The Queen Hotel

The Queen Hotel boarded-up and derelict

The Queen Hotel boarded-up and derelict

The Queen Hotel renovated and re-opened

The Queen Hotel renovated and re-opened

With Queen Victoria still on the throne, the Army acquired heathland around Aldershot. What had up until then been a quiet village, changed overnight into a Wild West frontier town.

A Grade II listed building, The Queen Hotel is one of the pubs dating from this period. It is the only surviving early Victorian pub.

In the 1970s, sawdust on the floor would have improved the place. In recent years, it has had the reputation of a haunt of prostitutes, rooms for rent by the hour.

Sitting derelict, it was acquired by J D Wetherspoon. They were rumoured to be interested in The Arcade, but such was the public outcry at the destruction of The Arcade, albeit a plastic replica of the original Victorian Arcade, Wetherspoon pulled out. The Arcade now sits boarded-up, most of the small retailers driven out by a greedy property developer.

Today, The Queen Hotel reopened, under the ownership of J D Wetherspoon.

Wetherpoon are to be complimented on the renovation. One of the few decent buildings left standing. But it does not have to be. In Union Street Caffe Macchiato have done an excellent job on their building. It shows what could be done, if there was a council with vision, but instead Aldershot is a town dominated by fast food outlets, large bars for binge drinkers and drunken yobs, gambling joints and tattoo parlours.

Inside, The Queen Hotel is much larger than the original building. It looks completely out of place for Aldershot, more like Windsor or Winchester.

One large dining area, and two smaller dining areas.

The tables are wooden or glass topped. Mine had old postcards of Aldershot beneath the glass. The glass was greasy, no one had bothered to clean the table properly.

There is a large outside seating area, screened off from the street.

Wetherspoon led the way making their pubs non-smoking. It would be great if they led the way making this outside area non-smoking.

Three gambling machines, zombies pushing money in. It is bad enough the zombies in front of the machines in the gambling joints in the town. Wetherspoon should remove these machines.

No widescreen TVs, no music. When are other pubs going to learn?

The food?

Today was steak day. I decided to have scampi and chips. Unlike many of the offers on the menu, it did not come with a free drink.

The scampi and chips was pretty disgusting. Like Morrisons Cafe on a bad day. Morrisons Cafe on a good day, is far better than this. Had I gone to Morrisons, after four o’clock, tea time meal deal, scampi and chips and a tea, a fiver, at The Queen Hotel £6-80 with no free drink.

A long bar, either marble or granite, the staff dressed as though behind the bar of an upmarket hotel.

A large selection of real ales.

I had a tea. Served in a mug. I tried to pour milk out of a jug. As hardly any milk came out, I assumed almost empty, tipped the jug up a bit further, milk poured out, overflowed the mug, and I was left with undrinkable tea.

The toilets were very smart and clean. But when are people going to install hand driers that work? The Dyson hand driers not only are effective but also use less energy.

I was quite surprised The Queen Hotel is still operating as a hotel.

When is free wifi not free wifi? When it is scam to steal personal data to them spam the user.

Shame on Wetherspoon they are are using a third party supplier for wifi, nothing more than a scam to obtain personal data. This is an abuse of their customers by Wetherspoon. Wetherspoon need to get their act together and offer genuine free wifi. If Waitrose can offer free wifi, if the local coffee shops can offer free wifi, then why not Wetherspoon?

Outside, A-boards blocking the highway. These should be removed. Something the local council should get onto.

It is a pity J D Wetherspoon did not acquire The Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough, and renovated it to the standard of The Queen Hotel. Instead, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor granted planning consent for it to be trashed for a Drive-Thru McDoanld’s. It begs the question, why was the council talking to McDonald’s, not J D Wetherspoon?

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14 Responses to “The Queen Hotel”

  1. Tony Lea Says:

    I thought a company prepared to put £2.3 million into Aldershot should be applauded ( £1 million to buy the hotel and £1.3 to do it up).
    On steak night maybe you should have had the steak, always excellent when I have had them in the Tilly Shilling.

  2. keithpp Says:

    It is a pity people cannot be bothered to read what is writ, or if they do, fail to comprehend. They tend then not to make a fool of themselves.

    Wetherpoon are to be complimented on the renovation. One of the few decent buildings left standing.

    It is a pity J D Wetherspoon did not acquire The Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough, and renovated it to the standard of The Queen Hotel. Instead, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor granted planning consent for it to be trashed for a Drive-Thru McDoanld’s. It begs the question, why was the council talking to McDonald’s, not J D Wetherspoon?

  3. Tony Lea Says:

    I read it all Keith and thought overall your report had an undertone of negativity.

    I love reading your blogs and please don’t insult my intelligence.

  4. keithpp Says:

    There was no intent to insult your intelligence. Apologies if it came across as such.

    I reported fairly what I found on the opening day of The Queen Hotel. The good, the bad, the ugly.

    I think J D Wetherspoon have done an excellent job of restoring The Queen Hotel, and it shows what could be done with the rest of Aldershot, if there was people of vision. It also shows what could have been done with the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough, had it been acquired by J D Wetherspoon, not McDonald’s, and it raises serious questions (yet again) re the behaviour of the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

    The Queen Hotel, food aside, is certainly better than anything else in Aldershot, a town most people wisely avoid.

