I still haven’t booked my hotel for Lib Dem conference in Brighton this year.
Every time I fire up Google to try and find a suitable location, I get overwhelmed with a vast sense of desparation and put it off until some other time.
They all seem much more expensive than the first time I went to conference down there, when I stayed in a lovely little place with homemade jam for breakfast, and room with four beds in and just little old me. I have no recollection at all how far from the conference centre it was.
What I can remember is staggering home drunk every night and making a flavoursome concoction by mixing coffee and hot chocolate sachets from the stand with the kettle.
I also spotted, that time, that there were lots and lots of hotels in the vicinity with signs saying “Rooms available – rates starting at £50” — so I resolved the following time not to book accommodation in advance but trundle along the seafront with my wheelie suitcase and find something suitable on arrival.
Big mistake, as when I tried to do that, even the places with signs in the window saying £50 were telling me that in conference week, their basic rate was more like £150.
In the end, I did find a seafront hotel with budget rates, but it was a complete fleapit with a desperately uncomfortable beds, and paper thin walls. Two nights in a row a man and a woman had a very loud, very unpleasant argument, and I didn’t get a wink of sleep.
That particular stay ended very well, though, because my then boss had paid for a room in the Hilton conference hotel but was unable to use it for the whole week. I was able to move into the vacated room for the last few days. It was rather superb. A vast suite with a sea front and a balcony and more floor space than my house. I suspect all my neighbours would have been MPs and MEPs.
This time, there’s no way I can afford to stay at the conference hotel since it’s charging significantly over £100 a night. So I’m looking for a nice little hotel that preferably has free wifi and a kettle in the room (I don’t mind — in fact I probably prefer — taking my own tea and coffee) and a bed I can actually sleep on, not a million miles from the conference centre and not megabucks during conference week. And not fully booked already!