Sunday 2 March 2014

The George Hotel (Pub & Restaurant), Castletown, IOM: Review

I have saved my worst Castletown experience for last.

Had I not been with friends with an event-packed itinerary worked out for the whole of our three night/four day stay, I should have turned on my heels and fled - possibly screaming!

The George Hotel has to be the filthiest place I have ever had the misfortune to be accommodated in my entire life. More on this issue throughout. But first we were eventually introduced to the barman-receptionist as we guests stood grouped, huddled for mutual support, at the foot of oaken stairs. His welcome was no warmer than that given by Mrs. Danvers to the new Mrs. De Winter at Manderley. The staircase hand-rail was greasy and tacky to the touch. Unfortunately as there is no lift, and I am mobility-impaired, it was necessary for me to grip the hand-rail each and every time I dis/mounted the stairs. I took to using wet-wipes when descending and immediately washing my hands after ascending. However, something far worse than the hand-rail lurked on the stairs… the stair-carpet, shiny-smooth with trodden-in, ingrained food detritus and grease.

This from tripadvisor, One thing to say: Stair Carpet!!!, from February 2014 - where incidentally one can see genuine photographs of the gruesome covering:

"There is just no excuse for the state of the stair carpet which is by a very long way the worst I have EVER seen. How much is a new one???? How much dirt and grease can you work into a carpet? These guys are the champions."

I am too unstable to take snap-shots on stairs. But also there was a certain amount of gagging every time one looked at its hideousness.

It transpires the kitchens are on the first floor along with many of the guest rooms, including my own. However, to reach it one had to pass a raggedy ironing-board and a vacuum-cleaner that itself looked in need of a good wash.

The room was adequately appointed, although very basic and extremely dated. It was more the furnishings of a room rented by the hour, sort of seedy American motel, than a British bed & breakfast hotel. Even the towels (below) were the worst for wear (and tear!).

The ONLY redeeming feature was the view over Market Square taking in Castle Rushen. With its central position The George Hotel should be offering much better and it could charge higher rates too.

The bathroom was fine and superficially clean; but look too close and mould was to be found, especially all over the shower-head. I am afraid my shot is a tad blurry, but more images can be tracked down on tripadvisor. It was at this point I wish I had packed anti-bacterial spray in my luggage.

Our original plan had been to go out for dinner on the sunday evening we arrived, but alas the local eateries were closed. So pub-grub it was to be. I have since read other reports on tripadvisor that say the opposite of what I am about to write. I suspect it all comes down to who was cooking on any given occasion. I also ate my lunch at the pub on New Year's Day. Both the meals I had were fully consumed: they were tasty, well presented, not over oily/fatty and substantial. I know for a fact that the managers' son was the chef on these two occasions. In fact all four of the gang ordered at least one full meal and scoffed the lot.

I have also seen complaints about the bar-service. I partially agree: some of the staff were brusque even downright ignorant, but others were affable and helpful.

A comment from September 2013, Good Room but, almost says it all:

"As for breakfast - well it was great fun. Straight out of a BBC sitcom. Has to be seen to be believed but I wouldn't recommend it."

However, I have to expand upon this. Yes, it did feel like I was featuring in a candid-camera version of Fawlty Towers. The 1970's breakie, complete with tinned white grapefruit segments, gave me a pang of nostalgia for the days when landladies told the guests what they could or could not have. I am a coffee person first thing of a morning: I need it strong and lots of it. There was certainly no dearth, but it was fairly flavourless. However, the coffee served at the bar had some strength to it. To be fair, the cooked breakfasts were spot on. My poached eggs were perfect each morning: firm whites; runny yolks. I suspect with just a few minor alterations, breakfasts could be brought up to more contemporary standards.

On the other hand, the hotel part of the establishment needs a radical overhaul, as well as a thorough cleansing and, from my OCD perspective, disinfecting.

The George Hotel is not a place to stay for the fastidious, the immune-suppressed or the mentally unstable.

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