Emily Lund: Travels with Emily, Series 3: In a Hotel (Next Time…On a Cruise Ship)

1) ALWAYS check for bed bugs.   It only takes a few seconds, but can save you lots of agony and the creepy crawlies. Do this every single time you stay in a hotel, even in the Ritz Carlton and even in Iceland.  Quickly pull back the sheets and mattress pad and look for traces of bed bugs.  Check along the headboard and mattress for actual bugs and look for small black spots (size of poppy seeds) which are actual bed bug poop stains (gag). Do this before you move any of your luggage fully into the room.  If there are any signs of bedbugs, ask to be moved to another hotel…not just another room.  I would also check online reviews of the hotel.  If anyone ever mentioned bed bugs in the review, look elsewhere.

2) Do NOT take a bath in the hotel bathtub. I’ve polled several maids and they all tend to tell me they don’t do much with the bathtub cleaning-wise.  I also used to be friends with a painter who would go into hotel rooms by the Detroit Metro Airport after people were murdered and paint over blood on the walls.  7 out of 10 times, dead bodies ended up in the bathtub.  If you must take a bath, I recommend buying bleach and cleaning out the bathtub before use.  The bathtub is also better used to keep beer cold.

3) Consider the breakfast and where it was prepared.   If your hotel does not have a restaurant on premise, where do you presume your eggs are being made?  Where did these sausages magically appear from?  The eggs are probably powdered and that yogurt sitting in a bowl of ice may have been sitting out for a very long time.  I’m not saying don’t eat it, I’m just advising you do some analysis on it before you proceed.

4) Use their stuff.  I almost always forget something when I travel… my razor, my toothpaste or the dental floss.  Of course, I could go out into the cruel world and find a Walgreen’s to buy these items, but why?  The front desk usually keeps all of this type of stuff on hand and will give it to you for free.  If you are nice, they will even have someone bring it to you in your room.  Beyond toiletries, they also have every single phone charger known to man, voltage converters and extension cords.  I’ve seen drawers and boxes filled to the brim with chargers at almost every hotel I’ve ever stayed.

5) Insist on the cookie, even at 2:00 AM. If your hotel offers free water, cookies, snacks or wifi, make sure you ask for it.  If you check in late or you get someone new to the job, they may not be fully aware of what you are entitled to.  They may have even turned off the DoubleTree Hotel Cookie Warmer. That doesn’t matter; they can turn it right back on.  Always ask and double check to see what free perks you get because even if you don’t get the bottle of water, you might get a free drink coupon.

6) Use the Lodgenet app. Fucking Lodgenet is the most annoying TV service ever.  It has very limited channels and more importantly, the lodgenet remote changes the channels at a snail’s pace.  This causes you to skip channels or just turn off the TV in disgust.  The app allows you to change channels quickly and better assess what is on TV (albeit limited) and as a bonus you don’t have to touch the remote control that was possibly used as a sex toy by the previous guest.

7) Don’t get room service unless your legs are broken.  If you can’t walk down to the lobby restaurant, then okay, but otherwise, they are charging you at least a 15% room service fee plus they usually build in a delivery tip.  That doesn’t stop them from asking you to include an additional tip on your bill as well.  Call down to the restaurant and go pick it up if you must eat-in on your very white hotel bed comforter.

8) Fix the curtains that never fully close.  There is almost always a crack in the curtains in hotel rooms.  They never quite close all the way.  My super smart husband taught me this trick.  Take the hangers from the closet and use the pant clips to clip the curtains closed.  Brilliant!

9) Make friends with the manager.  Once, when I knew I was going to be staying several weeks in a row at a hotel, I immediately contacted the manager to let him know.  He was very happy to have my business and asked me what I hated most about staying in hotels.  I told him working out in the workout room and waiting for the treadmills to free up.  The next week, the manager arranged for a treadmill to be put in my room and I had one every week I stayed there.  It always pays to be kind to people in management.  They can make things much more enjoyable for you.

10) Ask for two keys even if you are by yourself.  Likely, you will get all the way to your guest room on the fifth floor and discover that the keycard was not programmed correctly and you can’t open your door.  You will then have to collect all of your belongings, trudge back down to the lobby and request a new card.  If you request two in the beginning, the odds are better that one will work.

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