Way, way back, before Sharon and I were dating, and even before I was worried about miles and points, we booked a trip with two other friends to visit London and Paris. We booked a British Airways package that included airfare, Eurostar train tickets, and hotels.
Our hotel in London was located near Kensington and close to where one member of our group had stayed on a prior trip. Since he was the only one who had ever visited London before, we took his word that this was a nice enough neighborhood.
The hotel did look nice from the outside, at least for a group of people who had never been to England before. In fact, it was just what we expected.
The Charles Dickens Hotel. What could be more British?
When we got to our room, we realized that this wasn’t exactly what we expected.
Not exactly luxury accommodations, but we didn’t really care. I mean, when we inspected the beds, we discovered they lacked box springs. It was just a mattress on top of the bed frame! But we didn’t care. We were in London and were only going to be there for three nights.
What I didn’t expect when I returned to our room the first day was an army of ants streaming in from the window, going along the radiator, and then right into my suitcase.
I called up one of the hotel staff to the room and showed my bag full of ants. They offered to fumigate our bags and move us to another room.
Flashback to the beginning of the story. Sharon and I weren’t even dating yet. I was sharing a room with another one of our friends at the time. We were moved to another wing of the hotel, into a room that was obviously available for people who were going to review the hotel. Most importantly, it lacked ants.
Our beds in this room included both the mattress and box spring.
Upon seeing our upgraded room, Sharon and our other friend (who eventually was my Best Man at our wedding) went to the front desk and asked to have one of the “nice” rooms as well. Their request was denied because there was no reason for them to move rooms.
At this point, our friend said a line that will forever be etched in my memory. “There is most definitely a reason. I’m afraid of the possibility of ants.”
The desk agent nodded, annotated the reservation, and moved them to the room next to ours in the new wing of the hotel. It’s not that the new rooms were luxurious. However, they were 100 times better than the rooms we were in before we were moved.
We’ve always laughed that if we ever want to try to get a better room at hotel, we could try to use this excuse. Who knows, if the hotel has a history of problems with ants, it might just work.
And if you’re wondering, The Charles Dickens Hotel is no more. It’s now the Lancaster Gate Hotel and it looks that they’ve renovated the property somewhat since our stay.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary