Special dispatch: Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham
City of Durham
0191 372 7200
by Fleeter Noggins
At the Radisson Blue Hotel in Durham, the breakfast staff seemed more concerned with whether I was a guest of the hotel than with telling me what options were available.
On day 1 of my stay they asked me to sign a slip. On day 2 they wanted me to go back to my room to fetch the means to pay there and then. I held the waitress's gaze and told her that I was not going to do a runner and she could trust me to sign the same slip as yesterday.
Once the staff had established my guesthood they seemed unwilling to approach our table. I tried to use catching-the-eye skills but it took getting up and standing in the path of one to acquire some coffee, which was served weak and lukewarm. I saw other diners being served lattes but had not been informed that these were on offer. They were succeeding in making me feel I was a bad person. Maybe I need more therapy? But I was not the only guest who was not thoughtfully dealt with. I saw a man in typical Pakistani dress make his way along the buffet. He put beans and sausage on his plate and then strawberry jam, which had been positioned right next to the beans: unless you are familiar with English food you would have no idea than the two items are not normally taken together.
I opted for toast and a pain au chocolat With the former, I went for what I thought was marmalade but was not recognisable as having a basis in any particular fruit. The latter was cold, stale and probably more than twenty four hours old.
I asked the Pakistani gentleman if he had enjoyed his breakfast and he tactfully replied that it was not what he is used to. He will probably try the Marriott if he ever needs to be in Durham again. When I was there two years ago I cannot recall it being more than marginally better than the Radisson except the coffee was easier to gain access to, but across the road from the Marriott is the Cafe Continental. I'm not sure how it is qualified to call itself ‘continental’ but there I did get a freshly cooked British fry up, a pot of decent tea and two slices here for well under a tenner. It was great. And I was treated like a human being rather than being subjected to customer training's unmeant simperings.