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Saturday, 20 August 2011

CoLJ 11 - Camp Cottage builds up your hopes and then lets you down!

Camp Cottage, Brockhampton, Herefordshire
Having passed through the less than elegant gate to the driveway to Camp Cottage, and made sure it was closed properly behind us, to keep the sheep in the field, I drove slowly and steadily along the gravelled track for the last 100 metres across the pasture to the cottage.

Cottage is behind trees in the centre

At last I could recognise a hint of the image that I remembered from the internet website when the reservation was made. It was not until Natalie and I walked round to the front of the cottage that it was confirmed that we had arrived.

We were anxious to get ourselves, luggage and recently purchased groceries into the cottage, and get the kettle on for a well deserved cup of tea.

Having viewed the cottage website we had a reasonably good idea of what to expect, with regards to layout and furnishings, when we entered. If first impressions count, from the outside it was looking good, but was it to be a case of not judging a book by its cover.

There cannot be any doubt that from the outside it has a good 'pavement' appeal; it has a high degree of location appeal; the views of the surrounding countryside from the cottage are very picturesque, verging almost on beautiful; it has a sense of tranquillity; but you cannot live outside.

On opening the bright red front, stable, door our first impressions of the inside were not too favourable, entering the hall come dining area was dark, cold and uninviting.

Our first task having brought everything from the car was to put the groceries away in the kitchen and have that cup of tea. This task did not lift our level of disappointment. The kitchen is a darker area than the hall. The cleanliness of the kitchen was unsatisfactory, cobwebs, some inhabited, hanging from the walls and below the kitchen cupboards, concrete dust on the work tops from the uncovered stone walls. The tiled floor seemed to be sticky even though it had been moped prior to our arrival. The floor was still wet and the sodden smelly mop was in the kitchen cupboard.

Cobwebs on the wall by the cooker
The groceries that needed to be were put in the refrigerator, not as clean as it should be, but our dry goods could not be put away in a cupboard, remaining on the worktop surface, because the food shelve within the cupboards was full with other peoples leftovers, probably the owner's and previous renters, so no space for the current paying guests. Why does anyone assume that we would want to use their food leavings, that have been there for an indeterminable period of time.
Dust from the walls.
The wall and base cupboards are in a very poor state. The kitchen utensils are basic. I have found that a litmus test of how clean a kitchen is in holiday rentals is the condition of the electric toaster. It failed the test, containing a very large quantity of old and almost mouldy bread crumbs. Another area to consider is the kitchen sink and this lets the property down. The chrome around the drainage hole has almost gone, there is a broken hanging plug chain with the plug missing from the end of it, and there was not a plug to be found anywhere. A badly scratched plastic bowl was provided as a substitute for the missing plug. Would it have taken much to fit a new chain with plug?

Example of cobwebs under kitchen wall cupboards

It is important that a kitchen should be clean and hygienic as food is prepared in it but we did not feel this in the property. It is important that all surfaces should be suitable to be wiped clean but this is not possible because of the exposed brickwork walls, with crumbly pointing, above all the worktops. Would it have taken much to have had a few rows of tiles and a splash back behind the cooker?

concrete dust continually falling on the work tops from the uncovered stone walls

The studio lounge offers a contrast of light, to the hall and kitchen, having two large windows and a pair of patio doors leading to the garden. The furniture is basic, drab, tired, stained and ready for replacement. The views of the garden and countryside beyond do not make up for the lack of comfort.

The bedroom is basic. It has a lack of storage space for clothes with a very small built in wardrobe outside on the landing at the top of the stairs. Given the small window in the room there is insufficient and poorly located lighting.

The final room is the bathroom. This is small and functional with surprisingly a bidet. There is a walk-in shower which completely eliminates any plus points for the room. It is a disgrace for a rental property. The whole installation is very poor.  Some of the floor tiles are cracked, the silicon sealant and grouting is dirty and marked with mould, the shower head is heavily scaled up. The taps, shower connection, and water temperature control were dirty and need considerable attention or replacement. The hanging shelve for shampoos and shower gels was filthy.

On a health and safety matter, we noted that the portable appliances within the property such as kettle, toaster, oil filled radiators, television etc. do not carry a 'Portable Appliance Test' certificate to confirm they are save to be used by the public renting the property.

The design of the property seems to have the objective of creating a chic rustic appearance and atmosphere with comfort. In our opinion it fails drastically in its current state. We get the feeling of run-down, rough, and ready for a well needed refurbishment, to bring it up to standard for a holiday rental cottage. Unfortunately our conclusions, as the week has gone past, are that the inside of the property does not come up to the level of quality that we expected for the rental we have paid. It had not been cleaned properly, it was dirty!

We do not find a multitude of cobwebs, fluff and dust in every room an appealing feature. We left them in-situ for future renters as we did not rent the cottage to be cleaners. Having said this, those items that we used were cleaner when we left, where possible.

Our week long stay in the cottage was a great disappointment. Camp Cottage builds up your hopes with the location and views and then lets you down with a very hard bump when you go inside.

In case any reader might think that we are are exaggerating about the lack of cleanliness, when on our departure we removed the bed linen provided, to help the housekeeper, this is the condition of at least one of the pillows we were supplied with to sleep on; disgusting!

Note: Click on the photos to enlarge.

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