Venue no. 7

Venue no. 7 was going to be the Crown Plaza Hotel at Marlow.  The Mr was already not very keen, as he thought the downstairs restaurant looked like a school canteen (really?? I wish my school canteen had looked like that!!), and that the upstairs room was too ‘corporate’.

In the end, we never ended up going.  We were delayed by the previous venue that morning (Bisham Abbey), and had also driven past the back of the hotel on the way to Bisham.  I hadn’t realised that the lovely lake with water feature at the back of the hotel, is overlooked by the A404.  Like, we could see the patio of the hotel (where our guests would be having their arrival drinks) from the road.

So we just drove straight past on the way back too!

Mambo, I mean venue, no. 5!!

We did not like venue no.5.  But, here’s the shortlist for where it was, and why we didn’t like it (I think we’re becoming more and more fussy the more we look at!)

Venue no. 5 was The Grovefield House Hotel in Burnham, Buckinghamshire.  The pictures look lovely on the website, and one of the schools that I work at have held their year 11 prom there for the last few years and say the staff are great and the food is fantastic.  So it had a lot going for it already!

The entrance is ok, straight into the car park, but that’s not a problem.  Our first impressions weren’t helped by the fact that as we were arriving, there were a large group of noisy, severely overweight, football shirt wearing ‘men’ who were leaving.  They were climbing (or wedging themselves) into their cars, with shouts of ‘Or right mate’ (I may be paraphrasing, but you get the idea) going back and forwards.  Maybe we’re a bit snobby, but it just didn’t spell out ‘wedding venue with class’, and it’s certainly not what we would want greeting us if we were arriving on our wedding day.  The house itself is everything it looks in the pictures, grand, large, but also quite fresh looking, and well kept.  It didn’t look like a stereotypical hotel, which is a good thing.  The gardens were also in good repair, and someone was freshly watering and pruning the flower-beds as we arrived, which again was nice to see!

The reception area was relatively nice, but they were playing awful country music through the internal PA system.  Again, not very classy.  The events manager who met us was a bit ‘faffy’ insisting we sat down whilst she took all our details, despite the fact that they’d already made me fill out a form by email to request the ‘look around’ and send me a brochure.  There are two main function rooms, but only one would be big enough for our numbers.  Which was a shame, as the other one actually looked a lot nicer inside, although all the doors and windows looked out onto the car park.  The main function room was being set up for a wedding this afternoon and it was chaos in there.  It might have just been bad luck, and we’d arrived at the wrong time, but it was the event manager who had suggested this day and time.  I wasn’t filled with confidence.  The room was dark.  She said the lights were dimmed as the were trying to keep the room cool until the wedding party started arriving.  Hang on a minute!!  I’ll admit, today was a nice day, probably temperatures of up to about 18, maybe even 20 degrees, but we were there at 10.30 in the morning!  What would the room be like in the height of summer??  We asked about air conditioning, which we were told there was, but it was noisy so they don’t really have it running during the meal and ceremony.  Wonderful!  Although I guess I’ve got to give them points for honesty!!

The function room has it’s own private patio, which then looks onto the rest of the gardens which wrap around the hotel.  As the events manager was telling us how lovely and peaceful it can be, a noisy group rounded the corner of the house, across the bit of grass and onto the patio, then wandered past us and into the function room.  No-one batted an eyelid, despite the fact they were obviously not part of the wedding being set up (conversations like, “Let’s go and have a nosy at what’s going on in there” were a good indicator of this).  Again, not what I would want; having random strangers possibly interfering with my table set-ups during the morning of the day of my wedding, er, no thanks!

The room décor was old fashioned and not to my taste.  Prints of painting showing hunts hung on the walls, the ceiling was low and oppressive and there were lots of pillars throughout the room, rather breaking it up and spoiling the atmosphere (if there was any to start with!).  The carpet was a dark green with gold swirly patterns, quite probably left over since the 80s.  Yuk.  The wall with the bar was dark wood panelling, and just served to make the whole room feel small and oppressive and dark.

So there must be some pluses, right?!  Well, hotel rooms are on-site (obviously) and seem from the pictures we have seen, to be well appointed and reasonably priced.  We didn’t actually get to see a ‘real’ room as they were all being used / cleaned.  Fair enough, it’s a running hotel.  There are 40 in total, but we were told that even if our guests filled all 40 rooms, we would still have to pay extra for exclusive use – so even if people weren’t staying in the hotel, they wouldn’t be stopped from wandering in and have a look at what was going on.  Which seems really strange seen as the only bar is actually in the function room.  The events manager didn’t know how much extra for exclusive use, and didn’t offer to find out, which was really helpful.  Also, when asked for bar prices, she said they were like pub prices, and when we asked, so what does that actually mean, i.e. how much for a pint, again, she didn’t know.  Maybe she’s just Saturday staff, but again, we weren’t filled with confidence, this was a date and time we had been told to come, and she has the job title of ‘events manager’, although she wasn’t actually the person I’d emailed and spoken to on the phone.

So all in all, not a happy experience.  It was a swift exit, with no pictures taken, this one is OFF the shortlist!!