Venting my frustrations…

I have completely failed to make any blog entries while I’ve been here in the UK haven’t I? This is mainly because I’ve been having too much fun to spend time sitting in front of a computer typing away, but since this is my last day with regular internet access I suppose I’d better make some kind of effort, lest everyone thinks I’ve died. So I though I’d write a review of my hotel.

For reasons that will become obvious I’m not going to name the hotel. I’d also like to state that overall my experience there has been good. There are just a few things that got on my nerves…

So let’s begin.

The staff at the “Mystery Hotel” are well organised and friendly. Check in and out are quick and efficient – if on arrival however you are allocated to rooms 114 or 115 it’s best to ask for a map. These are placed far away from the rest of the first floor, requiring extensive navigation to locate. There are signs, but these peter out before you hit the first of several staircases. Be careful – one wrong turn and you could end up battling a snow-witch in a land where it’s always winter but never Christmas.

Your room will be clean with a wardrobe, a dresser, tea/coffee making facilties, a television, a phone and a safe. If you’re shelling out enough cash there may also be room to swing a cat – this is however London so a lack of space is only to be expected. You will have an onsuite bathroom, which is just the perfect size for you to brush your teeth without difficulty while sitting on the toilet. Hot water is both hot, wet and plentiful – in an unusual twist however cold water is in short supply, your tap producing just a half hearted trickle which refuses to alter in volume no matter how far you turn it.

Your toilet is a source of unending wonder – you will wonder for all eternity how it manages to produce noises akin to the base stop of a major pipe organ for several minutes after being flushed.

A continental breakfast buffet is provided in the basement restaurant. This is clean, well organised and packed to the gills with Spaniards by 8:00am, so get in early. The selection of food, drinks and condiments is perfectly adequate. The restaurant may be open for other meals – I’m honestly not sure. I did go down to check it out one evening but it was like the Mary Celeste down there, so I fled.

Eating options in the immediate area include the Pride of Paddington pub which does a very nice grilled chicken, three separate Italian restaurants in the space of about twenty metres of road, and a diner named Garfunkle’s just past Paddington station. I can recommend the gnocchi at Bizarro (perhaps that should be ‘me can recommends tasty potato dumpaling things’?) which comes with a free floor show from the serving staff who race around the place without break like their pants are on fire. Garfunkle’s is also very nice, but beware of the tendancy of the waitstaff to assume that any change they owe you is intended as a tip.

But back to the hotel. It offers a laundry service where you place your dirty clothes in the bag provided and leave them in your room. By the time you get back from your day’s activities the maid will have tidied your room, made your bed and neatly left the bag of still-dirty clothes on top of it. I found the best laundry option was to haul your clothes one block along the street towards Paddington Station to the Harlequin laundrette where a nice Muslim lady will have them washed, folded and ready to pick up by 5:00 that evening for about ten pounds.

Your hotel room includes a phone. This will not work. The procedure to get it working involves heading down to reception where they’ll explain that you need to pay a deposit of either 40 or 50 pounds (depending on who you’re talking to) before they’ll switch it on. It’s best to do this before you head out in the morning, as it gives them the full day to do absolutely nothing about it. On your return in the evening confirm that the phone is still not working. Head back down to reception and query this. They will express puzzlement and poke at a computer for a while before stating with confidence that they have no idea what’s going on. Ask them to look into it again, and with any luck your phone line will be sorted out by the time you return to the hotel the next day. Probably.

Transport connections are excellent with the hotel only two blocks from Paddington station. Busses charge up and down the street at all hours, and if you feel lucky you can try to catch one of the wildly bucking black cabs that hurtle around the Hilton in the nightly running of the taxis.

There is an internet terminal in the bar. You’re probably better off heading down the street to the Reload internet cafe. A weekly or monthly membership is fairly cheap and you not only get decent hardware and speeds, but you can enjoy the sound of the Underground trains as they whiz back and forth only a few metres through the wall from where you sit.

So, that pretty much sums up my hotel experience here in London. Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Southampton for a few days before flying home mid next week…

PS: The wedding was excellent! I’ve put some photos (note that “some” – I’ve got heaps more) up on my Flickr Stream

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