ENGLISH COUNTRY HOTELS
[To the Editor of the Sencrsron.]
Sin ,—My attention has been drawn to the correspondence that has recently appeared in your columns on the alleged inferiority of the English country hotels as compared with those on the Continent. May I, briefly, give some reply to these criticisms ?
One of the most deplorable traits in the Englishman of to- day is his propensity for running down everything English. Why this should be so, or how it has come about, would be an interesting study. If we can't champion, or even defend, our own cause, no one else will.
When one is out to make comparisons the first essential is to be quite sure we are comparing like with like. When I examine these unfavourable criticisms I generally find this essential has been ignored, and that consequently the con- clusion arrived at is of no value. One has to bear in mind that there are many houses, designated hotels, that are hotels only in name. Many in this country are little, if anything, more than ordinary boarding houses, or even public houses. Then, again, hotels, properly so called, vary profoundly in what they profess to give, as well as in the measure of success with which they give it. One has also to consider the local conditions of the place where the hotel is situated, and also the reasonable- ness of the demands of the visitors, in the light of those con. ditions. If these and many other such circumstances are borne in mind; I honestly believe that the English hotel has nothing to fear from a comparison with the foreign counter- part. I have travelled a good deal on the Continent and in Africa and America, and I say without hesitation that you will find quite as ready a welcome, quite as clean a house, quite as good food and attendance, not only in the principal hotels, but in the generality of the small hotels in the country, as in any similar hotels abroad, or as in those so often eulogized by Dickens and other writers of earlier days. That you can find many where this is not the case must be admitted, and it is very regrettable that this should be so. But is it not also the case on the Continent ? Let our critics be fair. They must admit it is so.
To those, then, that grumble at the English country hotel, I say, Be more careful in your selection of a house. There are plenty of excellent places. But no one is perfect, and faults and blemishes may be found, doubtless, in the best hotels. When this is the case, a tactful word to the manager or pro- prietor, or even to the Hotels and Restaurants Association, or to the Automobile Association, would be welcomed and would do far more to improve matters than any amount of public criticism in the Press.
One must also bear in mind the extraordinarily difficult conditions enforced upon the industry by legislation, and indirectly, in this country. No one, for example, can effect improvements to licensed property without the sanction of the local Justices. The first thing most Benches inquire about —some I know are far more reasonable than others—is whether these improvements afford greater facilities for the consumption of alcoholic drinks. If yes, the improvements will, in general, be disallowed. And yet there is nothing illegal in supplying or consuming such drinks. Restriction was, as an exceptional measure, rightly imposed during the Wur ; but no such reasons as then obtained exist to-day, and yet the restrictions are maintained. The good sense and fair- mindedness of the British public ought to insist on these excep- tional measures being withdrawn. Let me, in conclusion, say that if they are anxious for our improvement, I would suggest that they exert their energies to free us from the stranglehold of
legislation and grandmotherly restrictions, and that they cease to belittle us by writing to the Press on their unfortunate experiences, which after all, in most cases, might have been avoided by the exercise of greater care in their selection of a house for their sojourn—I am, Sir, &e., HENRY D. FaliIIER (Chairman of the Country Committee, Hotels and Restaurants Association).