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Dinner chez Marco-Pierre White

It was a good job that Tim the pest-controller was able to fit me in on Tuesday to deal with the mice, because I spent the rest of the week away on business at our Hampshire offices. That involved staying overnight for two nights, and it’s always a major challenge finding somewhere to stay that fits all the necessary criteria. Firstly, the hotel has to be “approved” by the company’s corporate booking scheme, which basically put an upper limit on the price and standard. Secondly, I need it to be reasonably close to the office, as I’m just not up to a long commute at the moment after a full day’s hard work. I’m also too tired to go out into one of the local towns in the evening to find food, so the hotel must have a restaurant that’s open every evening. Finally, there are some hotels I’ve stayed in previously that have reminded me so strongly of Fawlty Towers that I’ve crossed them off the list of places I’m prepared to stay.

So I spent Wednesday and Thursday staying at a hotel about a 10 minutes drive away from work, which fitted all the criteria and had the additional alleged major benefit of having a Marco-Pierre White restaurant as part of the establishment. I stayed at the same hotel earlier this year, while I was away on an equipment trial while my kitchen was redecorated, and have to say that I was not impressed by the food at all. Marco-Pierre White may have read the menu and endorsed it, but he quite clearly wasn’t working in the kitchen while I was there! The food was uninspiring, limited and frankly boring – I really couldn’t see what the fuss was about. My local pub does food at least as good!

But on Thursday this week, the Great Man himself descended on the hotel restaurant to supervise the kitchen and present a “tasting menu”. It’s the sort of thing I might once have enjoyed going to with Christopher, but not on my own. Plus, the cost of the dinner was greater than I was paying for bed & breakfast and I could just imagine the fuss if I tried to put that through on expenses! The hotel restaurant was fully booked, so even if I had been up for a formal dinner on my own after a long day at work, there wasn’t a spare table anyway.

Us residents were treated as second-class citizens, banished to our rooms and told to order room service from a very limited menu. One course only – no starters or desserts – and very few options. I decided to go for chicken, green beans, and dauphinoise potatoes, which sounded entirely acceptable. It took a good ten minutes hanging on the phone before Reception managed to take my order – they were apparently in utter chaos with all the guests arriving for The Dinner. But the kitchen were clearly in even more of a fluster than Reception – because when my order turned up, I got bangers & mash with no vegetables, rather than the chicken! I did think about making a huge fuss and sending it back, but given the complete state of chaos that everything had apparently been reduced to, I feared I wouldn’t see my dinner for hours, and I was hungry! So I reluctantly accepted the sausages under protest.

It really doesn’t seem to me to be good business to neglect your hotel residents, most of whom are business people with plenty of repeat business on offer, in favour of punters for a one-off swanky dinner. It certainly pissed me off, and I made my feelings known very clearly when I checked out this morning!

{ 3 } Comments

  1. paulD | 24 June 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    “Us residents were treated as second-class citizens, banished to our rooms”

    Well I hope you kicked up a big fuss, the internets a powerful tool, with the right blogs and bad publicity you could cripple their business

  2. Q&J | 25 June 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Jane and I have found hotels – one in particular on a holiday in Yorkshire – which really seemed to be run by a “Basil and Sybil” types (better not name it here!). I have also tried several times to find a decent hotel near the “Hants HQ” – nowhere I’d recommend. Suggest you retire!!!!
    Maybe the company could move the HQ to Malvern?
    All going OK here – will keep in touch,
    all the best,

  3. paulD | 25 June 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Actually, just remembered, we did stay at the Knotts mill guest house some years back up in lakes and got asked if we minded eating out one evening as they ‘didnt feel like cooking’, we were actually quite happy to eat based on food received previous nights.

    Also had to go to reception and ask for soap and wash hairs out from bath before getting in it !

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