9th May 2011
I cannot begin to understand what the General Manager of the Britannia Country House Hotel, Manchester (BCH) is thinking when he runs the hotel day-by-day.
Never before, have I found such incompetance among public-facing hoteliers. Firstly, a Disabled room was requested at the time of making the booking. We were given a non-disabled room on the 4th floor.
Now a disabled room on the 1st floor.
4 hours later, the main lift packs up. Stops working entirely, because *apparently*, 5 days ago, it was full of 8 american tourists, with 8 biiiiig bags, all crammed in so tightly they exceeded the weight limit and had to be freed by the fire service.
Did the BCH have the lift fully repaired since then? Apparently not. We got in and it made a worrying *groink* noise before the doors closed.
Anyway, 4 hours or so after checkin, the lift freezes and goes to the 4th floor, where it locks itself down, and won't move for love nor money.
Leaving my disabled roomie trapped on the first floor.
On investigation, it's revealed that they don't have an Evac-chair. Nor a service lift, not any means of getting people from Disabled Rooms (on the first floor), down to safety.
Fuck knows what their fire contingency plan is. (Actually, my roomie spoke to the duty manager who was equally unaware of any fire contingency plans.
Apparently there wasn't a lift engineer available to fix it within 24 hours, so he had to be carried down a flight of stairs on a chair, by 4 heavy barmen. Not exactly dignified.
So after a *lot* of jiggery-pokery with some more unhelpful, rude and incompetant hoteliers, we now had a room on the ground floor, save for being up 3 steps, which have a plywood/carpet ramp. Which moves and flexes with every step. It's also quite a steep ramp, probably impossible to navigate with a wheelchair, based on its narrowness too.
The room is also smaller than the previous room, with no disabled handrails, or pull cord.
I also discovered, much to my infuriation (being someone who requires a hot shower in the morning, lest I be an evil cunt all day), that the shower didn't actually work. Some kind of mixer tap with a pull-up knob to divert the water flow, actually doesn't pull up at all.
Secondly, and more worryingly, The in-room phone doesn't work. Combine this, with the room not having a disabled pull alarm, means that if Sam did fall in the bathroom, or anywhere else, he'd be completely stranded. Can't rely on mobile phone signals in these rooms, the windows seem to be lead-glass and the walls forged from bricks of Depleted Uranium.
The hotel manager sent a maintainance man around, who poked at the shower, and the phone, and came to the conclusion that the shower was *so* old, and full of limescale that it was shagged, and the phone was more frustratingly "fucked". Apparently this hotel is made of 2 sections. The front bit is newer, and more modern, and the back bit is a converted block of flats. Apparently none of the phones in this back bit work.
I managed to get 2 decent showers out of the shower, before it returned to original form, and stopped being functionally usable, and was just a dribbly tap. Great.
I would mention it to the hotel staff again, but I don't think they really give a fuck.
So, it's Monday morning, and we're not due to check out until Tuesday morning. *knock knock*. Oh, it's you. Head of Housekeeping. I think I'll name you Chardonnay for the duration.
Yes, we're not checking out until Tuesday.
*4 hours later*
*sounds of key in lock*
I go and answer the door, before she has a chance to unlock it further, and see middle aged cleaning woman (Helga, perhaps?), doesn't speak a fucking word of english, other than "my boss say this room empty"
me: "Well, we're not checking out till tomorrow"
her: "My boss say room empty"
me: "Well, your boss is an idiot".
her: "I go away now"
5 minutes later, Chardonnay, Helga, and some guy turns up, and says "Yes, the cleaning lady doesn't speak much english"
me: "Yes, I told you earlier, we're not checking out today."
Seriously. Would it be too much to ask for people who are employed in the UK to be able to speak passable english?
Would it make sense if they knew what Do Not Disturb means?
I wonder how many times Helga has caught someone in flagrante delicto whilst trying to service their rooms? Is she some kind of voyeuristic cleaning-pervert?
"I wash your sheets, you make them dirty!"
FFS, BCH. I'm used to far better customer service. Far better staff, far less rude cleaning staff, and generally, not being fucking disturbed when i leave a DND sign on the knob. What part of that is so fucking difficult to grasp?
The available food at the hotel is similarly gash. Apparently they have an on-site pizza place. I'm yet to actually see anyone eating in it though. Someone asked at reception about the hotel pizza place, and they got given a Dominos menu. Insert comment here about dogfooding (or is that the toppings on the pizza?)
There was a "Light Bites" menu available, which seems to have been mostly microwaved ready-meals, except for the "Stuffed Potato Skins", which were skins filled with tomato puree (tube quality), topped with cheddar, and microwaved.
Eugh. So so so acidic.
Sam ordered the Bruschetta, and we were both surprised that it was Ciabatta, untoasted, cut end-ways, rather than length ways, so it was 6 slices, each with a surface area of about 3 square inches, and coated with a thick layer of Margarine, topped with some raw onion, raw peppers and raw tomatoes.
Perhaps we're spoiled, and London really is the paramount of global cuisine, but something tells me, that this isn't the case, and the cooks at the hotel are as incompetant as the rest of the fucking staff.
On the day we checked in, Thursday, there was a "Carvery", which was actually just some lukewarm roast pork, and palid apple sauce, where I got a paltry 4 small slices of pig, and could have quite happily devoured 4x that amount, but apparently that wasn't an option. For this, we paid £13.50.
On other days, there was one of three options, Something meaty, and tasteless, something fishy, and smells funny, and something vegetarian and cold.
Nothing particularly appetising, or nutricious. I am reminded at this time of school dinners, for a similar calorific value, and flavour level.
Which reminds me. Further to the aforementioned disability problems, out of a possible 6 bars, only one was at ground level, with no steps to get to, but this wasn't open anywhere near as often as any of the others. The main lobby bar is down a flight of 3, quite deep, stairs. The bar in their built-in "nightclub" is down a flight of 4 steps, then up a further flight of 5. The bar in the back "bistro" area, requires climbing 6 steps, and descending 4.
Basically, if you're unfortunate enough to be disabled, and unable to use stairs, you'd better be either tee-total or not thirsty, because your chances of getting a drink are pretty much nil.
I'd hate to have to navigate the hotel in a wheelchair, many of the doors are seriously weighty, including the one to the corridor for our room, and that one doesn't open fully, because there's a mysteriously placed sticky-out-bit of wall, which makes opening the door past about 60 degrees, completely impossible.
It's almost as if the floor plans were designed by Goebbels himself, as a disabillity assault course, designed to weed out the less capable.
Perhaps a word of praise, now. Although only a brief one. The beer is cheap, cold and plentiful, and the bar staff are cute. However, they seem to hate the rest of the hotel staff as much as I do. A fantastic insight, for which I am deeply grateful to see that they have absolutely no faith in their management either.
Overall review. Shocking. Don't stay here at any cost. If you do find yourself here, Run like hell.
I keep finding "quirks" about this place that leave me aghast and open-mouthed. The lift/disabled access thing being fairly prominent in my mind.
Oh, and I saw a rat in the lobby.
Photos of this hellish establishment can be found here: https://picasaweb.google.com/tom.bioinf/HotelFromHell?authkey=Gv1sRgCO-O3fCkvsG83AE&feat=directlink
Tom was once mistaken for the director general of Black Mesa.