June 22, 2013

Birmingham for Nothing

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to glorious glamorous Birmingham on a Friday evening, to run a workshop on the Saturday. The workshop part is the least interesting bit of the story so I won’t mention that again if I can possibly help it.

I enjoy travelling by train; the enforced reading time is such a luxury. On this occasion I had to meet up with my colleague and spend the journey drinking tea and gossiping, which was of course awful. She had booked us into possibly the nicest Premier Inn in the country, where my room had windows on two sides and a chaise longue, in addition to a superbly comfortable bed, of which more later.

It was late, so we dumped our bags and headed out to find food, curry of course because when in Birmingham, etc. Making the schoolgirl error of standing on a street corner looking a bit lost, we were quickly picked up by some shabby looking bloke who offered to take us to a really nice curry house. Hesitantly, we followed him as he chatted and walked (fast, faster than those of us with sprained ankles really enjoyed), and we wondered if we were about to be sold into slavery. He stopped by a fancy looking Dhubai-ese restaurant, showed us his Big Issue card, and asked for money. I gave him £3 and he buggered off.

The restaurant menu looked somewhat above our £12.50 per day (with receipts) living allowance, so we asked some girls outside a pub for alternative recommendations, and set off back towards the town. We passed another fancy looking place with balloons outside, and optimistically headed over to look at the menu. Come in, have a free glass of champagne, the bouncer on the door offered. We told him we really needed food, and he said that was free too; we figured we could have a look, anyway.

So we found ourselves seated at the very shiny bar of a very shiny place called Isaacs, being plied with champagne and eventually seated for a free four-course Indian meal, which was served a little slowly by staff on what appeared to be their dress rehearsal before the following night’s grand opening. The food was very nice, the champagne was excellent, and we hadn’t started on our £12.50 yet.

We returned to the hotel and I sank into the superbly comfortable bed, and had one of those nights where I really don’t sleep at all. I am so accustomed to my insomnia that it doesn’t really bother me anymore, but I did claim the Premier Inn’s good night guarantee, because it says you can so I did.

Disappointingly, I failed to get a free breakfast; although the man behind me in the queue at Pret was given his coffee for nothing because he had to wait.


5 thoughts on “Birmingham for Nothing

  1. That good night guarantee is pure gold for the insomniacs among us.

  2. Reading that Money Saving Expert page makes you wonder why anyone ever stays in a Premier Inn. I avoid them on principle.

  3. I really like Premier Inn, I find them to have a consistently high standard of cleanliness and comfort, and would always choose them over the other cheap chain hotels.

  4. Perhaps I should have expanded – I avoid cheap chain hotels on principle. Prefer to stay in independents or B&Bs.

  5. I prefer independents etc., *but* that “Good Night Guarantee” is effing golden when it comes to refunding insomnia.

    So if I’m away for a night somewhere or whatever, I don’t mind Premier Inn. I know my sleep is likely to be bad (and one of the worst recently was after the RWL awards, which left me swaying like a windy willow the next morning, and the rest of the day) so I’ll get the night refunded.

    I don’t always – no point setting up patterns – and it also depends on other factors, but it’s definitely a better experience than (for example) Mercure, who seem to just say “Well you’ve paid us already, so *shrug*”

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