Seán Moncrieff: ‘Irish hotels are all the same. In a good way’
Apart from the odd killer hairdryer, the standard of hotels here is excellent
“Tourists come to Ireland because we live in a beautiful, interesting country. But also because we’re really good at looking after tourists.” Photograph: DS Supplies
Not too long ago in Killarney I slipped into an alternate dimension. Or it seemed that way. For a moment.
After dinner and a couple of pints, I left my younger and more resilient colleagues to it and wandered back to the hotel. But when I got there I realised I’d made the rookie mistake of not remembering exactly where my room was.
But eventually I located it (I had been searching the wrong floor), only to discover that my key card didn’t work. It happens sometimes. It was late and I was tired and I wanted my bed but I had no option but to wend my way back down to reception and ask for a new one.
But I didn’t recognise this reception, which immediately led me to assume that (a) I was in some sort of Schrödinger-physics paradox situation or (b) I was having a stroke.
Luckily, it was (c). I was in the wrong hotel.
It happens. No really, it does. Killarney is stuffed full of hotels and it was dark. I was tired.
Drink may have been a factor. You’re so judgey.
Tourists come to Ireland because we live in a beautiful, interesting country. But also because we’re really good at looking after tourists
For professional reasons, I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in Ireland and even when completely sober, you can’t help but notice that they are largely the same. When you arrive, they all go through the same spiel of asking have you stayed with them before, and seem desperately keen to tell you about their range of startling innovations, such as spas and serving breakfast. They ask you your name and for a credit card, and when you provide both they invariably purr “perfect”, as if this is the answer they have been waiting to hear all day but all the other guests were just too idiotic to provide it.
After that, my regime is to rush to the room, see if the windows open (they usually don’t) and turn off the heating. Irish hotel rooms are always roasting. From this point on, it’s the small things that make the difference. Does the room have a kettle? Does it have an iron? (Does anyone ever use that Corby trouser press thingy?)
What are the bath products like? The variance in this category is vast: from stuff you’d buy in the shops to skin-stripping liquids better suited to a Russian spy lab. The hairdryer (or so I’m told) is another important factor. A normal one in a drawer is good news, but the type that are attached to the wall can do little more than bake your head. It’s bad for your hair, and potentially could melt your skull.
I’d be too wimpy to do it, but I also ask myself: is there anything in this room I’d be tempted to steal? If there is, then it’s a quality hotel room.
Finally, the orange juice the following morning: is it freshly squeezed or is it the teeth-cloying concentrate?
Don’t get me wrong. Nit-picking aside, the similarity in Irish hotels is a good thing. A great thing. Over the last decade or so of hotel-hopping, I can recall only a few occasions when I’ve had to stay in the old-fashioned variety: the ones that reeked of chicken and gave out free Sunday Independents.
The uniformity of Irish hotels is a uniformity of standard: and that standard, apart from the odd killer hairdryer, is excellent. As I mentioned here a few weeks back, I recently had occasion to visit Paris, where I was treated to dour serving staff, breakfast in a dungeon, (not as exciting as it sounds), and a room the size of a Ford Fiesta.
Tourists come to Ireland because we live in a beautiful, interesting country. But also because we’re really good at looking after tourists.