Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday, September 7

We slept fitfully last night. Between the fact that we were exhausted, the heat and the city noise from the open window including Big Ben, it wasn’t a good night. As we are getting dressed, we hear sirens and see flashing lights on Westminister Bridge. Traffic has come to halt and soon a police helicopter arrives to hoover over the scene.
Turns out a big red bus has run over and killed a person on a bicycle. Later when we leave to go to Buckingham Palace, the bridge is still closed and the taxi has a hard time getting us there.

We are a bit groggy as we head down to breakfast. One of the things we always like about the Marriott hotels is that the breakfasts are so good. Our rate includes the full breakfast service so we are more than a bit surprised when, upon receiving the menus, we are told we can have the cold buffet or order the full American breakfast (listed value 25GBP), but we cannot order the Eggs Benedict at 10.50GBP.

Carolyn has had it and she heads for the front desk. While she is gone, getting absolutely no satisfaction, Dick talks to the restaurant manager who agrees with our point of view and says we can have whatever we want and that he will make a note for tomorrow morning also. This gentleman gives his name as Dom and he is the only person in the whole hotel who provides the sort of service we expect from Marriott and especially at the price we are paying at this one.

Meanwhile Carolyn visits with the registration manager, despite what she was told at midnight they will not comp us for the miserable night, but as a goodwill gesture we will have 20, 000 points credited to our account. Well, that is not satisfactory, as far as Carolyn is concerned, we deserve a credit refund. She is told that since we booked through a third party, a pre-paid deal arranged by our travel agent, that the Marriott Reward points are all the hotel will do. Carolyn’s stance is we paid over $400 for the night...some one got the money...we didn’t get the room we paid for...5 hours of fitful sleep in a hot room does not qualify as a luxury experience..... so someone owes us a refund.

Back in the room after our nice breakfast, Dick is finally able to get a cell signal so Carolyn calls the booking agent. The agent agrees with us and says she will work with the hotel for a better resolution.

We have now wasted enough time on this so we head out to see the Queen’s house, confident that the A/C will be fixed and things will get straighten out. We get to the palace early and with our repaid ticket and walk right in. We are given an audio head set for the self guided tour. The palace is stunning. Each room has its own personality and is richly decorated with beautiful antigues and works of art by the Old Masters. It takes nearly two hours to walk through the dozen or so state rooms and the diamond display which alone was worth the admission to see. We then are escorted back through the palace, driven in a golf cart to the front of the palace, and let out the small gate beside the main entrance gate.  Boy, do we get a few looks from the crowd standing around outside as we stoll out!

(This exit was something prearranged by Carolyn directly with the palace so we can see the Mews without having to do the ½ mile walk out through the garden.) Next, we do the self-guided audio tour of the Mews and see several beautiful carriages;  the one used for the brides, the state carriage built in the 1700's and used to carry the Kings and Queens on coronation day and several others.
The stables are beautiful also. As we are leaving two of the horses are there to say good bye.
Next, in deference to our feet, Dick bought tickets for the HOHO bus and the boat tour before we left the hotel. There is a bus stop right across from the mews and a bus is waiting. We crawl up to the top level and spend the next two hours enjoying the best London has to offer, just like first time tourists! It is really a great way to see the sights.

We get off at Westminister Bridge and board the boat for a ride down to the Tower of London and back to the bridge. The hotel is right next to the bridge, so it is an easy walk back to the room.

Well, the room is cool, but we find a letter under the door that the Hotel has credited our Marriott account with 40,000 points like we agreed to earlier...WHAT!!!! Carolyn immediately calls the booking agency in the US and, since it is about 8AM there, is able to talk to a supervisor who is aware of what is going on. The booking agent was told by the London Marriott that we had agreed to the points. We explain that we told the Hotel we wanted cash credit back on the card, not points. The booking agent explains that the hotel can credit us, but it will have to go through the booking agent and then on to us, which is fine. The agent takes all the details and names of who told us what and says she will work on it. Not completely satisfied, Carolyn heads down to the front desk again and asks to speak to the hotel manager. The manager is aware of the problem; surprise! Carolyn explains what we feel is fair to resolve the issue and the manager says that is possible, but will take some time. She says she will work with the contact at the booking agency and get a refund for the night started. At this point, all we can hope for is that these people will do what they say they will do....we shall see. Moral to this story, do not book and pre-pay through a third party. Getting problems resolved is a nightmare. But, at least everyone was speaking some form of English!!!

In spite of the hotel nightmare on top of the train nightmare, we have had a nice day in London, We are ready for a nice dinner and a good nights sleep. We opt for the hotel restaurant and have a wonderful meal with very attentive service. The rest of the Marriott staff leaves something to be desired, but the restaurant is wonderful. Well fed and in a cool room, we are asleep in no time.

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