We booked Portland House via Sykes Cottages Limited who describe the property as ?beautifully presented? and the accompanying photographs certainly suggested so. Although we booked via Sykes we had to deal directly with the owners on a number of occasions as we wanted two additional dogs to stay above the allowed maximum due to last minute dog kennel difficulties. In fairness to the owners they were happy to allow this although they did insist that we paid an additional cleaning charge of ?50.00. This we thought a little ?mean? considering the overall cost of the house (for the week May 20th to May 27th 2016 we paid a total of ?1,749.00) but what could we do as by now we were committed and there was no turning back? The owners suggested that they deducted the cost of the additional dogs from the ?Good Housekeeping? bond (this is a ?250.00 payment which the owners charge payable two weeks before the start of your holiday) which would be returned to us, minus costs for any serious breakages/additional cleaning etc, two weeks after our departure. We were not happy with the bond being used in this way and contacted Sykes who informed us that the bond should not be used for this purpose so after further communication with the owners it was agreed we paid the additional costs up front.
We arrived at the house, which is very close to the extremely busy and very noisy A40 dual carriageway, to be greeted by a pile of stones propping shut the double wrought iron front gates. Surely a piece of string at the very least would have been more ?convenient?? Considering our party had small children and dogs (the very reason we chose Portland House in the first place) this was clearly a major safety issue. Upon entering the property we were greeted by two bags of dirty laundry simply dumped in the hallway. Further inspection found the tumble drier full of washed cleaning towels/cleaning cloths, the light in the downstairs toilet and a pair of wall lights in the dining room didn?t work and some areas of the house had clearly not been dusted before our arrival.
As previous reviews have said the house used to be a B&B and a tired looking B&B at that. Some of the walls show signs of damp or the results of damp, blocked drains caused floods to develop at both the front and rear entrances when it rained, some curtains are frayed and dirty, the four poster bedroom had paint peeling off the walls as a result of there effects of damp, the kitchen cabinet kick boards were chipped/dented, the kitchen door showed definite signs of ?abuse? which had been very poorly repaired, the Aga twin hotplates were rusty with food deposits and an electrical socket in the living room was poorly fitted (again a major safety issue). In the views of the four family groups staying that week the house could not be considered to be ?beautifully presented?. It would appear, or that is the impression we had, that one day the owners decided to stop running a B&B business and the very next day, with literally no or very minimal investment or alterations to accommodate its change of use, offer the house as a holiday rental.
Outside the gardens were advertised as having ?a lawn where the kids can run off excessive energy?. Unfortunately the grass was too long for that purpose although we were informed that the gardener would come on Tuesday, basically more than half way through our holiday, to cut it. Unfortunately the gardener did not turn up on Tuesday nor at anytime during our stay thus that ?amenity? remained out of use for the whole of our week?s stay. On one side of the garden an old patio heater plus gas cylinder had simply been dumped together with some blue plastic sheeting and on the other side of the garden another pile of ?rubbish? (I noted an old plasterer?s float, some plastic fertiliser bags and some old frame tent/portable gazebo metal fittings) had simply been dumped between the summer house and the wooden gazebo. The bottom of the garden had been left to ?grow wild? (I?m a great believer in trying to encourage wildlife into a garden) although this was rather spoiled by a pile of old tree branches (future bonfire perhaps?) dumped on what looked like old plaster board/old carpet; whatever it was it was not very attractive.
Our first contact with the owners during our stay was a telephone call on the first evening to inform them of the laundry bags dumped in the hallway and to ask for instructions on how to switch the central heating on as there were no written instructions/information pack relating to the house itself i.e. its general operation, list of local amenities etc. The information pack was subsequently emailed to us. This was when we were informed that the gardener would visit on Tuesday.
The major issue came on Thursday when there was no hot water available. In hindsight, a wonderful thing I know, alarm bells should have rung earlier as the water up until that point had been near to scalding. It would seem that the current plumbing system (there were notes stating that some parts of the system were probably older than most if not all of the occupants) could not keep up with the number of guests the house was trying to cater for. On a number of occasions, certainly towards the top of the house, we had issues with the showers running intermittently which bearing in mind the scalding nature of the water could have been extremely dangerous. The owners were contacted again although in our opinion they did not show either the concern or urgency we would have expected stating that a plumber would be with us that evening. The plumber did arrive and although he managed to partially fix the hot water situation the water remained cold upstairs for the remainder of our stay. We informed the owners at this point that we were disappointed with the condition of the house.
Upon our return we informed Sykes of our disappointment and supplied them with a number of photographs supporting the issues raised above. Considering a) the house description and accompanying photos on the website did not accurately reflect the current state of the house and gardens b) there were major health and safety issues c) the house was in a poor condition upon our arrival for our week?s holiday d) the issues we had with the house throughout our stay and e) the poor ?customer care? exhibited by the owners we sought a 50% refund.
Following Sykes advice we let them deal with the situation, and bearing in mind Section 2 ?Role of Sykes Cottages Limited?, Section 7 ?Brochure Accuracy? and Section 13 ?Complaints? of their terms and conditions which I suggest you read, we were awarded a ?compensation? payment of ?350.00 from Sykes themselves. Unfortunately the owners of Portland House did not show the same customer care and professionalism as we did not even receive an admission or an apology from them that certain things were not up to standard let alone the refund we sought. The good housekeeping bond plus the ?50.00 additional dogs charge was returned to us ten days after our departure date.
