Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hotels, Motels, and No-tells

Strolling Scones--"A House Is Not A Hotel" (mp3)

There exists a class of people who do not enjoy staying in a hotel or a motel.  Or, at the risk of stereotyping, let me clarify that.  There exists a class of people who are unwilling to shell out a hundred bucks or more for the place where one can sleep, shower, and watch TV, among other things.  Yes, the issue is money.  No matter where these people go in the world, they are determined not to spend the money on such accommodations, choosing instead to depend on family, acquaintances close or otherwise, and sleeping bags.

That, of course, leads to a convoluted life of travel, as one can only go where one knows someone to stay with, and probably needs to plot out a meandering zig-zag on a long trip so that one can hit up any number of acquaintances in states somewhere near the direct path between Point A and Point B.  Camping certainly provides an easier alternative, since there are places to camp almost anywhere.  Including my back yard.

It should be clear by now from my use of the third person and my snotty tone that I am not of this class.  The desire fueling this non-motel life is a desire not to spend money on a hotel, and I think a moderate amount of money spent on a decent place to sleep enhances travel around this great country and world.  Maybe I'm spoiled.  But I'm not cheap.

(Corollary #1: never tell a cheap person that he or she is cheap.  You will hurt feelings.  Cheap people will boast of their cheapness, given the chance, but if anyone else dares to call them on it, you'd think you told them their parents were Norweigans.)
Friends are great and camping is cool, but as natural parts of a journey. Of course if I've been invited to come and visit you, I'm going to stay with you. Gladly. But I won't invite myself.  And I won't sit down with my wife and strategize, "Now, who do we know in _______ that we can...."  I also know, having family members who live in a great city, that when we go to visit, we kind of have to make a choice between family and city.  Not entirely, but enough that the one time we stayed for a few days in a hotel downtown (I had a grant going on down there), we hurt their feelings.

(Corollary #2: unless your hosts are fairly new to a city themselves, by the time you stay with them, they're tired of the basic, touristy things that you wanted to do in their city, and they will steer you elsewhere.)
At the same time, much as I have enjoyed my limited camping experiences for what they were--which was full immersion into primitive activities and food because there was nothing else around, I think going to a place like Charleston, South Carolina and camping makes about as much sense as sitting in an air-conditioned car at the beach.  The pleasures of many places center more on walking the streets and seeing what opens up before you and talking to who you run into and hearing their stories and finding out what they like and dropping a little cash on it than on sitting around a campfire grilling an inexpensive meal and nodding to each other about how you've really kept it under budget.  And you can be sure there ain't no locals out there camping with you.

Me, I unashamedly, unabashedly, unapologetically love the hotel and the motel, maybe the motel even a bit more because I like the idea of driving up to the door after I get my key without having to go through a lobby everytime I come or go.  I like the newness, the cleanliness, the corporateness, the anonymity of sharing a few words and a few cards with a stranger in exchange for a freshly-cleaned where we can lie on the bed in our underwear and watch TV for as long as we like, get up and drive somewhere to pick up a pizza (with clothes on), come back and return to that horizontal position and watch stupid channels for the rest of the night that no one has to apologize for. 

I like the complimentary breakfast in the morning and the sleepy children shuffling around between the cereal and the juice and the woman named Velvis who introduces herself as our "breakfast host."

I love the swimming pool, the drink and snack machines, the way the towels smell, the quiet hallways with dozens of doors holding mystery behind them, and the way children run into their room as soon as the door is opened for the first time and jump on the bed.  I love how, if it's just my wife and me, we relax in the knowledge that this is a place totally uncomplicated where we need do nothing but unwind.

And I love just as much the small, local, non-chain motel, maybe with fewer facilities but more personal pride because the owner has been there for years and the beds are clean and tightly-made though the bedspreads are worn and the TV's aren't flat screen and you drive down the road to get pancakes.

Me, I feel like a motel is a reward at the end of a long day--of driving, of working, of walking and touring, of celebrating or mourning, of downtime after any of the reasons why we travel.   And when the circumstances fall your way, the sex is certainly better than in a tent or somebody's guest room.  Just ask the anonymous people staying in the room next to you whose room service trays you keep walking past.


Billy said...

Agree agree agree! Well put.

P.S. You can call me cheap until your tongue falls out or rots off, and it won't bother me a smidgen. Because in my mind, I'll be thinking, "Well, not cheap enough..."

rodle said...

I'm in the same boat as Billy. I know I'm cheap, and therefore don't mind being called such.

Also, camping sucks. That's why God created hotels in the first place.

Tockstar said...

The line between my enjoying or not enjoying a hotel stay is the smell. That recycled air smell will drive me to a couch or tent more than lack of funds. But most of your Hampton Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses somehow manage not to have this reek and I'm cool with them. So, I'm cheap unless a hotel is my only option and then I'm downright extravagant.

Also, your essay title causes me to have "Rapper's Delight" stuck in my head. Thanks?

troutking said...

You nailed it, man. I love, love, love motels but the key is the word "freshly-cleaned", as in NOT the Knights Inn, Bob. I hate, hate, hate sleeping in a place where every time I have an itch or something rubs on me I jump thinking "Bedbug!" There are certain situations where camping gets you somewhere you couldn't otherwise get---and if the fishing is good enough, I'm willing. Otherwise give me a Marriott brand hotel. Once you click on your room on their website it will tell you when the hotel was built or renovated. That's key information. I don't even mind that the Marriotts are Mormon so my money is going to support Romney. Well, I kind of mind. My favorite thing is when you get a great room for a good price. That's the life. My least favorite thing is when you pay a lot and then you feel like you have to spend as much time in the room as possible to make it worthwhile, so you stay longer than you should the next morning and then curse yourself all day long as you are racing behind schedule to the activities you want to accomplish. That happens to me a lot and I don't seem to learn my lesson.

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