48OE Blog  
Jun 10

Written by: 48OE Admin
10/06/2011 07:28  RssIcon

With Her Majesty in the press recently hosting the visit of Barack Obama it brought back memories of when I was rather obsessed with my own importance and moved in surreal circles of corporate life. First Class round the world air travel was normal and nothing but the very best hotels were 'de rigueur'. However, even with check-ins 20 to 30 minutes before the flight in those good old days, things did not always go to plan.
I was travelling with my boss westwards on a global trip and flew into San Francisco. We were staying in the St Francis Hotel Union Square - but after a flight delay our limo did not glide into the entrance until about 1.00am in the morning.

From the moment we walked in I sensed a problem from behind the front desk. Yes, they did have our reservations but there would be a delay whilst they 'tried to find our rooms'. I seem to recall that we had been working and travelling for about18 to 20 hours and all I wanted to do was sleep. I'm not sure how a hotel can lose rooms but I was too tired for a philosophical debate. Eventually, they located one room and in true corporate standing my boss took this and left me in reception.

The night manager huffed and puffed and after much wringing of hands just kept apologising that all rooms were full. Now those of you who know a little about San Franciso would be aware that there are many snappy dressers who spend a lot of money on how they look. The night manager was not only immaculately turned out - he had a touch of Hollywood about him.

With a flourish, spinning on his heels and with a welcoming arm gesture he said, 'It's no good you will have to stay in our Presidential Suite. Your Queen has only just checked out'. Now, I had read during the flight about her tour of the US but had not appreciated I was following so closely in her footsteps. Normally I might have been very excited by this prospect but I just wanted to sleep. With more profuse apologies I was given the key and told all the secret twists, touches and methods of accessing the Presidential Suite. 'Oh unfortunately do you mind taking your own bag up with you?' was receptions final comment. I bet they did not ask the Queen this!

As I neared the rarefied air of the Presidential Suite I wondered if my Sovereign might have accidentally left anything in the room. I was faced with a large double door portal which was clearly a threshold to a life I could have only dreamt about.

Now those of you that travel will know that there are a series of constants that work in all hotels anywhere. One of the most obvious is that nothing is in the same place or works the same, especially lights and switches. So, for the first 5 minutes, I was stumbling around in the dark. When I looked in the last place I would put a switch and remembered that switches worked in the opposite way to the UK I made progress. It was slow progress as it was evident that most of the furniture had been removed including many room lights.

Now I expected something large but I was not ready for what I found:- kitchens, dining rooms, lobbies, ante-rooms, toilets and bathrooms galore and more walk-in cupboards than you could ever imagine. It took me about 15 minutes before I finally cracked and phoned the front desk.

With an air of theatrical professionalism the front desk initially pretended not to recognise my voice; despite me recognising his as the man I had be talking to for 30 minutes while he found me a room. 'Was I not happy with the Presidential suite?' he enquired, 'It is the best in the whole of San Francisco and all our Presidents have stayed in it'. Not wishing to be confrontational, I said I thought it was charming but there was one small problem. I thought I had looked everywhere but could not find a bed! He immediately dismissed this as absurd and said he would come straight up. Moments later a tap on the door. As I began to open the solid oak door he burst in arms waving saying 'Sir must be mistaken as your Queen had stayed in this very suite two days previously'. He almost ran from room to room to cupboard to wash room. 

Eventually I could sense reality dawning on him. 'I don’t understand your Queen' was all he could say. Forty minutes on and two very sleepy maintenance men wheeled in a temporary bed and at last I got the sleep I craved for.

Next morning over breakfast with my boss he found it all very amusing and promptly changed the story for everyone we met that day to 'I slept with a queen in San Francisco'. Still, I now have an inside track – maybe not only is our Queen so very special that she never carries money, but perhaps she has no need of sleep either! Could be one for the conspiracy theorists?