We visited the Willow Team Room on Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Scotland, in July of 2022. Our family had eaten there on our visit in June of 2015. It was a spectacular and delicious tea. Much has happened in the 7 years intervening. This trip was a severe disappointment. The service was sluggish as the waitress didn't seem particularly keen to wait on us. When our afternoon tea arrived, the tea was good but the sandwiches were raw salmon. I think they were supposed to be smoked salmon but I could not taste the smoke. The scone was hard and old. Our ginger cake was stale. We could have complained but the hostess seemed ferocious. We didn't want to make a stir. When I look at the Rick Steve's guide, I think he was recommending the other Willow Tea Room called the Mackintosh Tea Room now. I understand that there has been a division of the tea rooms. That tea room is on Sauchiehall Street. Please try that one instead. Wish we had.
What has happened in the past 7 years? For one thing, COVID?
We were not impressed in mid-June. Service was horrible and food was mediocre. Highly overrated, time to move on to other places.
I think the Macintosh one opened not too long ago so may have drawn customers away. (It’s the one I went to and didn’t have a chance to try the Willow one). But maybe as travel comes back, they’ll be able to focus more on quality?
I don't know about the particular places mentioned, and I haven't gone to Scotland since the covid pandemic arrived, but I will say that here in England most places I have tried are suffering. I just returned from a couple of days on the Isle of Wight and every tea room in my (somewhat old) guide was closed.
Their costs have gone through the roof, and getting staff is very very hard for them. The supply chains have lots of issues (the main port in England has just started an 8-day strike which will again affect the imports which we so depend on), Brexit has removed a huge amount of the staff who used to work in hospitality, and covid is still here with many people sick and off work. According to the Office of National Statistics, "Around 1.7 million people in the UK had coronavirus in the week ending 6 August, down from around 2.6 million two weeks earlier." It was much higher than that early in July.
With short staff, lack of product to sell, people doing the work of those off as well as their own, to say nothing of a war on causing stress and depression, I am not surprised that staff are sometimes not particularly keen to wait on people.
We've just been told that the average residential energy bill which used to be under £700 a year is now expected to be be well over £6,000 from the spring. That's nearly 10 times as high.
No wonder people are not happy.
Sorry for the rant, but maybe it helps to see things through the other person's eyes...
I'm sorry you felt that, "This trip was a severe disappointment."
You expressed the problems very eloquently. I think the world is still suffering the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. Now we have universal inflation and possible recessions. Thank you for your reply.
Not to mention the energy shortages caused by the war.
The huge increase in energy prices is probably due to You-Know-Who's war.
It dawns on me now how the war has effected energy costs in Europe and the British Isles. Thank you for that insight.