The hotel receptionist is looking at me with a blank face. She’s expecting me to answer. But I have no idea what to do. So I just stare straight ahead.
My children, tired and cranky from a long train journey from Beijing to Xian, are keen to get to the hotel room and sit down. So am I.
But the hotel check-in desk has just told me that I have booked two separate rooms. I thought I was booking ONE two bedroom suite with a city view. But in fact “two bedrooms” means two separate hotel rooms each with TWO double beds.
Eventually I manage to ask: “Are the rooms together?”.
There’s much talking in Mandarin. I have no idea what is going on.
The concierge says in English that he can show me the rooms and we can decide.
So we leave our luggage in the foyer, jump into the lift and head to the sixth floor. It’s dimly lit. I soon find out why. The inter-connected rooms have a view of a wall. There’s hardly any light.
I point at my booking app and say: “I booked a city view room”. The concierge tells me those rooms upstairs are noisy. I ask him to show me. Or throw in a free breakfast for all of us since this is not what we booked. But I’m tired and dusty from travelling and I really don’t have much fight in me.
He takes us back downstairs to the check in desk. A few minutes later they take us to our two “connected” city view rooms. I think I have won. Then I realise that “connected” must have translated to next door. They are not connected at all. They are totally separate hotel rooms.
I’m exhausted from negotiating. I stop still and can’t think what to do.
Meanwhile, the kids are throwing their luggage on the bed and drooling over the huge bath. They love the room. “Can we stay?, Can we really have our OWN room?”.
I can’t speak. My husband breaks the silence.
“What’s the worst that could happen?,” he says.
That’s all I can say.
He furrows his brow.
Unlikely, I know. But the thought of Madeline McCann, the little blonde girl taken from a hotel room in Portugal has been on every mother’s mind when booking into a hotel room. Or camping. Or travelling anywhere.
Can you leave the kids? Is that unsafe?
My husband shrugs. He tells me it’s so unlikely. And after a week in a tiny, noisy courtyard hotel room in Beijing, we’re quite keen for a bit of privacy.
So I reluctantly agree.
But there are strict rules.
No answering the door. If someone knocks you say: “who is it?” If they say “Mum” or “Dad” they must have a password. Today’s password, chosen by the children is “chicken wings”.
If the person doesn’t know the password the children must immediately call our room phone and we will come to the door to see what is going on.
That night, after kissing the children good night, I make my husband go back one hour later to check they are still there.
After four days. I’m much more relaxed. The time apart has actually been good for everyone. And it wasn’t that noisy at all.
But would I do it next time? I’m still not sure.