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New owners of historic Cambridgeshire hotel bans sale of booze

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A Cambridgeshire hotel used throughout the pandemic to cater for the homeless, has changed hands with the new owners banning the sale of alcohol.

The grade II listed Rose and Crown hotel, Wisbech, was put for sale during lockdown with offers in the regions of £1.2m.

The 29-bedroom hotel was acquired by H & H Hotels group and among their first acts was to turn the bars into coffee shops.

Which stopped the sale of alcohol to guests or diners – but quirkily to allow guests to bring their own booze into their rooms.

The H & H group is run by 32-year-old Hassan Mohamed Hassan Arif, whose list of directorships of other hotels or guest house chains extends to 15.

His H & H North Ltd enterprise (until recently H & H Skegness Ltd) acquired the Rose and Crown at the beginning of the year.

Mr Arif’s other companies run hotels and guests houses from Brighton to Blackpool, Great Yarmouth to Eastbourne and London.

Changes to the running of the hotel have met a mixed reception on Trip Advisor.

One recent guest said she liked the “beautiful building” but disliked “a lot of silly rules, no alcohol, book food 24 hours in advance, locked up at 10pm”.

The hotel responded that “we loved that you found the building to be beautiful.

“We can only apologise for the rules, but the doors being locked up at 10pm is something we have been doing for many years now.

“And our previous residents have all said that this is one of the main reasons they book here, as they know that the building and their cars are secure.

“Unfortunately, we no longer have a licence for alcohol, which means we cannot legally serve it; however, guests are permitted to purchase their own and bring them into their rooms.

“We implemented the pre-booking rule for evening meals which is clearly stated within our description on here.”

Another guest said that the “hotel itself was very good, ideally located, and the room was completely clean, and the bed most comfortable”.

But they, too, disliked the fact a full English breakfast was not available. They also found the alcohol ban odd.

Again, the hotel responded, noting that “while we understand your frustrations with regards to the issues you have raised, we would like to point out that it is clearly stated on here that only a continental breakfast is available.

“In addition to the fact that there is no bar or alcohol available on the premises.

“With regards to the hotel forbidding pork related, these are not forbidden but we don’t serve a full English as clearly stated, however if you’d checked our lunch time or evening menus, you’d have found several pork related options on the menus.

“Our evening meals are bookable in advance only.

“We were pleased and really appreciate your opinion with regards to the cleanliness levels of the rooms, the location of the hotel and your 10 for the staff”.

Another recent guest said they complained and were upgraded to a premier room.

“It was disappointing- one word shabby,” he wrote.

Listing the issues with the room the guests added he felt “sad to write this as this hotel has so much potential

The hotel responded that “with regards to the electric wire hanging off the wall, we have investigated this matter and we have our maintenance team fixing this; we appreciate this having been brought to our attention.

“We are also having them carry out checks on all the showers in the hotel and doing the relevant work to prevent mould building up, alongside sorting out any other issues within the bathrooms.

“We spoke to our housekeeping team about the carpets not being cleaned properly and as a result they are having new hoovers which are much more powerful and more suited to a hotel environment.

“We hope you’ll return in the future, even if it’s just to see the improvements that have been made after your review”.

But one reviewer who complained about dead plots in a pot got a sharp rebuke.

“The dead plant that you referred to is actually not dead, but it is a winter plant which only flowers in the winter,” wrote the hotel in reply.

And querying the continental breakfast offer, the hotel replied that “if you didn’t have a breakfast with us, how can you assume it to be pre-packaged; it’s actually a continental breakfast with fresh fruits, yoghurts and the usual breads and pastries daily”.

But it was the drinks ban that upset many who stayed.

“With regards to the no alcohol, this is something which has been implemented by the new owners,” repeated the hotel.

“However, you can still enjoy a soft drink or a hot drink in our former bar area, which is now our coffee shop.”

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