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* By ‘insider’ – I should clarify – I mean ‘someone who has been inside‘ hotels, restaurants, bars, etc, then used my imagination to guess what they’re conning me with.

I’ll admit, that’s a bit of a misleading headline. Ironic, perhaps, considering the con-based subject matter. But I’m confident my imagination will get us at least somewhere near the truth.

So here it is – stuff that restaurants, hotels, bars, spas, etc, do to squeeze every last penny out of poor little us:

  1. They’re Nice To You All The Time

    The more you pay, the nicer they are to you. Self-evidently, then, the nicer they are to you, the more you have to pay them. It’s a right wheeze!

  2. Hotel Rooms Only Give You 2 Teabags

    One for you. One for your wife/lover/employee. Then that’s it. The waiters downstairs in the pricey cafe are rubbing their hands in eager anticipation of your arrival. Cheeky sods.

  3. Totally Made-Up Courses

    If posh restaurants were serving you beans on toast, they’d break it down into as many courses as possible… start with a quinnell of butter on a teaspoon, then give you a tomato sauce infusion to smell, followed by soda bread toasted 4 ways, and finally a bean confit. And guess what? They’d charge you for every flipping course.

  4. Getting You Drunk

    The oldest and most ingenious trick in the book. Not only do you have to PAY for the drink, but it also reduces your inhibitions so that you PAY for more stuff. “Sir, how about buying this £50 thing, after which I’ll find it easier to sell you the next £50 thing, after which… etc etc.”

    Speaking of which…

  5. All-Over-The-Place Wine List Ordering

    We all figured out how to read a wine list years ago. If nobody’s looking, sneakily order the house. If you’re in the social spotlight, skip the second one down (a well-known trap) and go for the third most expensive. Classy. Now, though, smarmy sommeliers are mixing things up, sorting lists by qualities OTHER than price.  It’s a minefield.

  6. Still Being Nice To You

    You can honestly do/say anything to them, and they’ll agree, smile and bring you more beer. It’s more addictive than crack.

  7. Remembering Stuff You Said

    In casual conversation, we often say things like ‘ooh, I’d love to go to XXX’, ‘next time, I think I’d try the XXX’, ‘we’ll definitely come back to XXX soon’. We don’t mean any of these things, really, we just say them. But they darn well remember them, hold you to what you said, and then set it all up so you feel guilt-tripped into obliging them.

  8. Boredom

    Spas are boring. Hotels are boring. When there’s so little to do, of course you’re going to accept the special offer that’s in the guest guide. They basically engineer the intolerable boredom so that you have no other option available.

  9. Rain

    As above, it’s completely engineered.

  10. Debt

    OK – all the above is perfectly reasonable, really. They’re only doing their job. Being nice to you, serving you food, massaging you, all that.

    But then – and here’s the kicker – after all that seemingly ‘kindly’ treatment, as a final goodbye, they ALWAYS seem to hit you with a MASSIVE BILL, really MASSIVE. It’s frankly ridiculous. How can you claim to be a 5* hotel, or a Michelin Star restaurant when the last thing you do to people is piss them off with a huge load of debt? It is, in my book, an unreported travesty of our time.

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