At the end of May, we had a weeklong trip to the seaside. To end our week by the Norfolk coast, we stayed at Dunston Hall just outside Norwich. It’s a beautiful grade II listed building with an extensive golf course on site and we were invited to finish off our week in the area at the Qhotel.
As soon as we drove down the long winding road towards the hotel we were impressed. Lined with trees and with the golf course on both sides of the drive, we spotted squirrels and little bunnies hopping around. It was a lovely surprise and excited us for our stay.
On arrival, we were warmly welcomed and the boys were even given a very loveable cuddly toy to take home as well as a box of chocolates for us. Our family room was on the ground floor in one of the wings of the Hall. It had double doors that pushed out into a small garden space which was ideal for letting Olly have a run around. It was lovely to have the doors open, it really helped to maximise the space that we had and it was so nice to have a lovely fresh air breeze coming into the room.
Our room had two double beds in and a travel cot for Freddie. The travel cot was in good condition which is always a worry when we’re away but thankfully the one provided was clean, stable and suitable for our four month old. As well as an en-suite bathroom there was plenty of storage space as well as hot drink preparation station including kettle. The room was a brilliant size and suitable for our family size. Unfortunately there wasn’t a fridge which was disappointing as we wanted to store Freddie’s milk so we had to make alternative arrangements.
Buffet style self service
The food at Dunston Hall is of high quality, freshly cooked and presented well. The breakfast was a self-serve buffet with plenty of pastries, cereals, meats and cheeses, yogurts and fruit as well as a hot English breakfast available. Olly loved the croissants and the toast, I enjoyed the fresh fruit and cereal whilst Greg sampled the hot food selection.
The dinner in the restaurant was also buffet style with a small selection available from the kitchen. We ate on both Friday and Saturday evenings and the same food was available each night. This reminded me of some of the all-inclusive meal options on holidays abroad and whilst it does suit some people, I didn’t enjoy the range of food. There is a children’s menu for little ones to choose from or they could eat from the main buffet. Olly decided he wanted to eat from the children’s menu on the Friday evening and try food from the rotisserie carvery buffet the following night.
The service in the restaurant was brilliant. Very attentive and friendly but unfortunately, we didn’t feel that the restaurant was suitable for families. There were a lot of golfers in (it is a golf hotel after all) and when Freddie got upset during the meal, lots of older couples glared at us and I felt uncomfortable trying to settle him so left my dessert and the restaurant with Freddie.
Brilliant swimming pool
The hotel had a fantastic swimming pool on site with dedicated children’s splash times and family swim sessions. Olly and Greg went swimming on a couple of occasions and poor Freddie who was still getting over his chicken pox missed out. Going swimming is something that Olly loves to do when we stay away in hotels. It was clean and a good size with plenty of space for guests to swim and little ones to splash around. They also loved that they didn’t need towels as they were provided at the poolside.
Disappointing room service
Once the children were asleep, we wanted to have a well earned cup of tea. Instead of using the kettle and doing down danger lane of waking the boys up, we rang room service and asked for a pot of tea for two and some dessert. Unfortunately for us, the tea never arrived and after an hour of waiting, we rang Reception to find out what was going on. Apparently room service hadn’t received our order but said they would send it up straight away. We cancelled the dessert as it was too late to eat but the tea arrived. Thinking that the error was a genuine mistake, we again ordered a pot of tea for two and some dessert on our second evening and we were annoyed that our tea never arrived. We didn’t follow up our order with room service as we were too annoyed and again is was too late. This is something you wouldn’t really expect from a QHotel so we were shocked that it happened on both nights. We wouldn’t have minded to wait if they were busy but for it not to arrive at all without any explanation is really disappointing.
Overall, whilst the hotel and grounds were beautiful, we didn’t feel it was as family friendly as other hotels in the QHotels brand. There were no baby change facilities in the hotel aside from in the bedrooms which isn’t convenient if your room is the other side of the hotel. The hotel do give out small activity packs on arrival and cookies and milk are available in reception in the early evening but we felt that the focus was mainly on the golf clientele and families were tolerated. Unfortunately, it’s the smaller things such as the room service, the atmosphere in the restaurant and the lack of ‘essentials’ equipment that let Dunston Hall down during our stay.
Disclosure: We were invited to stay as guests of the hotel in exchange for this review. All words and images are my own.