I’ve never really liked hotels. I find the experience rather sterile.
Firstly, there’s reception. No sooner have you walked through the doors than three matching smiles turn towards you and stay fixed on you until you explain why you’re there and prove you weren’t just trying to use their bathroom.
Once you have established legitimate reasons for being in the lobby area, you have to provide evidence that you are indeed who you say you are, by handing over your passport. Then you have to endure hotel-template small talk while they book you in.“ So what brings you to the Big Apple, Ms Dvorakova?“ Do they care? I don’t think so.
„Enjoy your stay,“ they say as they hand you your key and someone tries to steal your luggage. Oh, right, the bellboy. Sometimes I wonder how hotels think people manage in the real world at all. Did I need a bellboy to carry my suitcase from the airport to the taxi? Did I need them to chaperone me to the door of the hotel? No, I managed just fine. But for some reason, I have to let a complete stranger perform a meaningless (and somewhat intrusive) task and then pay them a tip for the privilege. But at least, once I have, I can finally be alone in my room.
And that’s the next thing. It doesn’t matter how luxuriously hotel rooms are decorated, they always feel bland. They have no real soul. No character. But never mind, it’s time for some food.
No matter how hard you try to conjure stealth mode to pass through that dreaded lobby again, those three smiles are there to intercept you. Once again you explain your reasons for being alive, and exit praying at least one of them will have gone home by the time you get back.
OK, I have to admit, one thing I do like about hotels is that the bed sheets are always crisp and clean. And the towels are usually fluffy. But even that reminds me how far away from home I am. My towels are never that fluffy. I appreciate when there’s a kettle in the room, but (of course) they don’t have my favourite White Tea with Raspberries. So I might skip tea altogether.
Hotel breakfasts are usually nice, but I always find them a waste of money. They don’t really offer anything you couldn’t have made yourself. And by the time you get back to your room, the cleaning lady is hovering outside with her feather duster and her smile seems to say „Finally! Time for you to leave.“ (Even though you don’t have to check out for half an hour.)
And finally, your experience ends where it began. At three-smile reception, where you’re charged a huge amount of money for the „luxury“ of staying at a hotel.
So as you can imagine, I rarely stay in hotels, I usually opt for Airbnb. There’s no receptionist, no impatient cleaning ladies, and you don’t feel like you’re just on a giant accommodation conveyor belt. You’re greeted by your host, who not only took care to prepare your room or apartment for you themselves, but offers to walk you to the best pizzeria in town. You can relax with your favourite cup of tea in the evening and prepare your own cost-saving and heart-warming breakfast when you get up. The whole experience is so much warmer and genuine. So much more like home away from home.
But I must say I’m so pleased that Abbey’s brother said we can stay at his! That’s a whole other level of personal you just don’t get anywhere else. Besides, I’m hoping to hear all about what Abbey was like as a child!
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