The best way to describe our experience was "shabby chic", but unfortunately the "shabby" has been allowed to overtake the "chic"! Attempts have clearly been made to maintain the hotel, but it would benefit from some more attention in some areas.
We found all the staff very pleasant, and they responded positively to attempts to engage them in conversation, relaxing noticeably and smiling a lot more. They undoubtedly try hard to provide a good service, but would benefit from some customer service training, especially at meal delivery. Our first eating experience was with an Afternoon Tea on arrival. The Cream Tea was fine, but an accompanying egg and tomato sandwich arrived toasted and with french fries, so training is required in the correct way of preparing and serving Afternoon Tea style sandwiches! Dinner was good, competently cooked Lamb Shank. It took a little too long to deliver our chosen bottle of wine, but it arrived at the correct temperature and had clearly been correctly stored. The wine list contains a good selection of whites and reds, and is reasonably priced. House wines (we didn't try them), are about RM120, and the most expensive on the list about RM500. Breakfast served on the patio was also fine - good press coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, toast and croissants. The "Full English"breakfast suffers from the use of beef bacon and a chicken sausage, but that is expected in many if not all Malaysian hotels. The service during breakfast was lacking in anticipation of our needs - additional milk with a second coffee, for example. Entertainment during breakfast was provided by the antics of a tree squirrel and three kittens, which combined with the amazing views and lovely temperature made up for any human failings!
Now the hotel itself. Other reviewers have been critical of the poor upkeep and shabby condition of some areas of the hotel. Without doubt attention is required in some areas, but there is a certain charm in the shabby chic approach. This does not purport to be a modern four star hotel, and its overall ambience fits in well with the "Old Colonial Hill Station" feel. Over modernising would ruin the effect, but improvements could certainly be made - poor plastering, carpentry and painting in places all need to be addressed, but could all be fixed by professional contractors very quickly. The Old Smokehouse in the Cameron Highlands achieves this rather better, as it does with service.
We stayed in Newhaven suite, which was fine - spacious and clean, and being at the rear of the hotel, quiet. Rooms overlooking the road may suffer from the occasional noise of an unsilenced two stroke motor bike passing by. Having said that, we had a look at Charlotte and Victoria Suites, both of which overlook the road, and these would be our choice in future - Charlotte in particular is brightly decorated and furnished in an English chintz style, welcoming, and seems to have been well maintained.
In summary - would we stay again? Definitely, and we would recommend it to friends, with some expectation-tempering comments. If you go, don't expect a modern sterile hotel - accept there are shortfalls, but these are more than compensated for by the stunning views and green surroundings, the birdsong, and the cool temperatures!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ye Olde Smokehouse invites you to experience the charm of English countryside and its architecture that will make your stay at the Hill Resort truly memorable. Stay in one of our well appointed rooms/suites furnished with four poster bed, English furniture and antiques. Enjoy the cool climate and tranquility of Fraser's Hill by indulging in our afternoon cream tea with homemade scones, strawberry jam and a pot of tea. In the evening, head to the bar where a real log wood fireplace awaits you. Have a drink and dine in one of the Hill's finest English restaurants. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Smokehouse Hotel And Restaurant
- Smokehouse Hotel Bukit Fraser