The Highs and Lows of Hotel Life

Hilton Metropole I’ve been staying in a Hilton Hotel in Birmingham for two days for the Cartel half-yearly National Sales Conference.   In the lift, the hotel said it was “easy to find, difficult to leave”.   Half right.   It was easy to find, right by the NEC.   By Sunday morning I was quite keen to leave actually though ominously their sign did prove to be right, but not in the way they meant!

The hotel was an odd mixture of good, bad and indifferent.  No mini-bar.   Have I missed something?   Have hotels just done away with these?   They are becoming almost extinct, can’t remember the last time I saw one but after a long journey, surely, everyone needs a drink?   I barely drink alcohol but in an Executive bedroom with no complimentary water when the temperatures were so low we were forced to sleep with the heat on and get dehydrated in the night, there should be a minibar surely?   Fortunately I had been prescient enough to buy water in their shop en route to bed after an uninspiring dinner with a colleague in the Gastro Pub (sic).

Similarly, when did they do away with lovely fluffy white face flannels in hotels?   Haven’t seen one of those either for a while.   Must be “the cuts”.   Am I the only person who still uses a face flannel and likes a clean one every day for my phisog?

Tell you what though, I do think I could live in a hotel.   Not this one obviously, but someone to make my bed, clean the bathroom and bring me my meals is my idea of heaven.   The hotel did get many things right – the sheets, duvet and pillows, lovely – albeit on a hard bed.   Cosy and difficult to get out of both mornings which is just like I feel at home at the moment.  

Big white spacious bathroom with separate slightly small-ish shower, v.g.   Luxurious complimentary Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries which they were not tight with.  Lovely white fluffy towels and plenty of them.

I dont read small print well, and it appeared that my room included WiFi but when I got there, this seemed like an additional £15 per day.   Breakfast also appeared to be extra, although my room cost was over £150 per night.   Can that be right?

Would I like a newspaper?   Yes please, I’d like The Times on Saturday and the Mail on Sunday.   Received The Times both days.   Didn’t have time to read either, so slightly academic, but someone wasn’t listening at check in, perhaps because I was so cross.   I arrived at 3 p.m.which website and booking confirmed advised what check-in time (although I had requested an earlier check-in time when I booked online) only to discover that my room would not be ready for about 30-45 minutes.   How can that be when everyone has to check out by 12 noon and they have three hours to turn the rooms around, often more?   You’ve driven 120 miles, you just want to relax in your room before your first meeting, and you are obliged to cool your heels feeling careworn and slightly grubby in Reception with all your bags.   Not a great start.   Harumph.

Neither of the carpark pay machines worked but no-one asked me as I checked out if I would like them to add my parking to my bill.   Surely most people arrived by car, we were at a junction of a handful of the nation’s finest motorways.   So I trawled out into the carpark with my handbag, bag and laptop bag, stowed it in the car.   Walked to the first pay machine, out of order, went back to car and drove to the only other one, out of order, then had to return to reception to get it added to my bill.   Leaving the hotel (remember “difficult to leave”?) was 30 of the most stressful minutes of my life so far in 2009.   Miles to walk from my room to the car (huge hotel) dragging my luggage after a nasty breakfast and the wrong newspaper, this was the final straw, just before I started to attract such bad ju-ju that someone nearly drove into me while they were presumably negotiating the same carparking groundhog day.   I honked, on adrenaline.   Something I don’t normally do, I was angry by then.   Then poor signage returning to the M42, but we can’t blame Hilton for that.

Decor drab, service adequate but cheerful, accounting spot on, food bad but room service punctual.   Total cost of stay for 48 hours will be more than £400.   Is this good enough do you think?

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