A recent NPR interview with a once (and future?) road warrior who is lamenting her job no longer requiring staying at hotels several nights a week hit home on many levels. These include once having a job that involved flying out every Sunday and returning home on Wednesday.
The NPR interviewee discussing the joy of sleeping in fresh and crisp hotel sheets is highly relatable as to years of personal and professional travel. One thing that she does not mention is the disadvantage of staying at cookie-cutter hotels, which presumably are her places of choice.
Consistency can be comforting, but much of the fun of travel is getting a sense of local culture; during my travel-laden work, I often would wake up in a room that could be in any city. Remembering where I was required thinking for a few minutes.
This hit home especially hard on these thoughts evoking memories of staying at the historic Lackawana Station Hotel in Pennsylvania on one job assignment. A Google search revealing that that hotel now is a Radisson with cookie-cutter rooms evoked an exclamation that is unfit for this family-friendly forum.
The broad context regarding this is face of hotel stays in this period in which we are being freed from our cages after being locked up for three months. The more narrow focus is on how an upcoming Inn Credible New England stay at the Martin Hill Inn in Portsmouth, NH perfectly reflects both this and the long-standing Inn Credible philosophy.
A post-trip article on Martin Hill will focus on the general advantages of this highly personalized small B&B over the cookie-cutter hotels in Portsmouth. The primary thesis du jour is how these boutique properties are a much safer bet on every level than larger places, A secondary theme is why the real-life Dick and Joanna Loudons who (often) literally shed blood, sweat, and tears in literally opening up their homes to us deserve our support in these unprecedented times.
At the outset, I trust the Mom and Pop who have their lives invested in their businesses to do a much more thorough cleaning than an underpaid hotel maid, who already is under undue pressure to clean a large number of rooms before Silkwood showering an accommodation became so critical.
The COVID-19 guide that Russ the Martin Hill innkeeper included with my reservation detailed the extensive pre-check-in cleaning procedure that exceeds state guidelines. These include having at least a 48-hour gap between occupancies and having an air purifier running that entire time. Further, the brass doorknobs throughout this 19th-century building will be polished within an inch of their lives.
Forgoing beloved turndown service will be a small price to pay for further assurance that I will not be hocking up a lung a week later. Having a custom-made breakfast delivered outside my room each morning, rather than making sure that I am presentable and engaging in the dining room, is fine by me.
Not having the room cleaned during my stay is not a big deal and alleviates self-induced pressure to vacate fairly early each morning for a few hours to allow time for that straightening up. This also allows me to leave my personal-care items on the bathroom shelf after I wash up, Fresh towels and other needed replenishments to be left outside the door are only a call or a text away.
Staying in the Noonday Suite in the guest house will provide the dual benefits of being in the smaller of the two buildings and of having a private entrance. A separate sitting area always is nice; current circumstances leading to spending an above-average time in the room when traveling even more of a priority.
Supporting local business already should be a priority; innkeepers who have so much invested in their places and inevitably have shoulder and dead seasons particularly deserve consideration. Their inventory is much more fixed than that of retail locations, and they lack the ability to have a steady (but lessened) stream of foot traffic.
Further, the business location that they are trying to keep going often is their home. They lack the luxury of merely closing up shop or moving to another location. A related factor is that they typically are precluded from much of the federal support for businesses because they often at most have one part-time employee.
The final note regarding this is that the same person who feels smug about opting for small shops over big-box stores and other chains should feel ashamed about choosing a cookie-cutter hotel over a B&B. A full-service on-property restaurant, the latest-and-greatest smart television (complete with camera recording your every move) with 100 channels, and charging stations are not necessities. Additionally, there is not much joy greater than opening the door to a personalized room that makes you feel at home while still providing you crisp clean sheets.