OK, here’s the thing. I understand that a hotel is a business and they have to make money. Like all business owners, I’m sure hoteliers spend a lot of time working out where they can save money. But what strange process takes place in their heads when they are looking for ways to make the breakfast experience cheaper? Let’s assume they have created a lovely, pretty hotel in a beautiful unspoilt area, and that they have a fantastic chef de cuisine such that guests come from across Europe to enjoy meals there. For those who have not read my previous blog entry, here is a little snap of the dining garden of just such a lovely hotel, and a sample menu:
Having achieved all this WHY would you then, in FRANCE of all places, look at the happy expectant faces of your overnight guests as they skip into the breakfast room fresh from the blissful sleep accorded to those who have dined exceptionally well, and then expect them to prepare their morning beverage themselves, and from THIS (cut to shower music from Psycho):
In case of any doubt, let me make this quite clear: I HATE HOTEL COFFEE MACHINES. The very machine pictured above has inveigled its way into the breakfast room of my favourite French hotel. The coffee that it produces is DISGUSTING, actually undrinkable. I’m quite sure they never have to fill it up – who would drink it? Domingo, on this first visit for him to this lovely hotel, tried it on his first morning and pronounced it the worst coffee he’d ever had a mouthful of. It is a testament to the wonderfulness of this particular hotel in every other way that we keep coming back DESPITE the coffee machine. One year we took our own cafetière, and when the owner walked past he looked hurt and asked “Don’t you like our coffee?”. The answer, instantaneous and forceful was “no”. Hurt became tempered by surprise, and he walked off, but this made no difference to the infliction of this work of the devil on his hotel guests.
Oh, and add another element into this bizarre formula: if you ask for a cup of coffee after the excellent dinner in the evening, you get REAL coffee. Yes, they actually do have a REAL espresso machine that makes PROPER coffee that you can actually drink without being reminded of the time your mother in law tried to make you drink some foul herbal tea brewed by a north Mexican Indian lady, and which was clearly made of old grass, ground up cactus thorns, bitter plant roots and frog spit. Or have you not had this experience? Well, take it from me, the similarities between that drink and coffee machine coffee are minimal.
Here is an absolutely true story – a few years ago I was staying with friends in the hills behind Perpignan (which is in France, for the geographically-challenged); several days running we actually got in the car and drove over the border into SPAIN to get a proper morning coffee. Why can Spain still produce decent coffee, even in the one-horse dump of a town where we went on those occasions?
What can we do about it? Form a political party? Start a revolution? Stage a sit-in at a random hotel anywhere in France, dragging in old Michelin tyres (get the irony?) that we could set fire to in a circle round the offending hotels until the proprietor gives in and serves PROPER coffee for breakfast? I think action is called for.