Monday, March 25, 2013

Eight Reasons Why I Hate 5 Star Hotels

FM and I travel. A lot. Because our travel generally is dictated by his work, we find ourselves in capital cities around the globe for extended periods of time (3 weeks to 9 months, typically). FM's company makes his travel arrangements, and they usually involve a four or five star Hotel close to the work site. This in its self is not a hardship.
They also have a fleet of Rolls Royces. Not bad.
I do enjoy the lap of luxury. The problems seem to stem from the hotels themselves and our long stays. Hotels are nicely designed and appointed for people who are breezing in and out. Four days in Tokyo? Sure, The Park Hyatt in Shinjuku is a wonderful place to sleep off your jetlag and explore the city. Three days in Bangkok? The Mandarin Oriental should suffice. But when days turn into weeks and months, even a Five Star hotel gets a bit stale.

1.   Extra Guest Charges:  

I can't tell you how many times we've checked into a hotel and because the reservation is for one (FM's work) and there are two (because I'm tagging along), we get hit with an extra guest charge. Admittedly, times are changing and this doesn't happen as much, but it still happens. I remember the Isrotel in Tel Aviv hitting us for $60 extra PER NIGHT because I was along. Please. I'll wash my own towel. 
These are pretty towels, though.
2.   Internet:  

Again, this is changing, although VERY slowly. Usually FM's work manages to get unlimited internet included in our hotel rate, but the few times this has not happened I am horrified at the rates displayed in the room. Another profit center for the hotel that is charging you upwards of $200/night. Does not make me feel at home. 
There are times I would pay A LOT for some decent internet.
3.  Laundry:  

I absolutely refuse to pay anyone $5 to wash a pair of my underwear.  In fact, for what hotels charge for laundry service, I could probably just throw away all my clothes and replace them cheaper than I could pay for a wash in their special water. Between exorbitant laundry charges and the crazy mini-bar, you'd think hotels make enough money to give you your room for free. I typically try and find a local laundry or laundromat, but still hate dragging my clothes in and out of fancy lobbies. Makes me feel I should be wearing a T-shirt that says, "I'm too cheap to let you do my laundry". Which I am.  
Unless it's a dire emergency, you won't find me using this sheeit.
4.  Hotel Living:  

Living in a hotel is not fun. Over the weeks there will be days you just don't feel like running around town. There will be days of rain. Unendurable air quality. Freezing temps. Extreme heat. Sickness. Whatever it is that makes you just want to hole up and not leave your room for 24-36 hours. This is not conducive to a hotel. It seems they ALWAYS need to be doing something inside your room. From bringing you extra towels, turn down service, stocking the proverbial mini-bar, quality checks, service calls, to fruit basket deliveries. ENOUGH. Get out of my ROOM!
I do like cookies.
5.  Breakfast:  

Yes. Your breakfasts are nice. Very nice. Too nice. When you are charging anywhere from $35-70 per person, they better be damn nice.  And when it's included in my room rate? I simply eat too much. Yogurt and toast or a couple scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit are sufficient. Prime rib, miso soup and brisket are not necessary at 8 AM.  Or 10 AM. Or whenever I'm eating breakfast. Plus, I had a huge argument with the manager at Raffles in Phnom Penh about throwing away all the leftovers in a town where people were starving just outside the hotel gate.
More food options than I usually see in a DAY!
6.  Isolation:  

Especially in developing countries, staying in a Five Star hotel makes you feel like you're in a fortress. I find I spend a lot less time out meeting the neighbors, experiencing the local culture, smelling the smells and seeing the sights. My perfectly climate controlled surroundings and everything I need at my fingertips leaves me feeling I could be anywhere. I'd rather get a little grit under my fingernails and actually experience the city I'm in.
Beautiful kids in the fishing village.
7.   The Jones':  

Despite our international lifestyle, we are not rich. We are not in town to hit the Opera, dine at the finest restaurants, or be entertained by diplomats. Quite often FM comes home from work dirty (GASP!). Sometimes I do, too. I hate to expose all these beautiful people in evening clothes to my unstylish nastiness. I always feel like I just don't belong.
We only do this sometimes. HAHAHAHA
8.  The bar:  

After a nice night out on the town, FM and I sometimes would like a nightcap when we return home. Hotel bars are wonderful places to meet fellow travelers, and we've had plenty of good times in such a setting. What I abhor is the bill. I would gladly pay more than the "local rate", but hotel bar rates seem a bit stiff. Unless you are providing me with a 360 aerial view of town or a nationally known band, your San Miguel in a bottle is not worth 6x the rate at the bar on the corner. Enough said.
Fake fancy. Usually the only person there is the bartender.
Of course, this is all a little tongue in cheek, but I really don't like staying in hotels for long term visits. There are times it has been absolutely necessary, but for the most part I find us furnished apartments for much less cash outlay and try to live a bit more locally than a three month hotel stay can provide.  Check VRBO, local Craigslists (yes, they are international) or any other long stay website. And there are thousands.

Travel on!

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