Special occasion


David Whitley reckons you should always let people know if you’re celebrating 

Last Sunday night, I did something a little bit naughty. I’d taken my wife away for the night to a charming hotel in the Yorkshire Dales – it was her belated birthday present. Just after the waiter – who I’d guessed was the manager – poured our wine, I made an ostentatious little toast. As we clinked glasses, I made sure the waiter/ manager was in earshot while I said: “Happy birthday, my lovely.”

Lo and behold, before the meal was over, we had a couple of extras on our table – they brought out a teddy bear and a balloon. And, on our bed that night were a couple of mini packets of love hearts. Nothing to get particularly excited about, but a nice gesture nonetheless.

It is not the first time I have pulled this trick. On our honeymoon, we got all manner of wine and chocolates through announcing we’d just got married. A couple of hotel room upgrades were forthcoming too.

It has even worked on the trains. Just after we got engaged, we sauntered up to the first class carriage. When the conductor came past, I said: “We’ve just got engaged and we wondered how much it would cost to upgrade to first class?”

She smiled, offered her congratulations and let us stay there without charge.

The point is that if you’ve got something to celebrate or a special occasion, you’ll rarely lose out by letting people know about it. Many places have policies for dealing with such special occasions that they won’t tell you about in case people start taking the piss. Many more are staffed by people with a big heart who’ll do whatever’s in their power to make your experience a little bit more special if they can.

Attitude is key though. If they think you’re fishing for freebies, you’re far less likely to get those freebies. It is far better to say: “It’s occasion X, and we wondered how much it would cost to upgrade” than say: “It’s occasion X. What are the chances of getting an upgrade?”

Nobody likes to feel they’re being played or emotionally blackmailed, but you’ll be surprised at how many people like to make themselves feel warm by throwing in that little bit extra for someone who’ll really appreciate it.

With a bit of cunning, that good nature can be turned into free stuff…

Check out your hotel before you go here - and do try us for rates; we can surprise...