I spent a week sleeping, eating and drinking in Spain last month. It’s interesting, spending time in three different hotels over a relatively short period of time. And none of them being quite perfect. It shouldn’t be hard to run a good hotel, it really shouldn’t be. And what’s odd is that out of all of these, the cheapest one is the one I’d go back to. Here we go.
Hotel Urban, Madrid. Billed as a four star property. Service more like two star. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s how it goes down. I pull up in a taxi outside the hotel. A bellman who smells like all his clothes got wet and he wrinkled them up in a ball and left them in a dark place and tightly-enclosed space for a few days opens the taxi door. I get out. Before I can pay the driver, he’s taken off with my luggage, but not in that helpful way. It’s like he’s gone, gone, disappeared. I check in, and the desk clerk has a very confusing conversation with me about the Internet, but I’ve been awake for 24 hours so maybe it’s just me. He hands me two pieces of paper, each with a different username and password. He tells me they are good for 90 minutes.
Someone takes me up to my room. I immediately take all my clothes off because I feel pretty disgusting. (For various reasons, it took me a really long time to get to Madrid, and I am covered in white wine, thanks to my somewhat obnoxious seat mate on the way from Chicago to Munich. When, when, when will I sit next to that totally awesome person on a plane??) There’s a knock on my hotel room door. I’ve seriously been in my room for 3 minutes and it’s after 3 pm. I don’t want to answer, but they knock again. It’s the hotel staff, and they want to check the minibar. NOW? No. I don’t think so. I send them away and take a shower in the bathroom, which has a moldy, water-damaged ceiling. Later, I avail myself of the free wifi in the bar, where the service is sweetly inattentive, but then I pass out.
The day I am to check out, my room is blissfully dark and cold and I am trying to sleep in a little bit. My hotel room door opens at some point. It’s housekeeping. I check the time. It’s 8:40 am AND I HAVEN”T CHECKED OUT YET. They want to clean the room. WTF. I am mad. And then I do go to check out and they try to charge me for all this Internet access that I apparently bought in advance BUT no one ever gave me access to. What I objected to most was the tone the front staff used with me. That I was an idiot. That I didn’t know how the Internet worked. I left angry.
Next up, Hotel Regina in Madrid. And I have low expectations because I’ve spent 47 euros a night on my room here. But although it’s basic, it’s SUPER clean and has all the right things, including some of the world’s best black-out blinds. (Rendered useless by leaving the door open to the bathroom, which did not have blackout blinds.) There’s FREE WIFI and lots of it, although it’s occasionally slow. There’s a supremely inexpensive cafe for breakfast with very professional service, and most of all, the price is right. This is a TripAdvisor favorite and I can see why. My two complaints would be that the hotel reception can be a bit too busy and bustling at times, and I hate shower curtains. But I liked that the local business people came in for a coffee and a drink at the bar and I liked the location and the free wifi.
Field trip! Hotel Convento das Claras in Penafiel, Spain. In the Ribera del Duero. A beautiful property and a beautiful location. But the staff! It’s not that they were mean or bad…they were just so clueless and not helpful. It was terrible. Trying to organize a taxi to the airport was like trying to schedule brain surgery. Only one person could talk to the taxi driver and that person wasn’t there so I had to wait 12 hours to talk to the right person and of course that person only worked in the middle of the night. How about having a guest file, people?
And the rooms were a bit not perfect. I laughed when I saw how the beds were made in my room. (See pillow on left bed.)
Ah, and the spa. Have you ever had a facial from a heavy smoker? Trust me, you don’t want to.
The only staff member who was nice and helpful was the morning I checked out…he knew I was leaving at 5 am, and he put out a complete breakfast for me. (I have to apologize to everyone who came in for breakfast at 9 am though because I’m sure all the bread was stale and the meat was sweaty by then. I told him I just wanted something small. I couldn’t believe what they put out for me.)
So in short, so much potential…wasted.
At least there was free wifi.
So…I’m back from Spain and catching up on life and everything else. More to come on my travels as well as restaurants in Chicago and elsewhere. Yes!