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Old May 5, 09, 3:02 am   #1
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CP Marlow (UK)

The little known CP Marlow sits just outside London (30 miles from Knightsbridge) on the edge of the Thames, close to Henley and of course Marlow itself. Is it a success or not?! There are two sides to the story.

The case for the defence:

This is one of most impressive bargains available in the UK. For 90 a night (less a further 7% Quidco!) using the 2-4-1 link on the hotels own webpage (crowneplazamarlow.co.uk), we got a two-room SUITE with balcony in a very modern hotel, with an impressive breakfast for two, club access and full access to the on-site health club with its adult pool, childrens pool and indoor and outdoor jacuzzis.

The hotel is in a lovely spot just 60 seconds walk from the River Thames and the Thames Path, and is set around an artificial lake with an impressive Lake Geneva-style ‘jet d’eau’. For a four star, the food is surprisingly accomplished – nothing flash, but the basics are done extremely well. There is a 'posh' restaurant and a separate bar-brasserie, which also takes in an attractive conservatory and a number of outdoor tables facing the lake. They have a nice collection of childrens toys which are placed around the lawn in front of the lake and will keep your little one amused.

Decent 'White Company' toiletries in the suites plus robes (no slippers), and a separate shower as well as a bath. Plenty of free Telegraphs and Independents knocking around the hotel every day.

The case for the prosecution:

This is a hotel run by idiots which should be avoided if you value your sanity. When we checked in, we were given the key to a suite which was already occupied (and physically occupied at that!). When we told reception, we got another set of keys without an apology. They coded the club access wrong THREE times, and only on the fourth recut did the key open the lounge door. The lounge was the same size as our suite and at weekends offers nothing apart from beer, wine and 1 tray of canapes, and then only between 6-8. The 1 PC runs Windows 2000 and is incredibly slow.

When we ordered room service on day 1, our organic salmon salad arrived as salmon risotto – a dish not even on the room service menu. On Day 2, we got the right food but only 1 fork – so I had to eat my meal with a spoon and knife instead of a fork and knife. Our two attempts on consecutive nights to watch a pay TV film were ruined when the system crashed 45 minutes in and could not be reset by the staff. Our room was not cleaned when we returned at 5.15pm on the first day and was only done after we complained. Three separate members of staff told us that is was impossible to walk along the river into Marlow town itself, which is complete nonsense – you cannot walk it 100% on the river bank (more like 90%) but you can certainly do it. The 'Sunday Times' I ordered never appeared, either outside our room or indeed the original already-occupied room.

Whilst a decent modern building, the approach is not appealing - the hotel is accessed through an industrial estate!

Verdict:

So, a disaster or not? Overall, we were happy. 90 a night for a suite at weekends is a fantastic deal if you use the 2-4-1 rate. You automatically get Club access with a suite, and as the Club does not serve breakfast at weekends you automatically get a free restaurant breakfast, usual price 17 per person. (Note that the website does not tell you about club access or indeed about the automatic restaurant breakfast at weekends for club rooms, so don’t book a B&B rate). Our total bill for 2 nights in a suite, 2 full breakfasts for two, 2 room service dinners for two (drinks taken from the club lounge!), 1 lunch for two and a few drinks was well under 300 and the quidco.com cashback will take it down to almost 250.

The pool complex is not bad at all and the childrens pool is kept warmer than the adjacent adult one. The lawn in front of the lake is as pretty on a sunny day as the photos on the website show it. The whole complex was only opened in 2003 and is well maintained, especially the suites which are clearly not used often.

At the end of the day, admittedly, this is a conference hotel which plays to families at weekends to fill what would otherwise be empty rooms. This has led to some awkward compromises, such as the fact that the suites overlook the car park instead of the lake because the lake side is taken up with meeting rooms.

If you want a break from London and want to see Marlow, Henley, Cliveden, Windsor etc then this is a good place to base yourself and we are considering going again - we normally go to Four Seasons Hampshire at literally 3x the price, but our toddler is at a funny ages where she's too young to be in a fine dining room and too unpredictable to be trusted to sleep happily for a babysitter! Next time, though, we’ll be bringing our own DVD’s and cutlery ….!

(PS. Despite my RA status, I stayed here a PC Blue on an account in Ms Raffles' name because I wanted to pick up the various Welcome Back bonuses again. The lounge access was therefore certainly not status related and seems to be an automatic suite benefit.)

Last edited by Raffles; May 5, 09 at 11:19 am. Reason: Typo
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Old May 5, 09, 6:46 am   #2
 
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Raffles:

Thanks .... great review.
You are correct, Marlow is a nice village. I had several business visits in nearby Bourne End and liked the area a lot ... especially Cookham.

Last edited by USAFAN; May 5, 09 at 6:59 am.
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Old May 5, 09, 8:15 am   #3
 
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Thanks for the review.
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Old May 5, 09, 8:54 am   #4
 
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Stayed in the same hotel - and had the same experience with keys and pre-occupied rooms!
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Old May 5, 09, 10:33 am   #5
 
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Great report. You had me reeled in with the first paragraph then I laughed out loud as I began to read the second!!!!

