The Holiday Inn Express Braintree wouldn't be on my list of chosen destinations, situated as it is on Great Notley Roundabout, out of town, and with only the adjacent Toby Carvery offering any hope of a decent meal.
However, sometimes we discover excellence in unexpected places.
My check in experience was exemplary - I'd even go as far as to say entertaining.
My room is large, warm and comfortable and the traffic noise outside is bearable, even with my necessarily open window.
The chocolates and message made me feel just that little bit more welcome after a 3.5 hour drive, the last half hour of which was in a thunderstorm of biblical proportions.
All of which reminded me of Dr. Paddi Lund's "Absolutely Critical Non-Essentials."
Do you remember those "CNEs?"
To quote the very eccentric man:
"Paddi's customers do have the perception that the quality of dentistry is high, extremely high. Why?
Because the tea is served impeccably,
Because their names and their photographs are actually on the door of their personal lounges.
Because they're greeted by name by their own Care Nurse when they ring the doorbell.
Because these and a myriad of other little things are all done with great care and consideration like,
The Dental Buns,
The cappuccino machine,
The fresh flowers, and
The array of dried fruits and nuts."
We were enthralled if not somewhat mystified when Paddi toured the UK over 20 years ago.
But his message lives on - doing the little things that are not essential but which make a difference - because they show you care enough to do them.
My receptionist last night made a difference, as did the spotless room and the chocolates.
Let me ask - what are your CNEs?