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Danny Wallace: Making the most of room service

“You’ve got wine and someone’s in the shower and you’re watching DIY SOS. Life’s pretty sweet.”

Danny Wallace: Making the most of room service
22 November 2017

I have finished a job and I’m in a hotel room and I take a look at the mini bar.

There is a small bottle of wine, which for some reason has been priced as if it’s a decent quality second-hand car.

“This must be the finest wine known to man!” I think, afraid to touch it in case I make some kind of mistake and get charged for it multiple times. But then I see how much they’re charging for a Snickers and realise that no, I am simply in that magical hotel world where suddenly prices make no sense.

When I look at the room service menu, however, I see that I could get a whole bottle of wine for the same amount as that little one.

Well, I’m not TV’s moneysaving Martin Lewis, but even I can see that makes more sense and would garner his high-pitched approval.

So I pick up the phone and I order a bottle.

“I’ll have that sent straight up,” says the room service man, but then, just before we hang up, he suddenly asks: “And how many glasses?”

One. Just the one.

“Uh, two,” I say, panicking, and then I hang up.

Why did I say two? I said two because I was suddenly ashamed of doing a pretty reasonable thing in front of a man I’ll never see. I said two because I didn’t want this faceless voice to think I was some kind of wino, sitting alone in a drab room in a business hotel by a motorway, ordering a whole bottle of wine for himself and glumly watching DIY SOS, even though that is exactly what every other man in this hotel is doing right now.

No. I wanted him to think I am a perfectly normal person – which I am – who just happens to be in the mood for a glass or two of wine while throwing some kind of impromptu party in his room, or sharing a glass with a loved one – which of course I am not.

So now another man is going to arrive in less than 10 minutes carrying a bottle of wine with two glasses and then see that there is only one of me. He knows he’s bringing two glasses. He knows that’s a question they ask and he knows that’s the answer I’ve given. He’s seen a little piece of paper which resolutely states I asked for two glasses. Someone will have checked with him. “You’ve got two glasses, right?” they’ll have said. “HE WANTS TWO GLASSES!” Because I have company. I’m normal. I’m not just on my own watching DIY SOS.

And then he’ll walk in and see I’m a fantasist.

I should have said, “One glass! Just me!” and been done with it. But panic took me.

So I do what anyone in my situation would do. I quickly pad to the bathroom and turn the shower on. I step out of the bathroom and close the door, tight.

Yes, you can hear the shower. The man is going to come in, put the tray down and, at some point, I’ll glance at the bathroom to make him aware that the shower is on.

Maybe I’ll make some little quip, like “the shower’s on!”, though I’ll probably have to workshop it a bit.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying anyone is in the shower. Like Martin Lewis literally anywhere he goes, I will not risk being charged a mildly increased occupancy rate.

But to the untrained eye of the room service man, it will just make sense that someone might be in the shower. After all, there are two glasses. “What a rich and rewarding life Mr Wallace leads,” he will think as he leaves. “Travelling from business hotel to business hotel, ordering wine he enjoys with someone hygienic, watching Nick Knowles programmes.”

I immediately change channels.

It’s Gino D’Acampo.

I struggle for a moment. Which 8pm on a Wednesday option says “rich and rewarding life” more? Gino is in Tuscany looking for olives. Nick is in Swansea.

Oh, God, this is hard. Who do I want to be? What impression do I want to give? Gino’s got beaches, but Nick’s building a care home.

I go Knowles.

There’s a knock at the door and I swing the door open, wildly, confidently, and in he comes. We’re right by the bathroom door and you can definitely hear the shower. No more needs to be said. I am a normal man being normal.

“On the table?” he says.

“Please,” I say, very blasé, pretending to fiddle with my phone as Nick Knowles says something manly.

The man smiles at me. I smile at him. We’re both thinking, “You’ve got wine and someone’s in the shower and you’re watching DIY SOS. Life’s pretty sweet.” But it’s not sweet, is it, if you take away that middle detail?

Anyway I just want this over.

I sign the receipt and, just to complete this man’s picture of me being normal, I add a nice tip.

And then I notice they’ve added a room service charge. And a ‘tray’ charge too.

It turns out a whole bottle can cost twice as much as a half-bottle!

And the fact he never thought to warn me is why TV’s Martin Lewis can get lost.

The Danny archive:

Beginning my new life as a yoga devotee

The perils of forgetting to RSVP to a party

A networking event like no other

When textspeak becomes actual language

Learning the unwritten rules of the commute

The etiquette of paying a busker

Using a website to learn how to fold socks the right way

(Image: Man Pan/Pixabay)