Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hotel Motel Holiday Inn

The very first thing we did when we hit Berkeley:

Oh, ok. Not really. We checked in to the hotel and got settled, and then headed out in search of lunch. We decided we were looking for beer & pizza, and eventually ended up at a Round Table. Which almost feels silly, considering all the cool local places we could have gone to. But at that point we were starving and just looking for somewhere with seating that looked promising, and this was the first thing we stumbled across. We ended up staying for almost three hours, through pizza and four of these beers. So good! I don't even know what kind it was, other than pale ale, but very yummy.

The first day of our meeting:

Really cute, but wow do they hurt. I had bought some inserts for the foot ball area, but the problem is that my toes get so crammed into the front and I just don't think they make inserts for that.

After that first day, everyone was meeting at some whine & cheese social, followed by dinner. Personally, I was just not feeling very "business social", and I believe we've discussed my wine-dysfunction. So I decided to skip it in favor of having a walk around Berkeley. I went to a little grocery store and had a peep around, and then found a taqueria for dinner. It's hard when you don't eat meat, because not every restaurant has non-meat options, and, specifically, not all Mexican restaurants don't use lard when cooking their beans. But I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at a taqueria, and I should maybe remember that when debating whether or not to go to one next time.

Super Vegetarian Burrito: beans, rice, sour cream, cheese, salsa. So good.

The hotel we stayed in was super swank "Resort & Spa" that originally opened in 1915 and had been recently redecorated. We got a "special deal" on the room rate, but they nickel and dime you for everything else. Everything. They have an "honor bar" in the room with drinks and snacks and, as an example, had a regular size Mounds bar for $3.75. Seriously. Continental breakfast was $18, and you could get a full pot of coffee delivered to your room for $12.95 plus 22% gratuity, plus $3.50 delivery fee. For a pot of coffee. Seriously? That much money is breakfast for two just about anywhere else.

I want to say that I felt significantly out of place, which I did, but to me that speaks as much to the poor customer service and the nickel and diming as to anything else. I didn't feel like "oh, I don't belong in the 'big leagues'", I felt more like "Who in their right mind pays for things like these?"

The redecoration was... Interesting. The bones of the building were still very 1915, including the interior doors and wood work and the lighting fixtures, but the decor was very much what you might expect from a modern "lavish" hotel. So it was almost this hodge-podge of styles that looked ok on the surface, but once you really started looking closely at the elements, you could really see how they weren't really from the same era or style.

There's a mirror above the desk.

This mirror was visible when lying in bed.

The other thing about staying in a hotel that originally opened in 1915 is that there are, quite definitely, spirits. I didn't try very hard to tap into it, because I needed to actually get some sleep, but when I lay down at night, I could distinctly catch flashes of motion reflected in the mirrors. The closet was creepy as hell, with its original door, and the motion sensor light that stayed on after you shut the door. So picture that style of door, in a dark room, with a ring of light around the door itself. CREEPY!

It was interesting, and some very good things came out of the trip, and, overall, I'm glad I went. I hope next time we can stay somewhere a little less "swank".

PS: Seriously, are all fancy hotels like this?


Wendy Hawksley said...

There were obviously monsters partying in the hotel room closet, keeping the motion sensor busy. ;)

dolphyngyrl said...


I am SO GLAD I didn't think that up myself while I was there, I'd have NEVER slept! :)

Loki's Dad said...

You weren't in room 422 were you? That's the haunted room (seriously.) Supposedly a little girl who died in the fire that burned down the original castle. supposedly the owner's wife who died in the castle, Mrs. Thornburg, also hangs out.

dolphyngyrl said...

I stayed in 151, actually. BUT the "first floor" was technically the third floor of the building. And what's really weird is that their website is very hush hush about the hotel's history. That seems pretty odd for a hotel this old...

Then again, they're probably trying to avoid the ghost-hunter crowd. And, also, freaking out the rich people.

OH. And the whole place smelled like mushrooms - you know, those little white ones they sell at the grocery. I was reading reviews afterwards, which talked about pre-renovation mold & mildew, and I wonder if that's what I was smelling.

loki's Dad said...

Well, according to the reviews, the third floor is pretty active spirit wise too. simple answer, the place is haunted. As for some of the 'swanky' stuff, a truly 'swanky' hotel, and high class joints in general, make you feel comfortable. Yes, you pay for that, but they don't look down their nose and their customers and they don't nickel and dime. Personally, I think adding gratuity to room service automatically is vulgar. I can see a room service charge, but then to add 22% on the assumption that you would tip that high is, again, vulgar. My hotel in Chicago wanted to charge that much for coffee too, which I thought was rather shocking (14 bucks? Like I can't throw on a pair of jeans and find a Starbucks on Michigan Avenue?) Honor bars are always a rip-off, but I don't think of them as "swanky," I think they're rather cheesy, myself. If the hotel in Chicago had one after my clothes had been lost, I would have wound up drinking 50 dollars of little bottles of booze.
Classiest hotel I ever stayed at? NYC. Not even a 5 star, but they were trying hard to act like they were. (the room was the most amazing room I've ever stayed in though, a two bedroom suite with french doors out to the balcony looking over Midtown with a view of the Empire State.) We got it on an amazing bargain in the eighties when NYC was in major trouble. 90 bucks per night. Three ruffians from Detroit showed up to paint NYC red, and they treated us like Kings (and Queens....) We never saw a housekeeper, but the room was immaculate. I think they had leprechauns picking the towels up as we dropped them. They knew our names and greeted us "Mr. X, Mr. Y, Ms. Z" each time we came and left. When asked, they recommended the best local restaurants, THE off-broadway show to see that season, and the maddest Irish bar. In-phaquing-credible.