I had gotten bored with the Courtyard. Only about 6 channels, of which 4 are some variation of ESPN. (I don’t have cable at home, so I get a kick out of watching the Sci-Fi channel when traveling.) Heavy doors. No fridge or microwave (although you can sometimes get a fridge if you ask nicely). No free breakfast, although they do have the Wall Street Journal. They tend to lose your laundry.
So my eyes wandered, looking for another hotel. Somebody recommended the Hilton Garden Inn as a similarly positioned chain that was giving the Courtyard a run for its money. I made a reservation.
I had noticed on previous drive-bys that the HGI didn’t have much parking, but they advertised an underground garage. I checked it out when I arrived – two permit spots, both taken. I drove back up and parked in front. At the desk I was informed that my room wasn’t ready yet, could I wait half an hour? I waited half an hour. The room still wasn’t ready, how about another hour. I asked her about the room – shower, bath? Shower chair? Oh, yes, she said. So I went to work and came back about 8 pm. There was a Toyota Landcruiser parked in the cross-hatched access aisle between two permit parking spaces, blocking them both. I mentioned it at the desk.
I was given a first floor room with a tiny roll in shower. No shower bench. Luckily (ha!) I had not yet brought in my luggage (always check the room out first). I went back to the desk, asked for a shower bench. Hunting ensued. I sat there, reading a magazine, until one of the desk staff begged me to go back to my room to wait for my shower bench.
I waited in the room for about half an hour, then called for a progress check. They sent the hapless young man who had been searching to me. He hadn’t found one, but he had another solution. He was quite sure that some of the showers had benches that fold down from the wall! He would find me one of those rooms.
We went to the second floor. No dice. Third floor, two rooms, same. Fourth floor – at last! The elusive shower bench. I fetched my suitcase. The management knocked $20 off the room rate for my trouble and apologized nicely.
Before falling asleep, I read How to Survive a Hotel Fire. I was especially impressed by the bit about how hotels are reluctant to report fires (I’m sure you see where this is going by now).
6:00 am – strobe lights, alarms, me falling out of bed. It stopped very quickly. I picked up the phone and was told not to worry, some smoke in the kitchen, so sorry. Thirty seconds later the alarms went off again. Once again I broke a land speed record getting out of bed, dressed, and the hell out of there before someone decided to shut the elevators down. In the lobby, all was calm and serene and that damn Landcruiser was still there. I called the cops. They didn’t come.
I went to Flying Star for breakfast to contemplate the situation. After a large fresh orange juice, things seemed a little clearer, and I called the Courtyard and got a room. When I checked out of the Hilton Garden Inn (still complete with Landcruiser), nobody asked why.
What do you think? Is it too much to want to park, take a shower, and get out of the building safely all at one time?