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I travel quite a bit. Mostly around the UK, I end up visiting clients all over the place. A travel and stay cheaply, I require very little. I ask for a clean room, half decent shower, and pleasant staff. That’s about it. I have stayed in some dodgy guest houses, scary hotels and borderline B&Bs. But on no occasion have I been a place quite like this. I was so impressed by their attempts to thwart my enjoyment of my stay I decided it deserved a blog post.
This is a long post with pictures. More below the cut.
On the way down to London for a client visit, I ended up needing to make a very short notice change of plans to my accommodation stay. A quick search on my favourite booking site LateRooms.com threw up the
“Euro Hotel Clapham” as being close to my client site, very cheap and it looked rather good (take a look at the photos). Room was booked, under “Euro Hotel Clapham”. My confirmation e-mail said so.
So I turned up to Euro Hotel Clapham, and was told rather snottily that my room was not at the hotel, but at the Euro Lodge Clapham down the road. So I grabbed my not inconsiderable baggage and dragged myself down the road again. 20 minutes later in the lodge and I was seen to be checked in. I was given a keycard, and the receptionist walked me around to the room I was given.
Walking from reception to my room required me to leave the building, cross a yard, scramble around the workmens’ van (did I point out this was a work in progress), go down a small alley way and enter a second building. Here’s the amount of space we had to get everything around. The van came and went over the next few days, but always returned to the same spot. At one point, there was also a bicycle in the gap left by the van. The staff were clearly aware of the obstruction this caused, since one of the reception staff hoisted her skirt to climb over the bicycle.
Since the room was being cleaned, my bags were dumped within the room and the receptionist left. The cleaner finished and I entered my room. I immediately noticed the two suitacases, pile of clothes and the clear evidence that the room was still occupied. I left my bags in the room (there was only so far I was dragging everything) and went back to reception. Reception apologised for the mix up and issued me with a new card for a new room. I went to the new room and the key card failed to work. Back we went, and yet another card was issued. This card did work. The staff left me with the keycard for the occupied room, and left me to my own devices to move my kit between the two rooms. To clarify they left me knowingly with access to another patron’s room. Out of decency, I returned the card once I had switched rooms.
The rooms are not quite as advertised. Remember the rather pleasant, glitzy look of the rooms from the advertisement?
Here’s the reality:
The double bed is two singles pushed together, the desk looks half built, the television has a large crack in it, there’s mould in the bathroom and those little spots you can see on the curtains? Let me enlarge those for you:
That’s chewing gum. And for contrast:
That’s bubble gum. Chewing gum on the curtains, bubble gum on the walls. Lovely.
At times like this, all you can do is go to sleep.
Woke up, went for breakfast. Noticed that the fire door from my building is propped open with a brick. Remove the brick. This brick kept re-appearing to hold the door open:
In the dining area (which stands between my room and the way out), noticed that the toasters were right next to the fire exit. So the one thing likely to catch fire is next to the exit in case of … fire. Excellent health and safety there:
After breakfast, I attempt to exit the hotel and trip over a roll of carpet. The carpet is laid over the french door runner on the ground with no trip warnings. There’s also chunks of badly fitting overlapping carpet everywhere. I spent half my time tripping like a Laurel and Hardy sketch.
When I got back from my day at the office, I went straight to my room to find my key card failed to open the door. A trundle to reception later, and a reset key card and … it still didn’t work. On attempt three, there was a small crowd of people assembling in the reception area. Six people with the same problem, key cards which no longer worked. The staff were clueless, appeared to have no senior management they could call for advice, and completely failed to offer refreshments or space to wait while the situation was resolved. In attempting to resolve the situation, the reception staff let us know that the cleaning staff take the master cards home with them. Considering there is no external security on the building, this means that the cleaning staff have access on and off duty to all the rooms in the hotel at all times. Thirty minutes later, and several desperate phone calls, they managed to get a phone back from the engineer and our cards started working again. Unimpressed, I went to catch some sleep.
Morning was uneventful. Felt strangely optimistic. This was the evening of Nick Griffin appearing on question time, an event I was looking forward to. I came back from the office, and noticed a smog in the hotel. Smelling smoke, but not seeing any staff running around in a panic, I assumed it was safe to get my card swiped at reception. Card set I wander into the dining room to see five men sat around a circular table smoking cigars. I pop back into reception to ask if this was in fact a non-smoking hotel, to be told by the receptionist that it was but “it was okay, because they were the hotel owners”. At this point, I realised it would be rather futile lodging a complaint against the hotel management. I went into my room to watch Question Time.
Towards the end of question time, there was the sound of a large smash outside my block. I went outside to find a pile of broken glass, and a rather bemused partially dressed lady hanging out of the upstairs window. She said she was okay, that she had tried to open the window and it had fallen out and that her husband had contacted the staff. Confident that the situation was under control, I went to bed to catch some much needed kip.
Last day, and I was glad to be out of the hotel. On the way out, the pile of glass that was there from the previous night incident was still there as I wandered out (I only caught some of the glass on camera):
I left, went to the office, and was honestly glad to not have to go back to the hotel.
I’ve not actually detailed everything here. There were also issues with the wifi (you can’t pick it up in the rooms), a good trick with an ironing board with no cover (I had to improvise – they actually had no cover for the ironing board), and noise from hammers and drilling at 7pm at night. I had hammering in Dolby 5.1 at one point.
I will be pointing various people at this blog post. Any reaction I get will be mentioned in an update, probably later in the week. If you are travelling in London, I would avoid this place like the plague.