Always fancied a little trip to Legoland so that place sounds ideal despite it's shortcomings.

JAT
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Old May 5, 09, 11:09 am   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAT74L View Post
Always fancied a little trip to Legoland so that place sounds ideal despite it's shortcomings.
It is. You can put the little one to sleep in a cot in the bedroom then (if you take a suite) happily watch the 2nd TV in the living room of the suite, as well as using the dining table to have a room service dinner and have a glass of wine on the balcony. The 90 2-4-1 suite rate at weekends seems to run throughout the year - it is still there for August bank holiday, for example.

Getting the Quidco cashback is a bit of a palaver because the 2-4-1 link on the hotel website puts in an IATA number which overrides Quidco's. You need to use the 2-4-1 link then delete the IATA code from the URL, hit Enter, then make the resulting page (which is the booking screen without an IATA built in) a Favourite. Clear cookies, go into Quidco, follow the IC/HI link to their website and then bring up your saved Favourite page. It should then track OK. Quidco is currently 7% so its worth doing.

Last edited by Raffles; May 5, 09 at 11:17 am.
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Old May 7, 09, 7:02 am   #7
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Great report Raffles - Now you've left me with a dilemma.

Do I cancel my four night stay at the Windsor Marriott (which I've read can be over run at weekends with Legoland kids) and do two 2 for 1 stays at the CP Marlow instead? Looks a nice place with some pretty surroundings and nice walks - free parking as well I see.
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Old May 7, 09, 7:10 am   #8
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The stay hasn't yet posted so I don't know if I'll get 1 or 2 nights stay credit for 2 nights at the 2-4-1 rate. If they give all nights as credit, it would be worth doing all 4 nights here and earning 2 free nights to use elsewhere in the world later in the year. Not sure how expensive the 2-4-1 rate in a suite would be midweek.

The riverside walks are great. Turn right and you end up in Marlow, turn left and you end up in Bourne End.

FYI, Kids under 3 eat free at the CP. There is also a full kids menu in the restaurant for older children.
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Old May 7, 09, 7:19 am   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
The stay hasn't yet posted so I don't know if I'll get 1 or 2 nights stay credit for 2 nights at the 2-4-1 rate. If they give all nights as credit, it would be worth doing all 4 nights here and earning 2 free nights to use elsewhere in the world later in the year. Not sure how expensive the 2-4-1 rate in a suite would be midweek.
Thanks Raffles.

It would be a four night stay FRI-TUE and we can get a Club room for 60 a night which is a good deal including the breakfast - the lounge isn't really worth it by the sound of it. Seems to be handy for getting a train from Marlow into London centre. Also not bad for visiting Kew and Windsor and not too far for taking the car back to LHR by 12.30.
Just want a bit of peace and quiet really - we like kids but reports about the Marriott Windsor seems to suggest there are hundreds of them there at the weekends clogging up the breakfast room.
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Old May 7, 09, 7:23 am   #10
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Note that a) it would be a 30 minute walk to Marlow station down the riverside path or along the roads unless you drove or took a cab and b) trains to London involve a change at Twyford most of the time. It won't be an issue if you only do it once but if you were going into town 3-4 times then it may get on your nerves eventually.

CP Marlow had quite a few kids there last weekend but certainly not overrun with them. There were probably no more than 10 in the dining room for breakfast on Sunday and the kids pool never had more than a couple in it. To be honest, I hadn't thought that they may all be heading to Legoland - I was struggling to work out what all these people were doing in the hotel!

The lounge may actually serve a continental breakfast Friday and Monday (unless the Monday is a bank holiday) so you MAY only be able to take a full free cooked breakfast in the main restaurant on Sat and Sun. Of course, if club room occupancy is very low on other days you may also get lucky and be comped the full cooked breakfast if it isn't worth their while putting out a continental one in the lounge.
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Old May 7, 09, 7:32 am   #11
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Okay I think I'll change my booking for the CP instead - looks far more relaxing.

The car parking at the Marriott sounds a nightmare as well and even with a Gold card there's no guarantee that the lounge will be open at weekends anyway.
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Old May 27, 09, 2:28 pm   #12
 
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Club Room report

Thanks Raffles, great report. I almost spit my cornflakes over the monitor I was laughing so much (sadly as I recognised what you were saying in the prosecution!!!)

