Sunday, 30 September 2012

Modern problems - filling the kettle in a hotel room

One of my great life challenges is to successfully fill a kettle in a hotel room.  It sounds like a simple task.  If you've ever tried it, you'll know that it isn't.  In some rooms, the task is so enormous, that I have looked behind the curtains and in the light fittings for hidden cameras.  I've checked for two way mirrors that have a studio audience and a host on the other side.

In most rooms the only sink is the handbasin in the bathroom.  It is using this basin, with its taps, that the filling of the kettle will be done.

If only that were possible.  Depending on the age of the bathroom fit-out, the water spout will be so small or snug against the bottom of the basin, or won't stick out very far over the basin (overhang?) that getting anything bigger than a thimble under the water stream is impossible.  It may be possible to wet one's toothbrush.  Just.  Forget about putting your head under the tap for some water! Alternatively, the tap may have a nice high arch, but the spout lines up with the lip of the basin, leaving just enough room to wet the aforementioned toothbrush.

The height of the kettle compared to the design of the basin and its tap will be ridiculously tall.  Sometimes it is possible to manoeuvre the kettle under the tap, but the angle is such that the water flows out of the kettle as fast as it flows in.  If you notice this happening, whipping the kettle out from under the tap will result in a wet bathroom.  Gently angling the kettle to slide it BACK,  UP and DIAGONALLY, will result in the thimble full of water that had accumulated over the last agonising ten minutes being poured straight down the drain.  The emptying part usually takes less than five seconds.

A few places I've stayed in lately have a better tap design, but have provided a mini kettle.  These mini kettles are so small that they hold about a thimble full of water.  Do you know how many times you have to fill and boil the kettle to make a cup of tea when the kettle only boils a thimble-full of water at a time?  And by the time the tea cup is full, never mind a tea POT, the cup is full of cold water and the tea has gone the colour of week old dishwater.

Other places provide a plastic jug of water in the fridge.  The problem with this is that the water in the jug usually tastes like the jug itself.  It smells like the chemicals from the plastic plant where it was made.  Who knows how long the water in those jugs has been in there!  Even if the water didn't taste like plastic, I'm too frightened to use much of the water because I know that I'd never be able to refill the jug again.  I'm sure it will be written in the fine print I signed that the leaving of an empty jug will result in the charging of a ridiculously inflated water levy.  I'm just not prepared to take the chance.

Some rooms have a bath which solves the problem of the handbasin.  The problem with this is that hotels that are swanky enough to have a bath usually have a handbasin the size of a small reservoir with a correspondingly large tap which presents no logistical problems regarding the filling of the kettle.  This is just as well because in these rooms, my time will be taken up working out my lighting zones.  How many switches can one room reasonably have?  My whole apartment seems to have only one power point;  I am single-handedly supporting the double adaptor manufacturers, importers and retailers.

In the absence of a bath, the other source of water is the shower.  I have, on occasion, resorted to using the shower to fill the kettle.  This required some pre-planning.  Stripping naked to fill the kettle seems like an extreme measure, but the one time I didn't do it I regretted it.  When those labels on the suit say "dry clean only", they aren't mucking around.  It was one of those hand held showers with a hose attached.  At the slightest hint of water pressure, the hose went rigid and the shower head flailed around, spraying water all over everything.  I spent the next day making outlandish claims that the short sleeved safari suit was making a comeback for women, particularly when worn with a sense of irony.

I needed something stronger than a cup of tea after that little episode.

Most inns will claim that their rooms are equipped with complimentary tea and coffee facilities.  Of course they can afford to give it away for free - no one can use them!  (And if you do, you'll discover the teabags are filled with pencil shavings and the coffee sachets with brown powder).  To get around this, I now travel with my own thimble and can fill a kettle with enough water to make a cup of tea in just under an hour.  It's these travel hints that are priceless and I share it now for free.

What's your favourite travel tip?

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