Getting off the Squeezyjet and walking straight out of Aberdeen airport with just a laptop and a change of clothes in the hand baggage gives you a sensation a bit like wetting yourself in dark trousers - a warm feeling and no-one else notices!!! Getting to the taxi rank and, because you are one of the first out of the airport from the flight, there are still taxis waiting for you - not the reverse, as becomes the case shortly after. About £10 later and you are at the Queens Hotel. Situated on Queens Road, the hotel is the building lit with the white lights, next door but one to the greenly lit Simpsons hotel and restaurant. I'll save that review for another day. OK, going into Reception is not one of the more earth shattering experiences, not very imposing and, as an avid bookworm, the fake books/library effect is a bit of an affront, but I'm not paying to stay in reception am I? Very polite, courteous and helpful staff, who efficiently check me and give me directions to the room - "Through the door, down the stairs, through the door on the left, along the corridor, up the stairs, across the hall, through the door and its on your left - you can't miss it" Where did I put the boots and crampons? Joking aside, getting to the large door is a two minute walk. Open the door and wow!!! The room is huge (and I mean Queen size bed looks tiny in it) and is complimented by a huge bathroom. I could nearly stretch out in the wash-basin alone - there was a full size tub and a shower cubicle to go with it. The carpets have that lush feeling that makes you want to sink your toes into it and scrunch them up and it was clean enough that you might well do it...Large new widescreen TV, lots of channels, decent shortbread biscuits (after an hour or so on Squeezy, free food...) Bed very comfy, room quiet. Good night Gracey. OK, breakfast is a bit of an anticlimax. Very nicely cooked and all that but eat
ing in the bar, being assaulted by old cigarette smoke and last nights beer, brings back memories of being a student - and I'm getting too old for that (what you used to do all night etc) Dinner in the hotel - very well cooked, nice food, reasonable price. Beer is pretty good too, although there was a funeral in the hotel that afternoon and the bar was a bit rowdy - difference between a Scottish wedding and Scottish funeral? One less drunk..... When I left early around 06:00, the Night Porter couldn't have been more helpful - got the taxi arranged, sorted the bill with no hassles and even made me a cup of tea. The Queens isn't a plush "cloned" hotel like some chains - but the facilities are good and the staff have always been really excellent. Maybe that's why I go back there regularly. It's also near some good restaurants and a reasonable walk from the centre of town...
We've just returned from Aberdeen, having visited Amanda's grandparents, who have just celebrated their 60th Wedding anniversary; quite an achievement! On arrival at Aberdeen, we spent the first of our two nights at the Hilton Aberdeen Treetops hotel. Arrival It had been quite a journey. We arrived, late, from London Heathrow, flying British Airways. Our 'plane, scheduled to take off at 20:25, had finally departed Heathrow at 22:10 and we only narrowly missed being diverted to Glasgow and transferred to Aberdeen by coach, since Aberdeen airport closes at 23:30. With a 14-month old baby Josh in tow, this would not have been in the slightest bit funny. We worried, without reason, as it happens, about whether our reservation would be held. As our taxi finally dropped us off at the hotel, just before midnight, our fears were put to rest... Check-in This was very friendly and efficient. Well, almost! I'm a Hilton Gold Hhonors VIP member, so we were allocated an executive room. We were quite hungry and were told that the bars and restaurants were shut. There was a 24 hour room-service menu, so food could be sorted out, but I really fancied a drink in the bar after our somewhat taxing journey north and was a little disappointed, not to mention surprised! These things happen, I suppose, so we took our keys and followed the directions to... Our room ...which was conveniently located on the ground floor of the hotel, down a rather drab, brick-lined corridor. Despite having requested a smoking room, a brass plaque on the door denoted ours as a non-smoking room - presumably because they knew that Josh was sharing our room. A small sacrifice, and much better for Josh! We turned the key (no keycards here!) and went in. The weekend before, we had all stayed in a sumptuous duplex suite at the Langham Hilton in London and were not expecting the standard of this room to match it in any way
