10 things to do in hotels besides sleep
I stayed in lots of hotels and motels as a child — granted, cheap family-vacation ones with no breakfast and flashing neon signs, but nonetheless I always dreamed of simply staying there. Of never going home again, forgetting all my clothes and toys to live out of a small smiley-face suitcase in this paneled room facing the bright-blue pool that cools strangers by day but basks ignored and bottom-lit by night like a cough-drop-colored moon. To live in hotels and/or motels, one or ten thousand of them but forever, would be to reinvent oneself, to live at once little yet limitlessly in spaces whose blankness is their welcome which is the whole point, plus which are clean whenever you arrive.
OK, so I stopped traveling for 15 years, then started again and it’s back. I want to live in hotels, think about them and extol the strange wondrous phenomenon of exponential mega-mondo homes-away-from-home for millions in which workers are paid to be courteous and even kind. How can we make the best of hotels? What can we do there? Sleeping is obvious, but here are 10 more things that I have either done in hotels or have fantasized about doing, and still might do.
1. Eat.?Now that many hotels include breakfast in their room prices, this is almost as obvious as sleeping. But it is not to be taken for granted. Few sights have made me happier to be alive than the breakfast buffets in Sicilian hotels last summer: Cappuccino. Fresh figs. Ricotta-chocolate pies. Currently at the Marriott’s?LA Market?in Los Angeles, chef Kerry Simon is serving his Sugar & Spice Junk Food Platter, piled high with peppermint brownies, gingerbread, holiday cookies and sweet house-made “snowballs.”
2. Drink.?OK, again with the obvious, but many hotels have fabulous built-in bars: In other words, you need not drive. The?FIVE?bar in Berkeley’s Shattuck Plaza Hotel celebrates the season with its 12 Cocktails of Christmas: Popular favorites include the Turtle Dove Martini (pear vodka, chocolate liqueur, Chambord, sugar, lemon juice) and Five Golden Rings (rum, lime juice, agave nectar, Angostura bitters, mint, Champagne). All twelve “are definitely inspired by the song but not limited to the song,” explains bar manager Brent Newcomb.
3. Watch sea creatures swimming by.?A handful of exclusive resort hotels including the Palm in Dubai, the Jules in Key Largo and the Manta in Tanzania actually have guest rooms submerged under the surface of the sea, from whose windows you can watch the undersea world. That’s no aquarium out there. That’s real.
4. Gaze out at the free world from behind bars.?A growing hospitality-industry trend is the transmogrification of old jails into hotels. Boston’s Liberty Hotel used to be the grim Charles Street Jail. Slovenia’s Celica Hostel was once a communist-era lockup. This kind of lodging experience makes you really appreciate not being incarcerated. I mean, you can stroll right out at any time and buy a box of Mystic Mints.
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