Welcome To The Hotel California

There’s no place like home.  If you need convincing of that statement, try traveling and being required to lodge at a commercial establishment.  I endured such an experience for five nights in two separate locations within a span of ten days recently.  As much as those places tried, their accommodations were simply not home, sweet home.

To make one feel at home at such lodgings, more than leaving a light on for you is required. Sorry, Motel 6.  The lengths to which lodging establishments go to make your stay homey depends on the type of establishment involved.  On the bottom rung of the lodging ladder are motels.  Motels typically have rooms accessible from an outside parking area.  Rarely do they have lounges, but who needs one when you can simply hang out in the parking lot and share a brewsky with fellow travelers? No, I’ve never done that, but I did observe it occurring while conducting (legal) business at a motel next to a truck stop in the not too distant past.

The best you can say about motels is that they are conveniently located off highways, are fairly cheap and are populated by clientele who don’t want to get into your business any more than you want to get into theirs.  Motels were quite popular when I was in college.  Girls on my dorm floor would disappear to the “no tell motel” when the boyfriend from back home appeared for a weekend visit.  Motels are models of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Next up the lodging ladder is the inn.  Inns are geared towards tourists and are generally small and usually quaint.  The ambience and location are more of a draw than any amenities provided.  Probably the first thing that pops into one’s head when an inn is mentioned is “no room at the inn.”  Yes, inns have been around a long time–apparently prior to Jesus’ birth.  The inn in Bethlehem may not have had a hot tub or a salon, but it had a stable which doubled as overflow housing.

On the top rung of lodging establishments is the hotel.  Clearly it is a step above the lowly inn.  Why the inn near Jesus’ stable only had one star connected with it; hotels today aim to get five star ratings.  Mercifully, my two recent lodgings were at hotels.  These hotels attempted to cater to me and make me feel comfortable, but they missed their mark.

Feeling right at home apparently starts in the bathroom.  The most evidence of attempted pampering could be found there in both hotels.  How could one possibly feel at home without an array of travel size toiletries cluttering the bathroom counter?  And that gold seal sticker on the  roll of toilet paper to evidence that it was new was just like my own bathroom–NOT!  The hotel must have thought they really had in in the bag when they stored the hair dryer in a bag beneath the sink cleverly marked “Hair Dryer.”  Really?  I thought it might have been a bread box under there…..

A beverage is a sure way to make one relax, right?  Hotels thoughtfully offer small coffee makers in room.  Too bad the coffee to be put into the small appliance is disgusting.  Oh, yeah!  That’s right.  Maybe it is for contrast with the Starbucks located down in the lobby.  What a dilemma.  Drink heated, colored water in my room or go plunk down  big bucks for a calorie-laden cup of coffee at Starbucks?  Hmmm…..decisions, decisions.

A cold beverage might be a better choice for a hotel guest.  But in order for your drink to be cold, ice is needed.  Ice buckets were provided in the rooms, but the treasure map to guide you on the lengthy hunt for the ice machine was MIA.  That’s OK.  I brought my own canned sodas and will just stick them in the in room fridge.  Oops!  How homey can a hotel room be with no fridge (of whatever size) to be raided.  SMH. I’ll bet the lounge downstairs offers cold beverages for an arm and a leg.

Well, maybe home isn’t about things; it is about feelings.  Who doesn’t feel good when arriving home to be greeted by a loving family member or an affectionate pet?  Hotel staff were located in one lobby to smile at me and tell me to have a nice day/evening whenever I came or left .  Rather than getting warm fuzzy feelings, I felt that my movements were being monitored.

The last hotel I stayed in seemed eerily like the Eagles’ Hotel California.  No, there were no mirrors on the ceiling and certainly no pink champagne on ice (still hunting for that ice machine….)  But I did start to get the feeling I might never leave.  Perhaps it was the way those vultures on the hotel roof were looking at me.  Yes, I checked out and I left for home where the lights were left on–not for me, family members just don’t turn them off.  Ahh! Home sweet home!





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