    One of the problems though, it is yet another drain on the local economy. Every fiver spent in The Queen Hotel, is a fiver drained out of the local economy.

    J D Wetherspoon know how to run pubs. Contrast with the zombie pubcos who are killing pubs, with more than a dozen closing every week. There is an excellent attack in the Wetherspoon magazine on the pubcos and their inability to run pubs.

    Death of the English pub

    The Keystone in Guildford used to be an excellent pub, good food. last year it went rapidly down hill. It now has new owners. I looked in last Friday, intending to eat. Two widescreen TVs (luckily not on), music thud, thud thud. I turned on my heels and walked out. Walked back to Harris + Hoole (a coffee shop) and made do with a coffee, sausage roll and cookie)

    The food at the Tilly Shilling is variable. I have had excellent steak, fish n chips, burger, at other times, the food has been pretty awful and I have ended up leaving it (as I did with the scampi and chips in The Queen Hotel yesterday).

    Pleased you enjoy reading the blog.

    Please share with your friends, it is there to be shared and read.

  5. keithpp Says:

    Today chicken day. I ordered burger and chips.

    The staff are clueless, though do try and be helpful. Whatever training they have had, was not sufficient. They do not seem to know how the systems works in Wetherspoon.

    Some meals have a free drink, this being one one of them. But of you are entitled to a free drink, it is not a choice of everything on offer.

    The burger was good. The chips were not good. Wetherpoon have never been able to make good chips. The chips were cold.

    If there was an alternative to chips, I was not offered. I was though offered variants on the burger which I had not ordered. Maybe the customer is viewed as stupid, not knowing what they want.

    I walked to the table forgetting the free drink. I chose a pint of real ale from a local brewery. One of the girls kindly brought it to the table.

    She asked what did I think of the scampi and chips I had the previous day? I said not good.

    A large number of staff behind the bar and wandering around. Contrast with the Tilly Shilling in Farnborough, a couple behind the bar one or maybe two in the kitchen.

    Yesterday I noticed anyone could wander up into the hotel. Not good if you are staying there. Today I noticed there were locked doors.

    There are still A-boards outside blocking the highway.

    Lack of free wifi is a pain. Forcing customers to access wifi operated by a spam merchant, is abuse of customers by Wetherspoon. They must provide free wifi.

  6. Barry C Says:

    I haven’t been yet, though I will brave it on the weekend at some point.

    I think like any new place the staff force and the quality will bed in and find it’s feet given a bit of time. The nature of the employment process is that it will likely have been advertised at the jobcentre heavily which is a good thing, some jobs had and also they tend to have an intensive 2 week training period prior to opening. Anybody would appreciate that a lot of the grasp on how to do their job would only ever come once they are thrown into real life scenarios.

    All in all I am happy with the gradual and small signs of life appearing in Aldershot and you can only hope that it spurs on some sort of revival even if only in terms of nightlife and general entertainment.

    I don’t know if the retail element will follow suit. People seem more than happy these days to jump on the train and bypass the town centre and who can blame them. I often wonder if it is even really needed anymore and whether ripping it all down and replacing it with some sort of public space might be a good idea, or at least a large chunk of it.

    I saw a small sign that The George in the centre of town might be a bit worried that it is going to have to up it’s game with the new kid on the block opening it’s doors. They now sell Brewdog Punk IPA. Something they never would have sold before because clearly Fosters and the like are a real mans drink‽‽‽ Maybe Wetherspoons presence will kick some of these dives to heed the kick up the backside because in football jargon, a player back from injury is tantamount to a new signing.


  7. keithpp Says:

    I hope The Queen Hotel does not get taken over by the roughs who have destroyed the pubs in Aldershot. It will need a very tough zero tolerance policy by Wetherspoon.

    I agree, problem for the staff, they are all new, and it is apparent few are familiar with Wetherspoon, even from the other side of the bar.

    They should have taken a lesson from Morrisons, on opening, they had a large number of staff (now few), they brought them in from Morrions across the country. Wetherspoon could have done the same, and given them free board and lodge then slowly phased them out.

    I cannot see them employing this number of staff.

    They need to up their game on food. Get in a decent chef, limit what is in offer, not offer a standard menu across all their pubs. And source locally.

    Compared with Aldershot, the food is probably good, but then Aldershot is not exactly renowned as a destination for food (or a destination for anything).

    Looking at the town centre, it will take decades to recover from the damage inflected by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

    We need to see a lot more support for small retailers who recycle money within the local economy.

    We have to clear out the junk food outlets.

    We have to do something about the disgusting state of the buildings and their ugly shop fronts.

    Look down Union Street, look at Caffe Machiato, then imagine what the rest of the street could be like.

