Last Saturday was really rather unusual. Ian and I went to Bank House Hotel and Spa in Worcester, where we’d been invited to stay for a night and a spa treatment. It was a welcome break and lovely to spend some much sought-after time alone. However, it wasn’t all quite as we expected…
Bank House Hotel and Grounds
Bank House is a large hotel situated between Great Malvern and Worcester, well suited for corporate events, functions and those wishing for a little “me-time.” The hotel is expansive with beautiful grounds and a large outdoor seating/dining area.
The gardens at Bank House Hotel are immaculate and there’s a delightful little courtyard, secreted away behind a hedge, complete with wrought iron seats.
The Bedroom at Bank House Hotel
We had an executive room which was spacious with simple furnishings and décor in neutral tones. The bed, large and comfortable, had crisp linen and the room had a lovely feeling of quiet and calm.
The bathroom was similarly unpretentious and equally immaculate with a selection of toiletries by Temple Spa, the brand used in the hotel’s spa.
The Malvern View Spa at Bank House Hotel
We were particularly looking forward to the spa and opted to have a “Drift Away” massage. As the name suggests, it is designed is to induce calm and relaxation. We were asked to fill in a brief medical questionnaire and given a smoothie to drink while we did so and a robe and flip flops to wear after the treatment. These were very welcome touches and the smoothie was delicious. The massage was heavenly. I almost, almost drifted away and felt completely relaxed afterwards. The drive had taken well over three hours so it was wonderful to lie and have all of the associated tensions massaged away. The therapists, Jess and Claire were lovely and they did an excellent job of making us feel comfortable and relaxed. It was utterly blissful.
Post treatment, we got a shot glass of lemon sorbet to take into the relaxation room below. It too tasted divine.
There is a fabulous heated swimming pool, a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and an Experience Shower. They were all wonderful and we spent a very happy hour ambling from one to the other. Of course, it would have been inappropriate to take photographs while others were in the spa, but I took this one of the Jacuzzi when nobody was in it. I’d love to spend a full day there.
The Food at Bank House Hotel
Now, by nature, I’m a very positive person and I think my blog reflects this. I rarely complain and I endeavour to see the best in everybody and every situation. I’ also very honest and it would be wrong to gloss over what was a very strange dining experience. This is they first time I’ve ever had to write anything negative in a review, but in the interests of a balanced, genuine write-up, it would be unfair to those who read and trust my reviews if I didn’t.
Lunch at Bank House Hotel
Before I talk about dinner though, I’ll start with lunch. We arrived at the hotel at lunchtime, ahead of the spa treatment and ordered some sandwiches from the Sportsman’s Bar (below). We took them outside to eat on the terrace. As lovely as they looked though, the bread was very dry and the vegetable crisps weren’t really very crispy. We were left feeling a little disappointed. However, the terrace was lovely with its views across the gardens and it was a mild, bright day. We enjoyed sitting outdoors and ate most of it nonetheless.
Dinner in the Restaurant at Bank House Hotel
Dinner is served in the Pear Tree Restaurant. The restaurant itself is unusual and difficult to describe. It has two entrances and a central bar. The decor is a mix of modern, (white walls, lime accents) and Regency style, (the chairs have burgundy fabric and a gold frame). The striped brown carpet didn’t match either style. The jarring styles meant there was little in the way of ambience.
The menu, although small, looked promising and the wine list was decent, which in my experience often reflects the standard of the food. The young waiting staff were friendly, polite and attentive and we were looking forward to a leisurely meal.
One of the waitresses told us there would be a slightly longer wait than usual for food. No problem. We ordered freshly baked artisan breads with hummus, olive oil and balsamic and handmade flavoured butter. Perfect.
And this is what came. With the best will in the world, I’m not sure a baguette should be described as artisan. The balsamic was good though. Sticky and rich.
For his starter, Ian ordered Buttered Evesham Asparagus with scotched quails egg. It was good to see that the asparagus was local, albeit out of season, but it was a little overcooked on presentation. The egg, with its slightly runny yolk, was perfect.
I chose Blackened Mackerel with horseradish snow and compressed cucumber. The mackerel flesh was a little under-seasoned for my taste but the skin had a nice kick of chilli so it added flavour as well as texture. The horseradish snow and the compressed cucumber complimented the fish nicely.
The main course of Roasted Cod Loin with shredded ham hock, broad bean and spring onion sauce sounded delicious and is what I ordered. Ian ordered a chicken dish but there was none left. Again, no problem. He decided to have ribeye steak, cooked rare to medium rare.
My cod came and like the starters, it was well-presented. I took a mouthful but it was only lukewarm. On closer inspection, the centre looked translucent in parts, not opaque, like I usually associate with flaky white fish. Ian looked too and we agreed that it was a little undercooked. When the waitress came to see if everything was ok, I asked if it could be cooked for a little longer. She willingly obliged and took it back to the kitchen.
