Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rant about fancy hotels

I have just arrived in Cambridge, MA for a week of consulting for Microsoft Research. They paid for my flight and hotel room so they put me in a fancy $200/night hotel. In this post I will try to explain why in my opinion, in general, the fancier the hotel the worse it is.

I have nothing against hotels as a service. Hotels provide a traveler with a clean place to spend the night, and with basic necessities. Hotels are useful when traveling, or when you need a clean neutral place to have sex. However, fancy hotels do not seem to provide these well, and charge a lot of money to do so.

Compare, for example, the fancy hotel I'm staying at now with a cheap motel for $40/night. The motel included a microwave and fridge, free parking, free wifi, and a free "breakfast", which, admittedly, is nothing to feast over. However, the fancy hotel includes none of those (or least without caveats galore).

Here is a comparison of the cheap motel and the fancy hotel. I am purposefully omitting hotel names, as this is common for many hotels and motels.


Cheap Motel

Fancy Hotel

Price per night




free, right outside room


Internet Access

free WiFi

WiFi free with loyalty program, otherwise $10/day

Getting there

free airport shuttle

15 minute walk from subway station


free coffee and popcorn

$21 for continental breakfast


free in room, empty

only mini-bar


free in room

not available


right off highway

near center of town

Storage Space

lots of empty drawers, closet

one drawer, small closet


Queen size, comfy, extra pillows on demand

King size, very comfy, useless decorative pillows

Power outlets




One phone near bed

Three phones (one cordless)

Phone Costs

Free local calls

$1/local call


Included, with fancy showerhead

Included, with fancy showerhead

Given the above comparison, why would anyone choose the fancy hotel over the cheap motel? I'm really curious. If you blog readers willingly stay at (and pay for) fancy hotels, why do you do so?


  1. I have found that the quality of the beds and sheets (and pillows, but I always bring my own anyway) are substantially superior in the nicer hotels and are worth the cost to upgrade to at least a Marriott level hotel.

    The only hotels I've ever stayed in that were around $50 per night were Days Inns, Motel 6s, and similar motels when I was driving across the country before I met Jason. While we had some "nice" ones (the beds and sheets were never what I consider to be nice,) we had just as many dirty disgusting bug-infested hell holes.

  2. I guess I can't really feel the difference between a Motel 6 bed and a Hilton bed. Not to mention that even the Motel 6 bed is much much comfier than what I have at home. Why do people spend so much extra for beds specifically while traveling?

  3. I think it has to do with what a person is used to... for example, I grew up in a home full of firm beds. It's what my parents always bought and I even got to choose a new bed sometime in high school and I chose a firm bed, so looking back, I know I used to like firm beds.

    When I started sleeping at Jason's, I thought he was insane for having an "ultra plush" pillow top mattress and had trouble sleeping. Now I love it. Just this week I spent a night at my parents and had a horrible time falling asleep because the bed was too hard!

    I have also trained myself into needing very high quality bed sheets. Anything "standard" feels rough to me, including basic Best Western level hotel sheets and I don't sleep with much clothes on so it makes it that much worse.

    So I think what it comes down to is that I am spoiled when it comes to beds. I can't sleep well on a bad bed and it's worth the extra $75 dollars or so to Jason and I to ensure I have a good night's sleep, not to mention that the better hotels are pretty much guaranteed to be up to our cleanliness standards. I am DEATHY afraid of bringing fleas or bedbugs home because they are so hard to get rid of!

  4. As someone who translates travel guides, including listings for fancy hotels, I have also often wondered about this. What fancy hotels have and motels lack is usually refered to by two code-words - 'amenities' and 'style'. 'Amenities' are things like a spa, fitness center, business center, a concierge that calls cabs for you/helps you plan a night on the town, etc. - usually things that are not very important to you (or me) but are to others. 'style' is even more fickle, as it has to do with nothing functional and only with the design (usually in the lobby, sometimes in the rooms too). However, the three advantages that I really enjoy in high-class hotels (the few I've slept in) are:
    1. The comfy beds (already mentioned)
    2. The room size (motels can be very cramped, especially for two people)
    3. The location - a midtown hotel saves time, money and hassles.

  5. I never use fancy hotels when traveling on a vacation. I just don't think that the nice bed is worth the extra money.
    When traveling to a city, the location is very important and being at the center of town is really useful, so I usually choose smaller, usually privately owned 3 star hotels in the center of the a city.
    Fancy hotels are almost always geared for the rich and for people on business. When you are hopping between cities, sleeping every night in a different hotel, the following is important:
    1. Somebody who is around at 3am in the morning when you arrive, and the area of the hotel well illuminated.
    2. Somebody who will call you a trustworthy taxi, and will tell you how much time it will take to get to the airport at 7am, with traffic.
    3. Iron for your shirts, as well as a dry cleaning service in case you require to clean a dirty suit, or have no time to iron your shirts.
    4. Parking is never a problem because business people usually don't rent cars.

  6. By the way, the best sex by far is at home when the girls are deposited at their grandparents.

  7. They pay for the convenience of having everything close by, within the same building. It's just like how Stanford charges so much for parking, food, and other amenities, or how movie theaters and sports stadiums charge so much for their food. They own or are paying for the location and want their money's worth.

  8. It really depends. I have been to some really nice motels that were cheap, and I have been to some that were disgusting. Also the comfort of the bed is key to your decision.

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