I stayed there in Feb with the lady, so I thought I'd add my ha'penny worth

Good bits
  • The price - with a 2-4-1 offer, it was 52.50 per night for a club room (room only)
  • The outdoor hottub - great on a cold evening staring at the stars
  • Decent sized swimming pool
  • Free carparking
  • Powerful shower plus separate bath
  • Very peaceful at night
  • White company toiletries
  • Marlow is close by, which has lots of great eating places
  • Lovely walks and drives close by

Bad bits
  • Keys - whilst we didn't get an occupied room, the keys refused to work a number of times (each day actually!). Reception was rude about this every time and accused us of not looking after the keys "properly".
  • Housekeeping - half empty bottle of water in minibar on arrival! We asked for the minibar to be emptied, and filled it with bubbles and olives (our idea of bliss!). The next day we returned to find a full minibar with our full bottles, and food on the floor beside it!
  • Club lounge. The worst I've even been in.... by miles. It's unmanned, so there is little interest shown in it. Canapes are spoons of guacamole and tuna mayo - yes, really. The only alcohol was beer and wine, which kept running out, requiring calls to reception by a number of guests for them to be replenished
  • Ate (tried to eat) breakfast in the lounge (weren't offered it in the restaurant). Choices were: cereal; a jug of milk (on the first morning!); a couple of slices of fruit; and about 3 pastries. Both mornings things were missing (eg bowls, spoons, mugs, teabags etc) and we waited so long for replacements on the second day we gave up
  • The drive to the hotel is through an industrial estate, so first impressions aren't great
  • Staff were incredibly rude when anything was wrong
  • Minibar and bar prices were definitely set at for those on expenses and not for those paying out of their own pocket.
  • When I asked what Plat upgrades were available before booking, I was informed it was to Club Level, but without Club Access. We wanted access so paid for it (couldn't quite understand how a club room without club access was better than a normal room - the website only mentions the club lounge as the difference....)

Would I go back? Yes, in balance I'll give them another opportunity and see how it goes. After all, for a quick break just far enough out of London for it to feel like a break; its location is ideal; and if they sort the service out, it'll be a great place

Last edited by markdg; Jul 30, 09 at 6:07 am. Reason: to translate some of the above into English
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Old Aug 19, 09, 10:04 am   #13
 
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Okay, we decided to give them another try.

The good bits still remain - especially that gorgeous outdoor hot tub. The swimming pool is also very good - being a proper oblong without the usual annoying jacuzzi or children's pool cutting out a corner. Actually, the whole leisure club is very good - with steam room, sauna, and indoor jacuzzi in addition to the outdoor hot tub.

In addition, there were better bits this time:
  • A sign in the club saying for "this weekend only" there was continental breakfast available in the restaurant
  • Another sign in the club (there are a lot of signs at this property) that club access is for club rooms, suites, AND PLATS (!!)
  • Hot canapes in the club - various deep fried bits and bobs, plus some vegetables and a chilli dip.

Also, we stayed in a suite, which was great. The lounge had a Bose CD/DVD player, a coffee maker as well as a kettle, and a superb little balcony (unfortunately overlooking the carpark as Raffles stated before)

Sadly, we still had problems with the keys each day after 12pm, and the local beer that was in the club last time wasn't there this time.

However, the walk along the river into marlow (which the hotel said wasn't possible when we were there last) was lovely, and we spent a couple of hours at Marlow Lock, just watching the boats go by.

So, it seems like there have been improvements , and that they're trying to get it right.

I'm not sure I'll return in a hurry, having been twice, as there are far too many other nice places to go, but that outdoor hot tub might entice me back again, probably only if the 2-4-1 deal reappeared though.
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Old Feb 4, 10, 7:12 pm   #14
 
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This was my second stay in this hotel, my first was in 2007 which was before I took Priority Club seriously.

I've never had any real problems with the hotel. In 2007 I stayed there as a gold (due to ambassador membership) and was upgraded to a club room and was given a voucher for a free drink at the bar. Until I reached platinum that was the only upgrade I got outside of IC's.

This time I got the same upgrade as platinum but was given a card listing the benefits they give to platinum members. This includes lounge access and breakfast on weekends. The free drink at the bar was also given.

Problems: my room key never let me in the lounge, that would be easy to fix by going to reception but I arrived too late for the free booze and canapes so I decided to use the bar instead.

There were a number of benefits given to platinum members and it was nice to see they outline the benefits you can expect from the hotel so you know where you stand. They also had something I've yet to see in the UK but have seen in CP's in the US - if you book a wake up call and it doesn't happen you get a refund of your night. They also had the sleep advantage sprays which I've yet to see in the UK prior to this.

Does anyone ever manage to get their points to credit automatically? Both times I stayed on a best flex rate and have always had to retroclaim the miles. No serious issue though, they post quickly as soon as I claim.
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Old Feb 4, 10, 11:49 pm   #15
 
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I stay there quite often.

Your right about the key cards. Your lucky its only the club lounge you cant get access too. Most stays I cant even access my room! i was there this week. 2 occasions i could not get into the lounge and once into my room!

The points never post. The last 7 or 8 stays I have had to email and request.
i just keep an email ready to fire over to PC on the seventh day!

I did get an email back from PC a month ago saying they would contact the hotel as it was an ongoing issue.
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