The ignominy, being thrown out of a hotel for the second time; it happened to me last week quite unexpectedly. The hotel in question, which uses Scotland’s national flower for its trademark, has decided that cabbies are persona non grata. They are, not unreasonably, fed up with a procession of cabbies traipsing across their foyer to use their own ‘guests’ toilets; but for them the problem they face is that their hotel is a Goldilocks Hotel.
[L]et me explain: Some hotels are too post, and wouldn’t want cabbies rubbing shoulders with their well heeled customers in rest room. At the other end of the scale are the budget hotels whose customers don’t have the luxury of anything beyond their room and in the foyer a showcase of flyers with suggestions on how to spend their time in London after their budget breakfast. Between those polar opposites fall the Goldilocks Hotels, not too cheap, nor too rich; they are just right. Here cabbies can park outside; usually these hotels also have taxi ranks, and gratefully use the toilets facilities.
Once it was a matter of civic pride for a borough council to build public toilets, often with gleaming brass pipes and beautiful tiling, while many toilets would have an attendant on duty to ensure that high standards were maintained.
Now many London Boroughs trying to squeeze as much value from the rates, to justify their manager’s inflated salaries find that maintaining adequate toilets that non ratepayers might use, how can I put it? An inconvenience.
If you need to leave your taxi unattended while answering the call of nature, finding somewhere to park in Central London can prove at best difficult, at night in the West End, impossible.
Overzealous parking attendants, themselves indirectly employed by the self same councils whose toilets you are trying to use. Cameras that are now employed to book you for parking if your stay exceeds the magical two minutes and one second beyond that allotted time allowed for stopping cabs. I would defy anyone to be able to answer the call of nature in that Olympic time. At night, with no parking places available, it makes bladder control a pre-requisite for passing The Knowledge.
Garages would seem united in their inability to find a decent plumber, for most claim when asked, that their toilets are out of order. Some of London’s private squares are covered by CCTV cameras, so fed up are the residents with people using their beautiful gardens as a toilet.
So I (and my bladder) would like to thank all the Goldilocks Hotels who tolerate the cab trade using their facilities, and would like to think my colleagues will always provide those self same hotels’ guests the cabs they might require.