Today I was working in Solihull at short notice, and couldn’t get into my regular hotel, so I’m trying the De Vere Village. This is a modern and allegedly upmarket hotel in Shirley, but I’m simply astonished how poorly it meets what I believe to be my fairly standard and relatively modest requirements.
Firstly, it’s bloody freezing! I initially wondered whether the reception area might be suffering because it connects to the outside world, and the weather is getting colder, but the room is not much warmer. Now I’m sitting in the main restaurant, within 6 feet of an open fire, and huddling inside my suede jacket to try and keep the cold at bay.
The room has a television, but there’s no access to the external inputs, so bang goes my normal practice of watching my own TV recordings. Watching them on the laptop isn’t much of an option either, because the “desk” is shoved into a corner right up against the cold window.
Working at the desk will also be impossible as although it’s at a normal height, the only chair is a low easy chair, which comes up about a foot too short. You may remember the scene in Bless This House where Robin Asquith is trying to cook a burger without his head appearing above the counter – using my laptop is rather like that…
Mood lighting. Need I say more?
Dinner was OK, with decent service, but my hope of a decent cup of coffee at the end was stymied by the coffee bar shutting rather earlier than expected. Back in my room I find my PC has shut itself down and the temperature has dropped again. Obviously when you leave it not only shuts the lights off, but also the heating and all the power sockets.
Ghastly, truly ghastly.
It got worse!
I managed to get some heating going in the room, but the fan sounded like a water tank being dragged slowly over rough cobbles, so I was destined for a cold night. After watching some TV on my tablet (not ideal, but OK) I settled down for the night. Adjusting the bedding and turning off the multiple independent lighting switches took some time, but finally I was in bed and drifting off to sleep.
Then the fire alarm went off! It went for long enough that I started to dress and head for the cold car park, then stopped. I got back into bed. Then it went off again! Fortunately the second time was only a few seconds, but it took me a while to get back to sleep.
Now even my favourite Midlands hotel, the Chesford Grange, is not above the occasional freezing fire alarm, but at least everything else works there. I’m for an early breakfast this morning, but hopefully no early return to The Village.