quirky castle front

Perfection is over rated.

‘Be the best you can but don’t fall in to the trap of thinking that means you should be perfect.’

‘There is nothing duller, nothing less intriguing than perfection.’

I can’t recall who uttered these pearls but they have stuck with me.

Truly unique is a worthy summation of what Augill Castle is all about. Uniqueness has nothing to do with perfection.

We have just come to the end of a remarkable year. We have welcomed many more nationalities and as diverse a mix of people as ever. The vast majority have loved Augill and we have loved having them. A very small number haven’t enjoyed the experience.

We have, in the past been lambasted for responding to negative criticism by saying that nothing was our fault, the castle just wasn’t right for those particular guests.

Well, we have held up our hands if we’ve got things wrong, we look at all aspects of our business if they are criticised and we have changed things in the wake of such commentary: This year we have altered breakfast times, improved communication of guests’ special occasions, improved our menu displays and communication and reviewed our website, all in direct response to customer feedback.

But, do you know what? The truth is that on the whole if people leave unhappy it IS because Augill didn’t suit. We’ve slept in beds after guests have said they were uncomfortable. But what’s uncomfortable for one person is the best night’s sleep for another and we get many more comments about the latter.

Maybe those guests who were less than thrilled were looking for perfection, probably at a knock down price. We have been accused of offering a three star service at five star prices. Scratch below the surface and you’ll inevitably find that criticism comes from somebody wanting five star service at a three star price. Such expectations simply can’t be met.

We offer a unique experience at a realistic price that reflects the true cost of running and maintaining a historic building open to the public. You can stay in a five star hotel for less if you get a last minute deal or have a voucher. But look at the cost of staying there when the hotel isn’t struggling to fill its rooms. That’s the real cost of a five star hotel room and what we should be compared with.

Luxury is easy. Unique is not. At a time when everyone is selling to the same market and the product is becoming ever more homogenised, what marks success is the business that stands out from the crowd. That’s what we believe we do here at Augill.

Rather like on the High Street, we are the place tucked down a side street selling something refreshingly different. It appeals to a certain type of person who is prepared to venture off the main shopping street in search of the unique and they’ll know that the independent traders down this alley aren’t stacking it high and selling it cheap or enticing customers through the door with headline deals but there’ll always be some who wander in, take a look and walk out.

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