PROLOGUE – Shut Out and Scrambling For Lodging
The still-to-this-day-maddening email arrived about 48 hours before Kim, Mary, Tracy and I were to take-off from LAX to London: “London Property Rentals just sent you a full refund of £1,290.00 GBP for your purchase.” In other words, we were suddenly two couples with no place to stay in London for the first six nights of our fortnight plus two day trip to England, which would also include visits to Salisbury, Bath and The Cotswolds.
Murder being out of the question (but definitely in the back of my mind), my first option was to email LPR to find out what the hell was going on. Their less-than-informative response was, “I have no idea! PayPal are closed at this time over here!”
What a crock, it was LPR who issued the refund. Then I received another email, “Just got hold of them, it seems to be a security check they are doing, and I can't send you another invoice so sadly this reservation can't go ahead unless a bank transfer was made but I think it's too close to the arrival date for that to be done.”
So, that’s as close as I ever got to an “explanation” from this “fine” company as to why our South Kensington apartment rental was now a lodging of the past.
A security check??? Had PayPal heard abut the time I accidentally packed a large tube of shampoo in my carry on luggage? I called Citibank, and they said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the credit card, and apologized that they could be of no help in this situation.
I immediately weighed our options.
On the negative side, the weekend we were to arrive was the end of Fashion Week in London, so hotels were about 95% booked, and the ones that were not full were either located closer to Glasgow or cost more than a new Tesla. Also, every apartment I contacted in the next five hours was booked during that period.
On the plus side, well, there was really nothing on the plus side. By the time Tracy got home from work, I had worked myself into a rather frenetic state (kind of like the Wolfman at midnight without the facial hair). After telling her I wanted to light the LPR woman’s hair on fire, Tracy realized this might be a good night to leave me alone. She shoved some dinner under the door to my office and knew it would be a while before we would talk again. Even the cats kept their distance (our dogs were already safely ensconced at grandma’s house).
For the next 12 hours I emailed and phoned many different establishments, all to no avail. Afternoon turned to night, and when morning approached, we were still without a place to stay, and I was nursing a massive headache (double Manhattans at 4 a.m. was just a bad idea). It was now about 25 hours until Kim and Mary were to pick us up and take us to the airport, so I had to make a decision.
I had never used Hotwire before, and although wary of picking a hotel this way in a city I hadn’t visited in decades, as the saying goes, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” I found a Four-Star hotel that didn’t break the bank, and the location shown was inside a circled radius that stretched somewhere from the Thames to near the Wales border. I realized once you book the hotel there’s no turning back, but the few apartments left had not returned my emails, so it was now the moment of truth.
Nervously I hit the “agree” button, and we were now booked at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London. I immediately went to their website and it was not exactly the location I had envisioned for our stay in London, and the hotel seemed much more suited to the business traveler, but at least I was happy we had a hotel…for the moment.
Of course, as fate would have it, one of the apartments I had inquired about emailed me an hour later saying they had space, but it was too late. We were at the Park Plaza Riverfront come hell or high Thames water.
When I finally got to sleep that night, I had gone 40 hours without sleep and was in a rather foul mood. Contrary to my mantra at the end of all my trip reports, my attitude sucked, and the journey hadn’t even started yet.
Ten hours of sleep later, I tried to regroup my inner positive feelings, and soon we were off to the airport for another adventure. I drank some refreshing English ale at the airport, which was the perfect cure to what was ailing me. Attitude adjustment successful…it was time to get this UK show on the road.
NEXT: CHAPTER ONE - Damn That Traffic Jam, What Rooftop Bar, Clueless Concierge, A Rose Is A Rose, Where’s Daniel Craig, 2FOR1, Are We In A Music Video, This Makes Time Square Look Quaint, Church Concert Venue, We Can Eat With Dead People, Which Admiral Nelson and Some Like It Hot
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PROLOGUE – Shut Out and Scrambling For Lodging