Sunday, 26 June 2011

Good Morning Sir, at 1.00 PM

This blogger is not enamoured of traveling now, the consequence of over exposure to this activity over many years.  In this forum, there has been many a rant against airlines, fellow fliers, roads, and even cows. But I discover that there hasn’t been a full throated rant against an important abomination that is an inevitable component of the aforesaid activity – the hotel. This post rectifies the imbalance.

Does anywhere else in the world, the day start at 12.00 noon, I ask you. I can understand that the lazy Senior Division Clerk at Chennai Telephones believes that day starts at 11.00 AM. But 12.00 noon ? or 2.00 PM ? or even at one place 4.00 PM ?  You arrive at a new city after some 12 hours of being frozen in a Nataraja pose (after extensive research, airlines have learnt that it is the best “seating” arrangement in which you can squash the maximum number of people). The blasted flight has landed at 5.00 AM. You leg it to the hotel, to be told that the day starts at 2.00 PM and could you come back in 9 hours please.

Try getting into a hotel around daybreak (12.00 noon is daybreak in hotel speak). There is one bored looking sleepy clerk to check in 722 obese package tourists who have all landed up  to be checked in.  They want your credit card and immediately block it for $ 1 million – heavy hint that that is the amount you are expected to spend. Nowhere else is a potential customer treated like a potential thief – what if you run away without paying the bill; so appropriate your card as much as possible. Never mind that I am a regular stayer in the blasted place, my company has made the booking,  and the company routinely spends thousands of dollars putting up its managers there.

Once you get in, you are a captive “bhakra” (nincompoop), waiting to be milked. They want to charge you for water to drink ($2 for 10 ml ). The biggest rip off is the charge for internet – you pay for 10 mts, what you’ll pay for a whole year back home. Breakfast costs $56 plus taxes, plus service charge, plus surcharge, plus convenience fee please. Then there is the monstrosity called the mini bar – everything costs $10 please and we’ll bill you even if the chambermaid has flicked a bottle or two. God help you if you touch the telephone - $17 for looking and $34 for touching; any further activity at your own risk. And unless you carry your entire wardrobe with you, you are going to be literally be bled white by laundry. You white, the clothes torn, that is.

Dimensions of the room are now approaching the vital statistics of airline seats, especially in Europe. Americans (New York excepted) and Asians are more liberal with cubic capacity. But Europeans believe that chicken coops and hotel rooms must have same precise dimensions. One bed and 1.76 inches walking space.  Try soaping yourself in  1ft by1.5ft shower cubicle and you’ll begin to appreciate the bruises after every trip.

What’s a typical pattern of stay in a business trip ? Land in a place, have a shower and off to office. Obviously, there’s a dinner with somebody in the evening. Perhaps a drink or two at some bar, after dinner,  to be civil and polite. Stumble bleary eyed into the hotel at some 11 PM or so. Fall into bed and hopefully wake up at 6.00 and repeat all over again. For this privilege, pay some $250 (does not apply to those who stay at Ritz Carlton).  I was completely unaware of the value of a shower or the value of horizontal repose, until I started to see hotel bills.

Home away from home, I believe. My foot !


RamMmm said...

Ha Ha Ha Ha. Another true Sunday post of yours. :-)

All those cribs that I wanted to post, but did not. :-) :-)

Regards room sizes, how about Japan sire?

gils said...

thr is a reason y peepal stay at star hotels on office selavu..its called "no-need-to-watch-the-bill" :)

Vishal said...

12.00 Noon check in, 12.00 Noon check out - defies all the logic I could think of... some offer a pleasantary of doing a late check out by 2 hours i.e. 2 PM, but no early check in. You need to pay full for even one hour early check in. I have never touched the phone since my first mistake made some six years ago. As Gils says one can stay in those hotels only in "no-need-to-watch-the-bill" mode.

Nothing beats your writing style (righting style of imbalance) :-)

Ramesh said...

@RamMmm - Japan Yes - On par with New York and London. Awful.

@Gils - Not true anymore except the variety which stays at the Ritz Carlton, to which we don't belong of course !

@Vishal - That checkout policy is designed for the convenience of hotels and complete inconvenience of guests.

Deepa said...

