Apologies for the traditional lack of capital letters in the first few paragraphs - common Dooyoo trait!!! It being Amanda?s birthday, and coincidentally being the end of a very gruelling ?OfSted Inspection? (ie the school inspectors had swooped on her school for a week!), I decided to treat her to a well-deserved weekend away in London. I decided to book via ?Priceline? and selected a five star hotel in London?s fashionable Mayfair. My bid price of £80 (plus about £18 taxes and charges) was accepted and we were allocated a room at Le Meridien Piccadilly, a property with an official AA five star classification right on Piccadilly Circus. I was delighted. Well, up to a point; that point roughly coinciding with our eventual arrival at the hotel yesterday afternoon. Several days before we were to stay at the hotel, I decided to ?phone them and check the room type. I was disappointed to learn that they?d reserved a twin room and asked if a King was available. Only, I was told, in an upgraded room. I enquired about the additional cost and the operator, apparently being unable to tell me, transferred me to Le Meridien?s central reservations department. They were also, apparently, unable to help and suggested that I ?phoned Priceline, which I immediately did. Priceline were as bemused as me but ? all credit to them ? were friendly, helpful and efficient. They ?phoned Le Meridien on my behalf and, after a short delay, came back to me with news that they had secured a King bedded room at no extra cost! Tickety-boo! I relaxed and started to look forward to our break, happy in the logical assumption that they had secured me a free room upgrade in the process. We arrived at the hotel and walked, past a liveried and friendly doorman, through the rotating door and into the smart lobby. This was very elegant, with a concierge desk, semi-open-plan reception desks, business centre and steps leading down to the welcoming Burlington Bar. Above
us, on a mezzanine, was another bar area. Together with its absolutely superb ? arguably unbeatable - location in t he heart of London?s theatre-land, the calm, sophisticated ambience made us feel sure that we were in for a real treat. We were greeted at reception by Tristan, who checked us in with a smile and, once the somewhat laborious process was complete, handed over the key cards to room 705 - adding that he?d managed to upgrade us to one of their nicer rooms. Excellent! Couldn?t be better! Actually ? it couldn?t be much worse. We opened the door to this large, well-furnished room and liked it very much ? except for the overflowing ashtrays and the unmade bed. One can draw one of two conclusions when this happens (and it has happened to me once before ? and more spectacularly, I might add). Either the housekeeping is abysmal or one has been given the key to somebody else?s room. Assuming the latter, we headed back down to reception with our luggage. This time, we were dealt with by Victoria. Possibly, she?d had a long and hard day, or an argument with her boyfriend ? I can?t tell. Maybe she just wasn?t cut out to work with the public; I don?t know. Nothing, as they don?t say, seemed too little trouble! She tried to sort things out but it became clear that a quick and suitable solution was not to be found. Tristan intervened and invited us to enjoy a drink in the bar (on the house) whilst the problem was resolved. The Burlington Bar was very comfortable and nicely decorated in warm shades of green and we enjoyed polite service, a comfortable sofa and cool G&Ts, whilst watching England fall behind Ireland in the Six Nations rugby match on a wall-mounted wide screen plasma TV screen. Before long, Victoria appeared and gave us new key cards, this time to room 210. It?s at this point that the nightmare really began to escalate. We finished our drinks and headed off to our room. I decided to drop by at receptio
n to check that room 210 was still an upgraded room. It wasn?t. I?m struggling for words to describe a supposedly world -class hotel that offers guests a complimentary upgrade, lets them see the room (albeit in its unserviced or double-booked state) and then puts them back down to a standard room with no explanation or apology, but ?Rude?, ?Amateur?, ?Unprofessional? and ?Incompetent? all spring to mind. ?It is, at least, a King?, I asked. Nope ? it was a Queen. Central Reservations had not, it appears, managed to inform them of the confirmed re-booking Priceline had secured earlier that week. Ah well. We headed off to the room, on the second floor, having been assured that our luggage had been sent up. We arrived and opened the door. Good grief! I know that London hotel rooms are notoriously small ? but this certainly took some beating in the anti-Tardis stakes. The fact that it was completely dominated by the 4?6? Queen size bed possibly gives you an idea of the size. Had baby Josh been with us, there would have been no way of accommodating a cot (or crib). It was clean, though, and blandly decorated in a magnolia colour scheme and turquoise carpet. There was a small desk and chair with a fax machine / computer printer and high-speed internet connection. There was one armchair and an occasional table and an interactive TV set, offering a rather disappointing collection of channels, although pay-movies and Playstation games were available. There was a large walk-in wardrobe with a safe and (and I never understand why hotels don?t provide two, in double rooms) one fluffy bathrobe. Cleverly hidden next to this was a well-stocked minibar although I didn?t actually find this until the morning, and there was no price list to be found. A minibar is a dangerous thing at the best of times, but one without a price list is, in my humble opinion, to be avoided at all costs. The minimalist theme of the room was admirably complemented by the absen
ce of a room service menu (despite room service apparently being available) and ? worse ? the absence of our luggage. Amanda decided to wash her hair in the small, but clean, bathroom and I returned, once again, to the increasingly familiar reception desk to investigate the luggage. I was assured that it was on its way and returned to our rather depressing room. On my return, I learned that reception had ?phoned to promise delivery of our luggage and eventually it turned up. Time to admire the panoramic view from the window. Except that half of it was boarded up. Probably a thoughtful gesture, since the only thing visible from the upper, un-boarded half of the window appeared to be the hotel?s air-conditioning unit. It?s at this stage that one might explode with rage. The alternative strategy is to relax, fairly confident in the knowledge that things really can?t get any worse. We freshened up and went out to enjoy the sights, leaving our depression behind us. One thing I?ll repeat is that this hotel would be difficult to beat in terms of its excellent location. We eventually returned and thought it might be nice to enjoy a drink in the mezzanine bar ? designated the ?Cigar Club?. Indeed, it would have been lovely ? but it was shut. And so to bed. We skipped breakfast ? at £47 for two for an English breakfast in bed, it would have been the final insult. Had it not been Sunday morning (when it?s closed), a far better option would have been to nip across the road and enjoy breakfast (for £11.95 each) in the world-famous ?Fortnum and Mason?s? (The Queen?s favourite deli!). Being the gourmand I am (and having spent a small fortune out on the town the night before), a local McDonald?s did the trick this time! The hotel has two smart and stylish restaurants ? The acclaimed ?Oak Room? and the more informal Terrace. We ate out on Saturday night, so I am unable to comment on the quality. There is also a ?Champney?s? spa
and leisure club. This is currently, however, closed for refurbishment. A nightmare has to end eventually so we decided to check-out ? again, with the charming Victoria. Whereas at check-in, we hadn?t been offered a wake-up call or newspaper (free or otherwise), I had to smile to when I won a bet with myself by correctly predicting that she wouldn?t even ask if we?d enjoyed our stay (and I?d not moaned once about it). Le Meridien have a customer comment card called ?The Moment of Truth?. I filled it in truthfully and hope that the General Manager will read it with interest and act quickly upon the flaws I highlighted. Unless that happens, I cannot see how there is any way that ? in a competitive market ? this hotel can be recommended.