Please note Sykes advise if you are not satisfied with one of their properties upon arrival to contact them and they will try their best to relocate you.
There is a sign hung up in the kitchen of Portland House which states ?I can only please one person per day .. today?s not your day, and tomorrow doesn?t look good either? ? how very apt.
I don't like having to leave a poor review, but I do not want other people to book this house and make the same mistake we did!
The property is in dire need of repair, most of the rooms upstairs and downstairs had huge patches of damp and mould all over the walls. It was that bad the rooms actually smelt damp and fusty - definitely not something you want to breathe in.
The showers didn't work in some rooms, and they were mouldy and dirty. The curtains in the Hunter suite were actually hanging off the pole, with masses of cobwebs everywhere.
All the furnishings were in a very poor state, very worn and grubby and just not up to the grade of the price the owners are charging.
The garden was completely overgrown, with rubbish just chucked around various areas - definitely not child friendly.
The whole place has an air of neglect and we all felt very cheated. If the owners had advertised it as hostel type accommodation it would have been fine, but the website and marketing blurb state it is a luxurious house and ?2k for one week's stay certainly made us think we would be staying somewhere really lovely.
The final straw came after making a complaint to the owners and they made no effort whatsoever to refund any of the money, if anything they have been very rude and discourteous to deal with.
It is a real shame, as the area is so lovely. Both pubs are fantastic and serve great food and the deli across the road was a real bonus.
My advice however is not to book this place - you will be thoroughly disappointed.
The house is large and comfortable. It is very close to the main road, but you can see that on the map so should be expected. The kitchen equipment is only ok - very few large pots and pans considering that it is let to large groups who will need these. It has a large garden, which we really enjoyed, and the surrounding countryside is lovely.
The bad taste came after we left. Our advice would be to check and photograph all the rooms on arrival and departure. I'm sure the owners feel we have treated them badly, but we certainly feel scammed and the only way to resolve this would be to have a record that neither side could dispute.
The owner has withheld ?140 of our deposit because they feel we left the house in a poor state of cleanliness. This is the charge remaining AFTER two of the costs they wanted to charge have been removed. The owner phoned my brother to challenge him over a burn on a duvet cover, which they had to admit they couldn't blame us for so didn't pursue. They also tried to charge us for leaving late (claiming their builders and cleaners couldn't get in). This absolutely wasn't true and they accepted this - we were outside the house at 10:04 but spent about 15 minutes saying goodbye and figuring out the key safe. We know that no-one arrive to try and get in during this time. Even if the 20 minutes when we were outside counts as late departure, the stated charges of ?37 for the builder and ?42.50 ?late time? payment was outrageous.
The outstanding ?140 is meant to cover the following:
1) The children had left sweet wrappers that needed to be hoovered up. Probably true, but that doesn't seem beyond ordinary cleaning activities. The owners had left Easter Eggs in the garden for the children to find, which was a nice touch but spoiled by her complaints afterwards.
2) Some cushions had chocolate stains on them. Probably also true, and if you want to charge us for additional laundry fair enough, but how much does this really cost? Especially considering the furnishing were pretty tired in the first place. I?m not complaining about that - the house was a B & B for some time and now is a rental house so things do get old. The truth is that the place is nicely furnished, but that it is not in a brilliant state of repair. Furniture, carpets etc are all quite old and wearing out. That?s part of what makes it comfortable to stay there.
3) Dog hairs on the kitchen floor. We did sweep up, but we didn't expect to have to hoover and wash the floor.
4) I?m just going to quote the complaint to us on this next one, and let you decide whether it is unreasonable to leave the remains of a bird in a bin or not. ?Upstairs in the Hunter bedroom bird feathers were discovered ? Why?...The feather mystery then extended to the garden terrace where it was discovered that the little red bin there held the remains of a bird? We would have appreciated knowing what had occurred and how??
What had occurred was that we had put the remains of a pheasant in the outside bin. I'm not sure why this is a problem.
5) Blue tack in a bedroom carpet - which can't have been us because we didn't have any blue tack but we can?t prove this.
6) A broken window in the garden summerhouse. We didn?t do this, but we can't prove that either.
I?m very certain the owners will respond. We were a large family group including small children and a dog and we certainly made a mess. If they feel we were messier than they can accept and charged us an appropriate additional cleaning fee, I might grumble to myself but I wouldn?t write a bad review. As it is, I feel taken advantage of because I didn't book the weekend and we don't want it to difficult for my cousin who did so we have just agreed to the fine.
The owners were helpful in that they gave us early access, had lit the fire before our arrival and returned an item by post the next day that my son left behind.
We've just returned from a smashing weekend stay at Portland House. As the previous review states, it was easy to find and is next to a fantastic friendly little shop. We went as a large group of 6 families. There was a delicious home made lemon cake waiting for us. I somehow managed to secure the en suite room with the four poster bed, however, each room seemed spacious, homely and well equipped. There were games around for us to play, the kitchen had everything that we needed for cooking huge breakfasts and baking cakes. Our well behaved dogs were permitted. We would have loved to stay longer as there were numerous walks in this beautiful area that we could have explored. The layout worked well for us as there was a spacious kitchen with a table to sit at, a large lounge and separate dining room and it never felt crowded. We felt at home as soon as we arrived and would love to return in the future. Would I recommend this holiday rental to friends? Absolutely!