Our daughter was married on Saturday (4th Dec) so my wife and I stayed at the Cambridge Belfry hotel from Friday – Sunday. Several other members of the party stayed for varying numbers of nights during that period. Those I have spoken to were in varying ways disappointed by the experience. Fortunately the wedding itself was elsewhere and went very well.
On Friday night my wife and I had dinner in the hotel restaurant with my wife’s aunt. According to the company website, “Food is something we are passionate about at QHotels”. The prices are much higher than restaurants we normally use, so we were looking forward to something special.
I started with a paté. It was described a ‘parfait’ but was more like a rough country paté. Not bad, but 50p worth of paté and a couple of bits of toast is a disappointing start to a meal. My wife and her aunt had melon. It was frozen. So frozen the aunt was unable to separate hers from the plate. How hard can it be to slice a fresh melon when required? Fruit tastes much better at room temperature, even chilled it loses flavour. Frozen is just incompetent.
For the main courses we had steamed white fish, bland but OK for an elderly aunt. Chicken and Mushroom tagliatelli, with the mushrooms missing and Caesar salad with Salmon. The latter consisted of lettuce (iceburg I think not romaine) an over-liberal supply of (presumably bottled) dressing, a few soggy croûtons that had absorbed twice their weight in dressing and the thinest salmon fillet I have ever seen.
I can’t judge the Traditional Cambridge Cream since we’ve never had it before. It’s not as good as a basic Crème Bruleé in a fairly average bistro though.
And so to bed. With the noisiest heating system I have ever heard. Eventually we realised where the noise was coming from and turned it down a bit but but didn’t make much difference. We slept very little.
The following morning I asked for a change of room. The duty manager gave me the key cards for one on the same corridor. It had the same problem. I returned to the desk. ‘Oh,’ said. ‘Well, there might be a random noise in any of the rooms’. I asked for one without. In the end he found one where the heating went quiet if you turned it almost off.
Breakfast was as poor as dinner the previous night. The first spoonful of grapefruit tasted of soap. It may have been a badly washed spoon. I speared a piece on a fork to give it a chance. It was tasteless and far too cold.
My wife loves scrambled eggs and mushrooms. Normally. The company website praises their cooking, “Every dish, from a simple scrambled egg to the most tantalising pan-fried fillet steak, has more than just a little je ne sais quoi.” Well in the case of the scrambled egg, the quoi qu’ils ne savent pas would appear to be dried egg. Hope that clears up the mystery. The button mushrooms were tinned and stewed.
I went for fry-up option. Pretty average supermarket standard sausage and bacon, a nicely done fried egg, it’s only fair to mention that, and a couple of tepid hash browns. Reheating from frozen is so tricky to get right.
We packed hurriedly and the hotel staff moved the bags whilst we were out. Of course they left the heating almost off, so when we returned after midnight the room was cold.
We cranked it up for a while, got ready for bed then turned it down. It was better. Cool, but better.
“…no Cambridgeshire hotel comes close to The Cambridge Belfry in Cambourne.” It says on the web. If that’s true it can only be because there is no Travelodge nearby.
I sent a version of this to firstname.lastname@example.org on our return (Monday 6th December). I haven’t had a reply yet. I phoned on Monday 13th, customer relations was away from her desk. I left a message. She hasn’t called back.