Aberdonian.com sent its representative family to the Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar during July 2020 to sample the service to visitors, and here's what they discovered on attempting to have a drink at this establishment.
Firstly, there was the challenge of getting in the front door. The kilted man was welcoming enough but before we could pass through the internal door, everyone in the family party had to have their temperature checked. This was done by looking into a screen fixed to the wall and lining your head up with the on-screen outline. A step was provided for those of short stature. I found myself half-standing on the first step and half on the ground in order to line up. It was a difficult balancing act. Next a red dot appeared on your forehead on the screen (no snipers fortunately) and if your temperature was ok, you could enter. We all passed.
Now we had to get through the next door. Getting into the Fife Arms was beginning to feel like trying to solve the Crystal Maze that used to be on Channel 4 on the telly. We were made to wait. A man with dubious foreign accent and twirly moustache (let's call him "M") requested my details. "Name?". "Address?" "Telephone number?" All supplied by me, and typed into some form of electronic wizardry on a keyboard. No mention was made of what security and privacy my personal data was being held under. Should I expect a scammer to phone me up in the next few days? Time will tell.
With personal data duly supplied, M escorted our party through a room full of stuffed animals and mounted stag heads, as well as a multitude of mostly well-to-do elderly groups wining and dining, to the very back of the room, placed behind a glass cabinet full of stuffed animals. It felt like we were being placed where we wouldn't contaminate the view of other more important customers. M then proceeded to go through a raft of Covid-19 procedures in what sounded like Franglais, taking a full minute to go through the long list of less than impressive restrictions. ""S"(let's call him that) will be your waiter tonight and will come and take your order", he said. M was very keen to show us the door we must exit by, which just happened to be by our side.
And so our party waited to be served. And waited. And waited. A full 15 minutes passed, and not one waiter even bothered to note our presence.
Two male waiters did come to the back of the room where we were seated, but other customers took up all their attention. Not even a glance or a "Are you being served Sir?" No, completely ignored, as if my family were wearing an invisibility cloak.
A middle-aged couple sat at seats at the side. M was round them like bees round a honey-pot. "What would madam and sir like to eat and drink tonight?"
That was it. Enough was enough. Our party left, informing M that no one had served us. Certainly there was no sign of the promised S. M looked a little shocked. I can't imagine why. But he didn't apologise. Maybe in France it is normal to wait more than 15 minutes to have a drinks order taken. Or maybe just normal to ignore those you don't like the look of. Half an hour of my life wasted.
The worst aspect of this misadventure was I was left with the distinct impression that no one at the Fife Arms paid my family any respect, in fact they were quite disrespectful, completely ignoring us in favour of other customers. Was this because others were residents, or did the Fife Arms staff just not think my family was good enough to be inside their precious hotel?
Marks out of 5? Zero. Yes 0/5.
Well, you can't mark service can you? Not when you never received any !