The train didn’t disappoint although snoozing the blaring alarm at 4:45am, in a sleepy haze catching the 5:32am streetcar and walking 5 city blocks to Union Station, the start of the trip wasn’t proving very sleep friendly. We were travelling European style, whatever that means!
The train car was surprisingly full. After travelling for 5 hours swaying back and forth, and having to pee every 20 minutes from the swaying of the train, we arrived in Ottawa and found our way to OC Transpo and bus 95. We clamoured on with our luggage, and spent the 15 minute bus ride stumbling over each other trying to stay standing.
The entrance to the hotel was obscure. For a large mid-luxury hotel chain, we walked around the block twice looking for the entrance. Ok, I exaggerate and perhaps we only did one tour of the building and maybe all the construction out front helped in our confusion. We made it to the front lobby and towards the in-training concierge.
“Hello, can I help you,” she asked politely.
“Yes, we checked in online and we are here to retrieve our keys.”
“Your reservation number please”
We gave her the reservation information.
“Oh, yes, we’ve been expecting you!”
That sounds promising, I thought to myself as she went and found our hotel keys. After showing my ID, she handed us the keys and off we were to our room.
The room. Oh the room.
We opened the door and out came the smell of musty, stale, 1970’s cigarette air. You know the kind? It’s when the rooms used to be smoking rooms and after ten bouts of febreeze, the hotel had now deemed it a non-smoking room.
I grumbled something and the support I received was, “It smells fine to me, my nose is stuffed up with a cold,” followed by, “did you want me to go ask for a new room, this one is fine for me.”
That’s not helpful!
Too hungry and tired to start a meaningful conversation about changing the room that seemed fine to one of us, we left our bags in the smelly, stale room and went to find some food.
We found a delicious sandwich/salad shop a block away.
After lunch I decided I needed a quick 20 minute nap. Hopefully a full stomach would help me like the smelly room and put me in a better mood. So off I went on my own, back to the hotel to have my nap.
I got to the 15 floor, opened the door and had to steady myself against the door frame. The food in my stomach only made the room worse. I rationalized, “If I had booked a room in my own city as a weekend getaway and I was given THIS room, I’d probably just go home!!”. So I picked up the phone and dialled 0.
“Hello,” I said to the nice lady who picked up, “we just checked in to the hotel and I wanted to know if the room I am in is a smoking room, because it smells like old stale cigarettes.”
“Oh really, I am sorry to hear that, we no longer have smoking rooms. Did you want to maybe febreeze the room?” She offered.
“Sure,” this was a ridiculous suggestion but I was game to explore the option, “do you have a few bottles that you could send up here to spray the room with?”
She laughed, “have you unpacked yet”
“Ok, I will transfer you to the concierge and tell them you would like to change rooms.”
That is how I changed rooms. I gathered our bags, re-folded the end of toilet paper roll I had used earlier, into the neat little triangle, put the used soap back in the box and slid it into my purse and raced up to the 20th floor.
Why did I re-fold the toilet paper or take the used soap bar with me?! I don’t know but it’s funny that was my reaction, I wanted to wipe any trace that I’d ever been in such a smelly room!!
The new room was amazing. Newly renovated, it smelled like new carpet and fresh paint. The telephone was even clean and didn’t stick to the palm of my hand when I picked up the receiver.
This was a room I’d stay in if I had booked in Toronto!!
I unpacked a few of my items, slide out of my jeans, put on my pyjama’s and crawled under the sheets. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep when I remembered, “I need to text N to let him know I’ve changed rooms!!”
I rummaged around in my purse, found my phone, sent off two texts.
We’d agreed on 20 minutes so after 40 minutes had passed I started wondering if he:
a) lost track of time
b) was lost in the hotel wondering if I left him with just the clothes on his back
I closed my eyes and decided he’d eventually find me and so he did and none the too pleased when I opened the door to let him in.
Not wanting to pay for roaming charges, he’d turned off his cell service and didn’t receive my texts. Instead he arrived back at the room on the 15th floor, coffees in hand only to find me and our bags……gone!! He checked the closet and yes, I’d forgotten our jackets. He picked them out of the closet and went to the lobby to try to find me.
Ofcourse I wasn’t in the lobby. I was in our new room, snuggled under the sheets, having a nap!
He went back up to the 15th floor and found two cleaning staff in the room trying to smell the stale, cigarette air. When they saw him standing at the door they said, “Oh Mr. ‘insert MY last name here’, she has already moved to your new room.”
They kindly called front desk to find out what room I’d moved to and that’s how I ended up spending the evenings on a “European” inspired trip in a nice smelling room with a comfy bed and a clean phone that I never did use 🙂