In the meantime, Ian had cut into his steak and it was clear that it had been cooked medium to well-done. He was reluctant to eat because I was sitting waiting for mine to return, but I urged him to continue before it got cold. In retrospect, we should have asked for another steak, cooked rare to medium-rare as per his request, but we felt uncomfortable having already sent my cod back.
The waitress returned and told me that the chef said the cod was fine. Now, I am by no means a chef but I am a reasonably good home cook. My previous restaurant reviews will attest to the fact that I often have fish. I love fish. I shall point out too that I do eat rare fish and meat when it can be served that way. For example, I have tuna and steak served pink. I was surprised that the chef didn’t respond to my request to have it cooked some more. In fact, it rendered me almost speechless. Now that is rare!
Our faces clearly showed this so the poor waitress took it back for a second time. By the time she came back, I’d lost my faith along with my appetite and really didn’t want it. I’d have been perfectly happy to have a fresh piece of cod, cooked how I’d like it. Instead, the original was prodded and poked and other than the fact that kitchen had added a new nasturtium, I could see no difference upon its third presentation. I no longer wanted it.
The waitress must have reported back because a young man, who I assumed was the restaurant manager, came over to apologise. He asked if we would like to choose something else from the main course menu and also offered to take the wine off the bill. We politely declined the former and accepted the latter. I wanted to leave, but we had a job to do, which was to review three courses, so we ordered dessert.
Ian liked the sound of Pineapple Bakewell Tart with pineapple and rum ice cream and toasted almonds. I chose Strawberry and Rhubarb Eton Mess, caramelised meringue and coriander.
Both desserts were both disappointing. The Bakewell was soggy and hadn’t been baked that day and my little meringues didn’t taste home-cooked. I don’t know what else to say.
Breakfast at Bank House Hotel
Despite the previous night’s disastrous dinner, we went for breakfast with an open mind. There was a hot buffet with bacon, eggs, black pudding and so on, a cold buffet of yogurt, fruit and patisserie plus a separate menu. We chose what we wanted from the hot buffet and both ordered waffles with crème fraiche, compote and maple syrup.
It filled a gap.
My Final Thoughts on Bank House Hotel
Ian and I both enjoy good food. Despite this, our experience in the restaurant didn’t detract significantly from the experience as a whole. The spa treatment was absolutely wonderful and Malvern View Spa and the facilities there are brilliant. Every single member of staff at the spa was warm, welcoming and very good at her job. We enjoyed it immensely and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Our bedroom was perfectly fine too. Plenty of space, a fridge, iron and ironing board; everything one requires for a hotel stay. The bed was incredibly comfortable and the room had a certain peace to it which we both welcomed. The grounds are lovely and I can see why it’s a popular venue for wedding receptions. Every front of house member of staff was excellent.
The restaurant lets Bank House Hotel down hugely. The aesthetics are not in keeping with the rest of the hotel and the food was beyond disappointing. There is good news though because when I fed this back to the PR who arranged this review, he told me that they are in the midst of redesigning the restaurant. So, if anyone from Bank House Hotel is reading this review, please congratulate your staff because they’re a credit to you. Thank you for inviting us and for the wonderful spa experience and we’d love to go back to eat at the redesigned restaurant!
This looks an absolute delight, Lizzie. I could sure do with a night like this xx
Laurie, it was wonderful to have a night away. The spa was such a treat and just strolling through the grounds was like being on holiday! xxx
If you were invited as their guests to do a review, then I am confused as to why there was a bill for them to take the cost of the wine off. I was of the understanding that hotel and restaurant reviews were usually at the expense of the establishment, not the reviewer.
The grounds do look fabulous!
Hi Kim. The protocol is usually that the reviewer pays for drinks. Included in this particular review was dinner, room, breakfast and a spa treatment. So the sandwiches at lunch and the wine with dinner was at our own expense xxx
Sounds like overall a lovely experience. Perhaps a new chef is part of the dining room redesign?
It’ll be interesting to see how the restaurant changes when it gets its overhaul and whether it will include a change of staff. As I said, the waiting staff, all very young, were brilliant xxx
Hmm this is interesting. I’ve had similar experiences with under cooked food & like you I will politely ask for it to be sorted. I’m a bit shocked that you received such resistance from the chef Liz. Especially as they asked YOU to review them! Tsk tsk & such a shame. Although you say it didn’t ruin your over-all experience I’m sure by simply re-cooking your main they could’ve rescued the night & you’d have given them a full glowing report.
You did your job perfectly & may I say, tactfully. Well done xx
Thank you Michelle. You’re absolutely right. I would have given a glowing report had the cod been either cooked for longer when I asked or given a freshly cooked piece. You’ve hit the nail on the head too. It was the resistance from the chef that surprised us xxx
Bank House Hotel looks really lovely and the spa treatments sound great! It’s such a shame that the restaurant was a disappointment; often the food is what I most look forward to when eating away from home! Hopefully the restaurant will largely improve after the re-design! xxx
It was all so lovely Emma apart from the food. Like you, I always look forward to eating out or being cooked for. If the restaurant could be as good as everything else, then it really will be an excellent venue xxx