A few weeks back I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful plus-size event called Style XL put on by one of my loveliest blogger friends – Leah Shafik. As much as I had a lovely time at the event, the venue was atrocious and it’s taken me a few weeks to calm down and be able to write about it in a frank manner.
The Paragon Hotel, Birmingham.
I was excited when I found out about Style XL, and even more excited when I found out the venue was a hotel. Being disabled AND pregnant, comfort is key and I kept thinking about how convenient it would be to have little rests through the day and be able to change shoes/items of clothing. I was a little disheartened when I read some reviews online, however after speaking to the hotel and telling them I was blogging about the event, they gave me a good deal and assured me we would be in an “updated” room.
The day came and we drove down getting stuck in slight traffic which can’t be avoided. Our first impressions of the hotel weren’t great – there was already a police van parked outside. Unfortunately this was’t the only time the police would visit in the 48 hours we were there. We then went to park in the “private” hotel parking which was basically an old, decrepit warehouse which was full of rubbish, old mattress’ and tons of beer cans everywhere. We crossed the glass covered road to the hotel and felt the sinking feeling of regret in our stomachs. We checked in after having to queue a short while and were told we had to choose between an updated room or wifi access. We chose the updated room.
Up on the third floor, we found our room (which oddly had a different door to every other room we passed and the most awkward key lock system which just felt unsafe. Upon entering the room, we had to way to turn on the electricity and so we then had to wait for somebody to come and jam a screwdriver in the slot in the wall. So what did we get for an updated room? We got a tiny cramped room which was as wide as the bed and two tiny side tables and we could barely move down the sides of it. Also in the room was a heater which hung off the wall, 3 windows (one of which had a massive crack down it) a desk, chair and built in wardrobe. It was all VERY basic. The attention to detail was pathetic – my walls had dints, patchy paintwork and an actual plaster over a crack. The bathroom was slightly better but the flooring was very slippery and this wasn’t made any easier after a shower. The shower was annoying and you had to hold it as the shower head holder didn’t hold it and it fell on your head which was painful! The toilet was on an angle which made it annoying to use and they gave us half a toilet roll to use which is disgusting and unsanitary. The final straw with the bathroom was the postage stamp sized threadbare rough towels. .
We tried to make the best out of a bad situation after being informed there were no more rooms to swap into, and so we went out to dinner and enjoyed out night. We then went back to the bar which was a shambles. It was overpriced, badly staffed and the staff had no clue. The member of staff behind the bar was serving coca cola from litre bottles which had been sat out in the warm not in the fridges. For a pint of this warm, flat diet coke it cost £3. We then took to buying our own from the corner shop, this was actually colder and faster. We stayed up with some other guests who had various issues – including problems with the public toilets having no loo rolls and lighting issues in corridors. We finally decided to turn in after a long day as more and more drunken people passed shouting and screaming.
The next day we were rudely awoken at 6 to people running up and down corridors smashing lights and leaving trails of blood which were still there the next day when we were leaving. There was also homeless people sat outside among the trees singing and talking loudly. Through the next day, police had come another 2 times, the bar kept promising to open but didn’t open till late leaving hundreds of us needing drinks as the venue was absolutely boiling and the staff didn’t know how to turn on the air conditioning. Thankfully we had our handy corner shop and a bin full of ice to keep us in cool drinks. Being pregnant, I don’t think I’d of coped without the corner shop being there!
We went out for dinner again and enjoyed a lovely evening at Style XL but this was tainted when armed police stormed the building and wouldn’t let anybody move. There was also a car broken into right outside the hotel, the bar again ran out of the few drinks they had and there was some awful men hanging around the venue trying to hit on the girls who had been taking part in the event. They also kept running in our room to take food from our buffet which was annoying. We decided to call it an early night and headed to our room where we felt like we couldn’t relax because we didn’t know what was going to happen next.
The following morning we packed and left as soon as we could and were glad to leave. Since leaving, I’ve spoken to other people who stayed who had even worse problems so it turns out we were actually lucky with the shambles of a room we had.
I still had a pretty good time at the event and that was down to the amazing planning and would highly recommend Style XL as an event to anybody. Even Adam had fun!
I’m up for the award of Best New Blog at the British Plus Size Awards and would love it if you could click here and vote for Fabulously Fat Fashion! It means the world to be nominated and to win would just be excellent!