Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The lift at the Royal Kings Arms Hotel

In Lancaster, I stayed at the Royal Kings Arms Hotel - a Victorian pile handily placed for the station and perhaps built to serve the needs of passengers arriving in the city on the new-fangled railways.
To be honest, it's seen better days and is now somewhat run down (although clean and comfortable enough). Like many city-centre hotels it has suffered since people began going everywhere by car. For a car driver the choice of destination - be it hotel, cinema or shopping centre -  is increasingly determined by the ease of access and parking  - and that's usually better out-of-town. (Although the Royal Kings Arms does have adequate car parking facilities round the back).
It's worth staying there however for one feature alone - the passenger lift that connects all four floors. The lift rises in the centre of the well of the rather grand staircase. I've no idea how old it is - or even whether it's the original one - but it's certainly a throwback in time!

To ride the lift you first of all have to find a way in! Both the outer and the inner door have to opened - by hand: no buttons to press - and then closed behind you. At one time there would have been a man - or, more likely, a boy -in a smart uniform to do this for you; now you have to do it for yourself. Despite the notices reminding passengers to close both doors behind them when they get out it's clear that some people forget, stranding the lift on the floor in question until someone runs up the stairs to get it going again!
You don't get that in a Travelodge!

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