Anna: I’ve been looking into accommodation options for our Alaska trip. Short of couch surfing, it’s hotels or bed and breakfasts.
Philip: You don’t fancy camping then?
Anna: I don’t fancy being ripped to shreds by grizzly bears. So, what’ll it be?
Philip: I reckon we push the boat out and splash some cash. Let’s stay somewhere nice.
Anna: OK. In that case how about this one: Minnifield’s Lodge? It’s made in the style of a traditional log cabin. The website blurb says it has ‘rustic charm with modern comfort’, whatever that means. But it has a pool and a sauna, and it isn’t cheap, so it must be good.
Philip: Quite. Sure, that’ll do. Of course, there is another option: the Winnebago.
Anna: A glorified campervan? Good god, no. You know, my grandparents used to take me caravanning every summer when I was a kid. I learnt at any early age not to mix one’s house with one’s car.
Receptionist: Good evening. Welcome to The Master Motel. How may I help you?
Philip: Hi. Is there any chance you have any rooms? There was a mix-up at our hotel and they gave our room away.
Receptionist: Ouch. Yes, we have rooms. Is it just a double you’re after?
Philip: Preferably yes, although at this stage we’ll take anything.
Receptionist: Well, we have one on the first floor, and one on the second floor. Both come in at $32 a night.
Philip: When you say first floor, I guess you mean ground floor. I’m OK with either. Do you have any preference, Pumpkin?
Anna: Whichever’s quietest. I guess the first floor, by which I mean the second floor.
Receptionist: Ah, you’re from across the pond. “Two nations divided by a common language”. Anyway, there’s no sales tax in this borough of Alaska, so the total is $32 if you’re just staying the one night. Here’s your keycard. Towels, water, and all that jazz, are all in the room, but just give me a holler if you need anything or have any questions. It’s not a big place, so I’m receptionist, concierge and maid tonight. The name’s Joel, by the way.
Philip: Well, Joel, tonight you’re also a life-saver. You’ve saved our bacon: no matter how beautiful Alaska is, neither of us fancied a night under the stars. Thanks very much
When it comes to deciding the best hotel I’ve ever encountered, the decision is hard: for many of the best holidays, the hotel merely compliments, rather than dictates, the enjoyment. Of course, novelty hotels – like the Holiday Inn in northern Australia shaped like a giant crocodile – stick in the mind, as do those times when it seems you are the only people in the entire place (indeed, in one hotel I was the only guest). My hotel in Washington, D.C. was a bit worn down, but right on the doorstep of The White House. A good location helps.
The worst hotel I have ever had the misfortune to stay at was a motel in Florida: the air conditioning unit had half-fallen off the wall, a couple of cockroaches greeted us, and it reminded me of the seedy spots shown in TV cop shows, where drug dealers and hookers hide. It was a cheap place, and I know you get what you pay for, but that place was the pits.
It could be said they are just OTT PR stunts, although the hotels in question would undoubtedly say they are simply going the extra mile or separating themselves from the pack; either way, a quick internet search brings up some unusual hotel services.
In Jamaica, The Ritz-Carlton will give you spa treatment, which doesn’t sound so exclusive until one realizes they use condensed milk and orange juice for some of the baths. Meanwhile, The Night and Times Hotel in New York offers an ‘I Hate Valentine’s Day’ service for guests unlucky enough to be alone and on the road for February 14th; the package includes a big tub of ice-cream, some sad movies, and a table for one in a fancy restaurant. Whilst not exactly a controllable ‘service’ , Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, has a family of giraffes living on the grounds. The giraffes have long since become accustomed to human life, and will pop their heads through doors that have been left open. Finally, The Andaz Hyatt on Liverpool Street, London made headlines by having staff come to your room and read bedtime stories (if requested, of course) for a two week period in 2008.
Of course, a hotel not having a service doesn’t stop guests from requesting it: from delivering meals to planes just before take-off, to finding a temporary home for a pet tiger, there is a world of weird travel out there.