Whenever we travel, we each have our jobs. Tom’s job is to plan the trip. And what a great job he does. He figures out how to cram everything possible into every minute to ensure an excellent time in any location. I don’t know how he does it but he always has alternatives if we have extra time or a place to rest when I complain that I need down time.
My job is in the details….hotels, airfares, car rentals, tickets, etc. When it comes to hotels, I try to seek out places that are comfortable, but don’t cost an arm and a leg. After all, we spend so little time in a hotel, it bugs me to spend a fortune to see the view for 5 minutes of remaining daylight. It’s different if we are at a resort and will be in the room or on a balcony looking at the view. Most of the time it is a place to just sleep. Still, I want comfort and to be treated well. And we travel so much that spending a fortune each night would cut into the budget. I’ve settled on a list of must-haves for hotels:
- Comfortable king-sized bed.
- Decent linens. And please, a duvet cover that is washed between guests or sheets encasing any blanket (we’ve all read about unwashed blankets that previous guests have used).
- Choice of pillows so that I don’t have to those stiff foam-rubber pillows that give me a stiff neck.
- Ability to regulate the temperature so we can get the room to a cool temperature at night—especially important for women of a certain age.
- Internet access. Free is usually a criteria but I make an exception if paying $15 for internet still keeps the total price in bounds. And why is it that the more expensive the hotel, the more it thinks it can charge for internet access? In this age, this is like making you pay for toilet paper in the bathroom IMHO.
- The ability to make morning coffee/tea in the room is a plus.
- Good location, usually in the center of town where one has easy access to great restaurants.
- Good price/value. I dislike paying through the nose to get an upscale brand, but will pay for quality, location and value. Hey, we travel almost 50% of the time. If we paid $500 a night, it would be….well…unaffordable.
When we are in a location for 4+ nights, I try to find an apartment-type place to stay. It allows us to spread out more and provides a separate area in which I can work while Tom is still sleeping in the morning. But when I do look for a hotel, the first “chain” at which I look is Kimpton Hotels. Why?
- Interesting hotels that are not at all cookie-cutter. Yep, you know what you get at a Hilton Garden Inn or a Holiday Inn Express. They have come a long ways in comfort we will use them–especially if they are new. Still, the hotels and the rooms all look alike and have no character. But consider the Hotel Monoco, a Kimpton hotel in Washington DC. It is the old Federal Post Office building renovated into an incredible hotel. Kudos to Kimpton to keeping the old, but making it work. And where else can you request a “pet” goldfish to keep you company in your room during your visit. How cool is that?
- Free Internet. If you are a Kimpton Hotel member (which is free to join), they give you free internet. And, you don’t have to relog in with your password every 24 hours. It actually stays up for your entire stay.
- They treat you like a human being. No question or issue is irreverent. Directions? As most hotels, they have it covered. Need something printed out? Email it to the person you speak with on the phone and they will print it out for you. It’s hard to explain but their staff is genuinely there to help you. No pretenses. No haughtiness. Just there to help. Other hotels just don’t seem as friendly or genuine. Kimpton staff just seems to be a notch above.
- The people cleaning the room don’t try to rearrange your toiletries to suit themselves. They clean the area but then leave them the way you left them. OK, not a big deal, but I do get tired of trying to find things the housekeeper thinks belong someplace other than where I leave them. I lose more lipsticks that way…….
- In California, most hotels provide a free happy hour. Kimpton seems to offer in all its hotels. But it is not just the free wine and snacks. Whatever you need, they are there for you. If the coffee runs out during their morning self-service coffee, just mention it and someone practically runs to fill the pot. In fact, in our recent Chicago stay, they came back with a cup while they filled the pot.
- Appropriate newspapers delivered to your room. As a Kimpton member, you can select among various newspapers to be delivered to your room. Why wouldn’t anyone join this “club”?
But no hotel is perfect. We do have a few minor grips. We don’t like having to go down to the lobby to get coffee/tea in the morning. I find it a pain to negotiate with Tom to see who is going to get dressed to get a cup of morning pick-me-up. But we can live with this. Granted, the more expensive hotels don’t provide in-room coffee makers either. After all, this gives them another opportunity for squeezing you for a few more dollars (like making you pay for Internet access). It never feels like Kimpton is trying to rip you off. Rather it is trying to provide you a way to mingle with fellow guests. We, however, would prefer to have coffee without having to get dressed. Besides, at 7 AM, we don’t want to interact with anyone–not even each other.
I’m also not fond of the animal-patterned bathrobes. But I’d much rather have a tiger-striped or leopard-spotted bathrobe than no bathrobe at all.
All in all, if you haven’t yet stayed at a Kimpton, check it out for your next trip. Locations are limited. But if the location works for you, you won’t be disappointed!