‘Have you ever eaten breakfast at the Hilton before?’ shouted the woman on the door of the restaurant, as a guest attempted to gain entry.
As he mumbled something, she shouted: ‘And how are you this morning?’ He mumbled something else, and looked scared. I was already sitting down, having dodged the Cerberus of the breakfast bar because, when I entered, she had been marching around the diners shouting, ‘Anything else? More coffee? No?’ and I managed to help myself to what I wanted from the buffet and choose a table.
This did not go down well. When she worked out that I had breached her barriers, she marched up and shouted: ‘Room number!’ I told her I thought it was 523, but I couldn’t be sure. Who can remember their room number when they’ve only got the key card and not that little bit of paper that comes with it, which loses itself immediately?
She harrumphed and told me I could sit where I was sitting. I thanked her and said I would, because I was.
She told me I could help myself to coffee and I said I would, because I had.
She eyed my plate which was piled high with smoked salmon. This was for a very good reason, and the reason was not that I like smoked salmon, which I do.
I was chomping my way through an entire serving platter of smoked salmon with fried eggs and scrambled eggs and two types of toasted bread with butter and creamed cheese because I had been told I was being charged £8 a day to park in the car park.
This hotel is down a lane off the A3, nowhere near anything, and no one could possibly misuse it by parking there when they are not staying at the hotel.
But the evening before, on my first trip back from Ireland to Surrey, I was told by the reception staff on arrival that rules were rules.