Hotel du Vin
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Travel Blogs from Henley-on-Thames
As usual in England, it rained the day before the wedding and the day after too - but Ana and Sam were blessed on their wedding day as Hambleden and Henley were basked in sunshine! Quite lovely... It was a very international affair as we four gals flew in from Brisbane as our daughter Katy was Ana's bridesmaid; Edward (the best man) flew in from …
Sunday night and we are back home in Henley after a very interesting and enjoyable few days in Derbyshire. We drove up on Thursday morning in showery weather stopping for coffee at a large cafe on the Motorway. Wendy said we would be travelling throught the village of Yoxall (my maiden name) and would stop to look around. However unfortunately there were road works and a diversion when we got ...
Hello there chaps! Just a quick note to let you know what has been happening in the last few weeks! From when we last blogged:
- Shell picked up numerous temping jobs as a receptionist which pretty much threw her in the deep end every day at a different company to cover for a sick receptionist. Not a good job. And a job every day was not guaranteed
· She was offered ...
... and completing some last minute errands, and we finally set off at about 4pm, cruising down the Thames through Sunbury and Molesey, arriving at Hampton Court Palace at about 6.15pm, to join other members of Byfleet Boat Club. As were moored alongside another boat, we kept Hugo in. We noticed James' face painted gold on the palace gates!
Wed 27th April
We set off at 8am (too early in my opinion!) and were at Teddington within ...
... out, and jumped on the tube to take us to the Natural History Museum. This was an imposing building built in the 1870s by Queen Victoria. Well, she ordered it built, I don't think she actually took part in the bricklaying or anything like that.
The museum houses numerous dinosaur bones, so the 10 year old kid in me broke free and ran riot. Also, the amount of stuffed animals from places all of the world was astounding. Sadly, a lot of the stuffed critters are ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel du Vin Henley-on-Thames
We stayed one night in the Henley Hotel du Vin in February 2006 and had a lovely time. The room (a big double) was spacious, stylish and well-appointed. The free-standing bath was luxuriously deep but quick to fill and the shower was big enough for a small party. We didn't eat dinner in the Bisto but breakfast the following morning was truly exceptional. Our only criticism was the temperature of the room (chilly!) which seemed to bear no relationship to the settings on the air -con, although the luxury bedding on the king-size bed kept us warm. All in all, a great base from which to explore Henley and the surrounding area.
Don't expect too much
We stayed here with friends for a few nights between Christmas and New Year and expected more from the Hotel for the price and also the reputation that the group has.
The building is a beautiful Victorian Brewery and has been converted to a Hotel with a high amount of attention-to-detail. However some of the finishes in our rooms are already suffering after only 9 months (blown plaster, movement cracks etc). The layout for the standard rooms could also be a lot better, the bath in the room is a nice idea but the toilet in a cupboard certainly is not! At the very least the hotel should be thinking about adding an extract system to the toilet cupboard. IT NEEDS IT!
Some sound-proofing between the rooms and communal staircases should be added as well.
The rest of the room is suberbly detailed, the bed is massive, dvd and lcd tv a good idea that more hotels should consider; and only an ultra-detail conscious person would pick up on the clash in finishes in places.
The champagne bar is a superb area to have a glass of wine and relax on the very comfy sofas although the service could be more attentive. The drinks are expensive but there is a superb range to choose from.
The restaurant is finished to an even better standard than the bar. Good range of reasonably priced food as well. The steaks weren't the best though (rib-eye) and I would have paid a few pounds more for a better cut.
This is a good, nearly very good, hotel. It is just that we expected more for the price we paid and left feeling let down and then annoyed that things like parking aren't included in the rate.
Would probably stay there again though!
Between my better half and myself, we've stayed at all of the hotels in the HdV chain, and every time have come home raving about the quality of the food, wine, service, rooms etc. Therefore, when we heard that HdV were opening in Henley, we thought it would be great to book a room for the Regatta weekend (first weekend in July) I rang in January '05 and managed to get one of the last rooms available for the Regatta Saturday night , even though the hotel didn't open until May! We were really excited and very much looking forward to a pretty much perfect weekend.
