Affordable Travel Guide to Hotels

Something Beyond Just a Place to Sleep

Hotels

The word “hotel” connotes more than just a place to stay overnight. Arthur Hailey wrote an entire novel with the simple yet evocative title, “Hotel”. Stars with the glitter power of Marilyn Monroe have declared hotels to be their favorite accommodations,spots to nap, relax, be pampered have fun, and have affairs! Author Joan Didion said it well: “Of course, great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they service.”

Hilton. Sheraton. Canadian Pacific. Ritz Carlton. Relais & Chateaux. Classics all, and they stir an emotional reaction. Hotels speak to us. They tell us we are worth it, valuable, deserving. Time out from our efforts, to be taken care of. No laundry, chores, work, cooking. Fantasy.

Famous people frequent hotels. And we pass by them in the lobby, pretending we don’t recognize them. But we are there. Us and them. In a hotel. We’ve arrived!

“As an actor,” said Beau Bridges, “I travel around a lot and live in a lot of hotels, and many times I’ve been in a town where the only entertainment to be had is what you find in the hotel bar or lobby.”

What Makes a Hotel a Hotel

There’s a difference between that quaint little inn and a hotel. Technically, they are the same: a place where guests spend the night, but where an inn leaves off, a hotel takes over. Decent hotels have these amenities in common, some of which are lacking at most, if not all inns, motels, B&Bs and other forms for accommodations:

  • round-the-clock concierge service
  • room service
  • opulent linens and towels
  • on-site fine dining, and other eating options
  • a laid-back, friendly cocktail bar
  • fine soaps and toiletries
  • available turn-down service
  • luggage porters
  • express check-in
  • shuttle service to and from major airports
  • meticulous maid service
  • laundry service, including dry cleaning
  • mini-bars and snack baskets (for a fee)

We know a professional couple who live about an hour’s drive west of Paris in France. Once a month, they leave their cats, dog and kids in the care of a friend and they go to Paris and spend one night in a hotel. They don’t bother with the sights and sounds of the city, they just stay in their room and allow themselves to be pampered by great food and wine, room service, no dishes, no responsibility. It’s their just desert for the hard work and busy family life that is the norm.

For people who live and work in the entertainment or sports business and travel for long stretches of time, one hotel may look the same as the next, but tennis champion, Boris Becker, spoke to the thrill of hotels when he said, “I lost the second round of the French Open and had 10 days off. I went to the Hard Rock Café. It was exciting to be away from my parents, to stay in a hotel. Hotels at 17 meant freedom.”

Well, we could easily say that hotels, at 27, mean escapism, and freedom, yes, from the chores of life, and daily routines. There is an atmosphere in a hotel and you feel it the moment you enter the grandness of the lobby. In fact, many people judge hotels by the lobby alone. It’s like venturing into anther world, so far away from the one we inhabit day in and day out. Our modest foyers in our homes are nothing compared to a hotel lobby. It’s a place you can sit and watch people, people from all walks of life, coming and going, on business or pleasure, passing by. It’s like the set from a movie and we are extras.

Fashion designer Sonia Rykiel has an endearing way with words about hotels: “At hotels, you are an actress. Absolutely. You can do what you want. Go where you want. I love my home, too, but I love to arrive in a hotel. They have books, chocolate, food. I put things in the little refrigerator.”

For our purposes at Affordable Travel, we separate the category of hotels from inns by way of number of rooms (there is no exact count, but we regard hotels as designated buildings, perhaps purpose-built, that can handle 100 guests or more (with exceptions). We differentiate them from resorts by the amenities they provide and the location. For example, accommodations with 200 guest rooms in downtown New York City are deemed to be hotels, whereas a 400-room, multi-story hotel that sits beachside in Acapulco and offers parasailing, a swimming pool, and kids’ guest services, is a resort.

On this website, you’ll find a growing collection of hotels, large and small. We’ll write about the ones we have stayed in personally and love, and ones our writers have enjoyed, as well as hotels that simply conquer the imagination with their wow factor.

So, the difference? Its more than just the fascination of who stays at hotel and why, but in a word, it’s that sense of upscale treatment that comes naturally to the swing and heartbeat of a great hotel. There is a distinct rhythm to the life of a hotel. Groucho Marx said it best, when he quipped in A Night at the Opera, “Room service? Send up a larger room.”

All kidding aside, the enjoyment of hotels is not necessarily based on the size of the room, but the sense of important you feel as a guest. The Royal York Hotel in Toronto is such a place. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railways, its 28 floors and grand lobby are what says “hotel” most eloquently. With nearly 1,400 rooms, it never ceases to amaze us that the front desk clerks remember the names of guests. That’s service. And that’s what shapes and defines a hotel.

Explore Hotels

Ames Hotel

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Hotel Concierge

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The Algonquin Hotel

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The Monterey Plaza Hotel

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The NoMad Hotel, New York City

The NoMad Hotel, New York City

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The Wythe Hotel

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