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  • Heather Tweed

Politely asking for something else

A couple of weeks ago we booked into a hotel in Camden.

The obsequious booking clerk kept everyone waiting whilst he stared at a screen, with the waved point of a finger, ‘Just two minutes’ was his cry to each and everyone. He kept two people simply waiting for their room key for the length of two sets of guests booking in, perhaps it was because they held polystyrene food containers?

He proudly announced that our room was on floor -1 and that it was ‘One of my favourite rooms.’

As the lift dropped below ground level I wondered if he was actually preparing us for one of the least good rooms and what the final part of the sentence may have been in his head?

As our heads nearly touched the ceiling the subterranean hallway lead us to one of the final doors which we opened with the Clerks words ringing in our ears. The decor was ok and the room not vast but it had no windows! Not even in the bathroom. Now we have been in many, many types and quality of accomodation over the years, some very high quality, some quirky, some basement, some pretty ropey but never a room with no windows! Kev called reception and very politely asked if there was a room with windows we could change to.

‘Come up to reception and I’ll see what I can do.’

Again ‘ Wait two minutes.’ and the gesture. Right from the start we sensed that making an actual complaint or fuss would hold no sway, compliance and a certain polite deference on this mans territory were the only option.

He checked the computer and gave us the keys to a fifth floor room. This time no comments or observations.

We were absolutely delighted on opening the door. A much, much bigger room but the star attraction was the two big picture windows with a vista of the London skyline encompassing everything from the BT Tower to an illuminated St Paul’s to The Gherkin to Canary Wharf in the distant background.

Next morning on checkout there were many guests milling round looking unhappy at least and thunderous yet silent at worst. The place was silent. What sway, what aura, what atmosphere emanated from behind that desk, yet only seemingly impeccable and polite, helpful behaviour from the same person!

‘How was your stay?’

‘We loved the view!’ I couldn’t t resist, ‘That must be one of your favourite rooms.’

Inscrutable as ever, ‘I didn’t say anything this time in case you didn’t like the new room.’

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