TIMe for another episodic episode of TIM’s Travel Tips, which are a lot like sirloin tips except they don’t go nearly as well with a port demiglaze. Today’s topic is hotels. I know there are a lot of questions out there regarding hotels like, How come desk clerks in foreign countries don’t speak better English? and, Do they replace those little shampoos every time or do they just fill them up for the next guy?
Unfortunately, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but having spent the night in everything from a third-world 5-star resort where one square of lobby marble is more expensive than all the surrounding residences combined, to a roadside mom & pop motel where mom won’t use a vacuum because it upsets all the cats and pop left her months ago for the chick who lives in the dumpster behind the local Roquefort shop, I think I am qualified to attest as to what makes a decent place to stay and what places you should avoid like a Haitian prostitute.
A good hotel is like pornography: it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it on music award shows. I can say with a certain amount of unsure certainty that good hotels have common characteristics for which to look. So when seeking an overnight abode to lay one’s weary head, keep in mind these helpful hints for which I have racked my brain for a solid four and one half minutes and now shall provide to you at minimal expense.
One thing you have probably figured out already is that the overall quality of a hotel is directly proportional to the size of its soap. I’m not a big guy and if I can’t get through a shower without the soap resembling a soggy potato chip—or worse yet, losing it in an undisclosed location—then they need to provide a bigger bar of soap.
So soap is one, but what else? The first thing that usually comes to one’s mind is water pressure, mainly in the shower. (What is often overlooked however, is water pressure in the toilet. Take it from me, few things are as terrifying as a toilet that keeps you on the edge of your seat. So to speak.) Nobody likes to bathe under a water flow equal to that of a squeezed lemon, so a good shower is a must. And it shouldn’t take you twenty minutes to find the microscopic setting between scalding and cryogenic. Nor should it go back and forth without your personal input.
The most memorable hotel shower I recall was in Anton Valley, Panama. It had electrically heated water to which I am not opposed, but the kicker was that the heater was in the shower with me. Plus it looked like it had been wired by CGI Federal with bare wires sticking out all over such that I thought I was looking at a metallic version of Nicolas Cage’s hair. As one who enjoys consciousness, I was a tad anxious about death-inducing electrocution. But the 17 geckos that shared it with me didn’t seem too concerned, which served to calm my fears on a scale of somewhat to not at all.
So…soap, water pressure and…A quality hotel also has real stuff. Real hangers is a biggy. And by ‘real’ I mean hangers that can actually be removed from the closet bar without completing some sort of 3-D Aztec initiation puzzle. I don’t know what hangers cost, but they can’t be more than the number of times I have audibly cursed the closefisted hotelier who is so afraid of losing one or two that he takes a community ed. welding class to prevent their theft.
Also, a good hotel has real glasses. If I have to unwrap my glassware, it doesn’t count as glassware. I shouldn’t have to first have a marquee WWE matchup with an impenetrable piece of plastic to get a drink of water. And what about your earth-friendly eco-greenness you’re always telling me about with your little bathroom cards? You want me to reuse my towel until it feels like 180 sandpaper, but meanwhile my trashcan is overflowing with cup wrappings that won’t decompose before the planet is run by apes?
And real coffee mugs. The inn thing right now is to give you paper cups for the in-room coffee maker specially designed to inject the heat from the coffee directly into the nerve endings of your fingertips, which are already raw and bleeding from having to unwrap them.
And how about some real cream? I’m sorry, but mysterious white powder is something you put in an envelope and mail to your congressman, not what you drink in your coffee. And while I’m on it, how about some real coffee? Especially when you’re in an area known for coffee, like say, Seattle.
I won’t mention any names but when I’m in Seattle, The Man puts me up in a hotel that rhymes with Harriet Snort-Lard (whom I dated briefly in high school), and they generously supply me with a number of coffee ‘hospitality packs.’ Really? I’m in the home of Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Cherry Hill, Tully’s, Vivace, Caffé Vita, etc., and I have to drink from a ‘hospitality pack’? Frankly, I’d almost rather watch your Facebook movie.
So…soap, water pressure, and real stuff. Three of the 5 stars. You’re welcome.