As *some* of you know, I've been in Edinburgh since quite early on friday morning with Atomic Powered Girlfriend Brid (something else I've not mentioned here but thats filed under "my actual private life" as opposed to "the bits of my private life y'all are privy to"). We were up at the ridiculously early hour of 3am to get the bus out to the airport for our 6:40am flight to Edinburgh airport and it went pretty smoothly for once. There was only one hiccup when we were getting breakfast and half way into my coffee I was struck with an ALMIGHTY need to go sit down in the toilet for a little while and of course I couldn't find the damned thing anywhere - ten minutes and a lot of swearing later I got that need out of my system... as it were.
The flight went out on time and there was an appropriately short wait for our luggage and before long we found ourselves standing outside my choice of accommodation for the weekend - the City Centre Guest House. To say it wasn't *quite* as described wouldn't be unfair - the kettle and TV didn't work, the bathroom had an aggressive, tentacled case of rising damp (with an accompanying smell like that of a corpse) and for some reason the "private double en suite" had a bunk bed stuck in alongside the double. The shower lacked a door, instead opting for a distressingly sticky curtain that did nothing to prevent water flowing all over the place - but hey - it was the cheapest (at 70 sterling per night) private room I'd been able to find after much poking around on the web and making phone calls (the next best was 100 sterling).
Due to their obscenely early check out time (9:45) we were actually able to check in as soon as we got there and that left us with the entire day to explore the city, which as it turned out, was suffering the worst weather they'd had all year long. Torrential downpours and howling freezing winds did little to dampen my spirit but Brid was suffering a bit and had an unusually difficult time finding a shop that sold hats and gloves that were not made of cashmere and costing more than most kings would be comfortable handing out.
Happily Edinburgh offers many tours and trips that involve delving down into the bowels of the city and between that and some light shopping we managed to pass the day without much fear of death from exposure to the elements.
Day two began quite well with the exception of some dumbass trying our doorhandle for about ten minutes at 6am. The weather had cleared up and it was a little sunny so we were able to wander the town with our heads held high without fear of decapitation from the wind. I did my regular trip to the gaming store, we popped into forbidden planet and did plenty of touristy things, saw some sights and (pay attention, because this is where it gets interesting) at about four in the afternoon headed back to the hostel to freshen up for an evening in museums and doing another walking tour. We said hello to the manager on duty, had a shower and went on out again. That evening we did the very interesting Auld Reekie's ghost and torture tour, saying anything much about it would spoil the fun but I reccomend it highly. Afterwards we had a bite to eat and headed back to the hostel.
We arrived, said hi to the night manager and discovered something a little odd and disturbing when we got to the door - voices *in* our goddamned room. The keycard wouldn't work either and as we went downstairs to have a little "chat" with the night manager he came up to tell us that for some reason the day manager had taken it upon himself to enter our room, cram our stuff into our bags (without regard for what was wet, what was electrical, what was dirty and stinking, what was clean and not stinky) and dump them in the office. Its worth mentioning that my card was charged the full amount for the stay too. After a little yelling and a polite request that he go up there and get the things his dipshit co-worker had neglected to take from the room, like our toothbrushes) we got a cab to the police station and to find somewhere to sleep that night. The police were... well.. charitably I could say they were pretty useless - apparantly it isn't a crime to take folks' money, potentially damage their gear and then leave them without a place to stay, without even trying to contact us via the numbers we provided for emergencies. That said, they gave us some numbers of people who *could* concievably help. With that we went on our way with the mission of finding a room somewhere else. A lengthy taxi journey and several hotels later we found ourselves in Jury's Inn - the only goddamned place with a vacancy at 1am.
Lemme tell you this - those of you who have never stayed in Jury's Inn? you're missing *nothing*. The rooms are okay, some of the lights didn't work and the bathroom is only activated by entering your keycard in a wall mounted console (something not explained anywhere and only discovered by my tendency to stick things in other things to see what happens). It did provide one new experience though, I've never heard someone say with a straight face "No sir, the 120 pound nightly rate does not include breakfast".
Day three saw us trying to find anywhere else other than Jury's Inn and the City Center Guest House to stay and despite the fact that the Ibis had been full the previous night I decided to try again and this time noticed the sign outside that said "Double Rooms - £75 per night" - for those of you paying attention, thats a whole fiver more expensive than the shithole that had taken our money and dumped us out, as well as being right in the middle of the cool bit of the city and a damned sight nicer. So we moved in there, had breakfast and decided to see what was happening back at the aforementioned shithole.
The manager on duty was not the moron who turfed us out (as we were assured it would be by the dodgy looking night manager) and had no clue what we were talking about but looked up the information and discovered that the moron had decided we were a no-show (items in the room and the recipts in the paperwork to the contrary) and charged the full amount (as per their "terms and conditions" - a different "terms and conditions" to the ones I signed that stated only one night would be charged but enough of that). He called the owner and we were told that the owner would be around at about two in the afternoon. We left, did some wandering (and photocopying of relevant recipts) and came back at two - no sign of the owner. By three we'd had about enough and went off to see if the Police could do anything more in light of the new information - they couldn't. To be honest, I don't remember much about the rest of the day except that we were exhausted from the stress and went to bed early.
Day Four (today) involved another phone call to the manager who informed us that the money would be refunded (no sign on my card yet) and y'know... sorry about all that - oh and the owner would be in real soon. We went to see the Camera Obscura, something else I can highly reccomend to anyone who likes plasma balls, holograms and optical illusions. On a whim I called the CCGH again and got an entirely new manager who knew nothing about our plight and I'm not ashamed to say I got a bit stroppy with the line "So you've heard nothing about the poor bastards one of your moron managers kicked out after taking their money then?" at which point I was put onto the owner who assured me that the full amount would be refunded and some more as compensation - whoop de fucking doo - I'll believe it when I withdraw it and roll around naked in it for a while. We tried the council offices, the tourist board and the trade descriptions people hoping that ONE of them could do SOMETHING about a hotel that pulled this kind of crap and (by this stage at least) unsurprisingly they couldn't - the tourist board can only do anything if the hotel is registered with them, the council could only refer us to people we'd already spoken to and the trades description people could potentially, possibly do something about the kettle. Then we got on a bus to the airport, waited an extra half hour for the flight because some parent wasn't able to aim their kid at a sickbag (though from the look of the stains on the seats, the kid was possessed anyway) and got back safe and sound, though much lighter of wallet.
So the moral of my tale is - regardless of what Ibis say on their website, call them because its possibly wrong and you'll be staying with a hotel as opposed to morons and cockroaches.