What is wrong with people at Hotel Receptions?

OK, I admit I’m possibly not at my sunniest at this point.    Of course I try not to be rude, but I’m tired and  all I want is rapid and unimpeded access to my room with as little interaction as can be managed.   I don’t want to say where I’ve come from, or how good the journey was.   I don’t want to hear of the delights or dangers that await me on the Spa floor.      I don’t want to be asked where I’m eating dinner.     All that I will address later, from my room.     What I want at that point is to give my name, the receptionist smile and say, yes, we’re expecting you, sir and madam; your room is ready.   No 406.   Lift to the left of you.   Do you want help with your luggage?  Let us know if we can help you further.

When Joanna worked at the reception of a large hotel in Glasgow, she had the opportunity to observe different attitudes.     Some people were like me, but others preferred to chat.   She thought the art of doing the job well was to assess the customer’s frame of mind and react accordingly.   She noted that a German colleague, gaining wider European experience with them, had a difference of expectation.    In Germany, she explained in irritation, the prospective guest presented himself at the desk, With His Papers, so it could be ascertained that Everything Was In Order.    She seemed to expect the guest to arrive with the expectation of fitting in to her administrative system.   But the disorderly British guest arrived at her desk and announced, I’m Higgins, as though his name were sufficient of an entree anywhere.    They had to impress on her that it was NOT acceptable to demand, ‘And where are your papers?’

This reminds me of our exit from an irritating hotel somewhere on a pseudo ranch in Colorado.     Everything about the pretentious place had annoyed me, including its themed decor, so that I felt like heaving its giant (and solitary) cowboy boot into the Sorrel River that flowed past our room.    When John came to check out, the receptionist said to him, accusingly, I don’t have you listed.    John looked at her and said nothing.   She looked again.   Then she said to him, Are you travelling with someone?   Yes, he said.    She smiled in triumph.   What is the person’s name?    My wife, same name as me, he said, and her face fell.    She searched on, and then again said to him, as though  it were his fault, I don’t have you listed.     Shall I go then, said John, since according to your records, I’m not here?     You can’t do that, she said.   She looked at him; nothing more seemed forthcoming from her.   Then find me someone competent to check me out, he asked, not unreasonably.    The girl pouted.    This is my first day, she said.    Clearly you need more training, responded John.   Someone else was found who discharged him with all speed.   The girl glared at John as he  left, as though he had done her some injury.

And on a Hebridean island, in a lovely house which was being run as a Bed and Breakfast but where the owner had presumably been forced to do so and was an unwilling participant, and had passed all the actual running of the hotel to a lanky young female Glaswegian who behaved as though she were the lady of the house.     John thought she actually was the mistress of the establishment, but the owner had no wife and this bossy kitchen maid did not, in my opinion qualify.     She had crossed over on the same ferry as us, in her landrover with the hotel’s name on it, and was unpacking at the front door when we arrived.    Her reaction was one of such surprise that one felt she regarded us as inappropriate guests.   ‘Are you staying with us?’    John replied, ‘That was the general idea.’   More astonishment that she hadn’t met us on the ferry.   Had we not noticed her vehicle with the name and come and introduced ourselves?   Now I’m afraid I’d had enough of standing on the steps by this time, so I replied rather crisply that I hadn’t been aware that they operated their reception on the ferry and could we check in now, please?      This treatment was not well received though she did comply but our relations never recovered from this low point.    She was very noisy and chatty, flirting with the men (most of whom she towered above from the vantage point of her skinny, 6 foot height.)    She reminded me of a skittish young giraffe attempting an exchange with wildebeest.   She called John by his Christian name throughout to which he did not object.      When it came to her addressing me, I just looked at her;  so she called me nothing, and I refrained from calling her, Girl, or Waitress.    (I should point out here that this was no homely bed and breakfast where the lady of the house gave you a friendly welcome and cooked breakfast herself, and in which places we have often been very happy.    This was a large house of architectural significance with prices to match.)    But oh, I had sweet revenge.    I was sitting in a chair near the door way while she checked ‘John’ out, hoping he would come again (Not a chance, I thought), when an old man came through and started when he saw me.   ‘M’lady.’   I raised my eyebrows.   Then he explained that he was the Head Gardener and had mistaken me for the late Lady of the house, who used to sit in that chair and discuss the day’s plan with her staff.   ‘Is she no awfully like to her Ladyship?’ he said to the far from pleased giantess.    Naturally I was gracious, sympathising with him over the difficulty of working in a house ‘with no Lady’, and I took my leave of the kitchen maid pleasantly enough, saying what a lovely house it was and that she had looked after us well, and how delightful our room had been.   In fairness to her, there was nothing wrong with the actual service, and although she did not say good-bye to me warmly, she remembered her manners and was courteous.   We had just got off to a bad  start, and this is no doubt a Could Have Been Kinder episode.

I list below the things important to me in an hotel, in order of importance.



Comfort of bed (including large size and/or twin available)

Bathroom ensuite which functions with ample hot water

Quietness in room

TV with stations you want to watch (it’s misery being with husband when the channel showing golf isn’t available.)

Staff professional,  friendly, helpful and unobtrusive

Hotel in pleasant surroundings (garden, sea view, pleasant city location as appropriate)

Good food in hotel or nearby

Attractive under-stated decor

Room service if you need it

I’ve dithered over the order, but one thing I’ve no doubt about: location is of prime importance.

Pet hates in hotels:

Ones run by owners for their own convenience, with themselves as arbiter of taste and etiquette, and an inflated idea of their own importance, who behave as if you were a guest in their private fiefdom, when in fact you are paying for the services.

 Being asked repeatedly if everything is alright with the meal.

 Toilet paper folded into some tortured shape.

Artifical flowers.

Anything with a strong smell.

Other guests.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

3 Responses to THE INNS AND OUTS OF IT

  1. turquoisebay says:

    A hotel with only one guest is called a home. x

  2. Carolyn says:

    Enjoyed reading your latest Anne. I suppose the idea is that we should feel put at ease by being asked where we’ve come from, have we had a good journey, and might feel flattered under the right circumstances. I don’t naturally take to hotels where the staff are described as ‘friendly’ and will often look for somewhere where ‘friendliness’ is not a trait found in the staff, at least it’s not advertised.. Why do hotels list ‘friendliness’ as one of the things which is to be scored on or desirous in staff, much better they are pleasant, efficient & unobtrusive. I do not want to be treated with over familiarity either. It’s a good job John is a gentleman, I would have told the woman had she addressed me by my Christian name where to get off. Now that definitely wouldn’t have been so friendly, would it. There is far too much American style insincerity creeping in to every day exchanges, which I think we need to nip in the bud! Yep, I’m not politically correct either!

  3. adhocannie says:

    Joanna, I like the idea of a home with room service!

    Carolyn, we’ve travelled together enough to know we’re both entirely reasonable! Of course ‘friendly’ is good – but it means having concern for the needs of your guest rather than chattering at the wrong time! Professional, that’s what you want them to be!

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