What's New This Week
Buckingham - Villiers Hotel
How odd for the town of Buckingham to be world famous for a building that is fifty miles away and has absolutely nothing to do with Buckingham other than it was built in 1705 by the Duke of Buckingham who came from Yorkshire. I don’t believe the Queen has visited Buckingham and I don’t think the eighteenth century Duke of Buckingham, (aka John Sheffield), ever set foot in the place. The best Buckingham can achieve in a search for notable persons is its representation in Parliament, but even that is badly blemished. John Bercow, the current Speaker of the House of Commons, is a former Buckingham MP but so is Robert Maxwell, the newspaper tycoon who swindled millions of pensioners before going swimming.
We ended up in Buckingham because it happens to be close to a major equestrian centre and I had been browbeaten into supporting a camel sibling at the national school’s championship.
The ‘4 star’ Villiers Hotel has apparently won every English hostelry accolade you’ve ever heard of and a few you probably haven’t heard of. The reception walls are cluttered with more self congratulatory visual litter than a middle class dinner party loo. Apparently 51 Tripadvisor travellers have awarded Villiers an average rating of 4 out of 5 so why did I loathe this hotel so much?
Quiet simply the room rate we were charged was outrageous. Described as a suite, the room was split level with a small sitting room downstairs and a bed upstairs beside a poky bathroom. Unlike the reception area the grubby walls were almost totally barren. One solitary frame contained a notice requesting guests use the curtain pulls. This was strategically positioned above the broken aircon control unit. Location companies please take note: this room would be perfect for a scuzzy seventies TV or movie set. The curtains, carpet and general furnishings are authentically grimy. Had this room been sold at £100 a night I would have accepted it as English County quirk - a typical rundown rural hotel. But £225 was ludicrous arrogance.
The Villiers Hotel is very pleased with itself - just look at the web site. It survives, I suspect, on being located close to Silverstone race track, Bicester Retail Outlet Village and a national equestrian facility. Despite the regular surges in bookings the hotel dining room still cannot deal with full occupancy hence the letter in each room requesting guests do not all arrive at the same time on Sunday morning for breakfast.
The restaurant was actually quite good serving decent pub fare. Battered fish & chips at £16.50 was very good. The Ribeye steak (£19.50) was acceptable. The staff were friendly & efficient. If you're in Buckingham one evening the restaurant is worth visit.
But staying at the hotel? Next time (if there is a next time) I'll be looking for a nice country pub
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