I’ve just got home from a night in a hotel. About three or four times a year, I get to stay in a hotel (so far this year, Oxford, London and Acton Trussell). I feel as if I have had enough experience now of hotels to form opinions about them. While I was in Acton Trussell, I had one of my usual weird thoughts: why are there so many commonalities between each hotel stay I’ve ever had since my first aged 14? Surely that shouldn’t be so. There are hotels all over the world (and I’ve stayed in hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Amsterdam, New York, Boston and Berlin as well as Nottingham, York, Oxford and Acton Trussell to name just a few). Is there a common culture of hotels that transcends languages, religions, societies and geographical borders? So I decided that as soon as I got home, I’d write a list to see if I can work out why they all have so much in common.
1. I always feel as if I should Make The Most Of It
I think this stems from that very first hotel stay at the age of 14. I was a runner up in a national competition and had to go to London for the night. Myself and two members of my family were put up in a ‘posh’ hotel for one night, the night before the award ceremony (with the legendary Johnny Morris). I took my mum and my sister (then aged 19) with me. My sister and I had one room, my mum the other. My sister and I decided that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us both (we didn’t then realise we’d stay in hotels as adults, at the time it seemed a one off) so we didn’t want to go to sleep. We had more than the usual 4 TV channels, we had posh beds, we had tea and coffee, we had London outside the window! We stayed up as long as we could get away with (about 2am I think). So now, whenever I stay in a hotel, I feel as if I should spend as much time as I can in the hotel room, watching TV, having a bath, wearing the robe, looking out of the window, drinking the coffee, eating the biscuits, reading the room service menu, reading the hotel manual and looking out of the window again whilst doing all of the above. I also feel as if I should check in as early as possible and leave as late as possible. I feel the need to maximize the benefits of paying for the pleasure.
2. I always eat too much
Every time I stay in a hotel, I over indulge with my dinner. So I associate hotel rooms with fumbling around in the dark at 2am looking for Rennie.
3. I always drink too much
As above, for water or the toilet for yet another wee.
4. Whatever time of year it is, hotel rooms are always too hot
Hotel rooms are always baking hot and claustrophobic at night. Sometimes they have noisy air cons which don’t seem to do much to cool the room down. They always have windows which, even when open, don’t seem to do much to cool the room down. I am always too hot in hotel rooms, even in January.
5. The sheets are always too stiff and tucked in too tight (and almost impossible to dislodge)
The first thing I always do when I get into a hotel bed is pull desperately at the sheets to loosen them from their tight moorings. Why do they do that? I also throw the casual cushions, teddy bears, throws etc on the floor. It’s hot enough already without all that.
6. I rarely have a good nights’ sleep in a hotel
This might be related to all of the points above, but unless I’m staying there for more than one night, my quality of sleep in a hotel room is appalling. I toss and turn all night. I associate Sunday mornings in hotels with that tingly itchy feeling of sleep deprivation.
7. More often than not, the decor is stuck in the 1980s
I wonder if the 1980s was a bit of a revival of hotel interior decoration? This seems universal. Most hotels I’ve been in, not all, have dado rails, flowery borders, patterned carpets, dark furniture, and flowery curtains.
8. I feel as if I have to overeat at breakfast
This is related to point 1 above. I’m paying for it so, yes, although I wouldn’t dream of eating this much for breakfast at home I will stuff myself silly with cereal, fruit, yogurt, bread, cheese, ham, pastries, bacon, tomato, sausage, beans, egg, hash browns, mushrooms, and lots of toast with marmalade for breakfast. All this will be washed down with lots of proper coffee and freshly-squozed orange juice. Where is the Rennie?
9. I worry what the check out people think
I always worry they think we are having an affair and checking in under a made-up name. Why do I worry about that? I always feel as if I have to explain to them why we are there or mention our children so they know we are legitimate and not doing bad things.
10. Hotels are great for people watching
This is one aspect of the hotel stay I love. I love people watching, in reception and over breakfast: the couples, the families, the tourists, the tired, the hungover, the bride and groom, the hen do, the stag do. I love it all. I would love an artist residency in a hotel. Yes please!
So too conclude: why are hotels so similar all over the world. I have no idea why!