Friday, September 29, 2017

Let's Talk: The Worst Hotel Stay I've Ever Had

Britannia Hotel Birmingham Review 2017

Once upon a time, I would never book any hotel or accommodation without spending hours upon hours researching and looking at online reviews, before I booked anything but these days I try and be a little less of a control freak and let the other people I do things with decide instead. However, I would soon learn this to be a huge mistake. 

Conor turned 21 this month and one of the things I had planned for his birthday was to go and see 'La La Land Live In Concert' but as they had no London dates, I decided to opt for the date in Birmingham due to the fact that it's so easy to get to from where I live. You can get a train there without even having to stop off in London, which is the actual dream for me. I booked the tickets months and months ago but for some reason, we just kept putting off booking the hotel. In the end, we had to book something really last minute and decided to go for the Britannia Hotel due to it's close proximity to the New Street Station and it was also only a short walk away from the Symphony Hall. I will say, that sometimes this hotel is extremely cheap and you can book a room for £30-£45 but we paid £129 for the night. So the comment of you get what you pay for is invalid in this instance, as we could have scored ourselves a whole AirBnB apartment for the same price. 
On the day we were due to check in, myself and Conor both had bad food poisoning and already felt pretty awful. We had planned to travel there early so we could enjoy the short time that we had in Birmingham, a place neither of us had ever spent that much time in before but due to being ill, we spent most of the day in and out of sleep and didn't end up checking in until 5pm.

Britannia Hotel Birmingham Review 2017

When we arrived, everything seemed fine. The only small doubt we had was that the busy location may be quite noisy but this would not have bothered us that much because we've both stayed in the centre of Brighton before, these things happen. We checked in and I straight away thought that the lady checking us in seemed very abrupt and unhelpful but I also thought that everyone has bad days and I should just forget about it. We were given a room on the 7th floor and as I'm someone with a chronic illness, I always had to get a lift to the room and the lifts in question were the worst. You would always be waiting at least 10 minutes for one, which also meant you'd get chatting to the other guests waiting too (more on this later). The first thing I'll say about this hotel is, it just feels like you're in The Shining (1980). The corridors just felt like such a maze, with pretty unclear signs. When I realised this, I felt such a pang of fear that if there were to be a fire, I really doubt we had a chance in hell of getting out alive. After what felt like the longest day, we finally got to our room. We already felt pretty creeped out because like I said, it felt like we were on the set of a Stanley Kubrick film and as we approached the door...it was already open. We entered the room and it just gave us the worst vibe. The bed didn't look like it had been made properly, the taps didn't work, the toilet hadn't been flushed and the flush wouldn't really work when we tried to do it ourselves and to top it all off, it was a smoking room, when neither myself or Conor smoke. The smell of stale smoke isn't something an asthmatic really enjoys smelling whilst trying to sleep, I'll be honest. Considering cheap and cheerful Travelodge offer a better service than this for a better price, we decided to complain.
Off we went and waited a further 10 minutes for the lift, so we could go down and complain about the room. Conor spoke to lady who had checked us in and she explained, she couldn't do anything because they had no spare rooms. The manager said the same and then magically found us a new room, which was odd. This time we were on the second floor, which made me feel a lot more comfortable. So now, we had to wait another 10 minutes for the lift to go all the way back up to the 7th floor, to get all our things and when we finally got there, the key cards didn't work. I was not about to go all the way downstairs again, so we called reception via our phone (13p a minute may I add!!!) and then the manager kindly came to let us in and told us again our new room number. We collected all of our things and headed down to the room. The key cards didn't work for this room either (this seems to be a regular problem at this hotel). So Conor decided to leave me and pop down on his own and brought back a working key card...We enter to find that someone else already had all of their things in there, so clearly they were still staying there... You guessed it, back down to reception we go again! 

Britannia Hotel Birmingham Review 2017

We explained the situation and we were given another room that was still situated on the second floor and this one was a lot better than the other two. The room didn't have a single window but I felt a lot safer in this room than the others. It still wasn't a room you'd want to spend a lot of time in, so we spent most of the evening out. We discovered the wonders of the Birmingham Bullring, so we were pretty happy. We came back when everything closed, had a little sob that there wasn't any wi-fi in the room, had a shower, discovered how much better the water is up north and watched trash tv in the two single beds pushed together to resemble a double...and then the noise started. It seems like there was an issue with the plumbing and other people's water kept coming up through our plug hole and there was a constant noise all night that just completely disturbed our sleep.

After this whole ordeal, we wanted some form of refund. So upon checking out Conor spoke to the manager again, who wasn't really acting all that professional if we're being honest and would only give back 10% which is a measly £12. I started to think maybe we just had terrible luck and it was just a one off but no. During our stay we spoke to multiple guests who were ALL having issues of their own. 1. We met two men in the lift who had to stay there for work and they said how horrible most of the rooms are and they also said that the key cards never work. 2. We met a couple who were in a room with no windows or air con and every time they turned off their lights, it would turn off everything, including their TV. And 3. We also spoke to another girl who had been out all day, left all her stuff in her room clean and tidy and she came back with towels littered all over her room and it smelt of sewage!! Since being home, I also had a quick look on TripAdvisor and many individuals on there have had the same issues, so this confirms that this is just not a slight mess up. 



Overall, I think it's pretty clear I would not even dream of staying here again. It's not just our experience that upsets and worries me, it's how little the staff seem to care about the issues raised. They made us feel like we were in the wrong for having these issues, not the other way round. The fire safety is very concerning and after events like Grenfell, I don't see why it isn't taken more seriously. The only positive I can really think of is that the hotel is situated next to a Lush Cosmetics and as a result, most of the hotel smelt of bath bombs but even that isn't enough to make me want to return and I honestly wouldn't recommend anyone to stay here, ever. We'll definitely be sending an email and complaining about this further but all I keep thinking is how much Gordon Ramsay would wipe the floor with them if they appeared on Hotel Hell...It will always be a memorable experience, I'll give them that.
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