    But what chance do we have when we have a council that promotes the eyesore Wastegate? When we have a leader of the council who is a laughing stock, who brags Starbucks has made Farnborough its home, who wastes a million quid on repaving Queensmead, which now floods and brags it will bring people into Farnborough, who brags free wifi, actually a scam to steal personal data, will bring people into Farnborough. When we have councillors who gloat at the destruction of c 1720s Tumbledown Dick, who brag they were in secret discussions with McDonald’s. Who invest public money in commercial cinema chains in Aldershot and Farnborough.

    Apart from renovation of The Queen Hotel, and opening of an indie coffee shop at the top of Union Street (they even roast their own coffee) I see little evidence of better times for Aldershot. I see lots of examples going the other way.

    The best thing that could happen to the various bars in Aldershot, is that they all close, as they merely serve as magnets for the dregs of society and simply reinforce the bad reputation Aldershot has.

  8. keithpp Says:

    I did not think the large numbers behind the bar and staff milling around would last. I was right. This week Monday 2-3 behind the bar, Tuesday one.

    If you go to work somewhere, you may be a newbie, but there will be old hands to lend a helping hand. Imagine if everyone is a newbie. It is the blind leading the blind.

    Two weeks of intensive training, does not compare a jot, with real experience. The staff are still clueless, thought try their best to be helpful. Not their failings, it is the piss-poor Wetherspoon management. They should have brought in experienced staff, given them free board and lodging in the rooms above, and slowly withdrawn them as the newbies found their feet.

    If not staff brought in from outside, how can you drop from a dozen or more one week to a handful the next week? Zero hours contracts. Not good for the staff who will have seen their wages drop to near nothing from one week to the next.

    Last week The Queen Hotel heaving, this week, all but empty.

    Monday, burger and chips. The chips looked disgusting, but tasted ok. The burger good.

    Tuesday, steak day. I chose gammon and chips, which strangely is not included in steak day.

    Only one guy serving at the bar. Over five minutes wait to be served, due to idiots being served messing around the barman.

    Too late, gone five o’clock, no way was I paying evening price, and no free drink.

    Lone barman went off, was gone some time, by now bar crowded with customers, came back, did something (overrode the clock) and we were back at afternoon price, which includes a free drink.

    Which free drink? Only guests beers. How is the customer to know which is guest beer? Further down the bar, a different range of guest beers. Most were off, only a limited choice.

    No egg. I was not offered an alternative, for example, pineapple.

    Long wait for meal. Arrives with egg.

    I send it back, not quite so long a wait.

    Gammon comes with chips, but nothing else. I would have expected at least peas.

    The gammon was excellent.

    Lack of free wifi a pain. A scam to sell personal details to a spam merchant is not free wifi.

    I noticed a rope is put across the stairs early evening to stop people from the bar going up into the hotel.

    A-bards are still outside blocking the highway.

  9. keithpp Says:

    Wednesday chicken day.

    I chose chicken. A mistake, steak was on offer at some ridiculous low price. Left overs from the day before.

    Half a roast chicken sounded fine, but not peri-peri. Not possible, already marinated.

    If you have decent free range, organic chicken, you do not have to adulterate the chicken.

    Chicken breast was available. OK,, I will have that.

    When it arrived it looked disgusting, tasted even worse. Overcooked, dried up.

    And only served with chips and a little disgusting pot of coleslaw.

    Remember those disgusting Bernie Inns, long gone? Well you get the idea.

    Wetherspoon really do need to up their game on food.

  10. keithpp Says:

    Thursday curry day.

    If I wanted decent Indian food, I would go to a decent Indian restaurant.

    I decided on fish n chips, unfortunately, the place was packed with noisy kids. I walked out.

    Outside, kegs piled high on the pavement, kegs being rolled down the street from an illegally parked lorry. I stopped suddenly as I walked out the pub. Had I not done so, I would have been run down by kegs rolling down the street. Had any of the little kids run out of the pub without looking, and they had no reason to look, they would have been run down by a keg and suffered serious injury. There was no one by the door ensuring people did not walk out into the path of a fully laden keg rolling down the street. A serious breach of Health and safety.

    Tuesday steak day.

    I decided to have rump steak. The chips looked awful, but were ok, mushroom almost cold, but the steak was good.

    Thursday curry day.

    There was steak on offer, left overs from Tuesday.

    I decided on fish n chips, my choice from the previous week. The fish was good.

    The pub was dead.

  11. keithpp Says:

    Tuesday steak day.

    I decided to have rump steak. Unlike last week, the mushroom not cold, as last week, the rump steak tasty.

    Tuesday steak day.

    I decided to have rump steak. Steak was tasty but tough as old boots. To their credit, they offered to cook me a new steak, but I said it was ok.

    Wednesday chicken day.

    After my experience with dried, tasteless chicken breast, and the only alternative chicken marinated in awful sauce, I decided to give chicken a miss.

    Why can they not cook a decent half a chicken?

    I had fish n chips, cod and chips to be exact.

    I prefer haddock to cod, but this cod was excellent, even better than last time I had cod, and that was good. Peas they were cold. The batter though was different to the last time I had fish n chops.

  12. keithpp Says:

    Poor service and food at The Queen Hotel

  13. keithpp Says:

    Lunch at The Queen Hotel

  14. keithpp Says:

    Sharp’s Doom Bar

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