Hayes – Botwell Inn

There are two pubs in the Good Beer Guide in the area, so I decided to visit both today. This pub, the Botwell Inn, has been in the guide for the last ten years and is operated by JD Wetherspoon, so it certainly seems like a credit to them. The pub is large and was converted into one of the chain’s pubs in 2000 from its previous use as a furnishing store. The pub takes its name from the old village of Botwell which has now been rather subsumed by Hayes.

An interesting little selection of real ales including the Chris Moose ale from Butcombe Beer, a brewery in Bristol who own a few pubs I’ve visited. There was also the standard JD Wetherspoon selection of Ruddles, Doom Bar and so on, with the prices being almost ridiculously cheap. I went for the Titanic Plum Porter using one of my CAMRA 50p vouchers, making it an almost unbeatable £1.65.

One thing that initially bemused me was just how quiet the pub was, although I discovered a potential reason later on. The pub was though clean, organised and well presented throughout, it was one of the cleanest Wetherspoon outlets that I’ve visited (and since that’s nearly 400, that’s not a bad achievement).

I ordered the traditional breakfast, just because I felt hungry and as usual it was reasonably priced. It was served promptly, was well presented and tasted of a good quality. Taking the price into account it was very acceptable.

The service from what I suspect was the pub manager, or at least the team leader if he wasn’t, was excellent. He acknowledged waiting customers, made conversation and did make an effort to engage. The rest of the service was though all over the place and verged on rudeness, let alone basic customer service.

The lack of check back wasn’t ideal, but isn’t particularly unusual, but the staff member who just ignored me when I thanked her for collecting the plate was unnecessarily rude. She did the same to other tables and I noticed customers didn’t react well to her. Customers were being served out of turn at the bar when I watched, but I’m not sure that the manager noticed this and it was clearly grating on some customers. Given that there were often more staff serving than customers, it did seem avoidable. And when I patiently waited for service and a staff member ignored me and walked by me to another customer she knew to serve them out of turn, I just gave up.

Judging the visit in Wetherspoon terms, it’s just another chain pub and my custom isn’t particularly important to them. As a pub in the Good Beer Guide though, the service was rather disappointing given the range of beers and the competitive prices. The value offered by the pub was though excellent and it’s worth a visit to see just what real ales they have, as they change regularly.