Mr Grouch and the Pricey Wifi Pt1

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by koshkha on February 11, 2012

~Why Gib? Why the O'Callaghan Eliott? ~

When the old Air Miles scheme announced that it was about to reinvent itself as 'Avios', we decided to use all the old Air Miles we'd built up buying fuel at Tescos and have a weekend away before BA and their buddies made it unattractive to use them again. We looked at the map of where we could get to and picked a place that neither my husband nor I had ever been to. We chose to go to Gibraltar for the weekend before Christmas. I've struggled the last few years to get into the holiday mood and I hoped that going away might help us to start feeling 'Christmas-y'. And if it didn't, at least we'd have a weekend somewhere warm for a change.

The flights took most of our miles but we had a thousand left over and decided to put them towards a hotel. Air Miles were only offering two places in Gib – the O'Callaghan Eliott and the Rock Hotel. We checked a map and picked the O'Callaghan as it seemed to be a bit more central and it was the more expensive of the two and we were in the mood to spoil ourselves. Room rates are around £100-£140 per night and with our spare Air Miles to off-set some of the cost, we paid about £160 for the two nights.

~Arriving in Gib and Finding the Hotel~

Gibraltar is almost certainly the only airport I've ever landed at where they have to stop the traffic because there's a public highway right through the middle of the runway. It's also the only airport I've ever been to that had absolutely no taxis outside the terminal. We asked the lady on the 'Information' desk who told us that we might as well walk, gave us a map and pointed us in the right direction – basically, look for the big rock and head that way. Her suggestion that it was only a fifteen minute walk was a bit on the optimistic side – it actually took more than double that but we may have been doing a tourist dawdle rather than a focused march. As we entered the city through the tunnel and then walked across Casemate's Square and then right along the main shopping street, we had seen quite a lot of the city by the time we reached the hotel.

We got a bit lost and went too far. A chap on a corner speaking on his mobile phone called across to ask us what we were looking for, nodded wisely and told us to go "past the Scottish church and you can't miss it – it serves a good pint of Guinness". Sure enough, we passed the church of St Andrew and it was on the other side of Governors Parade, a leafy little square. It was weird to be in a little corner of UK territory, surrounded by people who look Spanish and being told where to get a pint of Ireland's finest (or most famous).

~Not so much a little bit of the UK - more like a little bit of Ireland~

The O'Callaghan Elliot is part of an Irish hotel chain that I'd never heard of and its Irishness is about as 'fish out of water' as Gibraltar's local Morrison's supermarket. The hotel is a strange sort of place, caught in an odd 'time and place' warp that characterises so much of this anachronistic little place. From the outside it's nothing grand but most hotels look pretty similar these days. The lobby was brightly lit if a little old fashioned and the Christmas Santa propped up in the corner looked like he'd seen better days. The decorations were a little subdued though that seemed to be the case throughout Gibraltar. We'd hoped to get in the festive mood but the general sense was one of nobody bothering very much. Gibraltar in its entirety is a bit of an out of season holiday town in December.
Our check-in was dampened by the thoroughly miserable receptionist. I'll change his name to protect the not so innocent (though I suspect his colleagues would recognise him). Let's call him Keith. Keith had a major downer on life in general and the chap who'd turned up ahead of us without a booking in particular. By the time he eventually got to us, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that everyone he ever loved had gone down with bubonic plague. He checked the paperwork, confirmed we had breakfast included in the rate and gave us our room key. I headed back to reception a few minutes later to say the key didn't work "Nothing ever does round here" he replied with a sigh that put me in mind of Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy. I suggested that maybe he shouldn't say such things, being the public face of the hotel as he was. Another sigh "I just tell it like it is" he said. Harrumph.

We went back to the lift and up to the fourth floor where this time the key worked. In the 50:50 lottery of room allocations we'd done well and got a room which gave us – if you peeped between the other buildings – a bit of a view of the sea. If you are assigned to the other side of the corridor, I guess you get a view of the Rock. It's not bad either way
O’Callaghan Eliott Hotel
2 Governors Parade
350 200 70500

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