Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hotels ... gone are the good old days

Umm, not by way of bragging, but I stayed in London during the last few days, in this hotel. There is something mildly disconcerting about the ever growing greed of hotel proprietors. In the good old days if one had forgotten toothpaste, the hotel receptionist would hand over toothpaste to the hotel guest, and the same would be true for other basic amenities. Well, not any longer. The Thistle Hotel that I stayed in had a vending machine in the lobby dispensing even things like headache pills at exorbitant prices (something close to 5 GBP for a couple of aspirin pills). Similarly, I stayed in a Park Inn (the 'budget' version of the SAS Radisson hotel group) in Bochum in Germany a few weeks back and discovered that they aim to rip off their guests by charging the living hell out of them for internet access (a thing you'd get free of charge in virtually every hotel in the USA, no matter how down market). Mind you, even use of the sauna (much advertised as a hotel facility on the internet) requires that one tells the receptionist 30 minutes ahead that one wants to use it so that they'd get it started...

I made the mistake to grab a take-way coffee in the lobby of the Thistle hotel. I realised immediately why they didn't display any prices at all for their paper-cup coffees. They charged 'only' 3.50 GBP for the cup.

So, again, let the buyer beware. I have to say, as far as hotel chains go, my best experiences were made in Holiday Inn's and their upmarket relatives Crown Plaza hotels. No hidden charges, internet access rip-off's and the endless nonsense practised by so many other hotel chains.

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