Andy Richardson: Hotel technology can often be tremendous eye-opener
My friends don’t like new technology. And new technology doesn’t like them. They’re firmly rooted in the 20th century in halcyon days of paper diaries and ink pens.
They yearn for the days of Bakelite phones where conversation and spending quality time with loved ones were considered normal. When they’re driving, they don’t hook up an app that beeps every time they approach a speed camera while turning them left and right like a Strictly Come Dancing professional doing the quick step. Instead, they thumb the pages of a trusty atlas – it’s a book with maps, young ‘uns, you won’t have ever seen one. Funnily enough, they invariably arrive quicker and less stressed than their tech-savvy pals.
That doesn’t mean they escape the rigours of micro chips that shoot information through the ether quicker than their synapses can comprehend. For we live in a technological age and those that don’t embrace apps and social media platforms get left behind in the slipstream.
Recently, they were sent to a pleasant hotel for the evening so as to be refreshed for a long day of work. At £300 a head, they looked forward to an evening of affordable luxury in the shadow of one of London’s great landmarks. The hotel in question promised free movies from XL king-size, super comfy beds as well as an amazing rain shower. They would get the opportunity to take pictures of wonderful skyscraping views while being able to post them straight to Facebook with the free Wi-Fi. An international plug system would allow them to charge their phones while everything in the room would be programmable with the swipe of a tablet. What could be simpler? No silly swan towels or rock-hard mattresses, just essentials for the perfect stay.
And so they settled in for the evening after enjoying a delicious dinner in the hotel’s swanky dining room. The hotel brochure was as good as its word. The food was magnificent, the views from their room picture perfect and the bed was indeed a cradle of feathers.
Talking of feathers, a curious fact re-emerged this week regarding the so-called Birdman of Stirling Castle. In 1507, Father John Damian decided to follow in the footsteps of Icarus and take flight. Planning a journey from the Stirling battlements to Paris, Damian appeared on the castle walls flourishing ‘wings’ made of feathers. He threw himself skywards whereupon gravity took control and he plummeted several hundred feet to the ground – remarkably, surviving with just a broken leg.
Damian was quick to point the blame on the feathers he’d used, rather than get worried about such boring stuff as gravity. Questioned about the type of feathers, he revealed he’d plucked a hen – rather than swiped them from an eagle. And, as everybody knows, chickens can’t fly. Or, at least, no further than the moat….
But I digress. My friends enjoyed restful slumber in their luxury hotel and somehow navigated their way around the room using their trusty hotel tablet to open and close shutters, dim lights, order room service and more besides.
At 8.05am, Mrs – erm, what shall we call her – Fiona Smith woke. Lascivious sounds had penetrated her dreams of rose beds and candles, rousing her from slumber. Mr, erm, John Smith, was sitting bolt upright beside her. His eyes were doing that thing that the eyes do in comic strips where they fall out of a character’s head and are attached by springs.
Mrs Smith honed in on the origin of the ooooh sounds. They were coming from the couple’s 50’ TV screen. A couple were in flagrante delicto – and it evidently wasn’t their wedding night.
Mrs Smith screeched. She’d never before woken to the sight of strangers getting jiggy from the 37th floor of a hotel. More worryingly, she realised that Mr Smith had witnessed the prelude to their early morning passion.
“Darling,” she shouted, making a mockery of the word ‘darling’.
Mr Smith sat guiltily, his tablet in his hand. He’d pressed the wrong button while trying to find the news and had ended up at an XXX-rated TV station. I’m pretty sure the blinds were simultaneously whizzing up and down, alternately brightening and darkening the room, as he tried to switch off the adult entertainment but succeeded only in ordering a bowl of Cornflakes from room service.
“If there’d been a warning, I wouldn’t have pressed it,” he told Mrs Smith, quivering.
Having worked out that her husband was, indeed, the innocent victim of a technological malfunction over which he had no control – rather than a really smart, pretend-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-huckster who’d been caught in the act – she swiped the right thingamajig and switched the whole thing off.
And she made a vow. While the masses head for hotels with the best quality Wi-Fi, she will forever more only stay in hotels where the walls are 2ft thick and impervious to all digital connections.