Monday, March 30, 2009
The expensive grimness of Aberdeen hotels
Took these pictures (Aberdeen remains one of the most atrractive cities in the country, complete with beach, harbour and great glowering granite edifices) last night while scouring Union Street for food (prior to settling on the honey chilli chicken) followed by an extremely disturbed night thanks to the propensity of Aberdeen Young Folk for partying into the not-so-small hours. It was 5.30 am before the last Bridge Street revellers went home. Student night, apparently.
Hotels in Aberdeen are a problem. They're all hideously expensive, even the rubbish ones, especially during the working week. Oil still shouts that it's got an expense account here. So the truly crap place that I'm staying - part of a big chain, dirty, shabby, scruffy, you name it - is £75 a night, Monday to Friday.
In the course of the last seven years I've stayed in almost every hotel in Aberdeen, and in terms of value for money, the best is probably the Premier Inn opposite the Lemon Tree.Same price as Travelodge but on a different planet for quality and service. The two chains nearly merged last year but in the end, it all fell apart. Good.
The Carmelite is a would-be boutique hotel with a nice foyer and restaurant but, in my one and only stay there (£60, cancelled flight, weekend rate) has half-heartedly tarted-up rooms from its previous incarnation as the Grampian. The Malmaison, just opened, will be like all the other Malmaisons - very comfortable, pretentious and overpriced - but it's beyond my reach expense-wise. The Patio down at the beach is, in its cattle-class rooms at least, a badly-designed, very noisy echo chamber. Ludicrously expensive if you're not fossil-fuelled
There are other establishments, of course - too many to mention in a single post. The pub-with-rooms where, when I complained about the absence of a toilet seat, I was accused of stealing it. The truly threatening bed and breakfasts (there are several, and none are cheap). The Copthorne - now getting to over £200 a night, I'm told -used to be nice but very 1970s and too dear to eat in. The Caledonian is OK but again, ridiculously expensive and worn at the edges.
Holiday Inn Express is clean, tidy and well-run but very difficult to get into. I like their no-nonsense all-you-can-eat breakfast too. If you can afford £150 a night. Unbelievable. The Station Hotel by the harbour is a warren and rather frightening.
Anyway, if you have to, go for the Premier Inn, or, if money's no object, Simpson's (which is ultra-dear) or the Malmaison. But for whom is money no object these days?