I was disappointed with what I had hoped would be the perfect surprise birthday weekend in a posh hotel in Prague. A colleague had said, “I’m sure it will work, I’d love it if someone did that for me.” OK, so it wasn’t the lovely hotel in the Tatra Mountains that we had stayed at before, when we found an absolute bargain rate, but I did try my damdest to find a suitable 40th birthday getaway.
So here is an episode that summed up this posh hotel. We came down for breakfast on day one and the restaurant was emptying by the time we got there – it was a birthday weekend so why get up early? But there were dirty spoons and cutlery on the floor. Congealed egg was spread ebulliently along the breakfast bar as were other breakfast-end-of-service congealments (that is a made-up word invented by this trip). The large restaurant was all but empty by the time we got there: a smartly-dressed waiter is having a laugh and sharing something on his phone with a colleague while we try to enjoy what is left of the four-star breakfast. They are even flicking starched napkins at each other. We can not get their attention to ask for coffee. These men are loud and more concerned with their bravado than their roles.
Suddenly the men break into a half-run, half-walk; something between a turkey trotting or a stiff-legged, pompous-running warthog came to mind. It was as if the waiters had suddenly gone into fast-forward or hyperspace mode. They are swishing rather than flicking napkins now and ostentatiously gathering up cutlery from used tables with a great clanking of metal, still moving at a cross between a walk and a sprint. One even begins to pay some attention to us. He asks if everything is OK, but disappears before we can answer or even ask for a coffee. It was if a switch had been tripped and a dirty, slovenly, slattern of a breakfast room, a trickery of a four-star restaurant, had been mystically propelled into hotel heaven, but at a somewhat over-enthusiastic rate. It was at this point that I noticed a be-suited man picking a baked-bean covered spoon off the floor and removing the congealed-egg-cutlery from the breakfast bar: the manager had arrived.
And what I learned from this trip? DO NOT EVER TRY TO MAKE THE PERFECT ESCAPE BY LOOKING AT THE NUMBER OF STARS THE HOTEL CLAIMS TO HAVE.