Three American Ladies, a double bed and some stairs
The reservation was quite clearly for "a double and a single room". The American guests when they eventually arrived, were three ladies.
Actually their tale started before they arrived. They had made an e-mail reservation, so should have downloaded a map showing our location. They obviously had not as I received a phone call at about 6pm from a phone box "somewhere in Cornwall". The graphic description that I was given on the surrounding houses and countryside, left me only a little the wiser as to their exact location. However ascertaining that they were on the coast around five miles north of Newquay, I was able to give them directions on how to find us.
An hour later their rental car drew up, and out came three ladies - my first inkling of real trouble. They had booked a "Double" and a "single room". Many north Americans, weaned on the great US motel, fall into the trap of thinking that a double room will have at least two double beds in it. Whereas in this country a double room has one double bed, if you want two beds, you reserve a "twin" room.
It being summer, we did not have much of an array of alternative accommodation to offer. However this was the least of our problems. It then transpired, as I laboured with several suitcases, each the size of a small mountain, that the ladies were each suffering from a different medical condition that precluded them from climbing any stairs. One had a bad back, one had a heart problem and the third had a gammy knee.
Now one would have thought that such a group travelling together would have warned a hotel of their problems to ensure that they did not have stairs to climb. But no, the culture gap probably led them to assume that all hotels had elevators to whisk them effortlessly to the 43rd floor. Cornwall is a particularly hilly part of Britain, especially by the coast as we are. We have great views from out bedrooms, but that is because the hotel is built on the side of a cliff.
Therefore they could not take the original superior rooms that we had reserved for them on the second floor, and had to look at a couple of standard rooms on the lower ground floor (down a flight of steps). The hotel entrance hall looked like a furniture storage warehouse as their multitude of suitcases were stacked in the lobby area.
At differing speeds, depending on their ailments the three ladies moved first down a flight of stairs to inspect the two standard rooms on offer, then up two flights of steps to inspect the two superior rooms originally booked. There was a lot of huffing, puffing, shouting up flights of stairs. Other guests looked on with bewilderment at their antics.Another American guest later told me they could not believe what they saw. It was a charactature of the American tourist in Europe
Finally they had to decide which rooms to take. At this stage one lady was on the second floor, one was on the first floor landing, and the third was sitting on the stairs between the ground and first floor complaining that she could not go on or back. A long shouted consultation between these positions took place as to whether to leave, take the rooms on the top floor or the ones on the lower ground floor.
In the space of ten minutes they had transformed our friendly, tidy, quiet hotel into something resembling a casualty clearing station - bodies sitting everywhere, and mountains of heavy luggage piled high. They were not happy, I was not happy aaand it was at this point that my patience finally snapped. I suggested, somewhat forcibly that they leave to find somewhere more suitable for their requirements. They hauled themselves slowly and painfully and noisily down the stairs, I piled their luggage back into their car.
The odd thing was as soon as they thought I could not see them in the car park, the ailments appeared to vanish.. They drove off into the sunset to plague another poor hotelier. I suspect it was an act to view as many rooms as possible and choose the best. But as far as I was concerned, if you pretend to travel with such gross health complaints then you make sure in advance that you have booked rooms without stairs. Further if you cannot carry luggage, why cart that amount of stuff with you, you cannot always rely on their being a nice man like me to carry it for you!
Once again Britain is not America
And if you want to stay in a nice hotel by the sea in Cornwall, Corisande Manor Hotel, Cornwall
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