Hotels can be one of the major letdowns of a holiday.
They can also be extensive fodder for writing material. For the main stories I write, hotel stays feature prominently, and so each experience, no matter how insignificant, is another paragraph in my book of experiences.
If you are going to use a travel agent to pick a hotel for you, make sure you check as much as you can before you see them, because no matter how it is described, seeing it, in reality, is always completely different than the pictures in a brochure and sometimes on the Internet. It requires research and a good look at TripAdvisor.
Or word of mouth by someone you know and trust who have stayed there.
Take, for instance, staying in a five-star hotel, the usual stomping ground of the rich and famous. It is always interesting to see how the less privileged fare. Where hotel staff is supposed to treat each guest equally, it’s not always the case. Certainly, if you’re flashing money around, the staff will be happy to take it, though you may not necessarily get what you’re expecting.
We were once lucky enough to be in the highest hotel loyalty level and this gave us a number of privileges; at times working in our favor, but even then not always.
Privilege can sometimes count for nothing. It often depends on the humor of the front desk clerk, or the guest services manager, and woe betide you if you get the receptionist from hell.
Been there, done that, more than once.
Then there is the room.
There is such a wide variety of rooms available, even if the hotel site or brochure has representative pictures, the odds are you can still get a room that is nothing like you’re expecting or were promised.
Believe me, there are rooms with a view, overlooking pigeon coops or air-conditioning vents. And if you’re lucky, at Niagara Falls, it might be that six inches of window space that allows a very limited view of the falls.
Still, why should I complain, you can see the Falls … can you not?
A bone of contention often can be the location of the hotel and sometimes parking facilities, not the least of which is the cost of Valet parking; given the extortion some hotels charge, it’s better to just forget a car.
It is nothing like the movies, you just do not drive up to the front entrance, get out, hand the keys to the concierge, and expect everything else to happen by magic.
One time we waited for over an hour for our luggage to be delivered, and that was after three phone calls to the concierge desk.
Sometimes you can be reasonably near transport, yes, if you could walk the distance (which feels like the length of a marathon) to the nearest bus or tram stop.
The problem is we both have trouble with knees and ankles and walking distances are difficult at the best of times, and for us, it is a long, long way when you can’t walk and that’s when the hotel starts to feel like a prison. Taxis may be cheap but when you have to use them three or four times a day it all adds up.
Also, be wary when a hotel says it is close to public transport. While that may be true in London, anywhere else and especially in Europe, you could find yourself in the middle of nowhere.
It’s when you discover your travel agent didn’t exactly lie but it is why that weekly rate was so cheap. In the end, the sum of the taxi fares and the accommodation turns out to be dearer than if you stayed at the Savoy.
So, those front line experiences are fodder for the travel blogger, and people who are also known as road warriors, the true frequent flyers.
There is a very large gulf between five stars and three and sometimes three can be very generous. And of course, l now have a list of hotels l would never stay in again, the names of which might surprise you.