In most respects, the hotel lived up to our previous experiences - the food was stunning, the hotel's private car park was a boon, considering how busy Henley is that weekend, the service, again considering how busy they were, was generally very good.
Our problem was our room. We were in the 'Planeta', which was one of the courtyard rooms - the furnishings were as one would expect in an HdV, quirky, stylish, comfortable bed etc, but there were two major gripes - there was no seperate bathroom, so the bath, shower and sink were all in the same room as the bed, and then there was a 'cupboard' which housed the loo ( so not much privacy - even though we live together there are some things I don't feel the need to share, if you know what I mean!) but by far the worst thing was the noise. Bad insulation meant that we were VERY aware of whatever the room next door were doing, and to make matters worse, the room backed onto a pavement that was a thoroughfare for everyone trying to get from one side of the town to the other. I would imagine that most evenings, this isn't a problem, but Henley Regatta weekend meant that it was noisy until really late, with no way of lessing the impact of the noise. It was really claustrophobic and not what we expected at all.
After a really bad night's sleep, my boyfriend complained to the manager the next day, and we received a discount on the room, which I guess was OK but not a huge amount - more of a token gesture. We were told that they had received complaints before regarding the noise, to which we asked why they had not advised us of this prior to us booking. All in all, whilst we got a (small)amount off the bill, this wasn't really up to the normal levels of co-operation and superstar service that we expect from HdV.
I did ring in September to see if we could book another room in the main part of the hotel for next year for the same weekend, but they have now changed their policy and you have to book for 2 nights - the cost also goes up for Regatta weekend - so at a minimum, we would be looking at spending £600 for 2 nights bed and breakfast. Whilst the hotel is nice (if you don't get the Planeta room) we felt it a bit unreasonable to say that we had to book a two night stay, so will be going elsewhere.
This hasn't deterred us from visiting other HdV's in future, and I would highly recommend all the others as stunning places to eat and stay, brilliant for special occasions or just for an indulgent get away. In particular, if you get the chance do go to either Bristol or Harrogate - both of which we couldn't fault and will be returning to soon!
We spent two nights at the Hotel Du Vin, Henley in November 2005. We stayed in the Comtes de Champagne suite. This room cost £175 per night, and it was worth every penny.
The room was spread over two floors: downstairs was the sleeping area, which included an LCD TV and DVD, a desk area and toilet; while upstairs there was a huge bath/shower room, which also included a seating area [very comfatable corner sofa] with its own DVD and LCD TV [which was perfect for watching TV from the bath]. In addition, the upper floor had a sun terrace, which overlooked the river, and local rowing club. The terrace also housed another bath, which just HAD to be used, even though it was only 1 degree centigrade.
We had originally booked the hotel with the intention of exploring Henley, however, the hotel was so good that we could hardly leave the room. Having said that, we did venture out once, and found Henley to be a very pleasant town, with plenty of pubs and places to eat. I would highly recommend a Gasto pub called the Three Tuns. Fantastic rabbit pie for lunch [only £7].
We ate in the Hotel's Bistro on both nights. The food was excellent, and the service was attentive without being over bearing. I can highly recommend the Deviled Kidneys, Mixed Grill and Butternut Squash Risotto.
The hotel also has a great bar, which is buzzy, even when there's no-one there. No idea how they manage that! Drinks are also reasonably priced. We paid £5 for a large glass (250ml) of Chaple Down wine, however, they also offered smaller glasses for £3.75.
In summary, this hotel is fabulous! We are already planning a return trip.
An Excellent Hotel
I stayed one night in a "studio room" by the name of Mount Langi Ghiran for 175 pounds ($325) on September 19, 2005. This price did not include breakfast.
The hotel fronts directly onto the street, so I parked --maybe illegally -- right outside the front door. Not to worry, the receptionist immediately offered to have it valet parked (for 10 pounds). The check-in process was quick and hassle-free, and the friendly receptionist escorted me to my room, explaining the hotel facilities along the way.
The "studio room" was very large, comprising three separate areas in an open plan: living room, bedroom, and bathroom (where the toilet was in a small separate room behind a door). The furnishings were exceptionally clean, very comfortable, and elegant. Aside from the two flat-screen TVs and two DVD players, there was -- wonder of wonders! -- both cabled and wi-fi high-speed Internet service, both free. The central air conditioning was silent. The room was situated such that there was no traffic noise, and except as noted below everything was very quiet.
