Monday, January 12, 2009

The Hotel Test

This is going to be the second travel-themed post in a row. I hope y'all don't mind. Since I'm traveling right now, it's the only thing that I can think of to write about. I promise this isn't turning into a travel blog. I'll try to change it up tomorrow and write about dogs or church or bananas. 

I'm a bit of a hotel snob. A shrink would probably tell you that it has something to do with my childhood. Hotels growing up meant one of three things: 1. A campground 2. The pop-top of a Volkswagen Vanagon 3. A Motel 6. The Motel 6 was only on special occasions. Usually on New Year's Eve in Tucamcari, New Mexico. I can still hear my dad's advice as we got into bed: "kids, keep your underpants on." Oh, the memories.

So now that I travel for work (and sometimes for fun) I can be a little picky about hotels. There are certain things that I look for in a hotel. I just did this subconsciously until one of my friends pointed out that I was just applying my own hotel test. The hotel test is the criteria or set of criteria that you use to determine if the hotel is somewhere that you are willing stay. Please note that this is not my idea, but I feel compelled to share the concept with all of you. Idea creator(s), you know who you are.

You can establish all sorts of hotel tests. I have surveyed at least a handful of people and would like to share some of these hotel thresholds or tests with you:

Interior Room Entrances: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If this is your hotel test, it basically means that you rule out staying at any hotel where you enter your room from the outside world (sorry Motel 6). I can understand this one. I think it also dovetails off of the "won't stay at the kind of hotel where people live" rule. Think about it. When you're eating at a Cracker Barrel and look over at the adjacent hotel and see someone bringing it groceries, they are probably entering from an exterior entrance. I guess people do live in hotels with interior entrances, but they are usually professional athletes or guys going through a divorce. Anyway, I understand the interior room entrance rule, and I think it's a good one.

The Map: This one isn't quite as obvious, but I love it just the same. Creator of the map rule (you know who you are) thank you for developing this wonderful threshold. So here's how it works. If, upon check-in, the guy at the front desk pulls out a map of the hotel (and a colored pencil) and then draws the path that your car should take to get to the appropriate entrance, then this is a hotel that you won't stay in. This rule is a little more strict than the interior room entrance rule, as most map hotels do have rooms that you can enter from the inside.

Room Service: Another brilliant rule created by one of my friends at work. The law, as it is written, requires that all hotels must offer room service. This does not mean that the rule creator (or rule follower) will order room service during their stay, it simply means that the hotel has to offer it. It makes sense if you think about it this way: in order to offer room service, the hotel has to have a kitchen. If the hotel has a kitchen, then that means some sort of regulatory board (other than the Elevator Certification Board) has been in the hotel and has given at least the kitchen a thumbs up for cleanliness. It follows then that the rest of the hotel probably follows the same standards of cleanliness.

The Fluffy White Comforter Test: Also known as the Kate test. This is Kate's requirement. She wants to stay only at hotels that have fluffy white comforters. When I called her today, her first question was "How's your Hotel?" When I said it was just okay, her second question was "What kind of comforter is on the bed?" Much like my overall hotel snobbery, Kate's bedspread/comforter rule was established early in life. Kate's mom was apparently ahead of her time. She had a fear of foreign stains on bedspreads long before Dateline/Primetime/20/20 began doing their hotel room black light tests. When Kate was young, the first thing that her mom would do when they checked into a hotel room was to wildly strip the comforter off of the bed, making sure that nobody touched it. Because it's difficult to predict the color and fluffiness of the hotel comforter prior to check-in, I typically use the interweb and do the virtual tour of the hotel to confirm the color and fluffiness of the comforter prior to making a reservation.

The Indoor Pool Test: Also known as Kate's Second Test. This one isn't a deal breaker for Kate, but she does look favorably upon hotels with an indoor pool. Keep in mind that in our 100+ nights of staying at hotels with an indoor pool, I think she has actually used said pool twice. That said, she just likes it being there, and gets all excited when I tell her that the hotel has a pool. It's one of the few times that Kate acts like a seven year old kid, which I think is funny. Maybe you had to be there. It's a valid test just the same.

I'm interested to hear if any of you out there in blogland have hotel tests of your own. Post them as comments if you are comfortable sharing. And don't just say that you use star ratings. Those things are always inflated...sort of like star ratings on Star Search. Those things were really bogus. Did anyone ever receive less than three and a quarter stars on that show? Okay, I'm rambling now. Time to tuck myself in under my fluffy white comforter.


Al Iverson said...

My Kate is the same way about the pool, and has yet to actually use one, once, these entire 2.5 years of regular work travel.

Also, the Canterbury fails the comforter test.

That reminds me, you forgot to add one great thing about hotel travel -- the opportunity to pontificate on sites like Yelp.

Amy! said...

My "Hotel Test" is essentially the room service test but with the continental breakfast. It gotsta (yeah, I went there with the 8th grade vocab.) have one to be up to my standards.

Also the appearance of the lobby is pretty paramount to my perception of the hotel. Though, that didn't serve me well at a hotel once where someone was cooking cabbage in the room next door & smelled up the hallway. Which was quite unpleasant since I'm not great with keys & spent a fair amount of time trying to get into my room. That hotel even had a pool, which, like Kate, reaaally makes me interested in staying there, even if I never use it.

Amanda said...

Free wi-fi is a big one for me.

Hotels get bonus points for a waffle iron.

The best hotel I've ever stayed in was in Prague. The bathroom had a heated floor.

Bubby said...

But how does Kate feel about fecal contamination in those hotel pools?

Aleks said...

1. Along the lines of the lines of Interior Room Entrances, must enter with a swipe card, not a hard key (yes, these hotels do still exist).

2. For hotels in the Caribbean, must have an on site water treatment facility. Then you don't have to dip into the Imodium.

Heated towel racks in the bathroom and hot men that stand in the lobby and greet you with a towel/water bottle when you return from a morning run... well, maybe one day.

Anonymous said...

Some of the best hotels I've stayed in were outdoor entrance hotels! Mostly high end beach resorts with individual cottages.

I look for...

1. Gym. I need a hotel gym.
2. Brand of shampoo (not that I care what brand it is, but a hotel that offers Aveda trumps Breck any day)
3. All white bed and bath linens
4. Coffee (in room? what brand? dairy creamer or non-dairy powder?)

Nate said...

Al - The Canterbury does fail the comforter test, but I know for a fact that N'Sync stayed there in 1999, so that has to count for something.

Amy - Good Call on the lobby.

Amanda - Wifi is strange. Seems to be an inverse relationship b/w wifi prices and hotel price. Never understood how la quinta has free wifi and the Chicago Hilton charges $20/night

Nate said...

Bubby - Fecal Contamination is just fun to write. For those who don't know the story...The fam went to Hilton Head for Bubby's wedding. On the first day, the pool was closed with a sign that said "Pool closed due to Vandalism" on the second day, the pool was closed with a sign that said "pool closed due to fecal contamination." I still haven't figured out if the vandalism and fecal contamination were related or not.

Aleks - Good call on the key cards. And on the hot men. A girl can dream.

Anon - Yeah, the outside entrance rule falls apart at resorty type hotels. It probably needs a precondition like "If hotel is listed on one of the blue signs right before the highway exit AND hotel has exterior entrances, then stay away. I don't think the resorty hotels are listed on the blue highway signs.

Anonymous said...

for me, the room has to have a mini fridge and a microwave. that way i can always have cold water and heat up snacks if i don't feel like spending lots of money on the room service.

MaryBe said...

You should have kept the Volkswagon!