I once heard a travel expert on the radio advise that when checking into a hotel the first thing you should always ask is, “Where’s the construction?” During his years of travels he’s discovered that pretty much every hotel in the world harbours a mobile construction site that rotates continually throughout the hotel property. The premise is that by asking this savvy question up front, the hotel clerk is less likely to put you in a room within earshot of the inexorable clamour.
Let us pause for a hearty guffaw.
Having travelled a bit of myself, I, too, have learned a thing or two about staying in hotels. Thing one: Front desk personnel go home to sleep, so they’re not really worried if you’re able to. Thing two: The first question you should really ask is, “Where is the fitness centre located?” And the second question you should ask “Is it open 24 hours?”
At first glance these might seem the queries of a traveller who consumed perhaps a few too many of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies on her Midwest Airlines flight to Boston and is desperately seeking some guilt-induced nocturnal damage control.
But at second glance, specifically into her baggy, bloodshot eyes, one could comfortably deduce that the traveller in question made the grave mistake of not asking the two aforementioned fitness spa questions and consequently spent the two eternally long nights in a bed whose headboard shared the same wall with an impressive array of barbells and dumbbells just one floor above her.
Of course, you could take your chances, and not heed my advice. After all, what are the chances that you would draw the one and only room in a 200-room, five-star hotel whose weight room is located directly above your head? And, even more unlikely, that the spa would be open 24 hours? Or that the only person in the country who simply must lift weights at 3 a.m., or, more accurately, DROP weights at 3 a.m., would be staying in the same hotel as you? Mathematically, your chances of finding a string of pearls in your Oysters Rockefeller are better.
Once you have drawn the losing number in the hotel room lottery, however, you should be aware that the chances of the hotel relocating you to another room are about as good as finding a parking spot at a Starbucks. Even with the economy sputtering, you will find that hotels are somehow mysteriously “full” should you request a different room.
After two all-night, weight-dropping workouts above our heads, I made the dreaded call to the front desk of the Four Treasons hotel in Boston and inquired if there was a room available that didn’t have a weight-lifting facility above it. After being told that, surprise! the hotel was full, but assuring me they would “make a note of it” I considered jumping off the 7th floor balcony, but our room didn’t have a balcony. Besides, we had the inner courtyard/roof-with-some-benches-on it-view, which was only one floor below us. And the windows didn’t open.
But, just as I was leaving the room to go find a nice park bench and maybe get a little shut-eye, the phone rang. It was housekeeping, saying they had found us a different room. After repacking all of our suitcases, I was led bleary-eyed to our new accommodations, four floors lower, and about 10 thousand square feet smaller. My husband had left to attend a seminar earlier in the morning and I was aware that he would probably go back to our room on the 7th floor and wonder why his key no longer worked, and that perhaps because of security reasons the front desk would probably not divulge our new room number to him, and that we would most likely never see each other again for the duration of the trip, but I hoped he would find a weight-less place to sleep, too.
As I opened the curtain to expose the view of the street below from my new room, I could see that what was once a street was now – construction.
Any wagers on whether they worked around the clock?