Coming away on holiday is an absolute treat. Such a privilege to take a step out of daily life and travel away, in our case to visit our very generous relatives who live near Innsbruck, Austria.
The process of leaving home though can be a little bit arduous, a fact that was hammered home to us by our overnight stay at the Premier Inn, Gatwick where the four of us were crammed into a family room of four beds and a cot.
It did not go well.
Arriving at the wrong hotel at the children’s bedtime did not make for the ideal start.
A delightfully helpful member of staff helped us lug our four bags, buggy, sling, carry backpack and two children in only for the receptionist to frustratedly say, “You’re at the other Premier Inn.” Bundle back into the car.
There was a short drop-off time allowed for the car to be parked outside the hotel so we took the first load of stuff plus Sophie and Harry up into the lift on the first run. The check-in was all automated – very swish – and our keycards were printed much like train tickets.
Sophie was fascinated by the machine and grabbed hold of the cards only to try and reinsert it back into the outlet. This was something my wife only discovered when halfway to the room with all the stuff she asked Sophie where the keycard and was met with a vacant “I don’t know.” She had to leg it back to reception and barge some unsuspecting hotel guests out of the way to find our card lurking in the slot.
Meanwhile, I was legging it up and down stairs to bring in our massive suitcase 24kg!) as well as the stroller buggy we’d brought, hoping we wouldn’t get booked for being too long in the drop-off point. I dumped the stuff inside the room, where my wife was manfully wrestling a wriggling Harry into the bath while simultaneously holding Sophie and making her milk.
Hank the octopus has got nothing on her.
I shot off to take the car to the Summer Special car parking and get a transfer bus to the terminal so by the time I’d got back Harry was about to have his bottle. I fed him and put him down in his cot where he proceeded to complain angrily for me to wind him/cuddle him/generally stop neglecting him.
Helpfully, Sophie was taking the “Be quiet” instruction so seriously that she was loudly “Shhhing” either of us while we tried to help each other sorting them out.
Finally, she was into her single bed but with a little whimper of “My tummy hurts” and “I want Mummy” it was clear she wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon.
And of course, where can you go when you have two children in your hotel room? You kinda have to stay there, in the dark, no matter that it’s only 8.30pm and you’re far from tired.
Saying that, my wife curled up next to Sophie essentially as a comforter and quickly fell asleep so I was left by myself with the sound of three contented snorers as my only company.
I watched the iPad for a while, caught up on the day’s news and then decided to go to bed myself at about 10pm, at which time my wife stirred, pulled herself away from being next to Sophie and plonked into our double bed, bringing her intense heat from an hour and a half’s sleep and dramatically warming the bed up. Thanks.
Eventually, I drifted off, only to be woken up by a hungry Harry about 2am demanding food. My wife obliged but his moanings had awoken Sophie who was demanding Calpol for her non-existent tummy pain and also seemed rather annoyed that my wife had left her.
So I budged over and joined her to give her that comfort. Talk about bed hopping.
Harry woke again at 4, as did Sophie, but I managed to persuade her that it wasn’t yet morning and sleeping was a good option. When he woke at 6, my wife took him out of the room and down into reception to play with some stacking cups so me and Sophie could at least attempt to get some more sleep which was very kind of her.
For us, the morning had begun – not really sure if the night had even really happened.
But hey, we were getting on a flight and the holiday was happening in earnest.
In future though, family rooms might need a rethink…