|Different duvet and a working bedside light! ~ Source: Booking.com|
And thus it was that I ended up recently spending one night in a district billed variously as 'Camden' and 'West Hampstead', both of which turned out to be creative naming devices for Kilburn. I had booked a single room with shared bathroom, the bathroom in question being a quick scurry away up one flight of stairs, so that was okay, plus I had a small basin in the room. Other plus points were the veritable profusion of accessible plug sockets...I once memorably stayed in a hotel where I had to boil the kettle in the corridor, as the plug sockets in the room itself were largely obstructed by furniture. Moreover, there was the luxury of a full length mirror - something conspicuously absent on last December's band tour, to the point where I almost started to wonder if the hotels concerned were collectively teaching me a lesson in vanity - within easy reach of said plug sockets, making hair drying with bonus sight of own head an uncharacteristically viable feat!
Then the bed was comfortable, and the pillow - though lone and flat - adequately bouncy. The central heating worked (if rather too well!), and the staff couldn't be more helpful, pressing a huge jug of fresh milk on me after I reported the presence of only one milk pot, when as we all know even a strong cup of tea requires two.
But there were downsides...the hotel spanned two houses and the front door banged constantly as people moved from one to the other; the bed sloped; there was no bedside light, no hangers, and only one small towel. But worse, much worse than any of this was the duvet cover, which had evidently been laundered in an entire packet of washing powder. Trying to sleep under it was like spending eight hours straight with your nose pressed in the contents of a box of Surf. I am not even talking an overly strong scent - this was the neat unadulterated smell of detergent of the most aggressive kind, with no discernible trace of fragrance. Strangely, the pillowcase was at a normal register of cleanness, ditto the sheet and towel, but for some reason the duvet cover had been subjected to a much more concentrated wash. As you entered the room, a miasma of chemicals assailed your nostrils. It hung in the air like an ash cloud, and I could feel my skin turning hot and prickly, not helped by the heating being on at full blast.
|Source: Appliances Online|
I have since googled the main categories of ingredients in washing powder and came up with this list:
Lather Control Agents ('Suds Suppressor')
Fragrances (one fragrance may contain a few to hundreds of compounds)
I must say I rather like the sound of a 'Suds Suppressor' and hope that wasn't an element in the mix that was troubling me. I certainly was not aware of any builders, bothersome or otherwise. Why, there would barely have been room to swing a jackhammer.
All night long I clung to the edge of the bed - I was determined not to fall off due to the angle of inclination, whilst also trying to keep my face away from contact with the duvet cover, for fear that it would trigger my eczema / dermatitis. Miraculously it didn't, but the very real possibility kept me awake till about 7am, whereupon the frequent banging of the front door took over until I finally got up about 9am, bleary-eyed and still wrinkling my nose in a state of high alert and trepidation.
So there you have it...in all my years of travelling I have never encountered this particular curved ball of repellently scented bedding, and would be most interested to learn if you have. Or whether you have any theories as to how this laundry fail could have occurred. A powder dosing error? A rinsing malfunction? A lamentable lack of other items in the load?!
Meanwhile, I have chalked it up to experience, left a damning yet balanced review on Booking.com, and remembered that when I am down in town again next year I have a total steal of a Travelodge to look forward to in Finsbury Park. And it's even paid for already...