the next morning when we went to check out and 4 more drinks had suddenly crept in! When we scrutinised our invoice we also noticed an additonal £8 mystery phantom charge with no corresponding receipt. We were forced into the embarrassing situation of debating the minutiae of our expenditures with several sets of onlookers accumulating behind us waiting to check out. After about 5 minutes of us denying these phantom expenditures, she suddenly “found” the actual docket we had signed and started to remove all the bogus charges. It was all highly suspicious and I can think of three possible scenarios to explain:1) Other guests started using a room number which was not their own. Their tab system is shockingly lax, I was able to order drinks at the bar by merely stating my room number and not showing any form of ID. It wouldn't take a criminal mastermind to figure out a way to scam this foolish system...2) Staff treated themselves to a few drinks at our expense. Having worked in hospitality myself this is a widespread occurrence in this most underpaid of professions. I never practiced this myself but if you are working in hospo yourself, perhaps at the dreadful Barceló Billesley Manor, I have it on good authority that groups of drunks and wedding parties make far better targets than couples who are only ordering a single glass of wine!3) There could quite possibly be some deeply sinister “creative accounting” going on at the hotel management level. As my partner wasn't drinking I guess we didn't meet their unofficial minimum spend and I wouldn't be surprised if someone’s bonus probably depends on the hotel meeting some such arbitrary profit target. There are certainly enough trusting souls in this world just signing off on any old invoice to make slipping on a few extra charges here and there a very profitable scam. The mysterious £8 without a docket leads me to conclude this is the most likely scenario. If true, this is a sure sign that the Barceló Billesley Manor is sliding into the whirlpool of disrepute.This situation was finally resolved after 10 minutes of painful public nit picking. We managed to pay for only the goods and services we had used, halving our initial bogus bill!Needless to say, we will would strongly recommend against anyone staying in the appalling Barceló Billesley Manor. The points I have made above clearly illustrate their systemic lack of concern for their customers experience, and a possible criminal conspiracy to overcharge....This spa holiday was supposed to be relaxing but ended up stressing us a great deal.
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