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Review: Shearings trip to the Isle of Bute - Glenburn Hotel

Escorted Tour - Coach

Rothesay, Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

What a grand old lady!

  • By SilverTraveller Oldenough

    7 reviews

  • August 2017
  • Your husband, wife or partner

One can only imagine how glamourous this hotel would have been back in its heyday and it’s nice to see her being spruced up. I can’t start to imagine how hard it must be to keep it going in this day and age, and am glad I had the opportunity to visit.
Like many other guests, we were there as part of a Shearings Coach holiday, so once you factor in coach travel and a couple of excursions, the trip was excellent value for money.

As it was our anniversary, we upgraded to a sea view and the welcome fizz package, both worthwhile. Our room, 211, was at the end of the corridor and the view was magnificent. It was obvious that it had been refurbished, for one thing it still smelt of paint – and there were some snagging issues with the wallpaper already peeling in parts and I hope that the very rusty grabrail for the bath will be replaced soon.
We opened the window as best we could, however, we had to be careful not to let a rather too friendly seagull in! The welcome towel in the shape of a swan was enough wildlife in the room – a lovely touch. The bed was exceptionally comfortable and the room was lovely and quiet.

A few irritations about the room was that it took two days to get the shower to work (even when we’d managed to work out you needed to pull rather than twist, only a trickle of water appeared). But that was fixed. What wasn’t was the flickering light outside, which went off just after 11. It was also a nuisance that the wifi didn’t stretch to the room, we found that it worked well enough in the snooker room, which was quiet and free of interruptions from fellow guests. Older travellers forget that some of us younger people might have a little work to attend to whilst away!

One odd thing was that there was never anyone at reception, although you could see people behind glass in an office. A cheery hello when you walked in would really brighten the atmosphere.

Outside, there’s a lovely veranda, but the view is spoiled in the non-smoking section by coach parking. It also obscures the view from the posher restaurant, which looked lovely, although there wasn’t a menu in sight, nor any diners, for that matter.

On our anniversary, we were going to have a bottle of fizz, but the sense of occasion was missing during the meal somehow. That night, a waiter (who had taken over from our regular one) wanted our food order first rather than our drinks order and the moment completely vanished. Let’s just eat, said my other half.

The restaurant we ate in could have been very grand, but tables were squashed together. You had to sit at the same place for all meals, not particularly a problem. However, it would have been nice for the timings to co-ordinate more closely with the coach schedule. On our first morning, ferry timings meant we had to be on the coach shortly after 8.30, and breakfast didn’t start until 8.00 – the doors were closed beforehand – another 15 minutes would have been very much welcomed. Breakfast is served, so takes a little longer than a buffet.

The waitress we had for the first few days did her best, but sadly lacked a lot of training. Unfortunately, our first evening was a bit of a disaster. We asked which wine was available by the glass. “All of them” she said. So we chose, only to be told which wines were actually available by the glass. I also said I was allergic to cheese, but half way through my starter, I was informed that it contained cream cheese, so I stopped eating it. The dish was removed without asking if I’d like anything else. The next night, all starters contained cheese, so I asked if I could have a smaller portion of one of the mains as a starter. No, she said, exceptionally bluntly… The manager was called, and did sort it out, albeit rather grudgingly, seemingly terrified of what the chef might say!

Rather a lot of fuss over a few plaice goujons! On the whole, the food was okay especially considering the overall price of the holiday.

To end on a positive note, it was lovely to walk around the hotel grounds and we very much enjoyed the nightly entertainment, especially the Scottish evening. Even the bingo was quite good fun, although taken a little seriously with too few fat ladies and ducks for our liking. On the whole, we were very lucky with the weather and the walk into town was a relaxing 10 minute stroll.

Would we go again? To be honest, we weren’t really ready to leave, our 5 days seemed to vanish very quickly and we’d liked to have seen the Elton John tribute. One thing we didn’t have time to see was Mount Stuart so there’s definitely a reason for returning to Bute and the Glenburn.

This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 6 Comment(s)

  • Oldenough
    10 months ago
    It's all part of the experience - making the most of it is part of the fun. The price was very reasonable, so our expectations we're overly high. That said, we did enjoy it.
  • Flowerpowerlife
    10 months ago
    Sounds a bit like Fawlty Towers! You seem to have made the most of it though!
  • discerning-traveller
    10 months ago
    Thank you - I agree :)
  • Oldenough
    10 months ago
    We've been on a few Shearings coach tours and usually there's an range of ages. Not much below 40, though. Sometimes it's a great way to feel young, but sometimes the age range makes you one of the older guests!!!! People are people and older people can be great fun - and easier to keep up with!!!!! We're 57/64.
  • discerning-traveller
    10 months ago
    Yes, great photo! I've always kept away from Shearings trips thinking I'm not old enough in me head? I'm constantly in denial! I must be wrong- this looks a delightfully easy break. I did a coach trip touring the highlands last year and surprised myself how much I enjoyed it. Will look out for this
    Out of interest - what was the age group?
  • DRSask
    10 months ago
    I have stayed at hotels further north with Shearings coach tours - in Oban and Gairloch. Like you I have found them to be a mixed bag but still worth the money and the locations are great. I must say, your photo of the seagull had me laughing out loud!