After a rail journey lasting eight hours with three changes of train, I arrived at the entrance to the hotel, at 5.30pm on Friday March 2. As I entered the gravel forecourt, I was disheartened to see that most of the the gold lettering that once bore the hotel's name on the right hand side of the wall had fallen off except for two letters hanging at a lopsided angle. I went to check in just in time to hear the assistant behind the reception desk tell another arriving guest on no account was he to ring the bell beside which there was a notice ‘Ring Bell For Assistance’.
“It’s been one of those days” she said by way of explanation.
After being asked to pay (by Mastercard) in advance for my two nights’ stay and having completed an arrival form, I was given a wooden numbered fob with electronic entry card and two keys attached and took the lift to the first floor (pressing ‘3’ in the lift as instructed by the receptionist). On exiting the lift, I entered the appropriate corridor to access my room; the aroma of cigarette smoke was faintly in evidence despite a ’no smoking’ sign on every door. I tried to open the door to my room via the electronic entry card, but failed. I left my case by the door and returned to the reception desk . The receptionist offered to help, adding ‘I may not be able to – it’s only my second week”. She also remarked on the smell of cigarette smoke in the corridor, before using one of the two keys to open the door to my room. I had chosen the hotel online because it offered a seaview from a balcony. On entry, there was a small sitting room with leather sofa, TV, tea-making equipment, a coffee table with a vase of white artificial lilies and an occasional chair of plastic woven basketweave. It was a fine evening, so I opened the balcony door onto a scruffy asbestos and brick balcony with a yellow artifical lily bizarrely attached to one of the wrought iron railings, three garden seats and an abandoned water bottle.
Through a connecting internal door was the bedroom with a companion to the occasional chair in the sitting room, a wardrobe, double bed, and, in the window alcove, a mahogany dressing table with matching dressing table mirror and stand, and a mahogany chair, upholstered in red nylon velvet, stained on the seat. Next to the bed was an antique bedside light on an ornamental brass base with a parchment shade ornamented with crystal drops and fringe of what looked like dead hair in spidery wisps, sitting on a tiny round bedside table. There was a pervasive and persistent stink of stale human body odour emanating from the ancient divan base of the bed, which (as I was later to discover) made sleep impossible.
The ensuite bathroom was a strange mixture of contemporary fittings, DIY and ancient stained lino. The signature style-setter however, was the grime-encrusted loop of the multiply-knotted string of the light pull.
I was due at the opening night dinner of the UKIP conference – the purpose of my visit to Skegness -, and from a cursory inspection of the dilapidated guest houses I had passed on my way on foot from the station, I decided I had no option but to stick it out for one night.
After a sleepless night, at 5.30am I went to make myself a cup of tea. I looked carefully at the first cup and saw a brown mark on the inside, which proved on scraping it with my finger nail to be a deposit left by the previous user.
I am checking out today.