While in St Johns I stayed at the Franklin Hotel. I’d happily stay there again – the rooms are very spacious, the beds are comfortable and the bathroom does what it’s supposed to.
The one drawback was the absence of coffee in the room. There was an abundant supply of tea, sugar and sweetener, but no coffee. Not even instant. And also no milk.
When I raised the issue with the proprietor (not a Newfoundlander, which occasionally shows in flashes of anger directed at his employees) he went into a mini-tirade about the difficulty of obtaining the little sachets of instant coffee in Newfoundland.
Once again, Starbucks came to the rescue of my coffee addiction. They’ve recently launched VIA, their version of instant coffee (in one-serving sachets), which they claim tastes exactly like their filter coffee. In the absence of milk – even powdered creamer – I couldn’t say how close it gets. What I can say is that it didn’t have the usual instant coffee taste, which is a good thing. I’m not suggesting that Starbucks makes the world’s best coffee, but they’ve done a fabulous job of making a consistently acceptable standard of coffee available in a lot of out-of-the-way places. And, in my moment of need, they were there to help me out.
When I pointed out to the proprietor that he could satisfy his guests’ coffee needs by walking 50 metres down the road to Starbucks (who may even give him a promotional deal), he scoffed at the suggestion that he should spend the money, even though it’s comfortably less than 1% of the room rate.
No-one does that combination of genial and crusty quite like the Brits.