Tuesday 18 October 2011

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The Plaza Hotel in New York - How Not to Tip the Bellman

Prior to telling you anything further about our misadventures at the Plaza, I need to point out that, despite Lori and I being obviously over our heads when it comes to the etiquette of five star hotels, the staff of the Plaza was exactly what you would expect from such a world renowned business. Everywhere we went we were treated in the exact same manner as every other guest, which is to say with the utmost respect and courtesy. The staff at the Plaza really do give their all towards making each persons stay an amazing experience, and if there were any snickers or smirks (and let's face it, there probably should have been) they were stifled until we weren't around. If they couldn't hold it in once we left, well I can't really blame them for that.

After our smooth as ice check-in,  Lori and I were escorted (not from the building amazingly) to the elevators and asked if we needed assistance to get to our room. We declined, figuring that, as worldly travelers, we could probably operate both the elevator and the door to the room on our own. Silly us. The elevators at the Plaza are a little bit older and a whole lot smaller than what I'm used to. We initially tried to get in an elevator with another couple, but since they had their luggage with them (which reminded me that I had no idea where ours was) we couldn't fit. Lori and I caught the next elevator and
Our room, once we made it to the 9th floor.
started riding up to the 9th floor, where I assume they put all the people staying on the "Friends, Family, and People who should probably be at the Holiday Inn" rate. The elevator arrived at the 9th floor, and then it just sat there. Lori and I kind of stared blankly at each other, waiting for the doors to open, but they weren't moving. In fact, they didn't open until after a few minutes of us debating whether or not we should use the emergency phone, I decided to try the "Door Open" button. Sure enough the doors slid open and we found ourselves on floor 8 and 9/10ths. The elevator had only stopped about a foot shy of the proper level, but somehow I just know that if we'd taken that offer of assistance to our room, it would have been perfectly level.

Fortunately the door to the room didn't have any Plaza quirks to it, and we strolled in to our room in the illustrious Plaza hotel to find ourselves gasping "Wow, is this ever small." Now in the Plaza's defense, since this trip I've stayed at quite a few more New York hotels that have been even smaller, but at the time I think this was the tiniest room I had
Hmmm..probably not Victorian right?
 ever stayed in. It was, however, a perfect mix of styles for Lori and I. The furniture was very Victorian (I think. I'm never really sure what Victorian is. I use the word to describe something old that still looks nice.) but the TV, lights, and temperature were all controlled by an iPad like device that was hanging on the wall just as you walk in. Actually once you got past the size of the room, it was probably one of the best quality rooms we'd ever stayed in, and we were just starting to settle in when "the knock" came.

We knew our bags were going to eventually make their way up, but we had been too busy enjoying our five star room to give it much thought.  Now they were here, and we had to figure out how to tip the bellman. I went to get the door while Lori started trying to find whatever money we still had left in the darker corners of our wallets.  The bellman brought our bags in, set them up, and then began explaining the features of the room to us, which I really should have been listening to as I had no idea how to control anything, but I was busy watching Lori scrounging for cash. Just as the guy was finishing his spiel, Lori held up 10 fingers to me and I breathed a sigh of relief. $10 wasn't a great tip, but it was going to have to do under the circumstances. The bellman started towards the door and I discretely reached over to Lori so she could give me the $10, which she did. In change. Have you ever tipped the bellman in a five star hotel in all coins? I have, and I don't recommend it as an ego-boosting activity.

View from the room.  I wonder how many coins there are in that fountain?
Things did get better for us the next day once the daily limit on our bank card reset and we were able to withdraw more money. We hunted down the bellman from the day before and gave him another tip, this time with paper money, and we even got to eat. No, we didn't try the Oak Room (Can you imagine how many etiquette rules we would have broken there?), we went out for Subway, but after surviving on what Lori happened to have in her purse the day before, it was exactly what we needed. Of course, having money in our pocket doesn't mean we can't find other ways to embarrass ourselves....

Up Next: The Plaza Hotel in New York - How Not to Get Ice