When you’ve paid out a small fortune for a weekend break you can be forgiven for going budget on the airport hotel, but when you turn up to be welcomed by a service station bunker, it can be a sure-fire way to ruin the first leg of your trip.
I write from my own bitter experience. It has not been fifteen minutes since I checked in and rather than kicking back over a glass of wine in the bar in anticipation of my early morning flight I feel compelled to sit in the ‘business centre’ and pen this hate-fuelled listicle in the vein hope that I might save other poor souls in the future.
No star rating, no detailed analysis, just pure unadulterated rage. Enjoy.
I have seen snack baskets and minibars that offer a more comprehensive food offering than the Ramada Stansted. A single sheet of A4 which seemed to document whatever the chef could find in roadkill on the nearby motorway is all you get, and in a less than pleasant environment to boot.
Enquire about room service at your own peril – I got “you can carry your own food up” – and don’t hold out any hope for nearby restaurants. I enjoyed momentary elation when I saw a sign for Fone Bitz in the service station, but it turned out to be a mobile repair shop and not the Mediterranean eatery I had hoped.
Staffing wasn’t so much a problem as a non-entity. From what I could see there was about three people running the entire joint, of which two were looking after the handful of diners in the restaurant. After spending fifteen minutes ringing reception in order to get to the place I queued for a further 15 minutes as a lone receptionist tried to process a plane-full of people selfishly demanding keys to their room.
Did it help that she felt compelled to neatly gift wrap our card keys in our booking forms? No! Did it help that she consistently sent punters in the wrong direction to their rooms? No! But give the poor dear a little help at the least!
Ramada Stansted is a funny name for a hotel that might as well be used for access to Heathrow, but so it has been called. A £10 taxi in each direction from the airport means that your £67 room rate is actually £87, which isn’t much less than the splendidly looking Radisson Blu hotel which airport staff send you to in order to poke fun at those who have opted for a service station hell hole over a conveniently located inn with a towering wine collection.
“There is a shuttle”, I was told, before finally getting through to a receptionist who advised me to jump in a cab. And advise me she might. The hotel is a considerable drive away from the airport, one which I’m sure has boosted the coffers of the local cabbie firm who must be wetting themselves every time punters part with the 20 sheets that had been earmarked for a nice steak on the beach.
There is nothing quite as depleting as a thoroughly shite hotel room. Granted, this is the Ramada and I wasn’t expecting the Ritz, but this really is a dive of a hotel. You reach the second floor only to be greeted by a waft of cigarette smoke and two staff members (that’s where they are!) in a room looking sheepish.
The makeup of the room is budget personified. A cramped queensize bed lie facing the service station car park with industrially pumped hand soap and body wash in the bathroom. You try crack the window to rid the room of smoke only to find they are welded shut and the air conditioning does nothing but noisily spew dirty air around the room. You get complementary ginger biscuits on the tea and coffee tray, but that is the single redeeming attribute worthy of note.
The Ramada Stansted suffers from a general aura of shoddiness. Aside from the aforementioned shortcomings it is clear from the moment you step through the door that this is a hotel in desperate need of an overhaul. It is slapdash, stuffy and dated, and as I sit on my bed munching on Waitrose chicken on a laptop that is about to run out of battery because the plugs in my room don’t work, I can safely say, this has been a shocking start to a relaxing weekend away.