Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hotel Paradiso

I’m not particularly materialistic, but if there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s cheap hotel rooms. Hotels in Britain are a bit confusing. A two star hotel in the countryside can provide perfectly acceptable accommodation, whereas a two star hotel in a town or city centre will invariably be a dump.

What really annoys me is that that there is always a Porsche or a Jag parked round the back that belongs to the owner. They obviously manage to pay for their cars by scrimping in every possible area. Toilet paper is invariably single ply, the carpets are made out of nylon, the TV is a 14 incher with squeaky speakers, and the wallpaper is usually woodchip painted a delicate shade of nicotine magnolia.

I like to stay in the big chain hotels. At least you can be sure of the standard of accommodation you will receive, and the staff don’t pretend to be your best friend. I like the impersonality and anonymity; there’s none of that ‘think of yourself as a guest in our home’ bollocks.

The only institution that managed to keep functioning during the siege of Sarajevo was the Holiday Inn. While the city crumbled under sniper and mortar fire, the residents sat down to three proper meals a day (even if the provenance of the meat was uncertain). That’s the whole point of chain hotels: it’s like staying in a space capsule; you are divorced from the world outside.

Some people might argue that, when abroad, this prevents you from experiencing the full richness of foreign cultures. I say bollocks to that. If I’m in Thailand, I don’t want to stay in a flophouse with a ceiling fan and cockroaches the size of an aircraft carrier scuttling across the floor. I don’t want to fall asleep listening to Nigel from Basingstoke shagging a ladyboy. Those bamboo partition walls don’t have much in the way of soundproofing.

There are some two star hotels in Scotland offering seasonal breaks over the Christmas period. If anyone fancies three nights of party games, and mingling with the elderly and eccentric in extreme discomfort, I can provide the contact numbers and addresses.


Sniffy said...

You're right, absolutely right.

One of my major apprehensions about going to Rome was not know what the hotel was going to be like. I got worked up to the point of not wanting to go. As it turned out, it was OK, not brilliant, but OK. As I saw it, it was a place to stay and get cleaned up before going out on a trek somewhere. I'd have preferred to have stayed in a chain hotel just to take the worry out of things.

I love proper hotels with their own restaurants. Once stayed in one near Rye in East Sussex (or was it West?) and it was lovely, with a fantastic restaurant (roast rib of beef was to die for) and really nice staff. Part of the Best Western chain, but with plenty of its own identity.

garfer said...

Best Westerns are pretty good because they adhere to the standards of the chains (in theory) but retain some individuality.

The problem with 2 stars is that they always look fine on their brochure or website, but are usually crap when you see the reality.

Sniffy said...

Yes, it's amazing how totally misleading photographs and brochures can be. You can try out customer reviews, but even these can be misleading if written by expect-the-world, difficult-to-please types (Americans in particular).

I think the answer is to stay at home or to ensure that you have trusted friends strategically positioned in places of interest around the globe.

garfer said...

You can do that house swap thing. I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure that I could tolerate Ulrich from Stuttgart cleaning the bejesus out of my hovel while I left his duplex with heliport in a filthy condition.

Btw Where the fuck is everybody? Nobody is commenting (except you). Not that I mind, oh no.

Wyndham said...

I've reached the age when luxury is the over-riding priority in my life. Some people I know spend months searching out good-deals on hotels. Fuck that. I'll pay through the nose. Sadly, as a result, I can never afford to go on holiday. Luckily, my own toilet paper is fourteen togs.

garfer said...

Typical Londom type. Quadruple ply quilted bog paper shall be the downfall of western civilisation.

Osama uses Jeyes's.

Sniffy said...

Osama uses a dock leaf.

garfer said...

Hhave you been on the sherry?

suburban wonder said...

One of those impossible-to-please folk, here.

My only travel abroad was in France, and I was completely satisfied by the hotel (Ibis, a chain hotel in Montparnasse). If you count Canada, where I've traveled for conferences, I've only stayed at the Ritz Carlton and other plush hotels.

When traveling with the WCM in the States, though, we've stayed in some really dodgy motels - the Scotch Inn, for example, where they take cheapness to a whole 'nother level. Aptly named, do you think?

garfer said...

Bronwen, you must stop speaking in paragraphs.

I agree entirely.

becca said...

I've got to give props to Mariott. Specifially the Mariott Melville where I "lived" for three weeks while stuck in New York during the whole 9/11 horror.
It was just as if nothing ever happened. Everything was so clean, toiletries were replaced, and room service was always on time. I used to travel quite a bit, and Mariott and Hyatt hotels are usually the best. Hilton has gone to shit.

garfer said...

Paris Hilton doesn't do much for the brand value. The thought of contributing to that airheads millions is enough to put anyone off.

suburban wonder said...

Just long-winded, I guess.

Merkin said...

And shower caps. Who the hell actually uses shower caps, other than to protect poncy footwear from cowpats when walking home across a field from the pub? Is it a girl thing?

Kyahgirl said...

erm, if I ever come to Scotland I'll be sure to ask you for recommendations.
I don't tolerate bugs or rodents, filth, or scabby loiterers, but I don't mind old people.