As an itinerant speaker for IBP, there are always a few weeks out of every year that I spend on the road teaching day-long seminars to a large audience of health-care professionals. Whether I’m in Maine, Arkansas, or California, the routine is the same: get up early, exercise, shower, and make myself presentable. Scarf down some breakfast, and get to my presentation site by 8:20 a.m. I talk from 9:00 to 3:30, usually to very nice people on some topic I love, but it’s still exhausting. I have yet to find a pair of shoes that looks professional while also keeping my feet from throbbing by 2 p.m. (these are my current faves, if I can get away with them. Otherwise, Dansko boots or Clarks won’t kill me).
After the talk ends, I hightail it. I drive at least an hour to my next location, zoning out to the sounds of a podcast while crossing my fingers for minimal traffic. I eat a really early, Yelp-recommended dinner, usually nice, always with wine, and then retreat to the quiet oasis of my hotel room, hoping to go to bed early so I’m fully charged for the next day. This is some of the hardest work I do, but also some of the most gratifying.
After 5 years of this gig, there are certain things I have come to value tremendously in my hotels, which are usually mid-range chains, like the Doubletree, Marriott, or Hampton Inn.
These things include:
- a phone charger right by my bed (often built into the lamp) (yes, I look at my phone in the middle of the night.)
- a king-sized bed. I am one person, averaged-sized, and this is totally unnecessary, but MAN, it is a treat!
- Lifetime Movie Network. This is a rarity, but nothing makes me happier than unwinding to the histronics of a former Charlie’s Angel with amnesia, or the saga of a girl locked in a box.
- a TV with a sleep timer, because I love to fall asleep to the frenzied sounds of the above (or, if not that, then some Criminal Minds or Law and Order). It’s some kind of antidote to the long days of talking about hope and happiness.
- a shower cap. Because you sometimes want to skip a day of hair-washing.
- a quiet HVAC system. No one wants to hear that thing turning on and off all night.
- a window or sliding door that will let in some fresh air. So long as the temperature is above 50 and below 95, I firmly believe that natural, non-filtered air is a fundamental human right. I promise, I will not jump. I will not fall out and sue. I will close and lock the window when I leave. Just let me open my window and have my air.
- a solid breakfast, which includes some high-protein options. Omelet bar is the best. No breakfast is the worst. A sad array of sweet breads is almost as bad.
- a real bar. JUST in case I’d like to take a glass of wine or bourbon up with me to my room. These are some long days, friends, and there are still emails to answer and clothes to iron before bed. Bonus if there’s a free happy hour (this happened twice this week!)
- a Keurig coffee maker. I know, I know. They are terrible for the environment. But, when I wake up bleary-eyed and in need of immediate caffeine, they are just so easy.
- a gym with a stability ball and a medicine ball. Because core.
- a decent place to pop out in the morning for a run even when it’s still dark out. It needs to be well-lit, flat, and safe. I try my best to scout this out online, but there’s always a sense of the unknown when booking a room somewhere unknown.
- legit blackout curtains. For early bedtimes much more so than late, lazy mornings.
- I seldom expect this but am thrilled when it materializes: a robe!
Things that actually annoy me or that I care nothing about on these short stays: a pool, a concierge, valet parking, laundry, and free cookies (stop it, Doubletree!).
After a week on tour, I’m happy to say that many of these places hit the mark. The Embassy Suites in Valencia was a nice surprise. And I certainly cannot complain about Pasadena’s Langham Huntington, where I’m spending my last two nights. Treat yo’self!
Next week – lobster and coastline in Maine!
What do you want in your hotel?