I took the train from Coventry to London this afternoon and am currently relaxing with a beer in the bar at my hostel. After 10 days in Coventry, I feel very confident in recommending you skip it if you’re traveling around England.
Now that I’ve escaped, let me tell you what an incredibly poor job I did picking a place to stay, why you can’t pay attention to online reviews, and why checking out the neighborhood online is a must before making a non-refundable booking…
Here’s my first experiences in Coventry:
1. Arrived in Coventry via train from Shrewsbury
2. Decided to walk from the train station to the hotel (it was about a mile)
3. Walked through the City Center (nice enough shopping area but clearly targeted at locals vs. tourists)
4. Walked through a sketchy neighborhood.
5. Walked through an even sketchier neighborhood
6. Got to my hotel and checked in, took my card key and took the elevator to the 7th floor
7. Elevator door opens and there is a guy, mid-20s, lying on the floor knocked out with blood on his knuckles and a bloody nose
8. Checked to make sure he was still breathing, then stepped over him to get to my room to call the front desk
9. Front desk guy answers, I tell him a guy is lying unconscious on the floor on the 7th floor, and he responds with “No problem sir, I’ll take care of that right away.” Given the fact that he’s hotel staff you expect a standard response like this, but the inflection and tone of his voice made it sound like it was a regular occurrence.
There isn’t much more to the story – I had to talk to the local police briefly to make sure I hadn’t beat the guy up myself and confirm I hadn’t seen anyone else – but this was my first 2 hours in Coventry…
To be clear, this really didn’t negatively influence my point-of-view on Coventry as a whole. The fact I ended up in a crappy hotel is entirely on me. The reason I don’t recommend it is that there just isn’t much to do in Coventry proper. While it’s close to Birmingham, Warwick, and Stratford-upon-Avon, you’re better off staying in one of those places instead as you’ll have to stay in a regular hotel or B&B regardless.
I didn’t make it anywhere outside Coventry – I’m doing a loop back through to Birmingham, Warwick, and Stratford on my way up to Liverpool next week. I did make one failed attempt to go to Warwick on Monday, but after sitting at the bus stop for 45 minutes discovered it was a bank holiday and the bus to Warwick wasn’t running…
The Laundry Saga
I woke up on Thursday morning and left the hotel looking for a place to get my laundry done (or to do it myself). Every place I’d been to date has been easy as far as laundry goes. In Dublin the hostel had facilities to do it yourself, Cork/Galway there was a drop-off/pick-up place. Not in Coventry. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and started walking. My best guess is I walked between 6-8 miles over the course of 3 hours trying to find a laundromat. Not a one to be found. They all are out of business since the colleges in Coventry updated their dorms to have laundry rooms.
However, I was saved! At about the 9th dry-cleaners I stopped in to check if they did laundry, the elderly Indian woman that owned the place politely told me they didn’t. When I asked her if she knew a place, she told me they’d all gone out of business and there wasn’t a place to get it done. She must have seen the look on my face and asked me how many places I’d been to. When I told her, she frowned, then smiled, then took my laundry home with her that night, washed/dried/folded it, and refused to accept any money for having done so! I tried to give her money several times but she just smiled, told me I was welcome back any time, and to enjoy my stay in England. This was actually the high-point of my stay in Coventry.
I mainly went to Coventry for the huge series of poker tournaments going on all week, and given the room situation spent most of my time either playing poker or hanging out in the lobby of the hotel (side note: When a hotel says they have WiFi, it’s worth checking whether or not it’s the entire hotel or only the first floor #fail).
I played in 4 tournaments while I was in Coventry and didn’t cash in any of them. Had 3 sick beats to bust out and one forced all-in (I was short-stacked). Here’s the details:
Tourney 1: Had KK in middle position. Raise before me and I re-raise. Previous raiser re-raises again and I shove all in. He goes in the tank for 2 minutes then calls (for his entire stack – I had him covered). I flip over KK, he flips over KJ-clubs, and promptly flops a flush. Yay #1.
Tourney 2: Had AA on the button. Raise ahead of me, I re-raise all in (short-stacked), get insta-called by the original raiser. He flips over AA as do I, and we chuckle and prepare to chop the pot. 3 hearts on the flop, 1 on the river, and my AA gets cracked by A of hearts. Yay #2.
Tourney 3: Had 22 in the big blind. Small 2.5x raise gets around to me with one other caller. I just call. Flop is K 2 5 rainbow. I check, original raiser bets, I re-raise, he shoves. I paused for a minute then called – based on his previous play I couldn’t out him on KK or 55. He flips KQ and says “I didn’t expect 22”. Turn is a Q, river is a K, and I lose again. Yay #3.
Tourney 4: I got all in pre-flop with 88 against 99, flop is a blank, turn and river are both 9s (not that it mattered). Yay #4.
I played incredibly well during almost all of the tournaments and won nothing. I then proceeded to play the worst cash game poker I’ve ever played in my life and won almost all of the entry money for the tournaments back.
I won most of it playing 6-card Pot-limit Omaha which is the sickest, craziest game I’ve ever played. Made bad calls of pre-flop raises ~10 times (I really had mediocre hands), and flopped quads twice, turned quads 3 times, and rivered the nut straight flush twice.
So all in all, I made it out of Coventry down about $200 from where I was before, putting me at +$2,600 on the trip. I’ve spent more than that on food/hotels/etc. – but not that much more so the first month on the road playing poker covered ~85% of expenses. Couldn’t make a living, but could travel longer 🙂