The Rail Holiday Maker
Confessions of a Hotel Inspector #3
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Many moons ago I took a job as Hotel Contractor for a big hotel booking company. I didn’t stay long. Living in Leeds I could compare it with Brian Clough’s time as Leeds United manager, although I did manage more than Cloughie’s 44 days. But it wasn’t the right fit for me, running from hotel to hotel agreeing rates for stag and hen parties.
My third and last trip for them was to the exquisitely beautiful Baltic capitals, Tallinn and Riga, at that time recently discovered by budget airlines bringing gangs of revellers from all over Britain for weekends of cheap booze and other cheap thrills. Riga is an Art Nouveau gem and Tallinn was a delight at an icy cold -17 degrees, dressed to chill in its February winter coat. I remember trudging uphill through the thick snow after work to its Old Town, a mesmerising mix of Scandinavia, central Europe and Russia in one bundle of buildings, collection of courtyards. But my overriding memory is of the last hotel, out by the airport and just before my flight home. Weary from running between ten or twelve hotels a day, I was invited into a dingy back-office to wait for the General Manager. After a few minutes she arrived, a fearsome looking older woman, well-built, stern-faced and ready to do battle over room rates. She sat down and gave me a piercing stare.
“So…you...are....from………Piss-Up?” growled the voice on the opposite side of the desk, almost spitting out each syllable with disdain, particularly the last two.
“Did she just say what I think she said?!” I asked myself. With beer at around £1 a pint it had been quite a good trip, and I do like a beer or two after work sometimes, but how the hell did she know ?! Had they got someone following me? Did the KGB still operate in these parts?
There was (in fact there still is) a company called pissup.com organising breaks for stag parties in Tallinn, boozy weekends with seedy clubs and Kalashnikov shooting. Not really my kind of thing. Somehow, I held it together. I managed to lift my jaw from the ground and look back at her stony face. I managed not to roll on the floor in a fit of juvenile giggles. The lady just said "Piss-Up"!! Instead, I protested my innocence. No, I wasn’t from Piss-Up!