Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Upscale Hotels and My Unfashionable Preferences

What is it about upscale hotels that make me wish for either the comforts of home or a spacious room in a chain hotel not known for amenities or snob appeal?

Hub and I use Hotwire when planning trips. The website is often our first go-to place for accommodations. Our current trip to New England involves three different hotels. Hotwire came through all three times.

A Marriott, our first temporary residence, featured contemporary, stream-lined decor. Restaurant prices were exorbitant, but we were visiting family and were well fed! Our room was almost spacious and the bathroom adequate, appointed with a long, wide counter accommodating toiletries.

Our next temporary residence is an old, remodeled, high-class, non-chain, swanky hotel in Newport, Rhode Island. We are spending a couple of days touring the summer mansions - actually cottages is the term used by the original builders and occupants - of the ostentatiously, obscenely wealthy entrepreneurs of the Gilded Age, circa turn of the 20th century. But back to our accommodations...

Hotwire customers do not learn the name of the lodging or exact location (within a prescribed area) until booking a place. Because it is midweek and off season, we landed a room for $75/night at the downtown grandiose Newport establishment.

Upon arrival we drove up to the elegant entrance and a valet immediately scurried to greet us, ready to park our car.

Parking is not free. The rate? $30/night. Hotwire mentioned an overnight parking fee, but not the amount.

No thank you.

Parking meters are everywhere around Newport, even in the shopping center. Luckily parking is free offseason November 1 through May 1. We did not have to drive around long before locating a parking spot a couple of blocks from the hotel.

Our corner room is cozy, small, tight, not quite but almost cramped. If attempting my yoga exercises I could barely stretch my legs out straight on the floor; they would reach into the bathroom, and I am short. Stretching hands over my head would result in bruised knuckles from hitting the bed, chair, luggage rack, radiator, and/or the wall.

Then there is the bathroom. The desk clerks must carefully eye guests before assigning rooms. I doubt a very overweight individual would be able to walk into the bathroom, close the door and turn around. Think airplane restrooms with a shower. However my biggest bathroom gripe is that there is no place around the mini-sink for toiletries - toothbrushes, a cup, soap, not to mention make-up.

The restaurant and bar area is decorated in dark wood-paneled walls and upholstery, dark carpets, dark wood furniture and minimal lighting, probably on purpose so people (especially oldsters with less-than-perfect eyesight even with glasses) cannot clearly see the steep menu prices.

OK, prices are high, expected from a luxury boutique hotel catering to people other than hub and me, and definitely not the bargain-hunting Hotwire crowd. But even upscale establishments need to fill rooms during the off season.

And speaking of rooms again...I am sure there are larger rooms in the hotel than our intimate abode, but Hotwire customers do not see them.

Personally, if paying for a room, I prefer space - especially in the bathroom - over small but cool in-crowd pretentiousness anytime.

But our current quarters are only temporary. Tomorrow we move on...


  1. I have never used Hotwire. Sounds like it is a gamble? Will you continue using it?

  2. We will try Hotwire. Interesting place!

  3. It sounds like a small room, all right, but the price was definitely right! :-)

  4. I guess you win some and lose some, but always an adventure.

  5. My sister and I are meeting in Washington DC, and she used Hotwire for a hotel. She wanted me to use it, but I'm not really a gambler so I decided to go with a known quantity instead, a simple Hampton Inn. I'll be interested to see what hotel my sister gets ... but knowing here, it'll be better than mine!

  6. I've sworn off Bed and Breakfasts. We stayed in one-my first and last in England. It was a lovely place, but I felt very uncomfortable, feeling that I was staying in the home of strangers, which is exactly what I was doing. No thanks. Give me a Hilton or even a Motel 6 any time.

  7. You wrote this a day or too, but happy traveling, wherever you are.