We feel badly let down by Sykes Cottages (who have received an excellence award from Trip Advisor), and their grading system. This small cottage was graded as five ticks and said to be first-class and luxurious but it is none of these things. Beware photographs maximising a property's appeal. We have complained to Sykes who say that they agree the grading with the owner(!), and that they are impartial between the owners and the customer. We didn't feel that they accepted any responsibility for the way a property is advertised, and ask how can they be impartial when they receive commission for listing it?
Brook Cottage needs to be redecorated and refurbished, and the double-bed mattresses are very uncomfortable to say the least - I still have back pain over six weeks later. The owner, of course, didn't accept our complaints and said the beds were of differing firmness and no springs were broken. It is true the springs to the double mattresses were not broken but you could certainly feel them as there was insufficient padding on both. We are world travelled and have slept on a variety of mattresses before without problems. Things were so bad that after suffering for three nights we went into Chesterfield to buy a topper, which we did not need at our own home. Only the two single beds were comfortable, in what is basically a children's room.
As far as the furnishings and decoration of the property was concerned, the owner replied that it was done in the "distressed" style, and we have to agree that he has over-achieved in this area because, in our opinion, this property is not "shabby chic" just shabby. There was one small mirror between the three bedrooms, so we had to take it in turns to borrow it.
There is a photograph, accompanying a review last year, of the edging to the work surfaces in the kitchen having peeled away exposing the chipboard . Nothing has been done about this and it is now worse with wear and tear. We had to suffer a running tap in the kitchen for 24 hours, after arrival, before it was repaired but we accept that is something which can happen to anybody.
There was a large, messy, repair to the kitchen wall which had not been re-decorated. It was also impossible to move around the kitchen table when it was extended to accommodate five of us, and it was a real squeeze sitting down to eat together.
The property is excellently placed for walking into Chatsworth and is in a lovely village. However, the courtyard is noisy from the nearby main road, and overlooked by several properties. It is full of weeds and half-dead plants and had a view of inadequately screened wheelie bins and an open re-cycling bin full of the last tenant's rubbish. The owner blamed its state on not being able to clear it due to the awful weather this summer. I note that a review from last year also mentioned the poor condition of the courtyard so this is not a new problem.
The shower in the large bathroom is excellent but the heavy door easily came off its hinges - not good with children in the party. The grouting around the base needed replacing and there was another, undecorated, patch repair on the wall (apparently a previous tenant had allowed the shower to overflow). However, the towels were of superb quality. The sitting room was not five ticks in comfort or decoration but it did have character and a lovely fireplace.
Sykes reply to us was unsatisfactory because, although told of our bad experience, they would make no promise to re-inspect this property or to lower its grading if the owner did not bring it up to five ticks standard. However, even a one-star property should have comfortable beds.
We are left wondering how can we book the right property for our requirements if we can't rely on it being accurately graded or described on Sykes website or even on the Trip Advisor site. Most of the reviews on Trip Advisor (old ones - none this year last time I looked) were positive and only a couple were "telling it like it is". Normally I take the overall view but, in future, I will take much more notice of negative reviews (even if they are in the minority) because they are the only ones which turned out to reflect the true situation we found. You wonder what the positive reviewers are comparing the property to - certainly not five ticks luxury. Our experience of Sykes makes us wonder how they have achieved a glowing recommendation by Trip Advisor. Loveroftravel52,