It’s 3.15am and I’m lying on the floor of my Premier Inn room next to a large, inviting double bed. The floor is so hard, my back feels like it shall never move flexibly again.
The phrase ‘Good Night Guarantee’ is floating around my head, as are images of a grinning Lenny Henry tucked up with his purple ‘on brand’ pyjama’s under a lovely cosy duvet. I can guarantee you one thing however, this will not be a ‘good night’ of sleep, in fact sleep of any description would be welcome.
Let me rewind 5 hours. It’s 10.15pm and Harry (7), Josh (5) and myself have just arrived at the front desk of our hotel for the evening. We’ve just come from the wonderful wedding celebration of friends Murray and Hayley, during which there was a significant amount of carouselling between throwing out shapes on the dance floor, laying siege to the sweetie cart and loitering at the pizza marquee, and that was just my evening.
By now however, tiredness had begun to sink in and so we retired to our accommodation for the evening, excited at the prospect of a good night’s sleep, undisturbed by the miniest Wicks (Jude, 2) who was having a sleepover with Grandma.
And so as we walked into the Braintree Premier Inn, I gave my details to the sleepy looking gentleman behind the glass. He looked at the screen, looked back over the desk specifically towards the two small people next to me and then back at his screen with a slightly puzzled expression on his face.
“These two with you?” he enquired. “Oh, no” I imagined replying, “Never seen them before in my life, you must get primary age children wandering up the A120 in the middle of the night on their own all the time?”
Instead I conjured up a simple “Yes”.
“Well, the thing is,” he went on “You’ve only booked a room with a single double bed”.
“I see, are you sure?”, I said slowly, frantically searching for the original booking on my phone. Within a minute, there it was, confirmation that I had indeed booked a single double room…for three people.
“Oh, that’s a bit of a mistake!” I exclaimed, half-joking whilst dying a little inside. “In that case, could I upgrade and get a room with a few more beds then please?” there was more than a little pleading in my voice.
“I’m sorry, but all our rooms are fully booked – you’ll just have to top and tale and make the best of it” he replied in a tone which was as dispassionate as it was blunt.
“Er… ok” I replied, “Sure we can make it into an adventure!” I was trying to smile, for the sake of the boys, but by then the attendant was no longer concerned about my problems and was once again looking down at the screen presumably finishing his game of Solitaire and tucking into his half eaten egg sandwich.
So I picked up our bags and led the boys down to room 120, clinging to the hope that there would at least be a sofa on which I could curl up. Alas, there was not.
A single, inviting double bed, and two annoyingly narrow chairs were all the furniture on offer. Flirting with the idea of sleeping in the bath, I decided the curvature of the tub might be comfy for a nice hour long hot bubble bath in the company of my latest WW2 history book, but perhaps not to spend the night in fully clothed.
So the floor it was to be then. Taking the duvet off the bed, to at least have something mildly soft underneath me, I found the ‘emergency’ spare pillows and placed them on the floor too.
Of course this meant the boys had nothing to cover them. Thankful for their ‘hotter than the sun’ onesie’s they love so much, I decided they’d be ok with something considerably thinner than a duvet. For Josh I produced the bath towel which was surprisingly huge, and for Harry, part of the sheet from the bed. Nice.
And so we turned the lights out and tried to make the best of a bad situation.
That was until I awoke at 3.15am. Having tossed and turned during the preceding hours, occasionally attempting to use a pillow under my back before rolling off to the floor, I was now awake awake, my back screaming in pain that enough was enough and if I didn’t find it something considerably more comfortable for it to lie on, it would slip a disc on purpose.
In the dark I stood up and surveyed the bed that had two small people sleeping soundly in. Keen not to disturb them, I saw that if I lay at the foot of the bed and curled up in a foetal position I could just about squeeze on and allow my back to recover from its torturous agony of the previous few hours.
So like a faithful dog, I lay horizontally at the bottom of the bed, my knees pulled up to my chin. In my tired and aching state I didn’t even think to pull the duvet up from the floor. Basking in the soft cushioning now supporting my back I almost instantly fell asleep, and apart from an occasional kick to the face from young Harry as he stretched out in his sleep, there I slept soundly until 7am when I was awoken by the boys wondering what this great lump was at the end of their bed.
It was, you may be unsurprised to hear, not a good night’s sleep. But I feel to blame Lenny and his Premier Inn friends for this would be somewhat churlish, you know, given the fact I got exactly the room I had booked. Which got me thinking – under what circumstances does Premier Inn’s good night guarantee (which, if you’re not familiar, means you can claim a full refund if you don’t have a good night’s sleep!) kick in? Surely I couldn’t claim on the back of my own stupidity?
Thankfully for their business model, someone had thought of the Jonny’s of this world doing foolish things like booking single rooms for three people. There in the T&C’s is what I shall now forever call the ‘Jonny Clause’ which basically says ‘You can’t claim your refund if you’ve been an idiot.’ Fair play Premier Inn, this one’s on me.