Exeter, the capital of Devon, in the South West of England, is a bit of a hidden gem. A city I got to know well as Senior Mrs. O lives in nearby Topsham, aka the port of Exeter – a postcard pretty town. The more I visit Exeter, the more I like it – and great changes in its retail offering and hotel scene make it a destination on its own. I have recently spent a long weekend in town, and adored The Magdalen Chapter.
In its previous life, the hotel was home to the West of England Eye Hospital and has been refurbished prior to its opening in 2012, creating a very modern and contemporary design led hotel.
– Was there any pre-arrival communication by the hotel with myself via email or social media?
My stay as organised a few weeks prior to my stay via email.
– Did I try to engage the hotel via Twitter? Did the hotel interact with me and made me feel welcome/special?
I did sent a tweet prior to my arrival but received no response, and no further interaction took place.
– Has the hotel tried to gather any personal information (e.g. preferences) prior to my stay?
None, but I didn’t need anything extra.
– The wow factor! What was the hotel decor style?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as the building spoke for itself, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a reception room like this. It had quite a statement piece in it – and certainly made an impression.
– How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?
We waited a few minutes for a member of staff to be available and were quickly processed (each receptionist had its own laptop). My only comment was that we were asked by information that the hotel already had potentially when the reservation was made (e.g. email, phone number), which could have been captured before.
– Was I addressed by name once reservation has been located? (it is all about the small details, some others are outstanding with this, and I love it, like I do when I board an airplane)
We were indeed.
– Did I get an upgrade from my confirmed pre-booked room type?
We weren’t sure which room type we were getting, as it was a bank holiday weekend and the hotel was going to be full – and were delighted to be given a ‘Feature Room’.
– Did I feel genuinely welcomed by the hotel staff?
Yes, everyone was really nice throughout our stay.
– Luggage – how many people did I have to tip before the luggage made it safely to my room? This is cultural, I know
We had a small carry on with us and declined any help. Also, it was prime check in time when we arrived and we didn’t want to keep anyone else waiting for their turn.
– Wi-fi – was I told anything about it? Was there a charge?
Yes, and it was complimentary. No password needed. Amen.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
Our room was very large and looked very distinctive. With a striking wallpaper and high ceilings, it certainly made a first impression. The bathroom was also part of the bedroom so to speak, and it all looked the part.
– Welcome amenity
– The bed
Was outstanding. We slept really well during our stay – and the mattress topper was one of the best we have ever encountered in our travels.
– Closet/Wardrobe – proper hangers or those annoying ones where you need a PhD to get them out one by one? This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand them.
Due to the room layout, a ‘special’ wardrobe area was created on each side of the room, where you had a rail with hangers, but wasn’t very easy to use. But had everything we needed.
– Iphone Charger/Dock
All guests have an iPad during their stay, which has all the hotel information you can possibly need, plus normal use – it had a dock, as well as various chargers for telephones.
– Bathrobes and slippers
Yes, but we did not use.
– Coffee and Tea
We had a nespresso machine, as well as a kettle for tea, which we did not use.
– Free bottled water
Yes, and free mini bar, including soft drinks and beer, replenished daily.
– Magazine selection – had some nice surprises and doesn’t happen often enough!
Not much to report, to be perfectly honest, but as we stayed over the weekend, we had the weekend papers delivered everyday and plenty of reading material.
– Power sockets in useful places – we have more and more devices and we know where we want them! By the bed, by the working area.
There were no sockets by the bed, and we used those by the desk and the iPad charging station. The only issue with not having them by the bed means that when the alarm goes, no snoozing allowed – you have to get up to turn the alarm off!
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
Was outstanding and very very nicely done.
– Bath, shower and taps – I am looking for Duravits and Hansgrohes (or other fab brands) around the world. How fab was the shower? And a little pet peeve.. was I able to operate the shower without asking Mr. O for help?
We had a feature bath and an outstanding walk in shower. Yes, all Duravit and Grohe – the finishings were very good and modern (and actually also timeless).
– Towels – yes, please! How many and how soft and lovely?
Plenty and very nice.
– Toiletries – own brand, super brand, baby ones or proper ones? I shall find out!
We had large REN amenities and were lovely. The hand wash was outstanding – and were the other products. They were large sizes but attached to the wall, which actually was OK. I was a bit shocked on first impression, but didn’t bother me in the slightest. It meant of course that Mr. O and I wouldn’t have to fight for the last shower gel drops. Small mercies.
– Amenity kit – I don’t want more sewing kits thank you very much, but I will need a shower cap.
I didn’t want to wash my hair on one of the days, so I needed a shower cap. I have to say I had to look around the room for a fair bit, and found the magic box in a drawer in the bedroom, which wouldn’t be my first port of call. But it was there, alongside a vanity kit.
– Hairdryer – is it a human one, or just something stuck to a wall that only makes noise?
It was good and did the job well.
To say the bar was ‘busy’, it would be an understatement. Of course it was the weekend and the hotel was full, but you could tell the hotel was also used by local residents, which is great.
After a little wander around, we found the perfect place for us – the library. It was so nice, we didn’t want to leave. Was nice and quiet (in terms of music, but had plenty of atmosphere), and it even had a secret table (from the restaurant), which is perfect for a group of friends.
We used the library every day – and both after breakfast and in the evening. It was beautifully designed but really really homely.
Drinks were very well priced (Gin & Tonic for £4? Yes please) and service was friendly.
We had dinner at the restaurant one night (which was also heaving) and had a good experience – service was friendly and efficient, the food was great and the place looked the part.
Due to its location, fish was high on my wish list and I had a lovely lemon sole. I couldn’t resist the cheese selection for desert – and have to say, I was not disappointed. Mr. O also loved his sticky toffee pudding. How could he not?
Breakfast was included in our room rate, but if it wasn’t, it would have an interesting set up – you had a limited continental buffet (£9.50), but had lots of cooked items you could order as you wished (£10.50). I am not a fan of ‘hotel buffet eggs’ and was delighted to see none on display. I was also delighted to see a simple bacon sandwich on the menu, which doesn’t happen often enough. On my second day, I simply had 2 fried eggs and sour dough bread, which meant I was in Portuguese heaven. Simple, but perfect.
– How good and reliable was the wi-fi?
The wi-fi was outstanding and worked without a problem anywhere.
– Did the hotel interact with me via Twitter during my stay?
I know it was good because I was able to walk to the shops (Princesshay is definitely worth a visit) without a problem. I even got to see the Cathedral which was very pretty.
– Cost – rooms starting from…
Standard rooms start from £109 excluding breakfast, and feature rooms start at £180 per night.
– Would I recommend it to my best friend?
– Would I stay again?
Oh I will. And we visit the area regularly, so it is just a matter of when.
Have you visited this hotel? What were your thoughts?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of The Magdalen Chapter during this stay, but hopefully you will see that this has not influenced my thoughts about the property. For more information about the hotel, visit its official website.