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Premier Inn: Everything’s premier… but the fries…

I’ve spent the first part of this year touring the country, each night in a different Premier Inn. Not a bizarre New Years resolution, weird hobby or obsession or not due to a fetish of the colour purple but, for work.

I am not a huge fan of Lenny’s home from home. Mainly on account of being spoilt by much more luxurious dwellings, some of which cost less than a Premier Inn. However needs must and I make do.

The Grefriars, Colchester. A personal favourite

The first stopover was in Colchester at the Premier Inn Castle, which let me tell you is not how I imagined it to be (yes I actually thought a castle or that it would at the very least have turrets!). There is nothing wrong with the appearance of the hotel despite its misleading name, it’s relatively new and fresh.

Premier Inn Colchester (Castle)

However, it took over an hour to check in and I didn’t arrive until 10.30pm. After a 5 hour drive on a Sunday evening and work the next day, I just wanted to slip into bed. Instead I spent the hour making the most of the colouring in sheet they provide along with the green crayon, yes only one. I always assumed these were for the children until now.

Now not being able to check in was down to a laptop malfunction, I think one of the keys was missing on the keyboard and it was responsible for the entire kerfuffle. Or at least that was what I was told. I had tried using both of the swanky self serve check in’s, unfortunately they didn’t work either.

The bar maid and chef were busy making calls and tapping the redundant key whilst I got more and more agitated. I asked if I could at least have the key to my room and go up whilst they sort it out. The room was already paid for so it seems daft that I should sit downstairs, I want to settle. I was told that this was not possible because of law (I didn’t delve into this too much as such law could well exist however I imagine it doesn’t).

The lady came over to me and asked if I would like a tea or coffee whilst I wait. I replied “No thank you. I’ll have a gin…double”. Not quite sure how to response she kindly obliged. I sat and sipped my gin…who am I kidding? I sat and gulped my gin and continued colouring my piglet.

I finally got checked in and went to bed. I didn’t stop for breakfast on account of me travelling alone and Premier Inn not offering room service. So once ready I left for work.

I returned to the castle after work for my second night. Feeling quite peckish I went to the bar to order some food to take up with me. I perused the menu, however vegans aren’t particularly well catered for. I settled on a side order of fries. I sat in the bar and waited 50 minutes for the fries and figured they must be worth the wait.

Finally the waitress pops them on the table in front of me and walks off. I was so terribly confused because whilst I had ordered only a side order of fries, I didn’t expect them to be handed over in a thimble! The bowl was tiny, had they have been half the price I paid, then perhaps I wouldn’t quibble. Lenny Henry may as well have flung the fries on the table and asked for my money or my life!

I snatched my thimble of fries and headed back to my purple boudoir. On the way up in the lift I looked down at the pathetic portion and genuinely felt hard done to. Although, perhaps the taste is where the values at.

I entered my room, sat on the bed and started on my evening meal. I selected a frie and graciously began to nibble its length. Until half way in, when the tastebuds got wind of the frie’s filthy flavour. You know, the type of flavour that suggests the oil hasn’t been changed in the fryer for a while. Rank!

Completely wounded, hungry,  tired and my respect for Lenny Henry hanging in the balance, I went to bed.

NB: Either Premier Inn treated Lenny to the bubble bath, or he brought his own. There is is no way that came out the soap/shampoo/conditioner/ shower gel dispenser screwed to the wall.

The next morning I woke, skipped breakfast for the same reason as yesterday morning and packed my bags ready for check out. After vigorously reviewing my room to ensure I hadn’t left anything (even checking drawers I haven’t used – why do we do that?) I headed downstairs to check out.

I was greeted by a beeming smile from the receptionist who began checking me out (of the hotel). She asked the question I was hoping she wouldn’t, “Was everything ok with your stay?”. I thought, keep it brief, you’ve got work, get gone. In response I said “For a Premmier Inn”. I hoped that this would perhaps satisfy her need for asking without disclosing in any way that I was happy.

Only the smiley receptionist wasn’t satisfied with my reply and continued to probe my comment. I reeled off as quickly as possible the issues that I’ve had since being there. The delayed check in, no room service, the fries!

She apologised and I left.

This should be where the story ends right? Wrong!

4 weeks later, I’ve been booked back into the same hotel. Only this time for one night. I was dreading the visit due to the last. What’s more the journey in was even worse because of the weather and the horrific fog that had descended that evening.

I arrived and the self serve check in didn’t work – again. It was like having de ja vu.

Then this beeming smile appeared from across the way. “Are you wanting to check in sir?”. “Yes please” I replied. “Will you be eating with us tonight sir? Only the kitchen closes soon so you could order whilst I check you in”. Already bewildered by the receptionists efficiency I declined on account of my fussy eating. It was then she said “I remember, you stayed here before and wasn’t entirely happy”. I admitted that this was true. “I will personally see this time is better”. A bold statement considering how much I dislike Premier Inn after living in one for the month.

I went to the bar and ordered a drink. She introduced me to a new menu with a veggie burger on. I ordered the burger and before having the chance to ask for it without cheese or sauce, she did it for me, even stating I was vegan. I went up to my room with my drink to wait for them to call to collect my food. Only instead I got a knock at the door. It was my food – room service in a Premier Inn! Plus a free drink and a pudding.

Needless to say, her generous actions and impeccable customer service certainly did challenge my opinion of her work place. Which I’m pretty certain was her intention. She was adamant that I would have a better stay second time round and I did. Bravo!!

I wish that I had gotten her name to thank her for restoring some of my faith in the supposedly ‘most loved hotel brand’. Premier Inn she is a credit to you and I hope she is well rewarded for her outstanding performance. In fact because of her I would actually stay there again, if the Greyfriars is fully booked.


The only way to combat mental health stigma is to talk openly about mental health illness and educate ignorance. Let's see if we can do our bit and share our experiences...

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