Warner Marriott, Woodland Hills, California

Warner Marriott, Woodland Hills, California

I’m currently in L.A. for the Nebula Weekend. It’s my first time in L.A.

I say “L.A.”, but it’s more L.A.-adjacent. Downtown L.A. is an hour and a half by cab, so I won’t get to see the City of Angels, proper. But my room does have a nice view of a cinema car park.

The convention is at a Marriott. So many conventions are at Marriotts. I sometimes think I live in Marriotts and Hiltons and Crowne Plazas.

And I have to say, for a chain hotel it’s not bad. It’s almost–almost–very good. But where they get the broad strokes right, that final step, that last tiny bit of attention to detail, is lacking. It’s not enough to spoil my stay, by any means, but it’s baffling how they can get so close to being very good and fail at the final hurdle. Or hurdles.

Examples:

I checked in and headed to my room. The room is fine–you don’t expect luxury at a Marriott. I unpacked and then realised there was something wrong. I had two beds. I never book two-bed rooms–I always book a king where one is available (the price is usually the same as two-bed rooms). I checked online and yes, I’d booked a deluxe king (all rooms were the same price as the convention had special rates). But I was settled in, by now, and really, it was no big deal. It would have been nice to have been told when I checked in, though, if my preferred room was unavailable.

I was wandering the hall, looking for the guest laundry, or a sign to it (I’d just spent 4 days in Seattle and needed to refresh my clothes). A member of staff saw I was looking for something and approached, asked if I needed any help. I said, “Yes, I’m looking for the guest laundry.” They told me there wasn’t one, but that the hotel offers a laundry service. (I’ve seen hotel laundry services. It’s common for them to charge by the item, with socks starting at $5 a pair. To wash!) I said, “Well, it says on your website that you have a coin-op laundry on-site. If it wasn’t a guest laundry, why would it be described as ‘coin-op’?) The member of staff said they didn’t know, but they were sure there was no guest laundry on-site. I went back to my room and called Reception. “Yes, it’s on the 2nd floor,” they told me. Not a huge deal, but it would have been nice to have been given the right information. Or at least a “Let me just check for you.”

So, I laundered my clothes and all was well. (Incidentally, it would be useful for there to be a sign in hotel laundry facilities that says how long the washing and drying cycles take, so that you don’t have to keep coming back to check… Again, not a big deal, just a tiny bit of customer service that takes no effort, only needs to be done once, and can help everyone that comes in the future just that extra bit.)

What else?

Oh, yes. Food ordered at the bar. French Dip sandwich (very tasty). “Would you like fries, salad or fruit with that?” I ordered the fruit. It came with fries. They fixed it, but…

Breakfast the next morning. Ordered an omelette. “Would you like cheese?” I said that yes I’d like some mozzarella (they had 3 different cheeses, of which this was one.) So they added the cheddar. Not a big deal, but… well, you’re getting the drift.

Breakfast the second morning. Decided to order from the menu, rather than buffet (menu is cheaper and has more choice). They left me with the dinner menu. Burger and fries for breakfast isn’t my thing, so I asked them to bring me the breakfast menu. I ordered breakfast tea and juice and smoked salmon eggs benedict. The drinks came soon. I put the tea bag in the pot and drank my juice while I waited for the tea to steep. I hadn’t noticed that they hadn’t brought me milk. So I flagged down my waiter and he brought me milk. Stupidly, I should have checked, but they hadn’t left me with a spoon, either. Waiter flagged, again. And the tea pots they use are both the best and worst I’ve ever come across. The best because they’re probably the only pots I’ve ever had in a hotel that don’t drip/spill the tea as you pour. The worst because they conduct heat all over, so the handles are almost as hot as the body of the teapot. Close, but no cigar.

The food arrived and it was delicious. “Would you like ketchup with that?”
So, they didn’t ask if I wanted milk with my tea, or a spoon for my tea, but ketchup for my smoked salmon eggs benedict is a thing? (Maybe it is. Maybe it’s a cultural anomaly. I’ve encountered odder things, here.)

So, you know, despite the hotel getting most of the bigger things right, the attention to detail here is very poor. As I said earlier, not enough to make it an unpleasant experience, but just enough to leave you somewhat baffled, as those final hurdles are so low and it would be so easy to make this place genuinely good!

I’m here for another 3 days. I wonder what else will be narrowly missed… 🙂

 

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