“ Address: 291 Greenwich High Road / London / SE10 8NA „
Last year Mr Rarr and I treated ourselves, as we were still in an enforced long-distance relationship, to a city break in London to see a gig by our favourite band, Muse, at the O2.
The band was awesome, the weekend was fantastic. However, it was all very nearly ruined by the hotel we stayed in - here's why...
The Mitre is a pub / hotel in Greenwich, London, handy for the O2 and Excel centre. It is handy for the Docklands and the airport nearby.
It is easily located on the main road through Greenwich and has handy public transport access within a short walking distance.
We stayed there in late October of 2012, and I booked through Hotels.com. I have subsequently read reviews which claimed the hotel admit to having regular problems with not receiving their Hotels.com bookings - whilst this did not happen to us, I would suspect it were the fault of the hotel if it were not a blatant excuse, as I have never had a problem through Hotels.com but found the customer service at The Mitre to be thoroughly appalling and, I have reason to thoroughly suspect, dishonest.
I booked through the usual Hotels.com process and it was confirmed that for £80 we had confirmed our booking of a double room with full expected facilities of a London hotel.
If you should want to book with this hotel you can visit their website - www.mitregreenwich.com - although personally I can't advise against this strongly enough.
***SO WHAT WENT WRONG?***
We arrived in London in time for a leisurely lunch with plenty of time to then make our way to the hotel via the DLR network with plenty of time for us to both shower, change and relax before making our way to the O2 and have time to either have dinner, a few drinks and / or take in the support act before the big event. We arrived at The Mitre in perfect time for this plan.
The first problem was reception. A small room which is clearly an extension of the pub bar next door, this was staffed by a young girl who was the only member of staff who should emerge with any credit in this review. However, after struggling to find our booking she realised that one of her colleagues had accidentally already booked us in. This was not the fault of her nor this supposed Hotels.com bug but did cost us ten minutes and a bit of blind panic for a second as I thought the reservation had never gone through. But she sorted the problem and we were given our key.
We went up a spiral staircase and soon found our room. Instantly we thought it rather smaller than those advertised via their Hotels.com profile. It was basically the corner of the building on a junction in the road network, so effectively triangular. It had two nice sash windows as a result, but sadly the view could boast just the highlight of some balloons outside Café Rouge over the road.
The sash windows were nice however, the curtains heavy and the room was high-ceilinged and the building itself very nice.
The room featured a double bed which was in the "middle" of the triangle with a wall behind it - this separated the bathroom. The widest point of the "triangle" was the back of the room, featuring bathroom, "condensed kitchen" - basically kettle, plates, fridge etc all packed into a cupboard - and the door. Along the wall opposite the bathroom (well, showerroom) ran a long mirror but there was no full length one available. Towards the end of the room was the dresser, with phone etc. There was a small TV, and water both still and sparkling was provided.
***AND SO IT BEGINS***
We were not bothered that the room was not bright and airy. We went for affordable and all the sheets and towels were perfectly fine. Also, we were using this as a base for a night out. However, things soon got worse...
Mr Rarr went to shower first. He was in there for a few minutes and I could hear running water as I sorted out my outfit for the gig ready to change after my own shower. But Mr Rarr emerged, not from a luxurious steaming shower room, but looking distinctly disgruntled.
In short, at approximately 4pm in the afternoon in a city hotel near to a couple of major event venues, and an airport and the busy Docklands area, our room did not have hot water. Mr Rarr had been waiting for it to warm up, to no avail. We went to complain to reception by phone, only to find that it did not work.
Mr Rarr changed and went down to reception to complain in person. He received an apology, and was told a Duty Manager would attend our room to see what was wrong.
Mr Rarr returned and we waited ten minutes. Still no Manager, still no hot water. In the meantime, however, Mr Rarr decided to try the shower temperature again and found that the preexisting water in the basin of the shower hadn't drained.
No matter how much or little we pay for a hotel, we DO NOT expect to have to remove other guest's hair and various other detritus from a plughole, but we had to as the shower room had now developed a small flood over the basin and onto the floor, soaking a towel.
Still no manager.
Mr Rarr returns to the reception and sees the Duty Manager in the bar - who had the audacity to pretend he hadn't seen his customer and HID!
Mr Rarr eventually spoke to the receptionist again, the poor girl stuck in the middle, who said that the boiler had been turned off and would be put back on again immediately and "to give it ten minutes".
No! At this point we were behind our schedule. Now, I don't know if you use the tube much. Or planes. But after a day of that I like to shower. I feel pretty vile. I like a wash and a change if I am going to go out on a night in which I have invested over £200 between the two of us all in. We could not do that basic thing in a London hotel near all major travel network used by tourists and business people alike. On this day my partner, who does not commute to the city, told me that he now understood why I always have to have a shower after I get in from work. We both felt like that and we wanted a damn shower!
We both had to make do with a wash in the sink, which was tiny yet had a tap that had enough water power to generate electricity to supply the Falklands. In other words, water splashing everywhere unless you had minute control of the tap handle.
