What’s HAPPENED to Hotel Rooms?

room service

I’m thinking today about the hotel room I stayed in last week. Looks like the days of sending down for ice and whole bottles of Scotch are OVER, whatever those novels by Ernest Hemingway had you picturing.

On first arriving at that Florida hotel, I felt pretty pleased, if just by the promise of free breakfasts that would turn out to include scrambled eggs and hash browns, waffles and bagels, toast selections galore and many countless combination of sugar, cinnamon and chocolate. “This place really WILL be cushy!” I thought to myself  – right up until I opened the door to my room and was instantly ushered into a state of mystification.  Had an occupying army come through and decided to detain their captives here? The last time I stayed at this place, the floor of my room was covered in soft carpeting, and delicate, cone-shaped fixtures above bed, desk and closet sent warm soothing pools of light down over all. Plus there were enough bureau drawers to billet ten separate mama cats giving birth to ten kittens each.

But what did I see now? Under my feet a prison-worthy stretch of concrete that stretched from the door to the where the bed began, then gave way to the kind of thin, tough industrial carpeting you could take a blowtorch to without doing any damage.

There were no bureau drawers whatsoever, though I did finally find four small wire baskets behind a cabinet door. AND to top things off, fluorescent lights and only  fluorescent lights casting the same sickly greenish hue you see in cop shows featuring interrogation sessions.

interrogation room

Thus over the last few days I’ve been blaming this hotel chain for what I regarded as a real betrayal. But it came to me just this morning that hey, the room I took in New York back in December cost three times more than this one,  AND was three times more bleak.

This was the view out my window at the Wythe Hotel ….You’re supposed to think it’s cool.


And this was the bed, which to me looks an awful lot like what the Pilgrims slept on in the 1620s.


Note too the rickety piece of junkyard crap that served as a bedside table. And… see that window to the right? Maybe that doubles as a two-way mirror for the interrogators.  Because, come on, what hotel designers would come up with a room that allowed any and all other guests present to watch you when you shower? A big picture window, looking in on the bathroom? Really?

There was no carpeting anywhere in this place, but rather wall-to-wall concrete. And… there wasn’t a bureau drawer in sight.

The hotel said they would bring up a pastry and a tiny pot coffee for a mere eight dollars, but my family and I, with a four-and-a-half hour drive ahead of us, told our host in this fair city that yes, we’d love to take him up in his offer to meet us downstairs on our final morning for the hotel brunch.

Only he didn’t actually come to the brunch, which turned out to cost us three hundred and thirty dollars. THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS and we’d even said no to the mimosas!

But maybe travel was has always been a challenge when it comes to accommodations. Remember the two crafty innkeepers in Les Miserables? Then OR now, I guess it’s always been about that old bottom line.