Thursday, October 3, 2013

Britain From A to Z: H


As I mentioned in the first post of this series, our Britain trip was a bus tour entitled Icons of Britain from CIETours, and it lasted 15 days. It started in Glasgow, Scotland, went up through the Scottish highlands, back down to Edinburgh. We then entered England and visited the Lake District, York, Liverpool, London, Stonehenge, and Bath. Then it was on to Wales where we went to Cardiff, Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, and Caernarfon. Finally, we travelled back into England to see Stratford-upon-Avon, the Cotswolds, and Windsor. Along the way, we stayed in 11 different hotels. At four of these we spend two nights; the rest only one night. The cost of all of these stays, as well as breakfast each morning and dinner most evenings, was included in the tour price. I would classify the hotels we stayed at as 3 or 4-star. No fancy smancy over-the-top places. But no dumps either. So, keep in mind that the experiences I talk about here apply only to the hotels we stayed at.

Probably the oldest hotel we stayed at was in Strathpeffer, Scotland. It was the Ben Wyvis Hotel, completed in 1887. It was a beautiful building and still used actual keys and door locks rather than the electronic locks requiring a “credit card” key. Although it was nice, the oldness was sometimes a nuisance, like the creaking wooden floors. Kathy and I had a large room, yet they still put our son, Andrew, in a separate room. This was unlike most of the other hotels where we were all three in one room.

Ben Wyvis Hotel in Strathpeffer

Speaking of sleeping arrangements, it was interesting that most of the hotel rooms were what I would call Dick Van Dyke bedrooms. Do you remember the old Dick Van Dyke show? If so, you’ll remember that this show was made back in the day when it was forbidden to show a man and his wife in bed together on TV. So, Rob and Laura Petrie had separate single occupancy beds. That was what most hotels had; individual beds for each person. I guess the hotel managers wanted to minimize the lovemaking noises like Kathy and I heard coming from a room at an American hotel several years ago.

Kathy in Our Ben Wyvis Room

One of the most modern hotels we stayed at was the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool, England. It was a five-story building with an interesting curvature located near the River Mersey. Of course it used the “credit card” door keys as expected of any respectable newer hotel. At several hotels the room entry card key also doubled as a power switch. There would be a card reader inside the room into which you had to insert your key in order for any lights, power outlets, and even the air conditioner to function. The kicker was that you had to leave the key in the reader else the power would go back out. This feature was to prevent customers from wasting energy while they were away from their rooms. But it could be annoying getting the temperature just where you want it, then having to turn it off when leaving the room since you would need the key for re-entry. Fortunately, we always had more than one key, so we could leave one in the power switch.

Hilton Hotel in Liverpool

Speaking of air conditioning, several of the hotels in Scotland and northern England didn’t even have air conditioning. This is not surprising since at those latitudes the temperature usually doesn’t get too warm. Yet, there were a couple of nights when it was warm enough to be uncomfortable. Fortunately, the hotel had fans available to help with this problem. Plus, if you didn’t sleep very well, there was no pressure to stay awake while driving, since we weren’t driving. We could only hope that the bus driver slept well.

There is one final aspect of the hotel rooms I want to discuss. It’s the restrooms. But I’m going to hold off talking about these until I get to the R in this series.

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