4-Hotel check-in woes

Recently, I’ve been writing about my experiences planning and leading tours in Europe. This was brought on by a friend at church asking me how I liked my recent “vacation”. Don’t get me wrong, traveling in Europe is a blast and I would not do it if I did not really enjoy myself, but there is a lot of work to it too. In the previous episodes, I’ve collected the group from the airport, gotten them on a bus, traveled to Paris, and unloaded the bus in heavy traffic.  Now we are piled into the hotel lobby waiting to get room keys.

As we walk through the lobby, the guests at the bar (invariably French businessmen or vacationing Europeans) look at the the sea of people and suitcases with amusement. I often wonder what they are thinking… Do they pity me? Do they wish they had visited a bar down the street? Or maybe it’s just that they want a pair of those bright white tennis shoes! At any rate, I make my way to the hotel reception desk, speak with a clerk, and with relative ease get our electronic key cards and hand them out.  As I send my friends on their way to their rooms, I tell them, “We’ll meet here in the lobby at 5:00 p.m. and will be out the rest of the night”.  Also, I remind them to “Be sure to bring a sweater, an umbrella, and wear your money belt”.

Thinking all is finished, I grab my bag and head to the stairs. Just then, I hear a comotion from around the corner and find my entire group crowded in the tiny elevator lobby waiting to get to their rooms. Remember the coffin-sized elevator at the airport? Well, this one is coffin-sized for a midget! It will take an hour to get all these people and their luggage upstairs. Consequently, I begin telling the younger ones to take the stairs. Meanwhile, a couple get on the elevator, the doors close, and off they go. We wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, the doors open and there stands the exact same people who left minutes ago! The lady is confused because she was told her room number 333 was on the third floor. They went three floors up, held the elevator door, looked around, and found only rooms with numbers in the two hundreds. “Can’t they count around here!” she exclaims. “Well uhmmm, I forgot to tell you that the first floor is really zero, and the second floor is really the first,” I say weakly. “So your room is really four floors up”. Off they go again, and so begins the elevator overuse. I walk away to the sound of the elevator overload alarm buzzing through the lobby.

Thirty minutes later I’ve dropped my bags in my room, checked all the floors where my group’s rooms are located, and it appears everyone is in! I grab my journal and head down to the lobby bar for a much needed drink.  Just as I get my pen out and open my journal, one of the ladies appears from the midget-sized elevator, marches over to the reception desk, and speaks to the clerk.  I can’t hear what’s going on, but I know she’s not happy with something.  Reluctantly I get up and go over to offer my assistance, only to find that she has gotten her answer and doesn’t like it.  It seems that the shower is too small, the air conditioning does not work, and the bed is too low to the floor.  The clerk ducks her head and rolls her eyes as I tell my client that this hotel has no air conditioning, the showers are small all over Europe, and the beds are typically low to the ground so people can fall into them, not climb into them.  She replies, “I know you said it would be different, but I didn’t expect this!”  Then, I guided her towards the bar and ordered her a nice cool glass of Chablis.  As we sipped I began talking about what I love about Paris, the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, neighborhood markets, and the solitude of the Place des Voges.  The wine and my descriptions seemed to change her tone.  As she left for her “small’ room, she said she wouldn’t mind “falling into her bed” after a good French dinner!

(more to come)  

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About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.
  1. Susan Reply

    I bet this hotel was a lot better than the first time I went to Paris with David and we were traveling with an educational traveling company. It was the same place with the very small elevator. I think I may have slept in my clothes that night. I think it was that trip that made David decide… ” I can do much better than this” and believe me he has!

  2. Wendy Richardson Reply

    It was very suave the way you handled a potentially bad moment. I am certain she enjoyed the remainder of her travels. Great job!

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