I know the 4.00 pm ones! :(

The flights will always take the crown in being painful. My only complaint with hotels is, never having the time to notice the frills being paid for. And yeah, even I am paranoid of even going close to the fridge and the pringles!

Reflections said...

Another sunday gem....thoughts which keep going round & round inside my head[esp during vacations] manifest into thinking posts on ur blog;-D

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Exactly. Virtually in every hotel I have stayed in, I have only seen the lobby, lift, room and breakfast joint.

@Reflections - Wow; If I can be in synch with the fair lady's thoughts' ..... :)

Anonymous said...

So true...when I was in the US, I learnt ( after burning my pockets enough) to book into those chains which are fairly priced and no frills attached and allow you some flexibility in check-in /out.

S said...

Ok, i just returned from a quick weekend holiday at a lavish guest house in Conoor. Was just awed by just what a difference just space could make to your system. large rooms with beautiful views and space and space and just space (ok, this is not my travellogue here). and i didnt pay too much for this (you know why?)

you have experienced just the exact opposite. if we could measure our emotions in a number, i think yours would be mine multipled by "-1" :-)

What a synch naa - Ha ha.

But coming to the topic, as usual, i deflect away. During my parent's young days, there was never a concept of a hotel. there was always that relative somewhere, where you would huddle in and have a memorable holiday. the relative could still give you that small bed (mostly a mat on the floor) but it was worth the bonding.

now there are no contacts, no time for those relatives, no heart to welcome them when they come over and then, we pay a bomb for that place to shower and that meal to eat. well, the price of privacy i guess :-)

Sandhya Sriram said...

my comment got published, before i could type my name.

But i think you would have guessed anyways, as i am the only species who can get away with such mindless rambling on your intellectual community :-)

Sandhya Sriram said...

and i also read that there are too many justs on my note :-)

just the price of just rambling without applying just the little brain that god gave me just in case, i end up using it just a bit some time.

kiwibloke said...

best places i've stayed - 1 Ibis in Gothenberg Sweden. Its an old steamship moored in the docks converted to a hotel rooms are slightly larger than the queen bed, had trouble fitting my 26 inch check-in bag and laptop case. 2- a hotel (Novotel?) half way between Vienna and Bratislava Slovakia, an old barn converted into a hotel, need I say more! and 3-Eurostar in Barcelona, it redefined my perception of Eucleidian geometry and use of space. surprisingly I never paid more than 80Eu incl breakfast for any of these places!

Ramesh said...

@Hema - US Hotels are a shade better, although not a patch on Asia.

@Sandhya - Of course we know its is you. That inimitable style, that penetrating insight, that balance in argument, that delightful thought .....

Btw that place in Coonoor is not a "hotel" !

@kiwi - You really should be writing a travel memoir.

We've been to some nice ones as well. Remember Durban, Adelaide .....

Preeti Shenoy said...

Ramesh--Let us swap bodies. You stay home and write in my body and I will travel all over and stay happily in tiny hotel rooms with crips white linen sheets, in yours :)
(In a totally different context from the post (sorry to digress),the movie 'prelude to a kiss' has an interesting body swap concept)

Anonymous said...

LOL! :) Nataraja pose ... My god!! It was hilarious catching up with your Sunday post... :D :D I have often felt the same frustrations when we holiday.


Ramesh said...

@Preeti - Great idea. I would love to be a star author, artist, etc etc.

@Thoughtful Train - Whoopeeeee - welcome back. Lovely to see you here.

CMK said...

I had also experienced the 'ibis' hotel in Goteburg which Ravi mentions. The hotel 'room/bunker' reminded me of Circuit's Munnabhai dialogue - ' kya hai ye - ye kamraa shuru hothehi katam hojaathi hai' - loosely translated as 'Wow what's this - the room ends as soon as it begins'.

'Circuit' and 'Munnabhai' are popular film characters - if you are not familiar with them.

Prats said...

I totally agree to every word you said about the hotels.

But you have to give it to them they are a tiny place of solace after 11 PM when you have had a hard day :-)

Ramesh said...

@CMK - That's a brilliant line - the room ends as soon as it begins. We'll attribute the catchy translation to you !!

@Prats - Great to have you here. Yes, when you hit the bed, it sometimes feels worth it. Except that you suddenly wake up mid sleep and not sure which country, which place, which time zone you are in :)

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