Saturday, May 21, 2005

Moan from Home.

I have been staying here over the past few days. If I'm away on business, I'm more than happy with Moat House hotels as they provide the basics, and do them well. What is it they say that makes a good cricketer? Those who 'do the simple things well'. This could provide an apposite leitmotiv for the ugly mods of the hotel world: the Lodges, the Moats, the Holiday Inns and their ilk.

I've stayed in grander hotels of roughly the same classification - work budgets seldom stretch enough to allow me to stay anywhere hugely impressive - but the faux grandeur of all these faded 18th century glamour pussies, old coaching Inns and Georgian manor houses with their ancient ballroom sized eating areas, ornately decorated atriums, vaunting rumours of taunting hauntings, often supervene the clinical requirements of modern life. Like a decent shower. And a half decent TV.

The last room I had in one of the oldies, having hefted my luggage up the grand balustraded spiral staircase and tripping up over the frayed and heavily gaffer-tape reinforced axminster carpet, due to there being no lift - often the case - was a tatty and typical disappointment. The splintering sash windows provided a grand view of a million deposits of pigeon feculence on the flat parts of the turreted roof. To open the thing you needed the strength and technique of a clipper boat sail rigger. Heeeeaaave! Heeeeeaave! Hold it, hold it. Its modern equivalent presented me with a pristine UPVC double glazed window with a multitude of opening variations, a saleman's clipboard of Gordian-like tilts and catches. All negotiated by finger power alone. And due to the buildings modern architectural design - not an ornithologically generated splatter in view.

And lighting. In the oldies my first visual sweep of the room on entering nearly always throw up a couple of tired wall lights, a bedside lamp with a shade so densely constructed it can barely emit a token glow from beneath its 1970s style gold fringe. And a standard lamp. A standard stalwart, looking like Lorraine Chase might turn out on Ladies Day at Ascot. Though less radiant. And plumper.

The new places - souless as they are - hit you with banks of light switches that wouldn't disgrace the average cockpit of a fighter jet. Lights can be fired up in places where there's hardly a need for illumination. 'Want to light up that area under the sofa where you've just stashed your shoes?' Not a problem - you can bathe the room in areas of light like a concentration camp tower guard, pinging every corner and niche. True you need the timing and co-ordination of a modern scatter shot DJ mixer-scratcher, but once you have the combinations, dim will be, well but a dim memory.

Time to take a shower - travelling is a sweaty, grimy business. The popular art masterpieces in reception, the pilasters in the hallway - the stuffed otters looking ferocious in their glass cases, don't assist at all in our impressively facaded character hotels. Turn the dial, or more probably, the lever, and the shower head invariably coughs before giving way with a reluctant and staccato spouting. This presages the main action, the top-gear and full on flow, a low pressure jet-dribble as the (tepid) water groans its way through the ancient plumbing and spittles over your body like a hose pipe with a kink in it. In contrast our charmless newbies provide showers with the pressure of firemen's hoses with no kinks at all (though firemen's hoses do suggest a certain kinkiness thanks to the trend of male sexually themed calendars) blasting volcanicly heated water at you with a heat and force that threatens to remove your first epidermal layer.

Our mods provide car parks big enough to house a small zoo. The old charmers don't do parking at all most of the time. Just enough room for the old coach and four to pull up outside - you'll have to Pay and Display somewhere and run the risk of losing your wheels somewhere miles away, before wrecking your discs traisping back up a hill (these places are always high up like churches and forts) clutching your car keys and your chest.

But I'm being unfair. I'm a obviously a hotel heathen. There's more than modern comforts and conveniences to consider when staying in hotels. Particualrly when the accumulation of experiences is one of my rules of life. It's just that if I'm given a choice..

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