The Financial Times was outside my door early in the morning, albeit at an extra charge of one pound because I had declined the standard free offering of The Independent when I checked in. Check-out was as fast and hassle-free as check-in, and my car was waiting outside the door although I had called ahead for it only five minutes earlier.
I found only one problem with this hotel, and it might be limited to my specific room. As other reviewers have already noted, the decor incorporates some of the exposed cast-iron structure of the original building. In my room, there was a free-standing 30 cm wide iron I-beam apparently holding up the ceiling just off one corner of the bed. There was also a free-standing 20 cm diameter iron pipe running from floor to ceiling between the left side of the bed and the bedroom wall. I was awoken at 05:30 by a very loud sound of rushing water, not the somewhat muffled plumbing noise one often hears behind a hotel bedroom wall, but something much more loud and sufficiently realistic and alarming that I jumped out of bed and rushed into the bathroom looking for the pipe that must have burst. But no, it turned out that this is a drain pipe and since the noise finally stopped after some 15 minutes I guess it was a guest somewhere above me taking an early shower. I really hadn't planned on getting up so early in the morning. I would therefore recommend avoiding this otherwise very nice room, and perhaps asking the obvious question about any other.
All things considered, this is one of the best-designed, most comfortable and well-equipped hotels I've stayed at in the UK, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
We spent the night the day after our wedding in this hotel, for a one-night-only honeymoon having left our 14 month old child with my parents. We had booked a superior room but on arrival found they had upgraded us to the Dom Perignon suite and left a bottle of champagne on ice for us. We were absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness of this and could not have been more excited. The room is over four floors and built around the original brewing tower. There were three plasma screens, a roll-top bath, an eight foot bed and a huge bathroom with 2 showers with 18 inch shower heads. So obviously we had an amzing time, but were also impressed by the rest of the hotel. It has la ovely understated yet funky atmosphere and the food in the restaurant was exquisite. We had a peek in a smaller room while it was being cleaned and it looked very stylish and comfortable so I think you would have a great time whatever room you were in - but the upgrade was the icing on the cake!
My wife and I spent our wedding night and the following night at the HDV Henley 25-27th June 2005.
As you can probably imagine, being as it was our wedding night I was anxious that everything was perfect and had therefore spent some time previously talking with Carly the reservations manager in order to ensure that everything was just right.
To say that the HDV exceeded my expectation would be an understatement. I had booked the La Grande Damne room on Carlys recommendation and have to say that I have never ever stayed in such an amazing room...I had to call a couple of friends and my new in-laws over for drinks the following day just to show them the room as it was that good! A huge thirty by fifteen foot arch window over looking a church court yard and the River Thames, a stair case leading from the lounge with corner sofa and plasma tv with surround sound and DVD player, to a room with twin roll-top baths and a walk in Shower room big enough for four, with yet a futher floor with one of the biggest and most comfortable beds I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping in and a further plasma tv with all the extras...pure luxury.
We had been in the process of trying to buy a home prior to our wedding and the room was almost as big, if not bigger than some of the houses we looked at!
I have been fortunate enough to have stayed in some very very nice hotels all over the world but this really takes some beating.
Book La Grande Damne, I assure you, you wont be disappointed...unless you are Jennifer Lopez, in which case you may find it just above average!! ;-)
My husband and I have just returned from celebrating our 10th anniversary at HdV Henley. The former brewery building is just a few steps away from the river and in a lovely setting. We had a two floor room with the most amazing bathroom upstairs. Massive walk in shower with huge monsoon shower, lovely roll top bath, twin sinks and a flat screen TV for watching in the bath. The jewel was the outside roll top bath which is situated on the private balcony with far reaching views of the entire regatta course. A very good outdoor heater ensures that you could bath al fresco anytime of the year.
The bed was huge and with the most devine mattress.
We spent a few hours, with the Sunday papers in the bar and really relaxed on the sumptuous sofas. All the staff are friendly and professional. Yet again, HdV really treat you and for a very reasonable price. Their hotels are cool and unobtrusive and if you want to go to a hotel where you just want to stay put, this really is fabulous!
