Photoessay: Staying in a hotel

12 September 2018

Cover image
All photos in this article were made with iPhone X.

As an occa­sional expe­ri­ence, stay­ing at a luxury hotel can be incred­i­bly reju­ve­nat­ing for our mind and body — even with­out a spa.

One of my favourite parts of trav­el­ing is stay­ing in hotels. Nearly all hotels have their own charm, exquis­ite or oth­er­wise, in part because of where they are and in part because of how they are. And what­ever hotel you stay in they often become an inte­gral part of how you feel about your travel.

Whether you are trav­el­ing for busi­ness or leisure stay­ing in a hotel can often prove to be a refresh­ing expe­ri­ence, some­thing you realise the moment you step in and recall fondly all the way back to your own sweet home.

A lot of my child­hood mem­o­ries revolve around travel and, con­se­quently, around hotels. There are some com­mon­al­i­ties but the gen­eral idea of being able to relax was at the centre of it — even on busi­ness trips, iron­i­cally.

Recently my fiancé and I stayed at a Radis­son while I was attend­ing a con­fer­ence and it was there that I finally made up my mind (I have long thought of this but never did quite get down to it) to pen down some of my random thoughts about the expe­ri­ence of stay­ing at an upscale hotel.

Get­ting a free pair of footwear and a bathrobe when you walk in is always nice. Not all hotels offer bathrobes with­out guests explic­itly asking for them but walk­ing in and find­ing it in your closet makes for a great start to any trip.

The usual laun­dry bag, sewing kit, sta­tionery and envelopes (more on that later) make an impres­sion that you can settle down com­fort­ably with all the essen­tials in your reach.

On the one hand there are some strin­gent dos and don’ts one learns as a fre­quent trav­eler: at the top of that list are to try to reuse towels and main­tain silence, and to never use the mini­bar and never forget to use the sup­plied door signs lib­er­ally.

On the other hand are some common (mal)practises of which I am as guilty as the next man; and on top of this list is steal­ing hotel sup­plies, espe­cially sham­poos, con­di­tion­ers, toilet kits, and most sta­tionery.

Speak­ing of toi­lets the most enter­tain­ing thing in hotel bath­rooms, often hung on a wall next to the WC, is the so-called toilet phone — a holdover from the days before mobile phones were common when a key sign of wealth was, appar­ently, having a phone in your toilet. The reason it can still be found in hotel bath­rooms is that the AAA rating for four- and five-star hotels still requires it for no reason.

Per­haps this affin­ity to phones in toi­lets is not simply a modern bas­tardi­s­a­tion of our­selves and ought not be blamed on mobiles. The prac­tice has long been some­thing we have enjoyed. Is it any wonder any­more that nearly 90% of people use their mobile phones while on the toilet?

The view out­side our window. There is a funny story behind this pic­ture. My fiancé and I took a while to figure out the new­fan­gled auto­matic window shade; we tried sev­eral times during the day and, by night, had given up on open­ing it alto­gether. We had set­tled down for the day when we acci­den­tally found a switch next to the night­lights marked Window’. When we pressed it the shades finally rolled them­selves up and this was what we saw out­side.

Room ser­vice is another big part of stay­ing in a hotel. And like most other ser­vices hotels offer this can weigh down on your wallet but, like most other ser­vices hotels offer, this is more about paying to enjoy an expe­ri­ence and relax than any­thing else. Upscale hotels are not for the miserly.

I think one of the rea­sons we enjoy hotels is because we silently com­pare it to our homes and in a com­pletely pos­i­tive sense too. For instance I pride myself on having a better bed than that in any hotel I have been to. At the same time I have always wanted (but never needed and there­fore never bought) a mag­ni­fy­ing shav­ing mirror. Radis­son did not have it but it is one of my favourite parts of a hotel bath­room.

It is for the same reason that we steal sham­poos and such, and all the sta­tionery we are given although I can never recall having ever used any of it while actu­ally stay­ing in my hotel room except for quickly jot­ting things down. Hotels go so far in making our rooms feel like a house and guests take it the rest of the way, lit­er­ally car­ry­ing sup­plies back home with them.

Lastly shar­ing a room with some­one who enjoys your little habits is of para­mount impor­tance: just try stay­ing with some­one who does not appre­ci­ate the hotel sham­poo or the laun­dry bag or the extra­ne­ous pil­lows.

I am thank­ful that my fiancé (pic­tured above, look­ing gor­geous as always) and I both love to share a lot of these small plea­sures. It is like I have always said: never have any­thing to do with some­one you cannot enjoy trav­el­ing with. Right from our first road trip on my wartime motor­bike to this, our most recent stay at a hotel, having my fiancé with me has made one thing clear: your expe­ri­ence at a hotel is often shaped by some­thing exter­nal — your travel part­ner. And I happen to have the best one.