Tuesday, 22 February 2011

When things don't go toasty

When reviewing a hotel it is of course important to analysis every aspect of it's facilities, location, the staff, service, atmosphere and value but sometimes just one aspect of your visit can sway your feelings and there is nothing you can do about it.
In pubs, bars and discos my radar goes straight to the bathroom – if I don't like the set up, cleanliness, or style of the ladies powder room, the venue goes down in my estimation. For fairness I always either take a sneak peek (just a look in the door) or ask a male counterpart to also comment on the gent's side of things. Mean or not that is the way I do things – I almost ALWAYS visit the toilets in any establishment I visit – it has been a tradition for me since I was a little child!
I would like to think that I have quite a bit of experience with accommodation providers hostels, B&Bs, hotels, airport lounges, a friend's couch ... and the one thing that stands out in my list of things to ticked is the breakfast service.
I have only ever missed breakfast once while staying on a hotel B&B package in my life – and I did it just to prove I could, but I certainly wasn't happy about it.
I don't like to miss out on something I have paid for, but more importantly I feel it is an integral experience of staying in a hotel.
You would think that the service you receive depends on the money you pay – the quality of the provider, but I have often found this not to be always the case.
My main gruff is the toast.

I don't mind whether my order is taken or if I have to serve myself, both have their merits BUT it is the toast situation that gets me riled up.
I cannot stand the bog standard toast grill which you must (as a paying customer) place the toast in and stand for two minutes before it pops out, barely warm. You then must proceed (and probably holding up a queue of toast hungry people) to place the luke warm slice back into the grill and wait another custom two minutes before it pops out: black.
Burned toast – the smell, the taste, the wasted time, the indecency. Breakfast is ruined, the most important meal of the day is ruined ... why do hotels let this happen??
At a B&B (and at a fraction of the price) you are asked what you would like for breakfast and you are served the breakfast, plus tea/ coffee and toast to your table and quite often asked if you want more.
Hotels often grumble about how they have been hit my the recession, but when you can't get breakfast right – when the hospitality is replaced by a grill 'do it your self' toaster – is it any wonder?
All I would like is some nice golden toast to enjoy with my breakfast, it isn't that difficult, it stops the ugly line of people trying to balance plates and bowls and juice while deciphering who owns what slice of toast at the end of the queue.

“Sir/ Madam would you like tea or coffee and some toast?” - what a perfect way to start the day!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Romantic, relaxing, hectic weekend planned

I spent Valentine's evening hovering the house, putting a washing on and sitting down to watch the Irish election leaders debate. But don't feel sorry for me because I am heading away this weekend for a romantic break with my boyfriend.

Well we are not so sure if it is going to be a romantic weekend, we haven't decided on the category of weekend it is yet.

He wants a “relaxing” weekend, you know lie in on Saturday and Sunday, hit the breakfast just before it stops, maybe head for a back massage, a lazy swim and just chill out in the room, making a time for a bit of … before dinner and few drinks.

As usual I want to go see and do. I really want to have a gawk at the Newbridge Museum of Icons (we are staying near by) maybe drop into Kildare Village for a quick look and maybe a spin around to Naas, stopping off for a bite to eat there.

But we are not only celebrating Valentine's Day but also our anniversary (we are not married) – so it has to be romantic.

Problem: the weekend cannot be relaxing, include sightseeing and shopping and also be romantic.
So you see predicament. It is actually a re-occurring situation we seem to find ourselves in.
I love going away for weekend breaks around the country, it is a fun way of discovering the island in small segments, it gets us away from the routine of weekends at home and we actually spend quality time together. But once we get there my lover and I often quarrel over how exactly we should spend the time away!

“Relax and unwind” he tells me as he lies on the massive bed in his boxers flicking through the channels. But I don't want to waste my time sitting around doing nothing, if we are going to relax let's do it at the spa, let's give it a time slot so then at least I know that come a certain time “relaxing” is over with and we can move onto something else … like romancing or eating or sightseeing!
I know loads of couples who go away for a weekend to a hotel and barely step outside the bedroom for the three days, and they come back glowing but I would see that as a wasted opportunity to get out and see what is around.

You may be able to tell but 'Spontaneous' doesn't work for me, I am an organised person I like to know what is going to happen, because leaving it to chance usually means sitting looking at each other doing nothing! The problem with this weekend is that I have way too much to jigsaw together, each of them are fine by themselves, I could even successfully manage two of the above categories – but three, three is a challenge.

Of course I have done out a rough draft of the weekend:
Friday – travel to hotel, have dinner, romance
Saturday – Breakfast, spa/ relaxing time, shopping, eating out, romancing
Sunday – Breakfast, romance, sightseeing, lunch, home

Keeping my boyfriend to my invisible schedule of events could prove difficult though, and if one category runs a lot over time I may have to sing out load to drown out the alarm bells in my head …

You know sometimes it is less stressful to just stay at home!!