{09/10/2012}   Four star hotel? Really? Cheese thieves!

I am increasingly outraged by customer service in the hospitality industry.  I have just stayed in a supposedly four star NH hotel in Amsterdam.  I only usually stay in chain hotels for work, which this was, and I rarely rave about such hotels but I am also rarely as keen to get away from somewhere as I was from that hotel.
My colleague/friend and I checked in together.  We were on the same business booking yet the dithery receptionist could only cope with one of us at a time.  Her first question was to ask how we would be paying.  My friend said it should already be paid for.  She then looked at her sheet and confirmed it was already paid for.  She should have done that first.  She wanted an imprint of a credit card next, to which my friend asked why that would be necessary.  “For extras”, she said.  My friend refused point blank.  Good for her, so I didn’t leave my card imprint either!  My friend then filled out her passport number, address etc, while I was left twiddling my thumbs.  Maybe I am excessively impatient but I could have been filling out my form too.  Just under five minutes later, I said I’d meet my friend in reception in ten minutes.  Off she went.  Maybe four minutes later my check-in was completed.  By this stage I was mildly annoyed at such a miserable and slightly incompetent welcome.
I was directed to the lift and told I was on the first floor.  It was a lift which you operate with your room card.  This annoys me too.  I pressed “1” and went to the floor above.  There were three directions according to your room number.  I noticed that my friend and I were in the same area.  It was a bit confusing that my room was signposted behind me but behind was the lift and windows to a large courtyard.  I then saw my very harrassed looking friend emerging from the lift, still wheeling and carrying her luggage.  It made me giggle because it was apparent that she was about five minutes ahead of me and still hadn’t found our room area.  She looked properly angry, nsurprisingly.  I then twigged that meant I was lost too so frustration kicked in!  We found a member of staff who told us to get into the lift, go to the second floor, walk along the corridor, get in another lift and go to the first floor.  You what?!  Finally, we got to our rooms, some bizarre hidden corridor type area.  By this point I was annoyed.
The room itself was quite spacious and clean.  However, for a four star hotel which promises tea and coffee facilities in the room, I was not at all impressed with their dusty tea bags and powdered milk.  Plus, the NH toiletries are horrible, some things orange and some green but the colour of lime and orange tic tacs, not nice, fresh colours!
We then headed out, discovering our lift went to an area further along the ground floor.  Fine.  That afternoon/evening, knowing we had a fridge, with great excitement, having sampled all cheeses at least once in the Cheese Museum shop, I bought a c€8 slab of cheese. As I am prone to leaving things in hotel fridges, I wrote myself a note on a hotel pad saying, “NB cheese in fridge”.
On that same side as my note was the paper valid for 24 hours which has a free wi fi (rubbish, had to use the plug in internet) code on it, still usable. Also, a small red ribbon that I use to tie my suitcase zips together as a vague identifier and zip-keeper-together.
The next day, we headed to work, returning in the evening. On arrival in my cleaned room (I also hate it when hotels chuck your used hotel soaps, etc, which they had done to my bathroom), I noticed there was nothing on the table. Including my cheese paper, internet code and ribbon. I had a horrible feeling my cheese would be gone from the fridge. It was. I was furious and checked other valuables, all of which seemed to be fine.
I went to reception on our way out for dinner. They said they would look into it so I said I would return after dinner.
In the meantime, our room keys didn’t work for the correct lift, it only being from the ground floor you need to use your card. I also got lost trying to find the breakfast room and ended up in the outdoor courtyard area, fortunately keeping a foot in the interior door to test the next door back into the hotel. Yes, that door was locked so I could easily have been left outside, no mobile phone or jacket, in the courtyard of a horrid hotel. Most distressing. Some minutes later, not exaggerating, I ended up back on my area just as my colleague was emerging from her room. All very frustrating but we did at least get straight to the breakfast room.
Breakfast was ok, a decent selection, but I felt oddly violated having had my cheese stolen and the staff were just standing around chatting amongst themselves. Oh, and it turns out the average breakfast cost €20.
Then last night, after dinner, I braved reception to address the issue of my stolen cheese. It was all very frustrating and they wanted to investigate. As far as I am concerned it was a theft. Nothing should have been removed from my room. I thought about it later, feeling surprisingly upset over a stolen pack of cheese, and I guess the cleaner thought (how? My note was for me and did not say “Dear Housekeeping, please chuck my unopened pack of cheese” and was clearly not an instruction) the note was for her/him and though it meant to get rid of my cheese??? Really? And my ribbon? And wi fi code. The reception staff promised to investigate and call me. I said I wanted an email not a call. I am still awaiting the email. I am angry and frustrated and the whole hotel experience soured things somewhat.
I will add that reception was chaotic when I first went to report my cheese theft. People were being landed with an unexpected 5% city tax, another bloke was being told they would find him another hotel as they didn’t have his booking on their system and were fully booked. He was adamant he had booked the hotel and was searching his mobile for his confirmation. Plus, I queued for ten minutes and those behind me even longer.
I am so glad I hadn’t stayed there on a holiday as it really would have enraged me to possible temper-losing proportions to have endured that level of service and theft and to have had to pay far more money than deserved for a room in some ridiculous hidden corner of the hotel. Dreadful place and I will do everything possible to never stay in an NH hotel again.


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