We recently visited the Hollins Hall Country Club and Hotel near Leeds as a surprise 60th birthday present from my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Lisa, with two rounds of golf and dinner included.
Lisa was getting a little worried about our forthcoming stay based on a number of bad reviews read on Tripadvisor. Now I normally book through booking.com, and a quick read through their mainly positive reviews left me feeling fairly unconcerned.
We arrived a hour and a half before check-in time, as we had quite an early first round of golf, and was a little concerned that Sue and Lisa would end up having to sit in the reception and wait for the rooms – we have stayed at a couple of other venues this year that have had very strict check in rules due to the whole covid thing. Anyway, it wasn’t necessary, our rooms were ready.
Check in was quite easy and straightforward and handled in a very pleasant manner by the receptionists. Lisa had thoughtfully requested an accessible room for us, which they had provided without any issue, which was a relief. Often we arrive at a hotel having made advanced requests for accessible facilities only to find the receptionists are not aware of the request and unable to oblige.
Our rooms were literally just down the hall from the reception. We were in 111, which was spacious room and had good accessible facilities. The decor was nice, and the view was reasonable considering we are in a ground floor room overlooking the main car park. It was still sunny and green, and a pleasant view.
I was particularly pleased that despite the bathroom being accessible, it was still fitted out as a normal bathroom, with nice tiles and fittings – all to often, accessible rooms are fitted out like sanitised hospital rooms rather then complementing the luxury accommodation next door.
I want to address the whole “tired” comments that seem to be prevalent on tripadvisor. We like to consider ourselves experienced travellers and we have stayed in some luxury hotels that turned out to be grotty dives and conversely some three stars which were considerably underrated.
I had a good look around our room and I noted three minor points – A tiny corner of the wallpaper starting to peel back down the side of the dressing table; one seam on the wallpaper in one place starting to come unstuck; a scuff mark on the skirting board gloss work where someone had obviously dragged their case down it.
Now, to be honest, I had to go looking for these faults. Our overall impression was that it was a nice sized, clean, comfortable, well fitted and well equipped room that was starting to see a little wear and tear, which is inevitable in a popular hotel. I didn’t hear any complaints from Jeff and Lisa about their room either.
Unless you are starring on “three in a bed” and are the type of person that goes around looking for hairs in shower traps, then writing a bad review based on a couple of decorating issues is very unfair in my opinion, and not particularly helpful to those reading the review expecting a balanced view.
So, to be balanced, the only thing I did find disappointing was quite a bit of black mould in the back of the shower door runner, which could easily be removed with a quick spray of mould remover and a scrub with an old toothbrush.
But it wasn’t so bad that it put me off having a shower.
The bed was extremely comfortable and our only regret was we forgot to check the make of the mattress. It had a nice topper over the mattress, and a mattress protector on top of that. I haven’t slept so well for a long time.
Plus, free wifi and a large 40″ plus TV, tea and coffee making facilities, trouser press, extra pillows…. you cant ask for much more can you?
I didn’t have any problem with the accommodation and would stay again.
We were surprised at the size of the hotel, all the common areas were clean and tidy, and apart from a broken pipe on a urinal in the reception toilets, looked very well maintained. I’ve been to many an old pub where the dated plumbing left a lot to be desired, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to boycott the place.
The lower bar was closed on arrival, but the upper bar was open, near the main golf reception, and we called in for a tea and coffee. This was also the restaurant they served our dinner in later in the night.
Let’s just talk covid for a moment. We had forgotten we were in the Bradford area, and the rules are a bit stricter here than in Nottinghamshire. We had to wear masks inside the hotel. Don’t like it, but understand it, and had no problem with it. Unlike many others, some no doubt locals who should no better perhaps.
Two way lanes were in place in some places, and distancing markers and sanitisers were dotted around the place as expected.
The receptionists are screened off, as is becoming the norm and all staff are wearing masks.
I was particularly impressed with the effort in the rooms – toiletries sealed in little bags, so you know they haven’t been touched by others. The door sealed after cleaning, so you can see no-one else has been in since. That’s a lot better than some hotels we have been in.
And that brings me onto some of the guests.
The first thing that strikes you as you walk into the restaurant is the number of golfers present. Maybe not surprising in a predominantly golfing resort. Not that I have a problem with golfers per say, but I do have a problem with large groups of individuals that seem oblivious of the fact that there are other people in the venue trying to have a nice time too.
We watched as they huddled up around the tables, dragging them closer together, while the management repeatedly asked them to put them back, and sit further apart. The hotel has to comply with the Covid social distancing requirements, so why do the punters make life so difficult for them? A couple of them got a little too heated, and if it had been me, I would have asked them to leave. Maybe they are regulars, I don’t know.
I must say I was very impressed with the management standing their ground and making the guys separate, which they eventually did reluctantly and with much grumbling. And they wonder why they went back into lockdown?
Our booking included dinner, and at check-in we had to specify a time for dinner, a time for breakfast the next day and we had to choose our meals – this may have been purely due to us being on a golfers special package, I dont know. It was hardly a hardship, and nothing really to complain about – unlike some reviewers who think it’s atrocious. Don’t ever go on a cruise then…
On arrival at dinner, we were shown to our table, and dinner was served. It was nice food, nicely presented and served by pleasant staff.
