Well, despite a pretty good stay at La Quinta North in Charlotte on my way to New Zealand, the stay on the way back disappointed.
Picture this. It's 10:30 pm. You've been traveling for nearly 24 hours, with very little sleep. You've just gorged on four slices of Pizza Hut pizza after not eating for a long time. About 30 minutes ago, you took your nighttime meds so you're feeling the sleepy effect of that as well. And you're feeling dirty, nasty, smelly, like the toilets on a bus, plane or train at the END of a very long journey.
You're at a hotel, and exhausted. But you know you'd feel oh-so-good if you took a shower before crashing. Come on, you can do it ... tough it out. You won't have to bother showering in the morning ... you can sleep later.
So you give your child strict instructions on NOT to answer the phone or open the door or even respond to anyone while you're in the shower. You gather your belongings, not sure you can do this. You've never been so tired in ALL YOUR LIFE.
You enter the bathroom. Lock the door. Start the water. Take off your nasty clothes. Know you're making the right decision, thinking of how good you'll feel to fall into a clean bed when you're nice and clean.
Then you sample the water, ready to adjust the temperature.
It's splattering out all over the place, spraying you and the floor because someone left it on a strange setting.
And it's COLD.
So you think you didn't work the knobs right. That's ok, you're exhausted. Try again. Splatter, splatter, soak, soak.
Grab a towel throw it on the floor to sop up this water.
So you wiggle it again. Splatter some more. Wait some more. Still cold.
You try the water in the sink.
You can't believe it.
This is a hotel. How can you NOT have hot water? And how come NOW?
So you grit your teeth, try not to have a breakdown (remember, no sleep, carb overload, sleepy meds), turn off the water, put your clean pajamas onto your nasty, smelly, dirty body. Skip the undies ... don't want to dirty those as well.
You call the front desk to explain the problem.
And this is what you're told: "Oh, I have to come up and fix the water pressure; I'll do it before I leave."
You don't even reply because you have no idea what it is this guy is saying. He is obviously from the islands and has a thick accent. "Water pressure? It's the hot water. I have NO hot water," you repeat.
He says, "Yes, I need to turn it on. I will do it before I leave."
You are stymied. Stupefied. Befuddled. Before he leaves?
"When are you leaving?" you ask, not even sure why you have to be asking this question. Aren't hotels supposed to have hot water? Isn't this like a given?
"At 11:00," he tells you. "I'll come up there before I go home."
You can't believe this. It's like a really, really, REALLY bad joke. This just doesn't happen at hotels. How can the hot water not be on? You suddenly realize that it's going to take a good while for the water to heat up AFTER he turns it on, for whatever inane reason it's off.
You croak, "I've been traveling for more than 24 hours. I'm exhausted. I need a shower." He said, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience, there's no one here but me so I'll come up before I leave."
You hang up. Dumbfounded. Defeated. Still dirty.
No shower for you.
So you wash your face with cold water. Brush your teeth. And crash.
When you awake at 4:00 in the morning, you suddenly wonder, "Do I have hot water?!?!" So you get out of bed to check. If there's no hot water, you're going to be raising cane because you MUST have hot water. You are imaging the conversations you're going to have with the front desk people, asking to speak to the highest person in corporate, demanding another room just for a shower as there's no way you're moving all your stuff.
You stumble into the bathroom in the dark. Turn on the light. And turn on the hot water tap at the sink.
You relax, knowing a hot shower without more hassle is in your near future.
And then you go back to sleep.
This was a true story.
La Quinta, are you listening?
UPDATE: March 6, 2009
After contacting LaQuinta about this incident, the general manager quickly responded. They are refunding what I paid for the night's stay--something I did not expect--and offered me an upgrade should I return the next time I'm in Charlotte. I'm pleased with this outcome and will certainly give them another go. I liked LaQuinta Charlotte Airport North except for this unfortunate incident. Thanks for making things right!