I am lying atop the bed in my standard room with a window, which incidentally and more surprising is a double bed and a rather comfortable one at that!
I have chosen, due to a short 5-minute walk to the office, a hotel in Paddington. Smack bang in the centre of London’s West-ish End, a tourist hotbed for some of London’s many visitors. The hotel is nestled amongst the Chinese restaurants, St Mary’s Hospital, (aka the Royal baby hospital and also where penicillin was discovered) the best chippy in London, and a short stroll from the station.
So how did I end up here? Well, I was to be homeless for a short time.
I had been staying with my cousin in Herne Hill after my fiancé moved back up North leaving our beautiful flat in leafy Ealing Broadway, — not as disastrous as it sounds, I would follow her to Leeds at Christmas! It was a heart wrenching decision, on my part at least to leave London, but a step in the right direction as far as the progression of my life was concerned, also known as — still having a fiancé!
My cousin’s South London flat was newly bought and in the midst of a face lift. The bedroom cum cupboard I was sleeping in was their only source of storage and with more floorboards to be ripped up it was clear that I would have to move on.
It was only three weeks until Christmas but where could I stay? Who, if anyone, would have me? Well, the answer was no-one. I had exhausted all lines of enquiry as far as staying with friends was concerned and short of bunking up next to the chap at the entrance to North Acton Underground station, it seemed to me that the only options were a hostel or a hotel, and being the demi snob that I am it had to be a hotel.
But herein lay another problem, this is London, where a frightful flee pit of a hotel will set you back at least one hundred pounds a night. Accounting for the fact that I needed nine nights board, this would equate to an insurmountable cost that was far beyond my means.
There was only one way to deal with this situation and do what I usually do in these trying circumstances, bury my head in the sand and wait until the situation resolved itself in due course. I had three weeks notice to find alternative accommodation and like a prize wining procrastinator I left it until the last few days.
One evening, three days until I was to move out, I thought it prudent, no a matter of the utmost urgency that I find somewhere to live. Clear the situation would not find its own resolution as I had hoped, I sat staring at my laptop and decided that the only way was to stay in some ghastly hotel on the outer reaches of London, so far out that it isn’t deemed fit enough to even have a London postcode. And then the words came from the mouth of my ever tolerant or perhaps resigned fiancé.
‘How about an easyHotel?’
‘EasyHotel?’ Sure, I hadn’t thought about that or perhaps I didn’t even know they existed?
‘They are pretty cheap and basic mind, but probably the cheapest you are going to get in London.’ And so the decision was made and easyHotel it was.
Now I’m sure there are many people who would not even consider staying there, in fact neither would I had I not been so desperate. Those who have had a bad time of it with easyJet, and I am sure there are many, would, I am sure not even contemplate it. We’ve all seen the program. Extremely irate passengers venting at the unsympathetic orange staff.
So it was with a determinedly open mind that I started to book the hotel. I was sure it would be a nice room; I’d have a television, and a definite plus I’d have my own shower, a luxury to me as there wasn’t one at my cousin’s house. There wasn’t even a bath nor even a sink! Amidst the broken floorboards, the rubble sacks and the toolboxes stood a solitary toilet and even that had to be flushed with a bucket. And to undertake ones ablutions a trip to the local gym was necessary.
I completed my reservation, after a time as at first my bank deemed to stop the transaction fearing it to be of a fraudulent nature, and then after waiting to be able to start the process again I found that now three nights at the Paddington hotel were fully booked. Ever the procrastinator I decided to deal with that later.
I don’t know about you but for me there is something quite glamorous about living in a hotel, it’s all rather James Bond. I allowed myself to get somewhat carried away with the idea of it all. I imagined myself staying at the Ritz with a large sumptuous four-poster bed and huge Georgian windows to gaze out of down to the bustling streets of London below, and a bath-cum-Jacuzzi the size of a swimming pool. I’d spend my evenings drinking cocktails in the lounge listening to a pianist. It would be bliss. Perhaps I wouldn’t go back to Leeds at all, I would just spend the rest of my days being a permanent guest of the hotel, wearing tuxedos, supported by my writing. I can almost taste the martinis. Shaken not stirred of course.
