According to the sign over the door, we stayed in a four star hotel on Saturday night. It was the Kensington Palace Thistle on De Vere Gardens, and although I’m not a black belt in the intricacies of the hotel rating system, as the cab pulled up at lunchtime on Saturday, it looked like we were onto a winner. The hotel is this great big, shiny white building that dominates the street and looks out onto a park. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we had got a fantastic room rate, and it looked so swanky that it was hard not to feel a touch smug.
That feeling lasted just about as long as it took to get to the reception desk. The receptionist quickly informed us – without checking the reservations – that our rooms weren’t ready. She then sized us up and asked us if we were sure we were at the right hotel. Yes thanks, you snooty cow. We left the bags with the concierge and headed out. As I was busy playing ancient computer games at the Science Museum, C. popped back later on to check in before she went off to meet her brother. The same receptionist was on duty, and she took the same trouble to be as haughty and as rude as possible. We had a twin room, instead of the double we had booked, but they were, alas, unable to move us. When I got back to the hotel later on, I was also interested to see that the room was dark, grubby and had sloping floors and peeling wallpaper. It was fine for one night, but was it really a four star hotel?
What is it that makes a hotel four stars anyway? I suppose I have always hoped that it was about more than having a trouser press and some tea and coffee making facilities in your room, but perhaps it isn’t.
I discovered at several points through the night that the head of my bed was pressed up against a wafer-thin partition wall that backed onto next door’s toilet, and that apparently the occupant had a fairly weak bladder and no sense of water conservation. I’d just drifted back to sleep when I was suddenly jolted awake at around 7am by cacophony of noise caused by the recycling people picking up what sounded like about 18 tonnes of bottles from just outside our window and tipping them into their truck from a height of about 100 feet.
Perhaps it’s not the hotel’s fault. Perhaps it’s just London. Is it like this everywhere? How do you people stand all the crowding and jostling on the tube on a Saturday night? All that pushing and shoving on the streets? That desperate jockeying to hail a taxi? All that rudeness?
God, I’m so provincial.
I've just checked the hotel's website - apparently it's a "welcoming hotel".
It was many things, but "welcoming" it was not. Well, not behind the reception desk anyway. I should say that the guys working behind the concierge's desk (who were all, as they often seem to be, Eastern European in origin) were friendly, chatty and generally helpful. It was just the receptionist who was a mardy cow, and the manager who did a disappearing act.
Oh, and the room was crap. Did I mention that? Do you think Google has got the hint by now? The Kensington Palace Thistle on De Vere Gardens is rubbish. That should do it.
Oooh, blogging is so powerful. Take that, mighty Thistle hotel chain! Quake in fear before my righteous anger!