By Sue Murphy
I love turndown service. Back when Harold took me along on sales conventions, we would stay at a fancy schmancy hotel, and while we were at dinner, the housekeeping fairies would tiptoe in (or so I imagined), turn back the covers, put a mint on each pillow and hang fresh towels in the bathroom.
When we came back after a long hard night of customer entertainment, the lights were dimmed, the TV was set to some ethereal music channel, and everything was peaceful and calm. Pure bliss.
I’ve also had days when I slept bolt upright in a hospital chair using a bath towel as a pillow. In those situations, bliss would have been a horizontal sleeping surface and access to a sink so I could brush my teeth.
Overnight amenities are relative.
When I’m in an actual hotel with an actual bed, I like to have lots of pillows. A pillow is a personal thing, and sometimes you have to try several before you find one that works. I love separate sheets and blankets. Those giant poofy duvets look great, but they always leave me too hot or too cold.
Some people pay extra for a room with a view, but I don’t usually spend much time looking out the window. I’d happily overlook the dumpsters as long as my room wasn’t next to the elevator or ice machine. A pool is nice, if you have that kind of time. Even if you don’t, it makes you feel like you’re close to being on vacation.
Some people look for access to an exercise room where they can balance out all their vacation calories, but I’m more concerned with how I’ll get those calories. Keep the Exer-genie and give me an onsite restaurant. The food may not be fabulous, but after an eight-hour drive, I don’t feel like getting back in the car. When I wake up the next morning, it’s nice to have breakfast available, whether it’s a sit-down opportunity where someone will pour me coffee or a room where I have to pour my own and make my own waffle. I am happy to breakfast either way, as long as I don’t have to go out looking for it.
Some hotels place a coffeemaker right in your room, which is handy, but I’d rather have a tiny refrigerator that can keep my tea icy cold. Microwaves are nice if you’re staying for a while, as long as your room isn’t next to someone who burns their popcorn or warms up corned beef and cabbage they brought from home. (I speak from experience. It takes me days to get that smell out of my house after St. Patrick’s Day.)
Chocolate chip cookies in the lobby, a brown bag breakfast as I walk out the door – thank you. Thank you very much. If nothing more, give me a vending machine where I can get a bottle of water and a bag of M&M’s for the next leg of my journey, especially if the machine accepts credit cards and doesn’t take pleasure in spitting back my not-quite-crisp dollar bills.
Speaking of credit cards, the more amenities you pile on, the higher your hotel bill will be, multiplied, of course, by the location factor. An indoor pool just off the interstate in Effingham, Illinois, will cost you less than a vending machine locale in downtown Chicago.
Turndown service? That’s going to cost you any place you go. But every once in a while, it’s just nice to have a mint on your pillow. Pure bliss.