The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Omni Berkshire Place Hotel review and other adventures in the big city
Tom Smith

Well I'm here in NYC, which I have to admit is my favorite of all really big cities.  Not that I spend a lot of time in London or Jakarta.  But there are so many things this city does right.  But not breakfast at the Omni Berkshire, just to get that off my chest.  This was an experience of the bad New York, where you are ignored by waiters in the preternatural way they have.  And not just me either.  The young persons at the booth next to me were also invisible, though I would have judged them as financial people from Japan.  I finally stood up, spread arms, and refused to allow a waiter to pass until he brought me more coffee.  I hope this was not some sort of infraction, but when he realized I really was not going to let him pass, he brought me coffee.  He was not my waiter, but I had not seen my waiter since he resentfully brought me my $21 omlette, which I had ordered through the Maitre de, he never having had made an appearance at my table.  She seemed a very nice young woman, but overwhelmed by the situation.  They were busy, but that doesn't account for the spectacular rudeness and inefficiency of the staff.  Oh well.  Otherwise the hotel has been very nice and attentive.  When I had accidentally left my phone off the hook after my first wake up call, they sent somebody up to knock on the door.  That's service.  When I emerged at 10 am yesterday in sweatshirt and jeans, the concierge directed me to the Oxford Cafe (please use Google Maps) on Lexington (I think) for a good, old fashioned NYC fry up.  Service so fast my Idaho ears had trouble keeping up with it: "You wanna sit down for breakfast?  What?  Sit here.  You want?  Eggs OK. Bacon too? That's a nummer 4."  Coffee and juice appeared instantly, and somehow the waitress/factotum also moved several boxes of stuff.  The coffee was really good, really hot, in one of those paper cups.  Better than dark old Starbucks.  Coffee from secret pipes under the City.  Instantly breakfast appeared.  When I ordered a second juice, she seemed disappointed, like I had broken some rule, but it appeared instantly as well.  They had a business to run.  Bustle Bustle.

But now I have to go to a meeting.  Oh well.  I still have a gigantic steak I want to tell you about.

UPDATE  The power of the blogosphere -- my goodness.  I come back from meeting all day to find 3 messages on my room phone from the general manager of the hotel and the manager of the cafe apologizing for the service and offering to make it up to me.  So breakfast on the house tomorrow if I like.  It is probably a measure of how sick I am that this makes me think of power law distributions and search engine optimization.  The RC is but a little blog, but you don't have to be very big to stand out in the very, very long tail that is most of the blogosphere.  The google search spiders are uncanningly, frighteningly efficient, and they pick up words in your post titles very quickly, within hours at most of your posting.  It all has something profound to do with the relationship of search, information and us little people, but I'm too tired to try to articulate it.  Now I feel like I've made too much of a fuss out of a little poor service, which is not exactly a capital offense.  But it will be hard to pass over the chance of a free meal.

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Tom Smith


adding to the list of bad hotels/service in nyc - the Sheraton Manhattan, for $500 per night you would think someone cleans the room before you are given the key.

Posted by: Orly Lobel | Nov 7, 2007 1:03:13 PM


Welcome to NYC! As you've learned, Rule No. 1 is: never eat breakfast (or any other meal for that matter) in a hotel. So where did you go for your steak?

Posted by: elektratig | Nov 7, 2007 6:21:37 PM

Every place can (and will) have a service glitch now and then (someone calls in sick, or has a emergency so as to short-staff them, mechanical failures, whatever). It is inevitable. A good place knows how to turn the error around so that you leave with a positive feeling out of the ordeal.

Posted by: krm | Nov 9, 2007 7:45:12 AM