The observations and opinions of a person who has no discernible insights or ideas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"I could never sleep my way to the top" 

I stay in quite a few hotels as I travel for business. I've stayed in a few more with personal travels. Most of the time, I stay in hotels that cater to business travelers. They tend to be nice. They're better than motels, but not as nice as 4 or 5 star hotels. Inspired by my friend Jake's recent post about his stay at a 4 star hotel, I've noted some of the differences. Bear in mind that there is a significant range of variation among business hotels, although they do tend to cluster around a certain level of services.

For me, rates are the same at any hotel I stay at. The rates are set by the GSA. I sometimes get a glimpse of the standard rates for these places, but I don't know how many people pay them. I've stayed in rooms that go for 3 times what I paid for them, but I think that 1.5 to 2 times is a more common ratio. The four star hotel I stayed at was a $300+ a night place, and I paid $109 a night.

Bedding used to be worse at the business places, but they've been getting better. I used to get four pillows to a room (two per bed in two bed rooms or three on a king bed with another in the closet), but lately I've been getting 4-8 per bed, and softer ones at that. The four star hotel's bed was softer than most beds I've slept on. Usually the biggest issue with me is the size of the bed. I don't fit on a double bed, so if I get a room with one or two double beds, I'll be fitting awkwardly across the diagonal of the bed. My four star hotel room had a king bed, which I can often get in business hotels.

Since HD TVs have become widely available in the last few years, I've had them in every four star hotel I've stayed at. By contrast, only one business class hotel has had one. Curiously, it was the only place that had HD channels available. The TV at the last four star hotel kept skipping channels. I've been in one hotel that had a VCR and DVD player in the room. Most hotels have the wiring for the TVs worked in such a way that you can't possibly plug in your own input source.

The four star hotel did have extra services such as a full service restaurant, room service, concierge, bell hops, and valet parking. It charged for parking, internet, and using its business center (at about $1/minute!). Business hotels almost all offer free internet and fitness centers. Most have free breakfasts, although most of those aren't very good.

When staying at different hotels, your mileage will vary. I've found that only a few things really matter to me, although that changes over time. I want a king-sized bed and high speed internet access (with public computers to use, since I don't have a laptop right now). I prefer higher shower heads, bowed curtain rods (they're great!), and longer bathroom countertops. I like having a full or partial kitchen, like can be found at Residence Inns, but I am content most of the time with an in-room fridge and/or microwave, which I almost never have.

And I would always rather be home instead.

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