What Is It About Hotels?
My usual hotel in London was fully booked last night, so our agent put me in the Grosvenor Hotel above Victoria Station. I was a bit miffed as the usual hotel is just five minutes from the office – the Grosvenor is more like ten but you have to fight your way through the crowds and the crowds are worse at the moment due to roadworks which channel pedestrians like sheep to a dipping bath. Navigation through the great unwashed is made worse when you are towing a trolley bag…….
And, I like my usual hotel. They often recognise me and it is nice to be welcomed back when away from home and your nearest and dearest. I also enjoy certain loyalty privileges – they generally give me a free upgrade. When you travel on business it is easy to get over-excited by the prospect of a free robe, slippers and mouthwash…..
Now, I have a few important demands of a business hotel – it should be accessible; it should be clean; it should offer decent room service (I don’t like to be the saddo sitting alone in a hotel restaurant plugged into his iPad or reading a tatty paperback in full view of everyone – no, I prefer to be that saddo in private!); it should have a mini-bar (we lead stressful lives….); and, it should be quiet.
I am often disappointed…..
But I felt I had the right to be encouraged when I checked out the website of the Grosvenor hotel, which stated:
Your bedroom at The Grosvenor Hotel offers a quiet, spacious and comfortable retreat from the bustle of London and the adjoining Victoria mainline station. All Deluxe and Executive bedrooms boast an iPod docking station with surround sound, Egyptian cotton bed linen and a large plasma-screen TV.
Like all the bedrooms at The Grosvenor Hotel, Deluxe rooms are fully air-conditioned and sound-proofed
And so, with hope in my heart, I left the office last night and fought my way through the predictable crowds to arrive at the refurbished Victorian splendour of the hotel’s reception. I was greeted by a very charming, attractive, stick-thin Eastern European lady who sounded like a Bond villain who processed me politely and efficiently. I was encouraged when she offered me an express checkout – there is nothing more frustrated than queuing to get out of a place. And, I have not lost my charm either as she offered me a free upgrade to a junior suite.
I was somewhat surprised when she warned me that finding said suite was a little complicated (which sounds even more menacing in heavily accented Siberian) and produced a map. I jest not.
And so, I set off by fighting my way through the large crowds of Americans and Japanese that were thronged in the reception area no doubt awaiting the arrival of their coaches. I took a lift, as instructed, to the fourth floor, alighted, turned right and right again, and took another lift to the seventh floor. And so, some fifteen minutes later I found my junior suite.
First impressions were good. I was at the end of a corridor, meaning only one neighbour, and the room had been designed so that the wall with my wardrobe adjoined his/her bathroom. So, the prospect for peace was good. The room was spacious, clean, and decorated with taste although the curtains were a bit too brothelesque for me.
And so, I settled into my routine. I perused the room service menu and ordered my steak and chips and panna cotta – it is important to get your room service order in quickly as they can take forever. I set my alarm. I turned the air-conditioning down. I turned on the TV. And, then I went to unpack my toiletry bag in the bathroom.
The first disappointment. While clean and well-maintained, the bathroom was somewhat bijou – designed by a bloke with a cat that had never been swung. They had clearly compromised on the room size to give way to the impressive looking walk in shower with a huge round shower head and a little seat. The basin was so small that I had to move the glasses either side of the taps before I could turn the taps.
I hung up my clothes in the wardrobe. The second disappointment. Why do hotels always assume that I am out to steal their coat hangers. I hate those bloody hook and eye hanger things that they give you. Don’t they know that I have yellow, plastic hangers galore at home, courtesy of years of hotel dry cleaners…..
My food arrived. It was edible.
I climbed on the bed to watch Manchester City in the Champions League. And, I fell asleep.
I awoke around 4.30am. The room was not quite so soundproofed as it had been advertised. I had been awoken by the sound of someone swinging through a fire door which was strategically positioned a foot or so from my bedroom door. It clacked loudly as the doors were swung open and it clacked loudly as the doors swung to a close. There would be a lot of clacking in the following three hours as, it would seem there were many an American returning to their rooms having watched the US Presidential election results until the early hours (Go Obama!). And, Americans are never known for their quietness…….
By about 6am, the torrent of Yanks gave way to a torrent of fitness freaks. My room was opposite the entrance to the whole gym. And so the fire door clacking continued if with even more enthusiasm as the buffed lycra brigade swung through with somewhat greater enthusiasm than returning Republicans and Democrats.
After three hours I gave up trying to doze and decided to get up. I turned on the TV and delighted in the news that Obama had been re-elected. And, I proceeded to iron my shirt. I assembled the ironing-board. My next disappointment. It was flimsy and tiny – designed by Toys R Us……Once assembled it came up to just above knee height. My shirt overhang its miserable proportions to a significant degree. I tried to fill the steam iron in the sink – but the sink was so small that I couldn’t get the iron under the tap, so I had to fill it using a glass. The iron leaked from the base. An iron that displaces water onto an electrical cable is never an encouraging prospect. And so, my shirt was dampened rather than smoothed.
I went to the bathroom to attend to my ablutions. Shaving in the confined space of the bathroom was tricky. Brushing teeth in the confined space was tricky enough. And, the spacious walk-in shower was also disappointing. The water trickled out of the impressive round shower head like pee in a Tena advert. Most unsatisfactory.
And, so it was a rather grumpy bunny that trudged his way back to reception via two lifts and a fifteen minute walk, and fought his way through the morning throngs, dragging trolley bag behind him, back to the comfort of the office and a consoling pot of Pret A Manger porridge………