Tuesday, January 2, 2007

I appear to be going to London

Y'know, sometimes I think you should just take the damn computer away from me after midnight, because it's only around then that I take ridiculous chances on things like Priceline.

OK, lemme back this up.

A friend and I were sorta toying with the idea of going to London in March.  (I'd leave two days after we finished our Awards show.  Sort of a present to myself for surviving it.)  We were planning a ten day affair, with a side trip to Stratford for a night and a day trip to Stonehenge.  And after I spent way too much time on the computer, I had the cost of the hotel down to about $1200 each.  Which really isn't bad, considering.  But when you throw in the airfare --

-- actually, it's when you throw in the taxes and fees.  There's all these fare sales where the ticket to London is, like, $350.  But then when you click on the "ok, let's buy it" button, they inform you of the additional $150 in fees.  Dude, just call it a $500 ticket, 'k? --

So, anyway, once you throw in the airfare and fees, it's starting to push about $1700 each.  And we'd probably want to eat when we're there, and do stuff, and, well, it was looking like a very expensive vacation and this wasn't such a good time for either one of us to spend that kind of money.  So we set London to one side and I figured I'd let it go.

Two things happened.

First, I spent New Year's Eve with my friends who were visiting from England, which made me all wistful about going there.

Second, an actor I really like just got all officially cast in a show that will be running in London that week.

So then I started thinking about a revised plan.  A cheaper plan.  A plan that that drops Stratford and Stonehenge and is just London, and, hey, maybe I could even fly there on frequent flier miles.  I check with the airline website and I can use frequent flier miles if I fly back a few days earlier than the original plan -- so now I'm talking about a week in London.  OK, great.  That'll save me money on the hotel.

So I worked all my be-your-own-internet-travel-agent magic and was getting NOWHERE on a reasonably priced (yet nicely located) hotel.  Honestly.  Paying for the hotel myself was going to run, like, $2000.  And, y'know, screw that.  I've gotta buy a house.

Which brings us to midnight.  And that downfall of many a late-night web-surfer:  Priceline.  You know, where you can "name your own price" and get a really good deal because they don't tell you the name of the hotel until after you've booked it.  It's a little unnerving because you have to give them your credit card info upfront, so if they accept your offer, your card is charged and the room is booked and that's about it.

I was just jokin' around with Priceline, not entirely serious about the whole endeavor.  So I asked it for a 5-star hotel in the best London neighborhood for, like, $110 a night.  I mean, if it gave me that, I'd find a way to get there.

It didn't give me that.  But it tantalizingly lets you search again if you add a neighborhood or add another star-level.

So, ok, how about a 5-star hotel in one of the two best London neighborhoods for $110 a night?

Didn't give me that either.  I dropped down to a 4-star hotel. 

Still nothing.  Now it's after midnight.  I'm not gonna drop another star, but I check the map and find a third neighborhood I'd be happy to stay in.  OK, Priceline, this is your last chance before I fold up shop and give up this stupid idea.  Give me a 4- or 5-star hotel in one of these three London neighborhoods for (I figure I should kick up the price a touch, just to show I care) $116 a night.

It thinks.  For a long time.  I'm watching "The Cosby Show" on Nick-at-Nite and only occasionally glancing at my computer screen.

My offer is accepted.  My credit card has been charged for 7 nights in a four-star London hotel (I quickly check the hotel's website and find this is a hell of a deal -- they're pricing the rooms at about twice this amount).

It dawns on me that I should probably book a flight since it feels just a teensy bit uncomfortable to have a pre-booked, non-cancellable hotel in London but no actual plane ticket.

I'm about to book the flight when I realize my friend might reconsider, seeing as the plan is now down to less than $500 each for the hotel.  Seeing as it IS after midnight, it probably isn't best to call her right now.  I book a flight for both of us and put it on a 24-hour hold -- hopefully that will calm the part of me that really wants a plane ticket in my hand since the hotel is already booked -- and I'll find out tomorrow morning whether I've got company on this journey.

The, um, journey I wasn't really sure I wanted to take.

Yeah, that one.


helmswondermom said...

Now, see?  That fortune cookie really couldn't have told you anything, because you don't even know yourself whether you're going to London in March.  Hope you get to go!

hewasolddog299 said...

You should have been a travel agent... LOL

lanurseprn said...

How exciting!!  I've always wanted to see London.  Your story is so funny the way you tell it!