Apr 14 2010

Easter at Fawlty Towers, the Final Chapter — Lesson Learned

When we last left our intrepid, yet technologically-impaired travellers, they were trying to figure out which would be worse; finding out that they hadn’t paid in advance for a room at Fawlty Towers and therefore could have stayed somewhere else, or paying for the underwhelming accommodations TWICE.

The next morning, after navigating a sea of automated menus and wracking up Lord knows how much in international mobile phone charges, Dr. Darling was able to speak with someone at our bank who could not find a transaction for the amount or the date in question, leaving her 90% sure that we had not in fact, already paid for the room. Gaaaahhh!

Still, the Swede thought the whole episode seemed very fishy and wanted some assurance from Manuel-Basil that a refund would be forthcoming if we got home and found out that we had paid twice to stay in a tiny 4th-floor room with no elevator, no working phone, no wifi, and an (almost) unwatchable TV… to say nothing of the lack of complimentary toiletries that resulted in the accidental purchase of tingly man soap.

Satisfied with his answer, she handed over her Visa card for the 2nd time. Manuel-Basil took one look at it and a pained look came over his face. “This card is from Sweden.” Um, yeah. Why was he surprised? We had to put our home address in his notebook when we checked in, along with our passport details (both Swedish). He then asked Dr. Darling if she could get cash with it, because he’d prefer that.

Now I was beginning to smell the fish, too. I explained that this was the same card that we used to make the original reservation, and that we had been using it all over the city for the last five days without any problems. He still balked at accepting it, saying that international transactions can take several days, which may be the case if the bank in question is in Outer Mongolia, but not if it’s elsewhere in Europe.

The Swede pointed out that if we gave him cash, there would be no record of the payment to the hotel with our bank…something that was pretty important to us given the possibility that we’d already paid them once.  I then communicated to him, without actually saying the words, that he could run card or wait to be paid *after* we got back to Sweden and could access our banking information.

He ran the card.

And what do you know? The transaction went through without a hitch, and the printed receipt not only showed the amount paid in British pounds but also the amount taken from Dr. Darling‘s account in Swedish kronor. So, with the billing situation settled for the time being, we felt a bit better about leaving our packed bags with Manuel-Basil until it was time to head for the airport. We didn’t have to be on the train for Heathrow until 5 p.m. and Paddington Station was going to charge us 8 pounds per bag to lock them up there. But then we found out that leaving the bags with Manuel-Basil meant that they just sat outside the basement breakfast room…which was unused during the day but still accessible to everyone else enduring a stay at Fawlty Towers.

So other than worrying that the bags would not be there when we got back (or that we couldn’t get to them because we no longer had a key to Fawlty Towers once we’d checked out), we had a lovely last day in London. Even the weather cooperated. And when the time came to collect our bags, that went smoothly, too. In fact, we didn’t have another glitch until we hit Copenhagen and the train to Malmö was running 20 minutes late.

Despite not getting home until after midnight, we weren’t in The Penthouse Nordic for more than 15 minutes before Dr. Darling was logged into our bank accounts and could see with absolute certainty that no money had been taken from her account when we booked the room on March 1st.

And the next time we stay in London, we’re going conventional hotel chain ALL THE WAY.

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Feed my ego!

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