Tales of the traveller – hotels

Service with a smile


You don’t choose to stay at an airport hotel because of great scenery or other amenities. You do it because of lousy flight scheduling. And what you really want is somewhere you can get-to real quick and without any hassles. This approach is fine unless and until you factor-in the size of the terminal. In the case of Hong Kong, that can mean a three-day march which is the last thing you want if you are hauling around sufficient luggage to start a new life in another city.

In most airports you could have a heart attack and die without anyone offering assistance but not so in Hong Kong. Unable to actually find the airport hotel, my colleagues and I were wandering around in ever-diminishing circles destroying the polish on the granite flooring until I spotted an information desk for the chain which operates the hotel we were desperately seeking.

When I explained our predicament, the young man behind the counter whistled-up two colleagues who ran – yes, actually ran – to assist us. They raced away and returned with two trolleys and proceeded to load our luggage on them. Then, two of them escorted us the five miles to the hotel, ensuring we didn’t get lost again and doing everything in their power to make us feel welcome and respected. They were one of the best examples of customer service a frazzled traveller could hope for. We offered take them home with us but they seemed to believe that crazy Westerners who want to kidnap hotel bellhops are not entirely to be trusted.


The real me

For those of you with flash bathrooms at home, this may not have much relevance. I, however, suffer from a bathroom which needs renovation – badly. Apart from being somewhat shabby, the lighting is poor. This hasn’t really bothered me until I got settled into a five-star hotel and acquainted myself with the bathroom. The opulence was wonderful and I thanked the gods who had enabled me to enjoy the experience – until I looked in the mirror.

Squinting hard because I nearly had to reach for my sunglasses to protect my eyes from the glare of the make-up style lighting, I suddenly felt sick. Dear god, was that really me staring back? Could all of those defects, irregularities and flaws actually be the face I presented to the world every day? The advantage of poor lighting in my home bathroom was brought home with all the force of a sledgehammer. I had been happily sailing through life thinking I was – well, if not actually handsome, then at least not ugly – but this mirror gave the lie to that piece of escapist fantasy.

For the first time in years I saw in sharp relief scars, discolourations, indentations and other blemishes too numerous to detail that reinforced the impact five decades of relatively hard living can impart. My ego shrivelled as I gazed aghast at the real me. I overcame my sadness by realising that, at my age, I was hardly going to be an object of desire to the opposite sex. Even so, blessed oblivion came with some difficulty that night as I cried myself to sleep.