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We’ve been casting about for a holiday, the GLW (Good Lady Wife) and I, but it’s not as easy as we’d thought.

We’d like to go to Rome, but it seems that every hotel rated half-a-star higher than a flea-pit requires you to stump up a sackful of gold bars in exchange for a couple of nights in a shoebox, and as we’d upset the airlines by wanting to arrive at our destination at more convenient times than 1AM or getting home at midnight, we’re having a rethink.

To be fair, Sandra found a great deal on a hotel in Rome – special offers, a free night, all the bits. Trouble was, it was a bit of a way out of the city – up one of the hills – and to my mind if anything’s set in 16 acres of beautiful gardens it means 2 things:

1. It’s got some beautiful gardens.

2. You can’t pop out of the front door and skip along to the Spanish Steps without tipping a doorman or two for whistling up a cab and slipping another gold bar to the driver.

Although it looked like the sort of joint where guests taking taxis might be looked at rather askance from atop the nose of critical types, because the likely clientele would have their own drivers. Yes, on the grand-swankiness scale this place reeked of swank and, looking at the website, was swankified some way beyond the usual fancy-pants-swankery-wank.

The website! Pictures of the staff dotted around the pages, all of whom looked they’d wandered in from a Gucci catalogue shoot. Now, when Mrs Bryer realised that the pressure would be on to get glammed up right from the off, I mean just going down for a coffee and a bun first thing might involve the sort of prep that’s normally reserved for going out for dinner, well, the "elegance and luxurious charm" of the place took a bit of a shoeing.

One of the things that put me off these places, apart from offers of half-a-day of being mucked about with in a hotel spa – and free or not, they can stick that idea up their own colonic irrigator, no, the thing that bothered me the most in the days when we still chuffed away on the dreaded ciggies, was that you couldn’t pull one out of your pocket without some fawning member of staff who’d been lurking in the shadows, and quite possibly up to no good if you ask me, springing out like Cardinal Fang from Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch and sticking a blazing Bic lighter under your nose. Which isn't so much like being on holiday, as being under surveillance.

Big Brother is Watching You

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