The skies are friendly; the passengers are not

So how are we defining "new" here?

Sun, 2009/05/03 - 14:12 by aargh

Today let's turn to hotels, shall we?

Sure, we've all had hotel hell: dodgy rooms, dodgier staff, and inhuman sounds coming from the room next door. Short fuses, short-sheeted, shortened stays, the whole bit. But what about the fun that gets you to the room in the first place?

No wonder services such as have been so successful -- choosing a hotel can be very stressful. It's hellish to pick through website after website, profile after profile, asking yourself:

Is it really as nice as the photos let on? A little creative camera work can hide flaws. Less creative are the photos that show just the lobby and long-views of the city skyline. (Beware.)

What about the neighbourhood? Some hotels realize tourists know little about the area and do little to warn them that the bum outside is not a valet.

Even if the outside is nice and the neighborhood seems welcoming, you have that brief gasp as you open your room door that first time: "did I get stiffed on the bed size cos I'm travelling solo?" "Where's the loo? The brochure did say private loo, right??" "Why are there four other people in my room?"

No wonder as well, then, that some hotels rely heavily on brand recognition. If I've always stayed in Brand X hotels, then I'm damned sure this one will pretty much resemble the last one, and that's one less thing for me to worry about as I plan my travel.

Or maybe not. Some hotels are franchises of a brand name, so you may not really be staying in a Hote By Brand X but a building wearing the Brand X logo. To that end some hotels have even changed brands and names overnight: same rooms, different name on the towels. (I've always wondered how it feels to, say, check-in at a Hilton and check-out of an Intercontinental...)

Which is why I'm a little wary of any brand-name hotel that advertises itself as "new." Is it "new" as in, "we just built this?" or does "new" mean "new to our name, plus some hasty remodeling?"

I ask because, on a recent journey, I checked into a "new" hotel of my preferred brand and noticed some ... of the finer details.

The bathroom was a real eye-pleaser, yes, until I looked toward the floor:

doorframe with chipped paint

And this here? In lieu of a working window lock and handle, I used this thingamajig to control how much of the outside I would let in:

bolt as window handle

Yes, that is indeed a bolt. A bolt used to hold the window closed. I suspect this system was popular in an era, oh, before modern science had created handles.

I took a brief tour of my floor and noted other signs of construction-in-progress in the hallways and on the various doors.

All in all I enjoyed my stay just as much as I have enjoyed any other with this particular brand. This hotel just opened up a little early. Hopefully by the time I return it will be served up as well-done and not quite so blood-rare.