Service charge

Cheltenham restaurant responds after disgruntled customer asks for service charge to be removed from bill

A Christmas visit to No 131 ended in frustration for one couple, who described the service at Cheltenham’s finest restaurant and hotel as ‘disappointing’ and ‘disappointing’.

In a Tripadvisor review posted Dec. 21, guest Michael Stern gave the #1 spot just one star – meaning a “terrible” experience – saying there was no warmth or commitment from the part of the staff.

He also criticized the apparent lack of social distancing in the restaurant and the flaws the couple found in their hotel room, where they spent the night during a pre-Christmas visit.

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Another review posted on Tuesday (December 28) echoed Mr. Stern’s views on the lack of decent service, but also went further to criticize the quality of the food.

Posting a three-star review – signifying an average experience – Chanters65 said this was their third visit but they would not give No. 131 another chance after all three were disappointing.

One of many businesses in the Lucky Onion Group, owned by Julian Dunkerton and his wife, Jade Holland-Cooper, No 131 is a hugely popular place to eat and drink in the city, with many customers raving about their experience.

But in both of these cases – both around the Christmas period – customers were decidedly unhappy with their visits and felt annoyed enough to make their feelings known.

In his review, Mr Stern said: ‘We found this visit very disappointing overall. For the price in Cheltenham you would expect a higher level of service and quality of infrastructure.

He said their hotel room had dark spots on the carpet, the air conditioning didn’t work properly, and a green light on the ceiling hadn’t been sufficiently covered and lit them up all night.

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While admitting the quality of the food was excellent, Mr Stern said the two waiters serving it “were totally disappointing, unengaged and made extremely limited eye contact, giving the impression that they didn’t care about us or the experience”.

He added: “That’s fine – I didn’t care about the 12.5 per cent service charge that was added to the bill so I asked for that to be removed.”

He further complained that although on arrival the hotel said they would absorb the cost of their parking, on check out they were asked to pay for parking and told that it would be fine. Was written on their registration document, which they should have noted.

In conclusion, Mr Stern said leaving the premises was “a simple and straightforward experience, in fact the easiest of the whole trip. No extra charges here!”

In the Chanters65 review posted a few after Christmas they said that while the location and ambience was good, the service and food quality was definitely not.

“If you care about customer service, attention to detail and the quality of your food, then personally I would find another place in Cheltenham”.

Criticisms included ages of waiting for someone to take their order, overcooked eggs, no cutlery on the table, items they asked for never appearing and no apologies from the waiter for anything .

“If the last waitress hadn’t bought out the rest of the staff, we would have waived the service charge as well,” they said.

“All in all another very disappointing visit and I’m not willing to go back and give them another chance – surely three is enough?”

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As well as their flagship No. 131, the company owns Gin & Juice, No. 38 The Park and The Tavern, all in Cheltenham, as well as the Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power, The Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach, The Wild Duck at Ewen, Cirencester and The Crown in Minchinhampton.

When we contacted The Lucky Onion for comment, he said he had already resolved both issues and added, “The Lucky Onion welcomes customer feedback.

“Covid and high numbers of isolated staff present new challenges for the hospitality industry; however, we continue to rigorously train all of our staff and strive to provide the best possible experience.

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