Back in April half term we booked the Marwell Hotel for our three-day break near Winchester, mainly because it is situated right next to Marwell Zoo, where we planned to spend a whole day. The whole area is fantastic for children, there are plenty of things to do: the Marwell Zoo, National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, visiting Winchester, Peppa Pig World and more. We had 3 days planned with lots of things to do with the children. So, we thought it would be good to book the Marwell Hotel, since it’s so conveniently located very near the zoo. Although, the hotel and the zoo are not related in any ways but sharing the name (as it turned out to be the case) this was just one of the odd surprises we had to face during our stay.
The Marwell Hotel aims to cater EVERYONE. Some people may find it as a bit of clashing interests. I’m not really sure why (probably for monetary reasons). So they advertise themselves as a family-business-wedding-golf hotel, literally trying to cover anyone traveling around there plus locals.
Anyway, here’s our positives and negatives.
What we liked about it:
Obviously, we did like the fact that it’s just stone’s throw away form Marwell Zoo. They are perfectly equipped for families and in our room we had a bunk bed for the children. The children both received a little activity pack upon arrival with colouring books and crayons. Cheap but sweet. We also had a bath tub which is more convenient than shower. It was also nice to have a kettle. The bathroom was clean and we received daily cleaning.
And there were also a few odd things. Like breakfast. Although the restaurant’s carpet was absolutely filthy (it was just painful looking at it) and the food wasn’t particularly good or bad (bit of a meh really) – the staff was nice, attentive and they put a lot of effort into things like the individual, whipped butter portions on the tables and white damask table covers. Or that the person at the reception could’t tell me if we can use the daily pass in the Marwell Zoo to re-enter the zoo in case we wanted to pop back to the hotel. (Clearly, the name is just a… err… “coincidence”, but since half of the guests were families visiting the hotel, you’d expect they know the answer to that question. I honestly found it a bit misleading.)
What we disliked about it:
First of all, the hotel is really run down. It seemingly runs on a high occupancy most of the time. Stains on the carpets, chipped furniture, scuffed and dirty walls, fixtures and fittings were worn and damaged – you name it. We didn’t dare to walk around on barefoot in the room. (This very fact actually made us to avoid the swimming pool.) The other biggie was that during our stay, they also had 2 weddings booked for that weekend. At 10pm my small children were still up because of the music and because older kids high on sugar and all excited were having fun on the corridors and in the halls: running, playing tag, laughing loudly, screaming, shouting etc. And that was two nights in a row. The final straw was the non-existent free wifi, which had been JUST repaired according to the poor receptionist (what else could she say?).
Looking at other travellers’ photos we have probably ended up with one of the worst rooms anyway, but comparing everything we have experienced and saw the photos on the booking sites – there is no way we would have booked this hotel. The photos on the third party booking sites as well as on their homepage are not picturing the current state and the reality. We obviously didn’t try the restaurant either after these expressions.
This cot bed on the above photo was left in the hall for our entire 3-day stay.
We won’t be back – you shouldn’t gamble either to see if you get a refurbished room or a non-refurbished one like us, and be prepared to either join the wedding party or just listen to the music. It is a real shame, the concept of these little bungalows connected by class corridors and the safari theme (barely there) would make such a cute and quirky place.