Unfortunately, during the night, more and more “golfers” were arriving, and the place was soon like a pub tap room. Again, arrogant and unnecessarily aggressive attitudes arose when asked to sit spaced apart, one or two heated exchanges, and as the night wore on, more and more of them mocking the staff, pulling up chairs into huddles again and generally sticking two fingers up at the whole covid procedures in place.
To make it worse, a couple of people who had been placed on separate tables thought it was extremely funny to shout to each other across the room, making it a rather unpleasant evening for the rest of us who just wanted a chat over a quiet meal.
Breakfast next day was served in the lower dining room. Again, the covid restrictions were in place, and I was extremely surprised to see the buffet running. In all the other post covid stays we have had, breakfasts have been reduced to takeways or continentals. These still had the full hot buffet running, which you queued for in your mask, 2m apart, while someone plated up your selections. Nothing wrong with that. We remarked how nice the sausages were. On the other side however, was tea and coffee jugs, and cereals etc. I don’t know what their procedures were for cleaning the tongs and serving spoons, or the milk, coffee and water jugs, but I made sure that as soon as I had helped myself, i re-sanitised my hands from the adjacent bottle of sanitiser. Sometimes you just have to take responsibility for your own safety.
Our table was clean, and well spaced from other tables.
I am involved with covid precautions at my own company and therefore tend to be overly critical of others – I didn’t have any cause to complain. As soon as people left their table, someone came straight in and thoroughly wiped down the table AND the backs and tops of the leather chairs, which a lot of establishments tend to forget. So bonus points for that. And, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I watched them clear three tables in total, all with the same thorough cleaning between.
Check-out was equally simple according to Lisa and Sue (we were back on the golf course), and as we left we felt compelled to go to the receptionist, Jodie, and explain our trepidation based on the Tripadvisor reviews, expressed our thanks to her and the staff for a lovely weekend and assure her that on our return, we would put the record straight.
Back to the customers. One thing I did notice, which perturbed me a little, was signs in all the corridors saying “Quiet Time 11pm – 7am” and later we saw (or heard) why the signs are necessary. But ineffective unfortunately. From around 11 p.m. through to 1.30 a.m., we suffered a more or less continual stream of noisy, no, VERY noisy guests returning to their rooms, continuing their parties and conversations all the way down the corridors with absolutely no respect for anyone who may have been asleep. Such lack of consideration frankly disgusts me.
I was particularly grateful to the group of individuals who decided to stand outside our door for a good 5 minutes about 1.30 a.m. – you know who you are, the party with the woman who cackles like a witch – and finally I managed to get to sleep around 2 a.m. Fortunately Sue managed to sleep through all of this.
There’s a small retail park 5 minutes away, and after we had set off for our second round of golf, they grabbed a taxi (kindly organised by reception) and had a couple of hours shopping while we played. Badly.
On their return, Sue and Lisa were also privy to a complaint being made at reception over what they considered sounded like a fairly trivial matter, and were shocked by the abusive and aggressive manner that the guest had chosen to adopt, blowing the whole thing out of proportion and leaving the staff struggling to get a word in. Honestly, we all have grievances at times, but the staff are not there to be verbally abused at your pleasure and they deserve some respect, even when you feel aggrieved.
Golf – again, the staff on the reception were pleasant and helpful, and the course was really enjoyable, impeccably manicured with beautiful rolling fairways and perfect greens. It was just a shame I’m such a bad player!
By the way, for those complaining they couldn’t get a buggy on arrival, they have plenty of buggies but they are obviously in demand and you have to book early. We booked ours a month before, and had no problem obtaining it. Turn up on the day expecting one and you may be disappointed.
Leisure club and Spa – Yes, we were disappointed it wasn’t open yet, but really, I can’t complain, it was just unfortunate timing and they will have their own timetable for re-opening after this unprecedented Covid nightmare they are working through. So please, all the reviewers complaining about it being closed, especially back when it was a government requirement to stay closed – give them a break please, it’s NOT their fault!
And again, we did notice the 20+ golfers all huddled up outside reception with their pint pots, totally ignoring the social distancing rules. When the club is shutdown again, don’t say you weren’t warned.
So. I have stayed in far worse places for a lot more money. From a Covid point of view, they are well ahead of the game, and practicing better procedures than a couple of other recent stays – I have no fears of stopping there.
I stopped reviewing on Tripadvisor a while back as they dictated too much what you were allowed and not allowed to say, but we felt the need to go back, open a new account and redress the balance. That’s how strongly we felt that these bad reviews misrepresented the actual quality of the hotel and its staff.
The proof of the pudding? Would we stop again? If we were golfing again, absolutely, and once the spa and leisure club have re-opened, I guess we will be lucky to get a room.
The only slight downside which might make us think twice was some very inconsiderate and on occasion obnoxious guests that the place attracts due to its excellent golf facilities.
We stayed in the Hollins Hall Hotel in August 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.