Saturday Sep 29, 2007

ATA Quark Hotels, Milan - Thumbs Down

We stayed at the ATA Quark Hotel (Via Lamepdusa 11/A) for Sun Tech Days, Milan. This hotel completely defied "the first impression lasts for ever" philosophy. We were promptly checked-in at the service desk and were given a really nice room (with a separate office room and a walk-in closet) and that impressed us. But there after it was all down hill. Here are my experiences in the hotel and with it's staff. Other colleagues had similar experience as well:

  • Basic Office Room - The office room was nice and spacious with a separate TV but there was no phone. In fact the only phone in the "suite" was near the bed. And even though the hotel claimed that wireless network is expected to work in the room but they just could not debug why it was not working for me. It worked very well in all the conference rooms though.

  • Non-smiling Staff - We decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant on the first night of stay. None (really none) of the waiters had any smile on their face. They barely knew any English so we had to show them the number in the menu to place our order. I always feel that a big smile on your face is the first language all humans should know. That certainly was not visible in most of the staff at the hotel, although some knew the English language to be able to communicate. Although I was quite surprised to see a smiling staff member at the reception desk.

  • Mysterious Fitness Center - The first morning I inquired about the fitness center and told it's on the 5th floor. The 5th floor is like a regular floor with directions to other rooms, no mention of Fitness Center at all. On further asking for explicit directions and I was told it's between room # 513 & 514. I thought may be this hotel uses fraction for room numbers but on the 5th there were directions to room 500-515 and 513 was the last room in that segment. There were two rooms right after #513. Initially I was skeptical to swipe my card on those rooms but because of the information received from the front desk I tried to swipe my card to no effect. These rooms were of course locked as well so even the door was not open. I got slightly irritated spending my first 15 minutes in the morning running up & down and dealing with the front desk instead of running on the tread mill but decided to call them again. I was told somebody is coming over right away which happened good 6 minutes later and this person was quite surprised when I approached him. So it seems like he was just wandering through the halls and I happen to approach him. Anyway, upon explaining (forget about apologies) he said let me find out where is the Fitness Center. It seems the hotel staff is not aware of the facilities within. Finally he opened one of the hotel rooms converted in the Fitness Center.

    And it's a true conversion because the room barely had workout machines (of course all the instructions in Italian only) with no workout towels. Anyway, I was glad that the treadmill worked :)

  • Disappearing Shower Towels - Room Service every morning did the expected job but then always took all the shower towels with them. This has never happened with me during all my travels. But anyway we asked for the shower towels for on the first morning and the Room Service came back with just one thin cotton towel. We mentioned that we need towels for all of us and this guy comes back with 2 more cotton towels. These towels become with the first touch of water and in no way can be used effectively after a shower. On further explaining, this guy finally comes back with the real shower towels and a weird frown on his face.

  • Expired Room Key - The hotel room key expired the night before itself and it had to renewed at the Front Desk late in the night. Although this is not very uncommon (never happened with me) but lot of other colleagues were complaining the same issue in this hotel.

  • Shower Tub Wall - This is probably a more Italy thing but both the hotels we stayed at (in Rome and Milan) barely cover the shower stream. In this particular hotel just turning the shower (that had a big shower head) was spilling the water out of the the tub. The bathroom used to be flooded after anybody takes a shower. Strangely there was a glass wall on the other end of the tub where there is no water or nobody could possibly take a shower because of the fixed shower head.

  • City Knowledge - The amount of knowledge the reception desk (there was no Concierge) had about the City was pretty "amazing". They only knew about the nearest Metro station and City Center. Everything else was left for the hotel guests to explore themselves. And they did not have any resources on how to gather further information. I sometimes really wondered the hotel staff was probably from some other city.

  • Taxi Fare - The taxi fare from Malpensa airport to anywhere in the city is fixed at 70 Euros. I asked the front desk about this and was told that it would be approximately 95 Euros (which is typically what the meter would show). Fortunately the taxi driver who dropped us at the airport was a great guy and charged us 70 Euros even though the meter showed 95 Euros. I really wonder how much the hotel staff really know about moving around the city.

The ATA Hotels website has disabled right-click, gosh such a cheap trick. So even though you can click on Business, Hotels & Resorts and see the list of hotels available but right-clicking (in order to Copy The Link Location) shows following:

If you are planning a travel to Milan, I'd certainly recommend to look for an alternate hotel. At least I'll stay in a different hotel if I happen to visit the city again.

Milan by itself is a great city though. Read my travel tips to Milan here. All my travel tips to Europe are aggregated here.

Technorati: traveltips ataquarkhotel milan


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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.

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