Diners compare service on Christmas Day at a Portsmouth pub to Fawlty Towers

The Coach & Horses pub in London Road, Hilsea
The Coach & Horses pub in London Road, Hilsea
Author Cressida Cowell Picture: Debra Hurford Brown

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  • Customers faced lengthy waits at The Coach & Horses
  • Many people sent their food back and complained
  • Diners said it ruined their Christmas
  • Brewery have since apologised for the incident
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DINERS had their Christmas Day ‘ruined’ after poor service at a pub likened to ‘something off Fawlty Towers’.

The Coach & Horses, in London Road, Hilsea, charged diners £30 per person for a pre-paid Christmas Day lunch.

It could have passed for something off Fawlty Towers

John Simpson

But some guests said there were long waits for tables, lengthy queues at the bar for a drink, and food was not up to standard.

Customer John Simpson, 68, described the service at the pub – run by Greene King – as ‘appalling’, comparing it to Fawlty Towers, the classic BBC sitcom about a shambolic Devon hotel.

But he added the experience was no laughing matter and put a dampener on his family’s Christmas.

Mr Simpson, from Denmead, said he waited over two-and-a-half hours to be seated and was continually told his table ‘would be another 10 minutes’.

He said there was little sign of management in the pub and he and his family ended up eating sandwiches for their Christmas dinner after demanding their money back.

Mr Simpson told The News: ‘We were told on arrival they were running a little bit behind schedule.

‘The pub was packed and there was a funny atmosphere inside.

‘Eventually, we demanded that we would enter the kitchen if we were not seen in 10 minutes.

‘A manager then came with a wad of money (for a refund), but there was no explanation nor apology and we came away in shock.

‘If you’d have set a camera up inside and put it on TV, it could have passed for something off Fawlty Towers.

‘It ruined our Christmas.

‘Our family are all busy most of the year and we were looking forward to coming together and sharing the day.’

Rhea Morrison, John’s daughter, added: ‘Many customers were complaining about cold or poor quality food, waiting over an hour for their next course or not yet being seated.

‘It was absolute chaos, I had never seen or experienced anything like it.

‘We were left with no Christmas dinner and a very hungry party along with many other families.’

Debby Couzens, 51 from Waterlooville, said: ‘It was total chaos. I felt sorry for the poor young staff doing an amazing job and it wasn’t their fault.

‘Greene King have since been accommodating and gave us a £200 voucher.’

A spokesman for Greene King has since apologised for the incident, but did not say how many guests had complained.

He also added there were six chefs working and a manager was in the kitchen.

The spokesman said: ‘We are very sorry that a number of our guests did not receive the level of service we expect and were left disappointed.

‘We are speaking to everyone who was affected.’