HOTEL PRINCIPAL | York

Our over four-hour long drive from Helensburgh in Scotland, where we were pampered with personalized attention from our B&B hosts, culminated at the five-star Hotel Principal in York, and the feeling was like night and day. The relaxation of a slow-moving day in suburbia, warm human interaction, and a cozy, spacious bedroom have given way to a stressed out, detached front desk staff, crowded public spaces, and a room that could be described as the red-headed stepsister of five-star hotel rooms.

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Admittedly, we booked the lowest priced room available called an Urban Double. We were only in York for one night as a rest stop on the final legs of our road trip, and relied on the hotel’s five-star ranking and decent reviews to satisfy our minimal accommodation expectations. What we got was a New York-level-tiny room facing the rooftops of the adjacent rail station, zero WiFi reception in the first few hours – it was touch and go later in the evening – furniture that’s not out of place in IKEA, and a slight head injury from hitting a protruding hanger on the bathroom door. It’s a room only slightly better than a Holiday Inn’s but with a much higher rack rate, surrounded by expensive-looking common areas.

Have just tried ordering room service and according to the information book, all internal calls should dial 0. After a handful of unanswered attempts, someone finally picked up but still had to forward my call to somewhere else. Not a well thought out system from the looks of it. It’s going to be interesting when the review invitations start arriving.

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