Still no Manager. The water was only bordering on luke warm - so yes, it was a cold flannel bath for us both.
We decided that we would not let it ruin the night but would say something at reception when we left, but there was nobody there. We left and made the most of our night.
We returned to the hotel about midnight. Mr Rarr sourced a couple of glasses of white wine from the bar as night guests - these weren't very cold. However, one thing was. The room.
Despite both radiators being on full blast, they were clearly inadequate to heat the room. I can take pretty Spartan temperatures, but this was daft. The room had two exterior walls on a bitterly cold evening on which the wind coming off the docklands was positively arctic. The sash windows, high ceilings and exterior walls made this room freezing. We got into our dressing gowns (a bit stiff and scratchy) and drank our (not cold enough) wine. But the good news is...
...we could now warm up with a shower! Hurrah! Only about eight hours too late. Of course, the drain still caused flooding...God knows what was in there.
***THE NEXT DAY***
We decided that we only had a weekend in the city and we had a lot we wanted to do. I said I would take the issue up over the internet by email because there was a queue to check out and a large family behind us whose morning I didn't want held up any more than my own. Check out was efficient.
This is where it gets interesting.
Now, if I ran a hotel and had failed to provide the very basic facilities to my guests, I would be mortified. If I had been responsible for an establishment that had nearly ruined an otherwise fabulous weekend for a young couple, I would be bending over backwards to apologise, offer a refund to make things right, and accept that whilst I might have lost a customer, I might have salvaged my company's name in good will.
I sent my first email soon after the stay. I illustrated all of the above in a calm and reasoned manner.
I had no response.
I waited a week. It took me forward my original email with a rather terse message asking for a response to at least acknowledge receipt of my initial contact to kick start a response - funnily enough, I now had a reply within half an hour.
Problem is, there was an apology, yes, but it was the flowery "we are sorry, but we're not going to do anything to show that we meant that, we just want you to go away" sorry.
It also included the claim that someone attended our room immediately after we left to check the water temperature and found it acceptable. Now, I don't know if they thought it was acceptable to not visit our room when we were in it, spy on us and then time their visit accordingly, and / or if the person who did so is into "Iron Man" contests and ice showers, but we checked the temperature when we left as a point of principle and found it still only just in the lower regions of luke warm - no chance it was acceptable for a shower.
I sent a very terse response to this. I did not find being "fobbed off" with meaningless apologies acceptable - I paid hard-earned money for a hotel that couldn't provide a shower, after all. I also mentioned that I frequently use various review sites as I feel that public openness of opinion is important for consumers in a day and age where money has to go a lot further, and that this hotel would be included in my reviews. This was not a threat, but a fact I wanted them to be aware of.
I had a response to this which was bordering on the extremely rude, which insinuated I was fabricating my account and that The Mitre had (this is possibly not an exact quote but the words were to the extent of) "no intention of participating in" discussion with anyone who would review their establishment on a review site. In short, I was told that I was not having a refund under any circumstances and on top of this, not only was the reply rude but at times I found the sentence structure so incomprehensible that I honestly would not be surprised in the person who wrote it was under the influence of alcohol.
Frankly, I doubt wholeheartedly that a Duty Manager who thought he could get away with making eye contact with my partner knowing he was part of a complain process and, for want of a better term, running off, would have the conscience to then visit the room after the guest had left. So I would suggest that, not only were the staff of this establishment prepared to accuse a guest whose booking was not upheld sufficiently of lying, but that they were prepared to do so themselves in order to avoid paying out a refund.
I was told at the end of this second email that the member of staff in question "now consider(ed) the matter closed". I replied very tersely that his input was no longer required and that I would be taking this to the parent company of the firm, as their management were clearly unable to process customer complaints. I have yet to do this as I found the whole experience so thoroughly insulting and upsetting, and with hindsight it has left a nasty taint to our otherwise brilliant weekend away together.
At no point did I feel I had a sufficient apology or response relative to the issues this hotel threw at us. When challenged, their staff were insulting, rude and only just stopped short of blatantly accusing me of lying. With hindsight writing this review, which has become an important point of principle for me to do, I may well revisit this issue with the parent company after all, for no visitor to a hotel deserves to be treated like this.
I sincerely hope that our case was a stand-alone incident and a combination of unfortunate staffing and staff decisions. However, I would sooner sleep under a cardboard box than hand my money over to this hotel again and I shall also be checking which other hotels come under the parent company branch (which, by the way, is the Convivial group) and avoid them like the plague too. I have never felt so insulted and patronised as a customer and found the whole experience to be bordering on comical farce - or I would were it not a frustrating, rip-off of a reality.
***SO....ER....NOT A WINNER?***
An utter, total disgrace. These people could take lessons from Basil Fawlty and they'd still be better than they are now. I cannot tell you how aggrieved I am that I am forced by this site's structure to give a minimum of one star - it should be so far into the negative that it forms its own black hole.