Existing Member?

O Fim duma Viagem

Cookies and a Car: What More Could We Want? (Answer: A Hotel)

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 19 September 2014 | Views [445]

Since splitting up in Calandar, my sister and I had spent only marginally more hours in hotels than riding trains. My parents had left early and driven for a couple of hours only to find the ferry they'd been planning on (and had a reservation for) taking to Islay had been canceled due to wind. They'd spent their days finding substitutes for the distillery tour sand B&Bs they now couldn't reach. All of us were ready to get to Dundee and spend two days relaxing in a Doubletree.

We drove past the entrance to the hotel three times. The first time was intentional-- my parents hadn't yet met up with my sister and I, and the hotel wouldn't have been ready for them even if they had decided to ditch us. The second time was accidental, because the entrance to the hotel was only marked in one direction, and that wasn't the direction we were coming from. The third time we were finally able to make it in.

This route took us through about seven roundabouts. Dundee loves roundabouts. The upshot of that being it was easy to turn around once we realized we'd missed the hotel.

The isolation was almost worth it when we saw the hotel. It bore some relation to Dunrobin castle. Nowhere near as fairtyale, but it looked a bit like a Victorian castle.. It would have been a lovely place to stay.

We left our luggage in the car and went in to check in. We had to wait in line while the receptionist finished talking to some people. They left for alternate lodgings that sounded like they were even farther removed from central Dundee, cursing about how hard this hotel was to find and how they'd made their reservation months in advance. The receptionist smiled tightly and tried to get them to not complain to us before she had a chance to explain what was going on.

What was going on was that someone had sat on a pipe, and it had burst. Every single room was uninhabitable for the time being. But we'd been booked into a different hotel, and she could get a taxi to bring us there free of charge. We had a car? Great, she could give us directions. Did we have a sat-nav? (GPS) Even better! She'd just give us the address. After all, it's not like the GPS had any problems finding this hotel. We just loved driving around roundabouts so much we felt we needed to drive a bit longer. Any questions?

In a plaintive voice, my mother asked the exact question I was thinking but didn't want to say in case there were still more important things to be figured out. “Do we still get cookies?” (It is Doubletree policy to give a cookie to everyone at check-in. It is a policy I highly approve of.)

Yes, of course.” The woman sounded so thrilled that she was finally able to do something that the would-be customers actually wanted. She came back with two cookies per person, which was nice. She then gave us a taxi voucher, so that we could catch a taxi to the Doubletree free of charge if we wanted to use the exercise facilities, eat at the restaurant, get more cookies, etc. And then off we went.

I'm used to Doubletree cookies being plain chocolate chip. Not too surprisingly, these weren't. Instead they were a collection of chocolate and coconut and I think oatmeal. They were really god. Although I obviously feel bad for the people in front of us, because like them we were disappointed to not have a room, it was their own fault that they didn't think to ask for cookies, so I can't feel bad on that front.

To the surprise of no one in the car, we had difficulty finding the hotel. We should have lied and said we didn't have a GPS, because then she might have given us a map.

Our alternate hotel turned out to be a Best Western. We didn't know this before we arrived, since the Hilton receptionist kept calling it by the very specific name of “Invercase.” At the risk of stating the obvious, a Best Western is not a Hilton.

When we arrived, we asked if we could have rooms that were close together, and with twin beds for me and my sister. We didn't get either, but we were promised a “big room.” When Hiltons promise us that, it means a suite. Instead, we got a handicap accessible room. Handicap accessible from the outside, it is. If you wanted to get to the lobby by wheelchair, you would presumably need to go halfway across the building and use the main entrance, since there were several distinct pairs of steps between our room and the lobby from the inside.

We did take advantage of the easy access to the outside to move the car and unload our stuff directly to that room, which my sister and I shared. We also enjoyed the slight confusion on the faces of the people at the front desk when we wheeled our luggage past them and up to the room our parents were in.

The bathroom had a shower that was too reminiscent of Morocco (it had a curtain, but that was the only thing separating it from the rest of the room) and a medicinal smell that lingered. There was one king bed, though when I investigated closer, I realized that the two beds that formed it weren't latched. I could physically move them apart, but it didn't do any good without sheets. When we asked the front desk for some, they told us that the cleaning service was coming in the morning. When we changed our request to just ask for separate blankets, they said there should be some in the closest. There were duvets, but they didn't have covers, so they didn't do much good.

No one wanted to stay there for two nights.

After some discussing options, we decided the best strategy would be to see if we could get tour second night moved to the Hilton near the Edinburgh airport. We already had the night after that booked, so we'd have two nights in the same place, and that place would be a Hilton. It seemed like the best approach, and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable request.

After around half an hour on the phone and transfers from the Doubletree in Dundee to the Hilton at the Edinburgh airport to Hilton Honors back to the Hilton airport, my father finally declared success. He'd gotten us two rooms at the airport, one of them the same as the one we'd be staying in the night after, and a pass for a free drink for each of us per night, and a fun fact about our Dundee Reservation: it had been canceled 10 days earlier. They'd canceled our reservation, but hadn't thought to contact us until we pulled up at the hotel.

My sister: “We should go back to the Doubletree and ask for one cookie for each of us for every day they knew our reservation was canceled but didn't tell us.” It was tempting. Those were really good cookies.

We went for dinner at the hotel because none of us wanted to leave. Dinner was good, although really slow. My mother ordered vegetarian haggis, which came in three different varieties. One of them tasted a lot like the haggis I'd had for lunch the day my sister arrived, which is to say good. I'm not sure what's in vegetarian haggis, but apparently it's expensive, since our waiter mentioned that the portions used to be half the size because of that, but too many people complained that it wasn't enough food.

After dinner, we went for a walk. My sister kept seeing rabbits, but they'd run away before the rest of us had a chance to see them. That was about as much of Dundee as we saw.

Breakfast at least was good. Lots of variety. My parents got to try potato scones for the first time, and my sister and I got to feel like experienced travelers because because we got to say that we'd had them up North. Then we went back to our room and loaded up the car so we were ready to make a speedy getaway. (We didn't tell the Best Western we were leaving until we dropped the key off at the front desk. We did not, however, extend our alibi as far as saying “yes” when we got a phone call in the morning asking if we wanted them to separate the beds now.) A speedy getaway turned out not to be necessary, but it was still kind of fun to leave through a back door.

And that was Dundee. It was time to drive back to Edinburgh. As nice as it would have been to stay in a hotel that looked like a castle, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thrilled to be spending an extra day back in the city.

Tags: change of plans, hotels, roundabouts

About kakimono

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about United Kingdom

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.