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Monday, 29 December 2008

Marta’s little adventure – or lessons for people in the “hospitality” industry

Here are some hotels to avoid in Turin – and one to visit.

My partner Marta went home for Christmas, as she always does, to Lecce in Puglia.

It was quite an undertaking, as it often is – especially since Alitalia, which has been going broke since the Middle Ages (and richly deserves to – whoever heard of pilots in a bankrupt firm being chauffeur-driven to the airport?) was cancelling flights at random.

So after a nightmare work week and no sleep for 27 hours she flew from Stansted to Turin to wait there all day before catching the train for a 13 hour trip in the evening.

Still having work to do, she set out to find a hotel with a wi-fi connection.

At the Jolly (comically misnamed) she was quoted a price of €5 per half hour – and you have to log in and out every half hour. No thanks.

At the 5 star (awarded for rapacity) Majestic, €35 an hour. A joke, surely.

Why should Best Western be rebranded Worst Western? “This service is only for hotel guests,” said an amazingly rude cretin who didn’t even want to take her money.

Finally at the little Mercure Stefania and friends made her welcome –and charged her less. They apologised that their lobby wasn’t big enough, fed her with biscuits and coffee and hoped she would come back. So she went and bought them some chocolates.

Bravo, Mercure – and let’s hope the recession throws the rest of you out in the gutter – your natural destination.

Marta was also lucky at the station – two chivalrous heroes risked life and limb by jumping onto the train before it stopped to make sure she got a seat – but not so lucky at Bologna: a one and a half hour delay.

When she got home she had just enough time to shower and freshen up before going to see a client. What a girl!

If any of you are going to Turin- or you know anyone who is - now you know where not to stay.

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