The plan was for a weekend away in Edinburgh. Had it been a dirty weekend there might have been a problem as the guest house didn’t leave us any towels and the bathroom was concealed behind a door marked “Manager”.
My husband is working in Edinburgh during the week and comes home for weekends. It is just for a couple of months while the Government works out policy and laws for the crofting community. He is rubbing shoulders with the “man”.
Rather than him travel home over the weekend we decided that I would travel down to Edinburgh for the weekend. We planned to visit the zoo and see the pandas. It seemed to make sense to book a hotel on the zoo side of the city. I left my husband scrutinising the offers on laterooms.com. He should have read the reviews of the guest house he eventually settled for.
We arrived at the door to be greeted not by a friendly porter or receptionist, but a notice on the door to phone someone. The door was locked. Joe’s mobile was out of battery and mine was merely out of sorts. I roused a fellow guest – not a friendly porter or a receptionist. He kindly let me use his phone. The instructions given involved a lot of numbers and a combination lock to a panel on the side of the door. Once opened, a key was retrieved to unlock the door and the room number was divulged.
The room was big and spacious. We had a kettle, cups, coffee and tea sachets and something in little containers that didn’t claim to be milk. There was a TV high up on the wall but no remote control. There were buttons along the top of the TV, easily accessible if you were a nine foot giant, not so easily accessible if you are not quite five foot.
We planned to freshen up and then head off down the road to find somewhere to eat. There were no towels anywhere and apparently no bathroom either. I found a toilet in the basement. I also found a door to a bathroom with a notice on the door in capital letters with lots of exclamation marks telling me it was ONLY FOR THE USE OF GUESTS IN ROOM 1!!!!!!! We were in room 9. Another phone-call and we had instructions to find the bathroom we could use (through a door marked “Manager”) and a promise of towels in the next half hour.
I cannot complain about the bed(s) – yes, in a Goldilocks moment I tried them all. The bed(s) were fine but that’s not to say that I slept well. Deep down in some hidden part of me I knew that no one was minding the fort – there wasn’t anyone on night duty. Who’s to say that the guest in Room 1 with his own personal bathroom wasn’t really a mass murderer? He probably wasn’t but I just felt very insecure.
We had anticipated waking to the smell of bacon and sausages. Another sign on another door said “Private” but underneath that it said “Dining Room”. We assumed breakfast was in there, but we were wrong. Meanwhile I was dripping wet hair everywhere after a shower. Was there a hairdryer? No. The list of things the Guest House didn’t have was added to.
I can take the budget experience. I can rough it if needs be. I am not such a softy that I need luxury all around me. Budget experiences ought to come with budget price tags. This one didn’t. For the price one would have assumed there were things like towels, TV remotes, night porters, breakfast etc. We just had the use of a bed and a bathroom (through a door marked “Manager”).
I am not really one for posting a review but I felt this place deserved one. When I got home I headed for the laptop. I read the other reviews. They were all very negative. The locked door and the phone call were mentioned. Towels were not mentioned so I assume they had them. Having an en-suite bathroom appeared to be of no advantage as one or two taps didn’t work and the wall paper was peeling off. The price was also described as daylight robbery.
So, I have to ask myself, why didn’t my husband read the reviews before he booked the place? I am a review reader. I would not have booked if I had read the reviews! All that mattered is seemed was the place was near the zoo. Accommodation in the zoo might have been better!
Why did previous guests post such damning reviews on the laterooms.com website? So that people like me would not make the same mistake they made.
There is something in the Bible about learning from the people who have gone before us.
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. “ 1 Corinthians 10:11
Paul wasn’t writing about a bad hotel experience and a negative review on a website. He warned his readers – us – that despite all the miracles surrounding their exodus from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the daily provision of manna from heaven and fresh water from the Rock the people of God, the nation of Israel, ended up dying in the wilderness. Idolatry, drunkenness, sexual immorality and snakes did them in. Their hearts were not set on God and they came to a sticky end.
It’s all written down for us to read – to read and to learn from – to not head down that same destructive path they travelled.