. It didn't, but then nor did the price, which was extremely reasonable. It was however, perfectly adequate and fairly spacious accommodation. We dumped our bags and looked around. It was, as I've said, on the ground floor and had french windows leading to the gardens outside, with a view of nicely landscaped gardens, a pond and the leisure centre. There was a functional en-suite bathroom, with bath and hand-held shower. Plenty of towels, but no bathrobe. The room featured a trouser-press (which I actually used!), a settee, a decent-sized wardrobe, telephone, King-size bed (and, boy, was this comfortable!!!) and a writing table. The colour television had a few selected satellite channels and, as with all Hiltons, the ability to check your bill and check-out electronically. We had reserved a cot (or crib) for Josh and this was already in the room. Full marks there - many's the time we have had to 'phone housekeeping to get it delivered and assembled and, at this late hour, it was great to be able to put Josh straight to bed. Not that he went to sleep! Oh no! Refreshments We perused the room service menu; good value, tempting things were available 24 hours a day and, before ordering, I decided to take a walk so that I could find a place where I was permitted to enjoy a crafty cigarette. It's a dirty, foul habit, but I guess that someone's got to do it... What's all this then? As I walked through the bar, I noticed that - despite the receptionist having said that the bars were shut - this one was open, and they were serving drinks! Alleluia! I returned to the room and asked Amanda if she fancied a drink. She did. Josh was still wide awake. The bar was very quiet and virtually empty. Off to the bar for a few, very reasonably priced, drinks before bedtime. All was well with the world. Off to the Land of Nod We returned to our room and got into bed. This was an extr
emely comfortable bed. It was going to offer a great night's sleep. Perfect. We were really tired and it was sweet dreams. Very sweet. And then, at 3am, just as Elle McPherson was about to..... What the........? The fire alarm went off. The fire alarm, I have to say, is extremely good. You know, in no uncertain terms, that something is wrong (except, of course, that this being a false alarm nothing really was wrong) because it is extremely loud. Umpteen decibels blurting out, added to the crying of baby Josh, meant a very rapid wake-up indeed. Ye Gads! I'm a realist. I've already said that we had a ground floor room with French windows which would have offered an easy escape from danger. It was absolutely obvious that the hotel was not burning to the ground. I "knew" that the alarm would go off shortly. We decided to comfort Josh and stay put. The hotel clearly takes the safety of its guests seriously (and I'm not saying that that's a bad thing) and, inevitably, to add to the cacophony already going on there soon came loud bangs on the door, and urgent shouting. Oh well! We got dressed quickly and took Josh with us to join the other guests assembled, freezing, in the car park. 3am in December in the Highlands of Scotland... It's cold, believe me. There were two fire engines in the car park (not a day of industrial action, today, obviously!). One of the firefighters gave Josh an aluminium blanket to keep him warm. We froze for about 5 minutes until the all-clear was given and we were allowed to return to our rooms. Back to sleep. Continental Breakfast ...Arrived at 9:15 in our room, as requested. Toast, pastries, butter (but no jam, or honey or marmalade - in fact, nothing), tea, coffee and fruit juice were adequate if not anything to write home about. I don't normally eat breakfast, but this was actually very welcome. The 'phone rang. Amanda's parents had arrive
d at reception to meet us, as planned, and she went off to greet them whilst I had a shower. Whilst drying myself off, I thought I'd use the express check-out facility via the television. I'd already checked my bill and knew what price I'd have to pay, but for some reason, the express check-in wouldn't work. It kept sending me back to the welcome menu. (I should point out that this was not Hilton's fault, as you'll see in a minute!). I locked the room and went to reception to join Amanda and her parents. As I kissed Amanda's mum, she simply whispered "Lovely to see you - we've settled your bill for you!". So THAT's why the express check-out wouldn't work! What great in-laws! I'll have to stop telling the mother-in-law jokes, I guess! Checkout then consisted of the simple process of handing over the keys and heading off to our next engagement.