5 Ways Hotels Have Changed for the Worse
I love hotels. I've always loved hotels. I'm not sure why temporarily living in a room smaller than your home or apartment is so thrilling, but that's the way it's always been for me. But as surely as early hominids transformed into Homo sapiens, hotels are also evolving.
If you believe in intelligent design, just change that last sentence to "as surely as Christ is king, gay marriage is an abomination." No wait, that doesn't work. "Hotels are evolving as surely as only God can make a banana." Cool?
Anyway, in the last decade, I've noticed lots of changes in our homes away from home, and I thought I'd jot them down for you.
The Greeting Call
My favorite moment of the hotel experience is when you first open the door, take a look around, and close it behind you. You flick the lock, draw the chain, and you're done. No one can reach you here. You're in your new home. (My least favorite moment comes minutes later, trying to guess if the carpet stain is food or jizz, but that's not relevant to this entry.)
But something is starting to change. Now, instead of spending your first five minutes in the room trying out all the pillows and judging the shampoo and soap samples, hotels are also offering you something else: a free panic attack. The last two hotels I've gone to have called me minutes after I checked into the room. Why? To welcome me. Again. Like they just did five minutes earlier when I checked in. Yep, someone decided, in these days of economic recession and increased online competition for customers, that these phone calls were a good way to make the customer feel special.
"Remember what I just said to you when you checked in? Well, y'know, ditto!"
IS THIS A GOOD THING?
No! Of course not. Were you paying attention? It's awful. First off, it's completely pointless. A hotel can greet you when you pull up, they should certainly greet you when you check in, and if you're a fancy pants who uses a valet, then they can greet you again when they drop off your bags. No one needs the extra call.
But there's another problem. In today's age of texting and instant messaging, people just don't call each other anymore. At this point, a ringing phone means someone's dead, or your credit card company declined the charge, or the cops are downstairs looking for you. Phone calls are alarming, and so are the little blinking voice mail lights. Dear hotels, we were just starting to relax and thinking about what parts of the room might be the best for kinky sex. No one wants their mellow harshed with a phone call.
The Dishonor Bar
If you've ever stayed in a nice hotel, you've seen a little something called an honor bar. It's like little tiny bottles of booze or jelly beans or bottled water. Stuff like that. Things you don't actually need, but ultimately eat or drink because they're staring at you. The next morning, you're on your honor to tell the hotel what you took so you're billed for it. And if you don't, well then the staff usually counts what's missing and it goes on your bill anyway.
But now, more and more places are installing bars with booze and treats packed in bottles that are guarded by Mission: Impossible laser beams. One false move and whammo, 12 bucks for jelly beans.
"You will be mine, exorbitantly priced gummy worms!"
IS THIS A GOOD THING?
No. Look, I get it. People can take from the honor bar, then claim they never did, and I'm guessing the hotel loses out on money. This prevents that. But it also defeats the entire point of the honor bar: to make you feel like a classy dude who can be trusted. Hotels call you "sir" or "madam," they assume you won't shit the bed during the night, and they lay out food and beverages before you, knowing you can be trusted. But not now. Now they've moved a vending machine into your room. It's like saying, "Hey, liar-face. We didn't trust you, so now this shit's on lockdown. But at least now you don't have to walk your fat ass 10 steps down the hall for your Funyons."
When I was a kid, the five of us would pack into one hotel room on two beds and a cot, and we still never ran out of towels. They were simply everywhere. Much like gremlins (or women in general), they seemed ready to reproduce once they got wet.
"Did Gladstone just compare gremlins to a vagina? I don't even ..."
You could be really irresponsible with your towels. Use one as a floor mat, ascribe another the sole responsibility of drying your junk, and use another for your hair. This was the '80s, man. We wore spandex, snorted mounds of cocaine, and wasted towels. You wouldn't get it. But for the last decade, hotels have been giving out fewer towels and leaving little signs asking you to hang and reuse your towels -- like a common savage, or, y'know, how you do with your own towels at home.
IS THIS A GOOD THING?
Yeah, it's fine. I have no problem with this. We were stupid back then and didn't realize just how much detergent our reckless towel-wasting ways were causing the hotels to use. And we also didn't know how bad detergent was for the environment. So yeah, no complaints here. It's a totally acceptable change on the part of hotels. I commend them for caring so deeply about Mother Earth, except ...
Man, you know they don't care. It's just a great excuse. Fewer towels used means fewer towels replaced, less work for the staff, and more savings on soap and water. It's an economic decision, but they get to hide behind environmentalism. And even though it is good for the environment, while the hotels are hiding, I hope Mother Earth's wet taint drips all over them because she simply didn't have ample towels in her room.
No More Porn
Starting in the '80s and going into the '90s, porn exploded in the hotel business. It must seem weird to kids today, but hotel porn was a big deal. Way before the Internet, hotels were the first places you could see porn without having to go into a video store or dirty theater. It came right to your room and the title didn't appear on your bill.
"It'll just be our little secret, but good luck convincing anyone that the 'untitled movie' for $13.00 was Weekend at Bernie's."
But now hotels offer Wi-Fi instead, and as long as you've got a laptop or a smartphone, you can watch free porn all day long (as long as you pay the Wi-Fi fee). And of course you're going to pay that fee.
IS THIS A GOOD THING?
It sure is. Wi-Fi is great. You can Skype your loved ones who aren't on your journey, you can check your work and recreational emails, and best of all, you can watch porn anywhere in your room instead of tethered to that bed and crusty remote control. Well, I guess that's no big deal. You're probably gonna watch it in bed. And the cost of most places' Wi-Fi is probably about equal to what you would have paid for renting porn. And that right there is why hotels are probably charging for Wi-Fi. I mean, the hotel itself is already getting the Internet for its business, and once they make back their initial purchase on routers, what is the conceivable justification for charging a Wi-Fi fee? To make up for all the porn money they lost.
No More Wake-Up Calls
This one is certainly not true everywhere, but more and more I see hotels advising that their wake-up service is accomplished by the lovely alarm clock provided free in the room. Oh, cool. No more relying on some sleepy-eyed hotel employee to get our ass to our business meeting on time. There's an alarm clock. We figured out that the device that told time would also have some sort of awakening capacity, but we wanted a wake-up call.
What ... is ... it???
IS THIS A GOOD THING?
No. Look, I get it: The wake-up call really is the vestige of an earlier age. In addition to the alarm clocks in the room, just about everyone now has a smartphone with a perfectly good alarm function. But so what? Before smartphones, we had digital watches and pocket-size alarm clocks. We've always known how to wake our own asses up. The point was: "Hey, hotel, you do it!" It was all about giving the responsibility away. It was all about another form of backup to the hotel alarm or phone you already set. It was insurance. And if hotels are looking to distinguish themselves, it might make sense to do some of the old-timey things no one actually needs, like wake-up calls, instead of inventing new things no one wants, like additional welcome calls.
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