Thankfully most of my nights in hotels have been paid for by the various companies I have worked for. A good job too as in many cases I would have been pretty outraged to pay for them myself. One of the numerous Holiday Inns around and in Toronto would be a case in point. I had a night from hell within its walls.
It had all started in the British Airways First Class lounge at the airport where I was sitting, sipping good wine and enjoying their pre-boarding dinner service. All of a sudden the flight was cancelled and the decision was made to overnight passengers in local hotels. The lounge staffs were courtesy itself. That is until they saw my ticket and discovered not only was I an upgrade but also a travel agent. It went from “I am so very sorry sir, your limousine is waiting to take you to your suite” to “Get in that other queue behind the economy passengers and wait for a bus”. A bitter blow.
We arrived late and tired at a hotel that looked even more tired than we were and then given a lecture on what we were not allowed to sign for. We were given keys to our rooms and I went up in the lift with this little skinny chap who looked like he needed a good bath. I found my room which was right next door to his. It was a featureless box of a place that seemed to harbour traces of every previous guest in the cracks in the floor and bathroom tiles. It even had a solitary pubic hair in the sink. How did that get there I thought to myself.
We did not have our suitcases so I slunk between the grey sheets wearing underwear and a bath towel and drifted into an uneasy sleep. Then the itching started. I was being eaten alive by something and they had clearly brought their relatives with them. I must have looked very strange gyrating in my towel as I tried to scratch myself. Then it all started up next door.
The walls were very thin and I had underestimated my skinny grubby neighbour. It sounded like an orgy going on in there and I heard at least two separate women’s voices. He was clearly a sexual athlete and boy did he shout about it. The more he shouted the louder his companions squealed and groaned. This was long ago and way before Viagra but this guy just went on and on for most of the night. There is nothing worse than lying alone in the dark, being bitten by bugs and hearing somebody so close having a great time.
Finally he stopped and somewhere I heard a door slam shut. I fell into a deep sleep until I got a crazy un-ordered alarm call 10 minutes later that the airline had pre-booked so we could go and wait for hours at Pearson Airport. I dragged myself down to the foyer and queued to pay any extras at the check out counter. In front of me was my skinny grubby friend who had a relaxed but smug look on his face. Sleep well he asked while rubbing his stubble. “No” I replied “Did you” I asked? “Oh yes” he said.
“Liar” I thought.
Finally his turn to pay came and that was the moment everything became a lot clearer. He looked at his bill and started an argument. I am not paying for that, you should charge the airline he snarled. “Listen guy” the cashier replied “The airline don’t pay for the porno channels and you watched all of them twice”
So that was it. I had been devoured by bed bugs and spent half the night being kept awake by the TV next door showing porno films played at top volume. When I got to the airport I met a most concerned passenger service agent who told me it had all been a silly mistake by the lounge staff. Apparently, as I had been checked into first class I was entitled to that service in the event of delays. On realising their error they had booked me a room in a nearby 5 star hotel but, as I had already gone to bed they decided not to call me in case I was already asleep.
“Mr Platt, are you OK” they asked as I went pale, except for the red bite marks. Of course, just great, fantastic I muttered in reply.