This dream would shatter in an instant the moment I saw my room for the first time.
The exciting day arrived, the day I was to start my adventure, I was about to move into a hotel! My bags were packed and I made my way via the ever-unreliable circle line to my new home. Now this is going to seem rather snobbish of me, and indeed in certain aspects I am an absolute snob, but for a moment I lingered across the street looking at the entrance not sure if I was ashamed that people might see me go in or scared of what I would find. Or probably both.
The frontage of the hotel seemed not like a hotel at all, but that of an internet café, or dare I say had the presence of a seedy “establishment.” It was orange, of course, and had unsightly tinsel strung up in the window. So with a deep breath I entered the threshold and once inside began to relax. It was just like any hotel one might encounter. It had a desk and a coffee machine that you could help yourself to after handing over the princely sum of one pound to the receptionist.
After showing some identification I was given a key card and told my room number was LG5. I headed down the stairs and began to feel as if perhaps I had stumbled into the seedy establishment I feared it was earlier — not that I know what the inside of one of those look like you understand.
Once inside my room my first impression was that it was small, very small. Mine being a standard room I dreaded to think what proportions a small room would have. But on the upside it had a double bed, something I was not expecting, although it did take up the vast majority of the available floor space. Talking of the floor it was a bizarre textured lino affair, similar in appearance and feel to sandpaper. Obviously the upkeep of a carpet deemed too expensive. There was a flat screen television, thumbs up and indeed there was a window.
A quick peep in the bathroom, which as you know is one of the first things one does when entering a hotel room, I hoped that it would be some kind of T.A.R.D.I.S. It wasn’t of course, and I wondered where my legs would go when sat on the toilet. To get to the shower one had to slip sideways between the toilet and sink, and any larger patrons would have to suck their stomach in drastically.
Now to the unpacking! I understand your questionable glances regarding my over excitement over emptying my bags, but after living out of a suitcase for the better part of three months the thought of being able to open a wardrobe and see all of my clothes was a glorious one.
It must be hidden, I thought, because I couldn’t locate it on first glance. On further inspection I had to resign myself to the fact there wasn’t one. I would have to make do with living out of a suitcase for a while longer. There wasn’t even a bed side table to put one’s £1 coffee on. My upset was soon dispelled when I did the obligatory ‘jump’ on the bed and found it to be both soft and comfortable, apart from one or two dislodged springs that were easily avoided. And the best part, my legs didn’t hang over the edge as was the case in my previous abode.
Okay, onto the window. Easyhotel’s rooms come in three categories, small, standard and large, of course at a varying cost. But you can take your room with or without a window; paying slightly more for a room with a view. A window was a must for me otherwise it would be like living in a cell.
What view would await me? I was gasping with excitement. The fact I was staying on the lower ground didn’t register with me and I drew back the curtains with a flourish. What I found was a window that had been covered over with foil-like stickers. Rather odd I thought but it did open. When I hoiked up the window I was greeted with not the cool fresh London air but some sort of passageway that obviously housed the hotels heating and electrical systems. I have to say I felt rather peeved, paying extra for a window you would expect to be able to see the outside world, but then the LG should have been a warning. Here is the dictionary definition of a window:
“An opening constructed in a wall, door, or roof that functions to admit light or air to an enclosure and is often framed and spanned with glass mounted to permit opening and closing.”
Mine did neither.
As the days passed and I got used to my little cell of a room, the faux window with its curtains became somewhat of a comfort, without it, it would have been extremely claustrophobic.
The next treasure hunt was finding the remote for the television; this was as illusive as the cupboards. It was after some research that I found out you had to get the remote from reception (for a fee of course) and only then could you access the television. I had another means of watching television, on my iPad, although of course there was quite an inordinate fee for access to the internet as well.
In fact extra fees at easyhotel’s are somewhat of a recurrence. If you want fresh linen you pay a fee, if you want your room cleaned, you pay a fee.
On a positive note, the bed was comfy, the room was fairly clean and at least I could flush the toilet without the use of a bucket, which in it’s self was a blessing. As there would have been no space for a bucket in my standard room with a sort-of-a window.
Oh and did I mention the walls were orange?
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