As I have mentioned previously my career was in Hospitality, hotels mainly although I had worked in bars etc but I have worked in varying levels of hotels in this country and a 4* hotel in Dublin. I worked in a branded chain limited service hotel before I gave up work to become a stay at home mum. Limited service basically means they don’t provide the ‘full service’ you would expect from bigger, posher hotels. So our dinner service was basic, our staffing as minimal as possible and the rooms more basic than you’d get at hotels of a higher standard. I really enjoyed it because everyone did everything, I was a duty manager but I’d be doing reception, bar, washing up, cooking, carrying plates and doing accounts and reservations – even housekeeping if really needed. One of the great things about working somewhere like that is that everything is different and you don’t really get a chance to be fed up and you encounter so many different people and so many different challenges. But to excel in these circumstances you have to really care about your job and be great with customers, if you’re having a bad day you suck it up and get on with it because there’s no hiding away in the back.
So here’s the point of where I’m going with this – at the weekend we went back to my home city of Lincoln to visit family and friends before Christmas. We organised a weekend to go at the same time as another friend who needed to go before Christmas which just so happened to be the weekend of Remembrance Sunday a few days after bonfire night so the city was busy, as a result we ended up staying in a hotel out of town that neither of us had ever stayed in before. It’s part of a chain – the Accor group, which my partner worked for during his placement year for uni – and hated – but the budget version, hotel ibis. We chose it because it had rooms available at a price that wasn’t ridiculous, well I suppose you get what you pay for….
When we checked in we were in good spirits, the hotel was 5 mins from my friend’s house where we were spending Saturday and next door to a pub and a Frankie & Benny’s and down the road was Damon’s (an American restaurant), we got to the room and the cot we requested was made up with a sheet and a pillow with an extra towel but no blanket, but that wasn’t a huge problem as we figured we could go to get one later. Our friends were still on a mammoth road trip from Manchester so we decided to go get dinner and meet them later. When they arrived there was no cot in the room (despite me requesting one), they were handed one with no offer to put it up, so we tackled the cot – it took 3 of us and a lot of pulling and tugging on the cot to get it to stay up and then one slight nudge and one side fell – not what you want when the occupant is to be a 14 week old baby!! They weren’t given any bedding but decided to ask later because they were really hungry, we all headed over to the pub nearby and when they ordered dinner we ordered desserts. We were all in great spirits heading back to the hotel when we stopped to ask at the reception for bedding – this is where the horror story begins!
The lady at the reception desk told us ‘it’s against health and safety to provide cot bedding’ and told us no we couldn’t have it. I said it was ridiculous and that it doesn’t say anything about that on the website and that it was completely unacceptable that one cot was made up and the other wasn’t. The lady was really rude towards us and eventually said “you can have it if you accept responsibility, do you want it?” … well, yes, that is why we asked in the first place! I asked her if it was completely out of the question to get a sheet to cover my 2 year old son and she laughed at me. Physically laughed at me. Didn’t even say yes or no, just laughed. My friends were actually jaw droppingly gobsmacked at her attitude, and I couldn’t help but think how I would have stepped in and reprimanded her if I were the manager on duty, but he just stood back and watched. When I complained about this to the manager on duty at check out she told me that it was correct they wouldn’t normally provide bedding, but ‘when you book over the phone you’re given the option to take responsibility for it’, but we didn’t book over the phone, we booked online, which said NOTHING about cot bedding. Luckily my friends had blankets with them for their baby, but for Oliver, well, he ended up sleeping in our bed (I won’t go in to how uncomfortable their pillows were and how tired I was by the end of the weekend).
What’s worse was the General Manager’s response to my complaint.
- Firstly, I am shocked that a housekeeper needs to be trained to lower her standards, usually it’s the opposite way around!
- Secondly, “she apologised if you felt she was rude, she did not mean to” – if someone who laughs in your face when you ask for a cover for your child doesn’t think it rude then she either needs some very rigorous training or she needs another job!!
- Thirdly, the last paragraph is clearly a template and judging by his response to my issues I don’t really feel like my feedback is ‘invaluable’.
- Finally, this has clearly been written without any thought and probably took a whole 2 minutes to type – my partner even commented that it looked like a child had written it!
So I replied, saying that I didn’t want to stay there again but thanks for the offer. I also asked if the ‘health and safety’ issue was a brand standard, if I were to choose an ibis elsewhere would I be expected to provide my own bedding? The response I got was just that it is against their health and safety policy for them to provide bedding. I replied again clarifying, but I’m still waiting on a response on that but I’m not holding my breath. He did however offer me a refund of 50% of one night’s stay. Which wasn’t at all what I was after, I wanted him to acknowledge the ridiculousness of his health and safety policy and that the attitude of his staff is unacceptable, but I didn’t really get that. I got a cut and paste answer. Obviously I wrote a review on Trip Advisor, you can read my full review here.
I commented to my partner that ‘hospitality people are the worst customers’, but he responded with ‘or the best…’ and elaborated that during our stay we visited Frankie & Benny’s nearby 3 times – once for dinner and twice for breakfast. Each time we tipped well, noticed how friendly the staff were and I in fact left a glowing review for them on trip advisor. We were patient when food was slow to come out because they were so busy, we were happy to wait when we couldn’t be seated straight away (we noticed it was shift changeover) and were generally very happy, relaxed and understanding. We could have let the troubles within the hotel bother us, but we didn’t, we understood what it’s like to be in the position of the people serving us – which is what made it even more unacceptable to be treated the way we were by the hotel.
I have never experienced somewhere that doesn’t provide bedding for all of their guests. So we will be going back to our old faithful friend – The Holiday Inn Express next time – and you get a free breakfast there!!
Have you ever had a bad experience in a hotel? Has your perception of good and bad changed since you became a parent? Or maybe you’ve had a great experience – please do let me know and give me tips on where to look! I read a blog somewhere about The Grove in Watford which sounds amazing – I only wish it wasn’t down the road so I had an excuse to stay!!