Washed up

I’ve always had a fascination with staying in hotel rooms, from the swankiest luxury pad to the seediest travel motel. I’ve stayed in more than my fair share over the last few years, and I’ve inexplicably never really managed to get over a childish fascination with everything from the little packets of coffee to the embroidered dressing gown that can apparently be purchased as long as you’re prepared to hand over an arm, and indeed, a leg.

I’ve had some pretty memorable hotel experiences too. A hotel in Memphis offered rooms that were larger than most of the places I’ve ever lived in my life (as well as ducks that made regular processions from the lobby to the roof, under the supervision of a duck master). A place in Majorca practically came with its own butler, while the memory of an in-room heated pool/jacuzzi in Santorini will stay with me for many years to come. If only because I was forced to get up at three in the morning to ask the hotel staff to get it to stop gurgling, while my new bride slept soundly through the whole experience.

When it comes to service though, top notch American hotels know exactly what they’re doing – and they probably do it better than anyone else, in my experience at least. Staff couldn’t be more attentive to any requests that you might have, and the facilities seem purpose designed to make sure that you have as good a time as it’s possible to have. Admittedly you pay through the nose for the experience. The hotel I’m in at the moment charges a compulsory $9 per day facility fee to charge for the gym and the delivery of a 35 cent newspaper. A facility fee? I assumed that the extortionate room rate was my fee payment for the use of the facilities, but clearly not.

What’s interesting though is that when it comes to ensuring that customers feel that they are being provided with a luxury experience, Americans always turn to the British. Show me a four or five star hotel in the US, and I will show you a place that uses British toiletry products in its bathrooms. It’s as if the British are the only people who know how to keep clean (which, if you’ve ever been to Flint in North Wales, you’ll know is far from the truth). My current hotel home has Gilchrist & Soames shampoos and body washes on offer, while recent stays have featured Molton Brown, Cowshed and Jo Malone. And that’s before you even consider the boutique offerings put together with rose petals and water by an odd bloke in his bathroom in Nottingham.

Seems that American hotels have decided that if you want to get that extra star, there’s no choice but to go English in the bathroom. Dial, Herbal Essences or American Crew just won’t cut it if you’re looking to get into the Luxury Hotels of the World book, it would seem.

Ironically, the ultimate olde Englishe bathroom brand Crabtree & Evelyn was actually launched in Cambridge in Boston. Even Molton Brown is owned by the Japanese. Seems that luxury might be going abroad if we’re not careful.

That said, it’s difficult to be too upset when you’re sitting in 85 degree heat with a cold drink on your mind.

Now, where did I put the key to the minibar?

7 thoughts on “Washed up

  1. Expatmum

    Ahh the Memphis Peabody. Aren’t those ducks wild (well, not really but you know what I mean)? All I could see of them were a few webbed feet as there were hundreds of humans crowding around to see a handful of ducks walk from the lift/elevator through the lobby and off somewhere else.
    And I buy Pears soap (see ancient post) at bargain basement prices here, which people always comment on and English guests say “Ugh – where did you drag that up from?”

  2. Jan

    I once stayed in a hotel in Tangiers (Morocco, for the geographically challenged), and they had a hot air ballon in the lobby. Several times a day they would inflate it, and it would float up to the roof. I’ve no idea what the significance of it was. %-)

  3. fishwithoutbicycle

    …and Jo Malone is owned by Estee Lauder these days. I love me a bit of Gilchrist & Soames though. Does this brand actually exist outside of hotel rooms? They make the best soaps!!

  4. Karen

    I think the toiletries we use in our hotel come filled from a giant vat of generic stuff haha How we have the stars we do, I’ll never know.

  5. Jonathan Jones

    Hey Dylan,

    Have you been to China yet? I’ve stayed in the Shanghai Mariott on a couple of occasions and I wish I could live there the year round. The hotels in Europe that my company puts me up in are nice, but don’t quite compare to similarly-priced hotels in China. I’ve never stayed in a “nice” hotel in the U.S., so I don’t have an informed opinion of them.

    By the way, I visited England. Unfortunately, in my quest for fish and chips, I had to make do with what the Gatwick Airport Holiday Inn restaurant had to offer, which was nothing special. C’est la vie…

  6. Gabrielle

    i do love the nice hotel room as well. it’s interesting how here in England the term ‘bed and breakfast’ is very literal, where in the US it can denote a much nicer experience. My husband warned me before I ever came over that the hotel experience in England is not like the one I was used to in the US, and he’s right. That said, I’ve stayed in some beautiful hotels here [the Langham in London] and some utter crap ones in the US [Howard Johnson in Las Vegas!.

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