I love maid service. I love room service. I love turndown service. I love having a drink in hotel lobby lounges, even if I am not staying there. I love hotel restaurants, with their overpriced comfort food and poor attempts at creative cuisine. I love the anonymity. I love checking for messages at the front desk. I love the consistency. I love unexpected surprises. I love indoor pools. I love reading the guest information folder. I love the stationery in the desk drawers, which always makes me want to write either winsome letters to long lost loves or coded messages of international intrigue.
Hotels are magic. When you’re staying in a hotel, your real life is on hold and very far away. You can be anyone you want while you’re staying in a hotel – or you can finally be yourself.
I can trace this back to two specific things in my life:
1. My parents used to take a vacation every Presidents’ Day weekend with another couple. They’d rent two hotel rooms at the Port O Call , at the other end of our island. February is waaaay off season for the island, so I’m pretty sure they were among the only guests in the hotel.
My mom and Carol would sit in one room all weekend, do crossword puzzles, and watch old movies. Jim and my dad would sit in the other room, surrounded by their favorite junk food, and watch sports. They always had the best time, and came back refreshed and relaxed. No airports, no heavy suitcases, no traffic.
2. From 10 to 12 years of age, I was in two national touring companies of “Annie.” The first company stayed in major U.S. cities for an average of seven weeks at a time; the second tour went to decidedly less major cities ( Lubbock, anyone?) and stayed for a few days, sometimes up to a week. I’ve seen a lot of hotel rooms in my time, and they were my home away from home.
These experiences have manifested themselves in my life in a variety of ways:
I love to rearrange the furniture in my living space. When I was growing up, I’d do it every two months or so – which my mother directly linked to my moving into a new “home” at roughly the same frequency during my formative years. Now that I share my life with Cal, for whom consistency is everything, I satisfy this urge by rearranging the objects on a bookshelf, or the clothes on my side of the closet. (Hey, I never said I was sane.)
I like to book hotel rooms nearby for a weekend, and get away. The most recent was quite some time ago, I am sorry to say – summer of 2005. Cal and I were sweating in a basement apartment in Williamsburg during a blistering heatwave, and we decided we had had enough. We fled to the ice-cold Hyatt in unglamorous but nearby New Brunswick, NJ. We watched cable, ate at the delightful Clydz, and read the Sunday New York Times in climate-controlled peace.
Another hotel getaway highlight, several years back, was the honeymoon suite at the Holiday Inn in Piscataway, NJ. It was something like a hundred bucks a night, and had a hot tub directly in the middle of the room. Laugh you might, but it was AWESOME.
My most treasured skill as a result of this fascination with hotels, however, is the ability to choose the perfect hotel in any city in the world. I value this gift, and rely on it heavily during my travels.
Check back tomorrow for Miss Expatria’s secret to choosing the perfect hotels!