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Review : Holiday Inn, Kensington, London October 19, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Hotel & Restaurant reviews.
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I have spent 4 nights in this hotel in west London over the past year and as far as London hotels go, it’s just fine. It is a massive hotel (27 floors), located on Cromwell Road – one of the main arteries into London, and is 1 minute from Gloucester Road tube station on the very useful Picadilly line.

The rooms themselves are small by normal standards – the bathrooms particularly so – but when you are only looking for a place to lay your head then they are fine.  Clean, not too hot or noisy … but nothing spectacular.

The price however is another thing … London is astro-fucking-nomically high priced for everything.  Even if I was getting paid in £ ‘s I don’t know how I would be able to survive.  Dublin prices pale in comparison.  And they are blatant about it.  For instance, my room rate was £89 B&B for the first night and then it changed to £189 room only for the second – milk the hell out of you if they can.  2 pints and 2 cokes in the bar cost £25 and lo abd behold when I arrived at the desk to check out, everything was exclusive of VAT – EVERYTHING !  So it hurt the pocket.  Badly !

All in all if you have a few bob to spare and want a great location and an easy stay then go here – it is very expensive but still only a moderately expensive hotel by London standards.  But when in Rome …

Rambling Man rating : 6.5/10

“I love my dog, mate !” October 17, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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A rather sad tale from my weekend in London to report. It just showed me – all in the space of 24 hours – what a range of people and problems there exists in that and every other city and town …

I was accessing extra funds because of my damned hotel rate and was standing in line at an ATM beside which was an elderly looking, quite bedraggled homeless man wrapped up in a blanket with a hoodie pulled down over his head. I had already decided to give him something when an equally bedraggled little Jack Russell terrier dog wriggled its way out of the warmth of his blanket and had a look at what was going on round him.

When I had finished my transaction I place my meagre offering (what is money to someone like that ?) in his tin and bent down to see if he was alright. It turned out that “he” was a “she” and we chatted briefly about her dog. All the while the poor pooch looked forlornly on and one couldn’t help but be affected by both their plights.

“Look after yourself – and your dog” I said as I left.

My heart jumped and broke at the same time, when I heard her quiet response … “I love my dog, mate ! God Bless ya.”

Faith in humanity restored October 16, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I’m just back from a tiring but very enjoyable trip to the big smoke of London and felt the need to share with people some very nice moments that made me a little less cynical about life … a least for a while !

‘Tis not often that another person goes out of their way to help a person in need, but when I found myself on the wrong side of said situation early on Sunday morning – with a plane to catch – I was delighted at the generosity of strangers.

Picture the scene – It’s before 6am, the streets are deserted and there is a cold mist falling – not rain, but just enough to wet you. Of course you have packed your jacket into your main bag because the last few days were rather humid and you’ve been doing a lot of walking. You have 2 and a half hours to make an hour and a half’s journey to Luton airport and then things start to go wrong.

First of all there are no tubes on the line I needed before 7am on a Sunday ! Such neanderthal-ism ! OK, so at least they have a tube system … and I had just been stung with a hotel rate quoted exVAT (ever heard of that ?) meaning I had to make an extra trip to the hole in the wall for funds. So I reach the train station to be informed by a poster that there were no trains at all on my line until 11am ! Not good for a 9am flight. Not good at all. Luton airport is 45 miles away from the centre of London and a taxi, I’m reliably informed, will cost £80 ! (Velly good price for you my fren).

And so I ask some German tourists would they like to share and lo and behold they can’t speak English so its a good job I can speak the old German – I knew that degree would come in handy ! And so we set out in a taxi for Luton, stopping at 3 different bank machines along the way in order to get some more money – but NO !!! the extra hotel dosh has hit and brought me over my daily limit (I did go slightly mad in Harrod’s earlier in the weekend !) … so there I was, a third of the way to Luton with no £s, plenty of money in the bank but no access to it (my money !), just €20 for the car park at home and nowhere to turn …

The taxi man of course was about to chuck me out when the good Germans turn and say that they will pay, otherwise how I would get to the airport ? So logical and kind ! By this stage I was beginning to panic as I couldn’t go back to London or go any further without money. And so I graciously accepted and as a pitiful token of my appreciation, handed over my business card wrapped in the €20 and a 2 pound coin I found in the bottom of my carry on bag. It was all I had in the world – how reliant we are on the rules of technology.

When we got to the airport, I made a point of insisting that they follow me to the bank machine to see if I could get any more money but no, the card hoodoo had struck again. I was penniless but thanks to the kindness of strangers I was safe. I looked around and they were gone – off into the endless Easy-jet queues to line up for a flight to Dortmund or Hannover or somewhere in that wonderful country. I bet they’ll never even write to me to ask.

So a huge “Herzlichen Dank” to the German tourists … Ich wünsche Ihnen ein schönes Leben noch !

PS – Picture the scene when I find €5 in my clothes and change it into £3 and buy a sandwich – trying to find the most isolated area in the airport in case the Germans saw me and thought me a chancer who really had money all along … I scuttled into a corner with the paper I found on the floor and my treasonous sandwich and longed for boarding time !