the great escape…

By amy ~ April 15th, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

Well, as the karma fans among us might have reasonably expected following my extremely good fortune room-wise in London the other week, and more recently at my truly luxurious boutique hotel in Sheffield a scant 48 hours ago, the gods of travel retribution were merely biding their time and unfortunately struck with the oft-quoted great vengeance and furious anger in (where else) Coventry, from whence I am currently scarpering after spending an unavoidable night in what must be one of the worst hotels I have ever had the misfortune to set foot in.

I admit I should have had an inkling when exiting my taxi (the interior of which was spotless, and would have been a far more agreeable place to stay) and having to fight my way through a throng of bored looking, sportswear-clad guests putting out their Lambert and Butlers in the window boxes outside, but I soldiered on to reception where I managed to check in and find my way to the lifts, the sourfaced receptionist offering neither helpful directions or clues of any kind. I was curtly told that the ‘dinner free on first night’ included as part of my two night offer was not in fact free, but rather a voucher worth £18 towards dinner, which bearing in mind that the restaurant’s main courses started at £12 with most hovering around the £15-17 mark, was hardly going to make much of a dent in the appetite of a hungry food fan who has been running on lattes, wasabi peanuts, a biscuit Boost and two mini pork pies since breakfast time; obviously I was not expecting to be given the run of the menu (God forbid) but two or three courses and a drink would have been, well, civilised. I should point out that the food was very good, especially for a free dinner (which cost me £14.15).

Regarding my room, and as my charming visitor that very afternoon discovered when arriving to my partly successful (but mostly just panic-stricken and weird) ‘brave face’ attempt, I opened the door to be greeted by the sort of timewarp decor I haven’t seen anywhere in years – not a disaster in itself but not exactly conducive either.  However, whilst naff carpets, analogue-only television, no fridge and no bathrobes I can live with (plus minimal tea and coffee and a horizontal pole on the wall with those hangers which don’t come off masquerading as a wardrobe), poor housekeeping I cannot and noticing a fine powdery swirl suddenly appear when trying to switch on the bedside lights was the final straw. Now, even I realise that should I have unwittingly become the target of anthrax-wielding nutters (and stranger things have happened) it is customary for the substance to be contained in some sort of receptacle, envelopes being traditional, rather than lightly distributed over each and every one of the accommodation’s surfaces but me being me, it was with not-particularly-reduced horror I realised that this was DUST.

The last time I was presented with a dusty hotel room was in South Kensington in June 2008, and as expected I immediately requested to be (and was) moved. However upon telephoning reception, it was explained (and the scene which had greeted me in the lobby gave me no reason to doubt this) that save for the suites, the place was packed to the rafters and no alternative was available (and as the suites were more than likely just larger versions of the same thing and therefore with even more dust, there seemed little point in putting my foot down) and I would pretty much have to lump it. The thought of ringing housekeeping to request a duster and some Pledge crossed my mind, but as the in-room phone displayed no contact details for anything (not even reception and even stranger, the moneyspinners like the spa and room service) I was unable to do so – obviously the phone was the only object in the room which had been thoroughly cleaned, at least of every possible useful number.

As those with whom I have spent any time may well be aware, I am Not Very Good with dust, crumbs, fluff and things not being at neat right angles to other things and, well, you get the picture and since by this time I was hungry, tired out and thoroughly despondent I decided to leave immediately. The only thing convincing me otherwise was a stern talking to from a gallant friend who ignored my pitiful pleas for rescue and pointed out that not only I had paid for three separate lots of food, things might look better in the morning and besides, I am never more than six feet from a box of Clarityn from the moment the clocks go forward. He was wrong. Having availed myself of two of the lots of food (both excellent with the onion rings warranting an honourable mention although the breakfast experience resembled something out of a sitcom – I have never before been brought a full coffeepot and ten minutes later had to ask someone for a cup), critical mass was reached and I left at half past nine. Slightly over nineteen hours in Coventry, one taxi, three trains and a brisk walk in the fresh air from Scarborough railway station (which I have not been that glad to see in a very long time) later here I am!

So now the difficult bit – HUGE apologies to those who have been unavoidably cancelled, but trust me when I say you had a lucky escape, and any ladies contemplating a visit to Cov please do get in touch for hotel details. And the good news is that I will be available here in Scarborough again from Sunday – yay! Fairly predictably Monday is already fully booked, as is the following Saturday with an exciting trip to Newcastle (for fun and catching-up over Easter eggs with a longstanding favourite gentleman) but as for the rest well, you know what to do!

For now I’m off to bed early to watch a DVD, sleep off my spaghetti and categorically not think about what hotel-room dust is made of…

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