Monday 17 October 2011

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The Plaza Hotel in New York - How Not to Check-In

Can somebody please explain to me what it is about "The Plaza in June!"  When I told my wife that we were going to spend a couple of June nights at the Plaza hotel in New York, I assumed that her excitement was about staying at a legendary hotel.  I had no idea that the word "June" held equal sway with the word "Plaza".  I thought maybe it was just some strange concept that my wife had latched on to, but time after time when she told her friends that she was going to "the Plaza in June" everybody knew to emphasize the word June.  Apparently it's also some sort of girls only thing, as when I tried to participate in the excitement about June I got some very strange looks, the kind I haven't gotten since I tried to fake enthusiasm for shoe shopping.  I've decided that it's something that I'm never going to get a straight answer to, but if you happen to know what the June adoration is about, please give me a hint.

So I set off to spend two nights at the Plaza in June (nope, still can't pull that off) with my wife.  Now you need to understand that while Lori and I have stayed in some very nice hotels, the Plaza is way above what we're used to.  Five star service at a beach resort is very different than five star service in New York.  When we arrived at the Plaza and got out of our taxi, our bags were already out of the trunk, on a cart, and being wheeled in to the hotel before we could even pay the driver.  That should have been the first sign that we were a little out of our league at this hotel.  The second should have been when our credit card was rejected at check-in.

For some odd reason, that I honestly can't remember the purpose of, Lori and I used to travel with just one credit card.  It was our card that was designated for traveling, and since we wanted all of our traveling expenses to be on that card, we thought it rather clever to leave all the other cards at home in order to resist temptation.  This plan had worked well for us in the past, right up until trying to check in to the Plaza (in June!)  I don't actually know what caused our card to be rejected.  All I know is that the poor front desk agent had to come and inform me, the worst dressed person in the lobby, that my card had been rejected and that other arrangements would have to be made.  Embarrassed as I could be, I offered to leave a cash deposit for the room, which I was then informed would be $400 per night.

Moments ago I envisioned myself as some sort of Rockefeller, peeling off a wad of bills to save face by implying that I only paid cash for the small things.  Now, I'm pretty sure that I had a complete "deer in the headlights" look as I tried to figure out how I was going to produce roughly double the amount of cash that I had on me.  I told the person helping us that I would have to run to an ATM and I would be right back.  The nearest machine was just across the street beside the subway station, and fortunately it was the middle of the day, as there's nothing quite as comforting as maxing out your daily withdrawal limit from a bank machine on the streets of New York city.  Of course I found out later that I was actually standing on 5th Avenue, and if I'd just turned around and held out a hat I probably could have raised the $800 in the first 10 minutes.

The room keys...finally.
I timidly made my way back to the front desk, a notch or two taken off any notions of grandeur that I might have had about staying in the Plaza (I didn't care what month it was anymore).  I counted out the $800 security deposit, which the lady assured me would still be available to be picked up on departure unless I did something crazy like destroy a TV or drink a Coke from the minibar.  We collected our keys, momentarily wondered what had happened to our luggage, then decided not to worry about it since we didn't have any money left to tip the bellhop anyways, and headed up to our room.

If only I was done embarrassing myself at the Plaza....

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