Getting the Royal Room: How the Worst Led to the Best

Sorry for the radio silence over here. Michael and I spent last week on a marriage/counseling retreat (it was SO GOOD), and I really unplugged as much as I could in order to focus on what God was doing in my inner life. It’s amazing, really, to take extended time to consider what’s going on internally and work through it with God and with your spouse. I think I will have more to share about our time there later, but I need to do some more processing with God on my own before I crack that egg open in this space.

Big Ben London

I keep meaning to share one of our unexpected experiences from our time in the United Kingdom. In case you missed it, we spent about two weeks in England and Scotland last month (yes, we took Ella with us!), which was so refreshing for this woman who loves to travel and see the world. We went to Oxford, the Peak District, Edinburgh, and London–in that order. By the time we got to London, we were lagging a bit–two weeks overseas with a baby is a lot. Thankfully, we were staying in a lovely hotel we found last-minute once we learned that our original reserved hotel did not have air-conditioning (it was in the 80s…England is not big on A/C). Like most London hotels, the rooms were small. We didn’t mind–there was room for our bed and a Pack n Play, so we were happy.

But the first night we were there, cigarette smoke started pouring in through the air conditioning vent. Initially, I thought I must have been imagining it. It was a non-smoking hotel, and I’m overly sensitive to smoke, so I thought maybe I was smelling something on my clothes, or it was coming in through a window. But after about half an hour of increased smoke, I called the front desk. They immediately arranged for a room change, and two bellhops helped us carry all of our (now-opened) luggage and a sleeping baby into a new room across the hotel.

Ella didn’t wake up while I carried her through the hotel lobby like a pajama-ed sack of potatoes. Alleluia.

Unfortunately, that new room was right next to the housekeeping closet, and I heard that door slamming  until midnight. Ella kept sleeping, but this mama didn’t.

The next night, I requested–three times–that they not slam the door, or that they put a towel in the door to keep it from slamming, etc. No luck. The door kept slamming, keeping me up past eleven. I may sound like a wimp, but 11 pm for me now feels like 4 am did in college. It’s way past my bedtime. I was exhausted, and sad that our vacation was ending on this note.

We had become friends with one of the receptionists at the hotel, and the next morning I told her about the slamming door. I wanted to see if she could ask if a towel could permanently be put in the door frame, or if her request for quiet would carry more weight than mine.

Instead, she said that she was going to give us the best room in the hotel for that night–our last night in England. It was a room built by a king, literally. They took our luggage upstairs and we opened the door.

london hotel upgrade

And I laughed and laughed and laughed.

The bathroom was bigger than our living room.

london hotel upgrade bathroom

The bedroom was bigger than the main level of our home.

It was ridiculously nice. It was unbelievably big. It was too much. I went back down to the lobby to tell our friend at the desk that we were overwhelmed. She smiled.

And as I walked through our new hotel room, unable to stop laughing, I was reminded of the ridiculousness of God’s extravagance in giving his own Son for us. I felt like he reminded me that his love and his grace are like this–unexpected, undeserved, unbelievably big. Too much for me to take in or understand. And it makes him happy to see me receive his love and grace with laughter and open arms and joy.

We enjoyed that room and we all slept well.  And I know that although that room was originally built by a king, it was the King Himself that gave us such a sweet and undeserved gift that last night in England. It was a gift I’ll never forget, and one I’m truly grateful for.


  1. Oh, that is so sweet! I love it, Ann! (Can’t wait to see you this week and exchange notes on our trips!)

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