"Location, location, location". I've just stayed in a hotel in Cambridge for 3 nights - classified as "3 star" but in my view more 2 star, and I've paid significantly more per night than I would have paid at our place. But then this is Cambridge and things don't come cheap in this city. My sixth hotel stay / fourth different hotel this year - plus a seventh stay of a week self catering - it will be good to be home for most of March for a series of public courses, yet it's excellent to have the experience of these stays to look at what I notices and check our place against it.
I always feel I'm staring on the wrong foot when I have to buzz to be let in when arriving a a hotel with a significant number of rooms - especially when the door's glass and you can see the receptionist from the street. Then a signing in with that sinking feeling that you're not popular for having disturbed the receptionist from what she was doing.
It was "mind you head" and "mind your shoulders" as you went up the main staircase, and carrying your baggage as you went because there was no offer of assistance from the staff. It was tired, yellowed, old fashoined, worn.
My room was pokey-small. The bathroom door folded back because there wasn't room for it to swing and the shower door folder back because there wasn't room for it to swing either. When folded back, the shower door blocked the tap to you had to get in the shower to operate the tap.
No soap tray in the shower (but then no room for it) and no light, as the only light in the bathroom was above the toilet, in the other leg of the "L" shaped room. I suspect that the next toom completed the L though paper thin walls, judging by the sound coming through.
I wonder if someone had slipped on the bathroom floor very recently there was a brand new mat stuck to the floor, and with bright yellow grippinng material / good coming out from under it. Indeed it was so fresh that I wondered if it was still wet.
Only one power point at the desk - and in use for a light. Cheap-looking multiway at the other end of the room. Hair dryer 'home' clip on wall, but a totally different hairdryer than the one it was intended for in the draw.
The hotel has a love of glass tops on tables - fair enough. And they were well clean - good. But why put a "hand me in for a special deal" offer on a piece of paper under the glass? I wonder if that was thoughtless or provocative.
And talking about signs - they were all over the place - including poking out from behind fittings so that you had to guess what they said. One sign that was missing - a price list at the bar, which I thought was a legal requirement. My can of Tetley's on arrival night was £3.00
The breakfast room had "mood lighting" - a.k.a. dim, and it was noticable that all the larger tables were under / near the available lights with all five single tables away from those lights in the dim middle of a side or the dim middle of the room.
At the most there were 10 guests at breakfast while I was there - with around six staff. Good to have a "help yourself" buffet, but toast and tea / coffee were served - in mean portions, but the coffee was 'real'. The staff were very good when I mispushed the plunger and send liquid flying, assuring me not to worry as it happens several times a week.
If you're going to serve tiny / hold certain things back at breakfast to serve more, that's fair enough but you should be on you guard for when it's needed. The two young ladies were so busy chatting that the offer of more coffee only came just as I was getting up to leave - five minutes earlier and I would probably have said yes, 10 earlier (and an offer of more toast) would have been right. And more that one pat of butter too ... think they were rather too busy chatting to notice, but as I don't speak Spanish I don't know if it was a chat or a serious work issue.
With all the staff, it was interesting to see just how many were going in and out of the kitchen - and I do wonder about the food safety regime. I got the impression that at least one guest who was not on the staff was in the kitchen, and she came out to take breakfast. Must have been a special guest as the owner came out and sat with here, totally oblivious to other guests who were left to the staff to deal with.
I speak no Spanish. So I wouldn't look for a job in a Spanish hotel - with a smattering, yes - but not with so little I couldn't communicate. I wonder if these waitresses were being paid, or were paying to learn English - of course without a common language I couldn't ask. The german lady was well established and good with customers - and gave every appearance of loving her job and taking an interest. What a pity that she chatted with a guest in the far corned of the dining room, thet shouted out all the personal details she had learned (an unusual surname) as whe reintered the kitchen, for us all seated nearby to hear. So - privacy concern, and perhaps a good act rather than genuince care for customers.
On checkout, I queried the price being charged as the room folder, and the notice on reception, very clearly stated that a 50% deposit is taken to guarantee bookings, and I had booked with my credit card. The told me that it's not done that way with the booking agent I had used, and that it wasn't a problem as I was the first to complain. But I wasn't complaining (I didn't for the three days about anything) - I was just querying an apparent difference.
This is getting a bit long so I won't mention the lack of refilling of the hospitality tray, the need to recode the room key, the first come, first served free for all on car parking that didn't effect me, the failed bulb in the main light, or the lack of a question at any pointas to whether I'd had a good stay. Don't now about "good", but I had great fun watching.
Did the hotel want to know if I had enjoyed my stay, found everything to my satisfaction ask if I would be coming back? There was no request for feedback. No enquiring how may stay had been ... except the German lady at breakfast (with whom I had struck up a conversation, so probably all the staff knew my business) did ask if I would be back. And the answer may surprise you - yes, if it came up at a good price and I was nearby. It's quirky, it's convenient for the station and some parts of Cambridge, it's got free Wifi, and it's a good reminder for me of things to be sure we're not doing as a matter of routine.
A final memory - the German Lady explaining to one of the Spanish ones what a soup spoon was, and then being unable to explain to me why they even had soup spoons for a restaurant that only served breakfasts (written 2015-02-25)
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