My Blog

March 25, 2017

Hotel Stays

           Some of my friends who travel more than I do can probably address this issue with more authority than I. It’s a subject with which I am going to become very familiar.

Why can I call up a list of hotels on the internet for, say, Austin, and the prices range from $250 a night to $81 a night? The gentleman who sponsors one of the travel sites says his site looks at all of the options on the internet and offers you the best choices. The little gnome says the same thing. But what is the difference?

A beloved friend of my mother’s traveled with her CEO husband a great deal. She was the one who told me, after staying in the swankiest hotels in the world, that they are all basically a bed and a bathroom. As long as you have those two things, the rest is just amenities.

And yet, here I am at the $80 a night hotel in Austin (of course I picked the cheapie one, since I am on my own dime) and I have available a two-burner stove, a full-size refrigerator, a microwave, dishes, silverware, and all the cooking utensils I might need. Downstairs is a “Cupboard” with breakfast makings or TV dinners and all sorts of microwaveable foods.

When I go to the fancy hotel (that I don’t pay for) in San Antonio, I don’t even get a microwave, let alone a mini-fridge. Why?

The only difference I can perceive is that here at the El Cheapo they don’t change your sheets everyday if you stay beyond one day. Since I don’t usually stay more than one day, I don’t care in the least. I don’t change my sheets at home every day, either.

Now, as to amenities. No, here they don’t provide a buffet breakfast. But I have been at some of the inexpensive hotels where they do offer those make-it-yourself waffle machines and some bananas and apples. At the high-priced hotels, they often make you pay for your breakfast to the tune of $12 or $15. And never mind the cost of dinners.

As I look around this room, it looks clean, neat, and well-tended. Plugs, desk, phone, chair, lights, comfy pillows, white duvet on the bed, one pretty picture on the wall. Bathroom, toilet paper, shower, nice towels (okay, that is a surprise), even soap, shampoo and conditioner. Who could ask for more?

No roaches that I can see. To quote Trevor Noah, when the Roach Control guy comes in, switches on the light and all the roaches scatter, he wipes his hands and says, “See? No roaches. Problem solved.” The lights in here are on, so I guess the roaches have scurried for cover.

Now, I have stayed at a few places, Durango, Mexico comes to mind, where I was cautious about stepping onto the floor in the morning. Before getting up, I stood on the bed to pull the string to turn on the overhead light. No bedside lamps there.

Of course, I had spent the day before going through the Death Records in the archives which listed “Death by scorpion bite. Death by scorpion bite. Death by scorpion bite.” Durango is known for its scorpions. And I had stayed at a really, really cheap motel where I was careful to check my shoes before putting them on. I didn’t find any scorpions.

There have been a few such motels here in the U.S. but not many. The giant hotel conglomerates are buying up, refurbishing and renting rooms at every motel/hotel they can lay hands on. One of these conglomerates, at last count, controlled a dozen other hotel chains. And the amazing thing is that their prices at these facilities, range from $80 to $250. I still can’t see much difference in the hotels. Bed. Bathroom. That’s it.

I get to stay in the fancy hotel on Sunday night. And get the free breakfast and three free drinks in the evening. No pull chains.  But no microwaves or mini-fridges either.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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