Find out why the Inspector gives this historic hotel a one-star rating

The Mail’s hotel inspector gives this historic Surrey hotel a one-star rating. Find out why…

  • The Inspector describes his room at the recently refurbished hotel as ‘horrible’
  •  He notes that the staff at the hotel, which lies near Dorking, are friendly though
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If it weren’t for the little tea light on the table, there would be little cheer in the bar of historic Wotton House. 

I had hoped to eat in the restaurant but it’s ‘closed for an event’ — which was not made clear earlier in the day when I made the booking.

It turns out to be the worst of both worlds because not only is the bar menu pretty much limited to sandwiches, a burger or fish and chips but, at around 9.30pm, the large group attending the ‘event’ comes in for an after-dinner beano and the noise is so dementing that I’m forced to retreat to my room.

Before doing so, I drop by reception and vent my frustration. ‘We did leave a message on your mobile to explain about the restaurant being closed,’ says one of the women behind the desk.

The room is horrible. I had read somewhere that Wotton House, near Dorking in Surrey, had been refurbished. Clearly my standard double didn’t trouble the decorators.

The Inspector checks into historic Wotton House, where the great diarist and botanist John Evelyn was born in 1620

The dressing table is so chipped that you wouldn’t be able to give it away at a car boot sale; the shower door and some of the tiles are stained yellow; the enamel around the plug in the bath has long flaked off. 

There is no chair of any description, it has those horrible anti-theft hangers and no one has bothered to plug in the TV.

It’s all such a pity because Wotton House has real pedigree. 

The great diarist and botanist John Evelyn was born here in 1620, and he and his elder brother George created the Italian garden, the first of its kind in Britain, complete with its own temple.

The hotel, which once served as a base for Canadian soldiers in World War II, lies near Dorking (pictured above) in Surrey

Over the years there have been various add-ons — making the property a long, thin structure. 

It was a base for Canadian soldiers in World War II and was later leased to the Home Office as a Fire Service college. You would never call it cosy.

Breakfast is a corporate buffet affair with big stainless steel containers lined up in military fashion. 

Coffee comes from various machines around the large room. The staff are friendly. 

I ask one of them how many rooms there are in total. ‘Sorry, I don’t know,’ she says. I’m not the slightest bit surprised.


Wotton House, Guildford Road, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6QQ. Doubles from £132. For more information call 0130 673 0000 or visit

Rating out of five: * 

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