Review by Fiona Duncan, published 7th February 2010.
One day, every hotel in the country will have an anonymous beige and cream colour scheme, and every hotelier will be a faceless manager sent by company headquarters. Individuality is waning fast; as for downright eccentricity, it's already practically non-existent
That, some might think, as they exit this implausible hotel, could be a good thing. "Visiting the Evesham," commented one exhausted guest, "is like being held hostage by Rod Hull. I'm amazed that no one has strangled the owner with one of his 'humorous' ties.
It's not often that I'm greeted by a hotel proprietor with a monkey draped around his neck, with legs that jerk up and down when he pulls a string, but then not many hotel proprietors have an office wallpapered and curtained with Dennis the Menace, room keys attached to medium-size bears and a strong predilection for The Beano, joke books, singing trout, fart machines and mirrors that inform you that your bum looks great. His ground-floor loos are so full of such things that they've become almost famous.
If the Evesham sounds potty, it is, but there's method, it transpires, in its madness. Without John Jenkinson's childlike humour, the hotel would be nothing at all; with its feeling of arrested development added to the mix, it has been a successful family hotel, loved by children, for 35 years. "We needed a gimmick," he says of the staid, old-fashioned place that he and his parents took over in the mid-Seventies, "so I sort of developed my jokes. I've always been a prat!
Take away Jenkinson, like his humour or loathe it, and the Evesham would be dire: staid and old-fashioned, with patterned carpets and rows of low, lumpy armchairs in the dowdy sitting rooms and bar. A dead ringer for Alistair Darling in the hair and eyebrows department, and a kind man, beloved by his staff, at least he is there to jolly things along, though even the hardiest guest might find the joke has palled by the time their soup is served in the Georgian dining room by a man with a monkey, or fairy or shark, or whatever it is that day, still lurking around his shoulders
What's to love about the Evesham? Well, children are genuinely welcome: stacks of toys and board games abound, there are no rules, and the indoor pool is full of floats, gaily decorated to evoke "Evesham-by-Sea". Book them into the lovely Alice in Wonderland suite, complete with a cubby hole for tea parties, or choose one of the five other themed rooms, such as Safari or Apologies to Gaudí
Best of all, the local staff are genuinely friendly and devoted to their nutty boss, the average length of service being 16 years (the "new" receptionist has been there for 20). For hunters of that endangered species, the eccentric hotel, the Evesham is not to be missed
Coopers Lane, Evesham (01386 765566; www.eveshamhotel.com) Doubles from £120 per night, including breakfast. Ground-floor bungalow for guests with disabilities. More reviews by Fiona Duncan at www.thehotelguru.com