Shame its not still a brewery....
Is £6 for a glass of house white wine reasonable value?... Depends on where you are I guess, but to my mind, its way to high for the very average standards of Hotel du Vin, Henley. It would help if the wine were chilled appropriately too...and even more so if the waiter bought the correct wine.
Oh, and should you expect to find a piece of pottery in your soup?
Being a local of Henley, I knew Brakspears Brewery.... and sampled its contents regularly. I expected great things of Hotel du Vin after experiencing their Tunbridge Wells hotel.
But there is no way that it is good enough, which is a real shame. The place is interesting, but really not inviting and friendly, which probably had as much to do with some of the staff at the time we were there, who didnt seem remotely interested in our evidently ghostly presence...but then perhaps they hadnt grasped the English language too well at that time.
£6 a glass is just too much, specially as you can nip through the churchyard (and past the gravestone of Dusty Springfield for anyone interested) to the ever-reliable Cafe Rouge, and sup a better wine and absorb a better (if smoky) artmos., for £1.50 less per glass. du Vin should soar above Cafe Rouge but it limply scrapes over the chimneys in our experience.
And there is more that needs sorting out at Henley's intended haven of chic... It has a large courtyard which sadly is mostly in the shade and seems all rather sterile..at least it did on the one occasion we sampled it.....When we returned to have another go, we were told very curtly by the otherwise occupied barman that the courtyard is now only open to residents, as they had complained there wasnt enough room for them when occasional drinkers joined their throng. So now residents sit behind the peculiar and somewhat sadistic looking wrought ironwork in isolated splendour.
Plodding back to the big open bar area and 'lounges' (with nobody in them incidentally) you cant help but feel its all a bit barren.... But this was a late Sunday afternoon so perhaps we hit it at the wrong time.
Hotel du Vin should be beyond reproach for its wines, and hit a much note than our experience suggests. It needs to be vibrant, well staffed, exciting, good value and welcoming, not just for residents but for people who visit to eat and drink and enjoy good value.
Let's hope it improves. And by the way, if you expect to see the wonderful river from the hotel, best not to get too excited.
Enjoyed a really good stay - having previously been impressed with H du V in Birmingham, Brighton and Winchester. I know that elsewhere on this site there have been some gripes about the chain, but I can't agree with any of them after this visit. The Henley hotel is built in the old Brakspear's brewery - I think the building is considerably more spacious than some of the other hotels in the group - and is right next to the river - nice for walks. In some of the rooms the working features of the old brewery - girders, metal ducting and so on - are incorporated in the design, which is a good touch. We booked a spacious open plan suite for £225 - huge and very soft bed, excellent linens. Check in staff utterly charming and friendly - could not have been nicer or more welcoming. Two TVs and DVD players - very good range of recent movies available to borrow from reception at no charge. Very comfortable big squashy sofas for lounging. Well stocked minibar with lots of thoughtful touches - excellent gin and whisky, organic teas, Mars bars, jelly beans and so on. Open plan bathroom - with monsoon shower big enough for four, never mind two - and freestanding bath. Loo is not open plan! The only tiny drawback was the slight lack of natural light in the room, but there are obviously going to be limits to the options when you're converting an older listed building, so you can't really complain. We enjoyed lunch and dinner - certainly not cheap, and service leisurely (and again very friendly), but who wants to rush freshly cooked Valrhona chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream? Also enjoyed tremendous Roquefort souffle, herbed sea bass, rillettes of rabbit...excellent and friendly advice from sommelier, who steered us to the perfect bottle. The staff also arranged, and without prompting double checked, a crucial early morning taxi, and arranged without hesitation for a breakfast to be served to the room half an hour earlier than advertised start time on a Saturday morning when we needed to get away unexpectedly for an appointment. Breakfast again not cheap, but delicious and unlimited for £9.50 - fresh fruit salad, French yoghurts, berry compote, various fresh and dried fruits, excellent patisserie and croissants, toast made with what seemed to be home baked bread. Only the very greedy or very hungry will need to pursue the fry ups for £14.50, which also include everything on the continental menu and which are also excellent. The restaurant under charged me for breakfast by £8, and refused outright my offer to pay the correct amount on check out. Excellent, try it soon.