In my line of work I am occassionally given the opportunity to visit far larger players in the field of telecoms.
On this particular occassion I have the pleasure of making my second visit to Reasearch In Motion (RIM), in Slough. Research In Motion are the Canadian eggheads that turned a simple pager system into the technical wonder that is BlackBerry; the purpose of my visit is to top up my BlackBerry Enterprise Server training, now that BES 5.0.1 and BES Express have been released.
My last trip to Slough was much longer, over a weekend and with company. We stayed in Slough Travelodge last year, and whilst the amenities were basic, it had everything we needed: Bed, hot showers and a barkeep who came and had a chat if you sat in his bar.
Slough is not the most salubrious of places and last year’s visit was made all the better for friends in the area taking me out on random drive-by searches for booze and food. This year’s trip is too short for that kind of shenanigans and instead of the trusty budget travelodge, our awesome finance/accounts team have booked me into a hotel that is much closer to RIM’s UK head office (assuming that the Egham office isn’t the head office).
I am currently sat nostalgically listening to Megadeth in a room on the third floor of the Copthorne Hotel “Slough-Windsor”; a hotel that has both vexed me and given me hope of a good night’s sleep!
My earliest experience of hotels (as opposed to B&Bs) was at budget hotels in France. Sometimes, when my family and I traveled to France we would stay in £20 a night auto-hotels; no receptionist to hassle you, just a clean room accessed by credit card. I loved them at the time, something about the starched sheets and the smell of auto-exhaust.
I still enjoy the Uk equivalent of booking a cheap advanced travelodge or premier inn so maybe I am preconditioned to rail against the pseudo-affluence of Copthorne. My initial experience has been less than great.
As I mentioned earlier, our awesome accounts team booked me the room. A week or so ago, well in advance the room was booked, paid for and a second night appended to account for my early arrival. On arrival I was surprised to learn that I had to check out the next morning and then check back in due to the system having initially allocated different rooms to me.
I spent the first night flustered, as I always do after a heavy period of travel. The shower on full heat was frosty, even by my Efreet-esque standards and the evening meal 1 of 9 possible permutations (2 of 3 courses with 3 choices for each) each of which being largely bland an unimaginative (I had the hotel equivalent of baxters soup followed by ‘oops with a few spinach leaves this evening). By this point I’ve added my new Mastercard Debit (replaces Switch/Maestro) to the room to cover sundries, so a couple of pints of wife-beater get added to my room’s tab and I go to bed.
That night I have the strangest night’s sleep that I have had in a long time; I was both restless and relaxed. I left the window open as best I can and the curtains parted just enough to let the sodium lights of urbanity filter through; I was up and atom at the crack of Gryphon dawn (opposite of Viper dawn, Gryphon dawn lies between 5 and 6 am).
I think that despite being a country boy, I have a soft spot for urbanity – I have no idea where from. As a youth in Linthwaite, I used to sit with my head out of my bedroom’s sash window and listen to the cars go by whilst staring into the shadows cast by the orange street lights.
So I arise hours before I had planned, leisurely shower (hot water this time) and then dry off before having a greasy, soggy breakfast that has probably undone the year’s efforts at the gym. I take the time to plan the best route to walk to RIM’s offices (10-15 minutes fast walk away) before eventually heading down to check out.
On checking out I find that my room has not actually been paid for yet. A five minute argument and I depart, the room’s payment unresolved. I am staying a further two nights but the reception team can’t seem to make the connection. Needless to say, BES training takes priority over arguing with ESOL staff.
With great thanks to my work colleagues, the situation is resolved; funds provided for room payment and a more sensible receptionist has merged the room bookings so that I can pay Thursday. I still can’t help feeling that the situation could have been avoided by merging the bookings in the first place.
So as far as Copthorne is concerned – There We Are Then, Sorted!
- The room is traveldoge standard, with a bit more leg room and a window that won’t stay open.
- The shower is a pikey cracked affair that spews forth ice water any time after early evening.
- The work desk has no nearby plugs and the TV stand (that holds the locked mini-bar) has more plugs than you would ever need – albeit too low to the work surface for the standard HTC charger.
- There are so many mirrors in this room that eastern europeans would run out of the family sheets, were there a bereavement;
- and finally, the room stinks of nicotine – depsite smoking being banned from the entire premises.
There are positives however:
- The evening restaurant staff bend over backwards to help. Even if you’re obviously out of place in the rich person’s restaurant (£30 a course – “We can give you a £15 discount with the meal tariff you have booked sir”).
- The evening restaurant staff are actually wannabe care-home assistants who treat you like a beloved geriatric in need of comfort and beer.
- There are no other positives.
I did venture out this evening to look for nearby amenities. There are none.
Actually there is a throatcutter 10 minutes walk away on “High Street” and a renowned titty bar called The Flags (I was warned about this place by a work colleague this very evening) which you pass on the way to the ‘cutter.
I am in two minds as to whether I would stay here again. They do organise trips to Legoland Windsor, which is nice, but then so do Travelodge. The only real benefit to my mind is that the place is within walking distance of RIM.