We had a fabulous celebration lunch over the weekend in a private room of the gastro pub adjacent to the St Pancras Renaissance, The Betjeman Arms.
What a find that was for a smallish party, of twenty, with four children, one wheelchair user, a 90-year-old with walking sticks plus the residual number of adults. It had sufficient size for mingling, eating and kids running helter-skelter around as well as decent food and really helpful staff. A great afternoon.
Albeit marred, just a little, by the unhelpful attitude of the staff patrolling the private slip road of The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
How did we even come into contact with them? It’s access … isn’t it always? Especially when venturing to somewhere new.
Suffice to say that the clearest accessible entrance to The Betjeman Arms for me, in my wheelchair, and my 90-year-old mother-in-law, tottering along with a walking stick and supported by her son/sons-in-law at either side, was via a drop off at the top of the St Pancras Renaissances’ private slip road.
Of course, we did appreciate we were asking for access to a private road but, at 2pm then 7.30pm on a visibly quiet Sunday afternoon, for a five minute drop off each time, we had thought they might be willing to help us.
One of our party enquired politely of the staff, at both road entrance and inside the main foyer, well before our car arrived on site, if we might load/unload on their road.
First call to me en route: *They aren’t happy and say no exceptions to hotel users only policy. Am still trying to persuade them …*
We arrived and pulled up in the St Pancras train station drop zone.
D looked for alternative access through the station which did exist but was a few hundred yards walk and via a lift – truly easier for me in my wheelchair than for the struggling 90-year-old with her walking stick. Plus, D was unable to leave the car and no other family members knew where we were to come and help us.
Second call: *They say OK but make it quick and get out fast. They’re still not happy*
We dashed around the block. Got stopped by security staff in the road who were very firm in clarifying that ‘you cannot park. Do you understand?’
Resisting the urge to mention that it’s my legs that don’t work not my brain, I had to give verbal confirmation (we think they thought D was ‘just the driver’).
The private road was entirely empty but for one parked car. Wheels and Walking Stick exited our car within a couple of minutes and D drove off to park.
Are we alone in not seeing 90-year-olds with walking sticks or people in massive electric wheelchairs nightly on the news as security risks? Maybe this is a demographic where extremists will soon be found – government cuts are looming – but to date …?
And, yes, our over-£50k adapted Chrysler Grand Voyager is kind of a van but surely such MPV’s are familiar to St Pancras Renaissance guests and it’s not exactly a Del-Boy Trotter Reliant Robin, is it?
On leaving, at 7.30pm-ish, The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel refused to allow us any access at all for pick-up.
We left through St Pancras station – a painful and lengthy totter for my mother-in-law. The route was fine for my wheelchair.
I did and do appreciate that we were asking for a favour. There was no obligation on The St Pancras Renaissance to be kind and help us out even if it was as easy for them to help as not. That they chose not was a minor issue, irritating in the moment only.
I suspect, however, that the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel will soon need to get itself into the – ageing baby boomer, holding all the wealth population – 21st century. It’s far more likely that ‘people like us’ will be their only guests within the next decade or two.
Time to think outside your current box, guys, and, maybe, holding out the hand of human kindness, unprompted, might be a good place to start.