The Crown, Amersham
A couple of weeks ago, I surprised Oliver with a night’s stay at The Crown Hotel in Amersham as a celebration for starting his new job. I’d never heard of either The Crown or Amersham until a couple of months ago, but after seeing the property mentioned in an article, I then spent several weeks bookmarking and obsessing over it on Mr and Mrs Smith (I swear that website is a black hole…), eventually impulse-booking a night there in early April.
The Crown describes itself as a ‘modern coaching inn.’ Whilst the hotel building is a traditional property signature to Amersham, the hotel’s recent renovation and design by Isle Crawford means that the rooms are incredibly sleek and contemporary. We stayed in one of their Courtyard Suites, a collection of private outbuildings surrounding the courtyard entrance, and made famous by ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ - the scene where Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell finally ‘get together’’ was filmed in one of the suites, pre-renovation.
Our suite was incredibly stylish; high ceilings and whitewashed walls complemented the Scandic-inspired furniture such as the stunning four poster bed, sleek rocking chairs, shaggy fur rug, and freestanding rolltop bathtub in the bedroom. We arrived in the late afternoon, so decided to enjoy the complimentary tea and biscuits in the bedroom before soaking in the bath, and heading straight to dinner.
Other than being a stylish boutique hotel, the jewel in the hotel’s metaphorical crown (pun intended) is the onsite restaurant, Hawkyns, owned by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar. For this reason, the property attracts a multitude of visitors, particularly on the weekends, all hungry for Kochhar’s innovative Indian cuisine.
The food is nothing short of delicious. The menu is extensive, offering a range of sharing plates; we ordered seven dishes between us, including tandoori chicken, samosas, aloo tikki, and a whole load of vegetables, saffron rice and cheese naan to dip, mop, and soak up all of the juicy flavours.
We were having a very enjoyable meal, until an unfortunate incident took place before we ordered dessert (if you already follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me mention this on my Stories). One of the waitresses dropped a dish intended for another party right next to our table: the dish was an aubergine curry, which splattered all over our shoes, trousers, chairs, and even the wall behind us. We immediately began to wipe ourselves down with our napkins, as besides from splashing over our shoes, the curry had actually gone inside of my trousers and all down Oliver’s white socks (which he ended up having to throw away).
Clearly, this was an honest mistake, and one that I’m sure happens on occasion in any restaurant - I have actually been in a situation like this before, and the way that it’s handled is really more telling of the restaurant’s service than the incident itself. Essentially, we were disappointed with the way that the situation was handled, as rather than offering an immediate apology, we felt that the staff remained either unaware of what had happened, or fairly apathetic, deciding to dispose napkins on our table and hurrying us to order our dessert. We felt that the party sat at the table next door were significantly more empathetic.
Eventually, we were able to move table (however, when we requested this, the senior member of staff seemed annoyed). We were sat in a separate part of the restaurant, where a different member of staff served us: he was more apologetic, but given that he hadn't actually witnessed the accident, didn’t fully understand how upset we were.
Ultimately, we were satisfied after we had provided our feedback, as the bill was covered and he was much more helpful. However, the incident and the way that it was initially handled did disappoint us, and put a dampener on the evening when it was supposed to be a special celebration, and this is why I wanted to air my honest opinion on Instagram Stories - and here too, of course!
In addition to this, on returning to our room that evening, we then realised that the heating in our suite was broken - the reception provided us with extra blankets, but this was again another setback after a fairly spoiled evening.
Breakfast the next morning was back in the restaurant, and consisted of a generous continental buffet and a cooked dish as well: I went for the vegetarian breakfast, and Oliver for the eggs royale, both of which were satisfactory.
After checking out, we explored Amersham’s high street, and stopped for coffee at The Green Grocer, a specialty coffee shop that was by far the most buzzing place in town. Friendly staff, coffee made using beans roasted by Ozone, and a huge range of cakes (many of which were vegan or gluten free) made for two very happy campers. After our leisurely morning, it was time to head back to the train station, which is a good twenty minutes’ walk from the centre of town: it really does feel like you’re escaping to the country, and Amersham is without a doubt, a picturesque location to escape to.
Since posting on my Instagram Stories on the evening of ‘the incident’, I have been personally contacted by Atul Kocchar himself, the hotel owner, and the PR management of the restaurant. I’ve certainly been impressed with the prompt and professional response after voicing my concerns.
However, whilst a hotel’s design and location are what encourage me to book a stay in the first place, what will always encourage me to return to a property is the quality of the food on offer, and even more importantly, the staff and service. For this reason, whilst I am glad I visited The Crown, in the most honest way possible, I don’t feel the need to return. Besides from our experience at Hawkyns, a lot of the staff at reception, whilst perfectly polite, appeared unable to authoritatively offer any recompense for the hotel’s shortcomings, including the lack of heating in the bedroom, and our ruined clothes from dinner.
Shop The Post:
Jacket - Acne Studios
Top - All Saints
Trousers - Cos
Boots - Dr Martens