Reviewer left reeling after rant by Melrose hotelier

A Melrose hotelier’s foul-mouthed retort to an online review criticising its Covid-19 procedures has left a diner stunned.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 4:06 pm
Townhouse Hotel, Melrose
Townhouse Hotel, Melrose

Fi Petrie visited the Townhouse hotel in Melrose’s Market Square last Thursday for soup and a sandwich.

Following her visit, she left an online review raising concerns that her details were not taken for potential tracking and tracing and also claiming her soup was lukewarm.

The 63-year-old wrote: “Visited the Townhouse on September 24 for a bite of lunch.

“Whilst staff were wearing masks, no contact details were taken re: Covid-19. Also, cleaning of tables after use seemed a bit perfunctory. As it was, the soup and sandwich option was pretty average, with soup only lukewarm.

“On reflection, we should have left when we realised they weren’t applying contact regulations for Covid.

“Shame because it is a nice location and the restaurant itself is very pleasant.”

Leaving a review as lukewarm as her soup sparked a heated response, however, in the form of expletive-laden reply she received from the Townhouse, managed by James Henderson, via its Facebook page.

The response branded her a “moaning b****” and added: “Yes, you should have f***** off when we didn’t take your name and number but as you’ve written a Facebook moan, we now have your details”.

“I was astounded when I saw their reply, really I was gobsmacked,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe it. Why invite reviews if you are going to react like that?

“All I was saying was they aren’t doing the Covid-19 checks properly.

“We had a wee table at the door so I thought it was okay, but they didn’t ask for our contact information.

“I didn’t see them spray- clean tables in between customers. They just wiped them.

“The place was clean, but I just thought ‘no, you really should be doing this’. That’s why I wrote the review, but the reply was just so unprofessional. I won’t be back.”

Mr Henderson has admitted having lost his temper and asked customers to give him and his peers a break.

He told the Daily Record: “I’ve blown a fuse after reading the review.

“We do everything to a T in this hotel. We have masks and visors and always wipe stuff down.

“That woman’s experience is not the norm. She just slipped through the net, but instead of saying ‘you haven’t taken my number’ or ‘this soup is cold’, she wrote a bad review.

“Can we not all help each other in times like this instead of writing bad reviews?”

The Townhouse’s response to Ms Petrie’s review attracted hundreds of comments before it was removed.

Readers said they were “appalled” and branded the restaurateur’s response “unprofessional”.

One even likened Mr Henderson to Basil Fawlty, the irascible hotelier played by John Cleese in the 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers.

However, others sympathised with the hotel, given a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award earlier this month, and declared the review to be unfair at a difficult time for the hospitality industry.

Mr Henderson declined to comment further when approached by the Southern this week.