Traveling away from home can be one of the most exciting things to do in life. It can also be the most frightening, especially when you get sleepy and are far away from your own comfy bed. And while most people understand the basic concept of exchanging money for a room, the options can quickly become overwhelming. Should you stay at a hostel, motel, corporate hotel, boutique hotel or luxury hotel? All are legitimate options and all have their pros and cons.
With the busy holiday travel season fast approaching, we’ve developed this handy little guide to help make your life just a little bit easier. We like to call it:
A Handy Little Guide to Choosing the Perfect Place to Stay When Traveling Away from Home
Hostels are the cheapest option for the budget-conscious traveler. Traditionally, hostels were intended for traveling students, but thanks to our shameless European friends, anyone of any age can now stay at a youth hostel as long as they’re wearing shorts, thick wool socks and a rucksack.
The downside of staying in a hostel is that you’ll most likely end up sleeping in an army surplus cot in a large common room with the aforementioned European. Sadly, our Euro friends aren’t that concerned about daily showering and hostels usually smell pretty rank. Also, if you fall asleep too deeply someone will probably steal one of your vital organs.
On the plus side, if you’re in the market for a kidney but don’t have $15,000 to spare you can usually find a sleeping Euro at your local youth hostel. Just follow your nose!
If you like the general ambiance of the youth hostel but are seeking a little bit more privacy you might be interested in a motel. Motels are blocks of rooms with exterior entrances that are centered around a parking lot. The key to choosing a good motel lies within reading the message board carefully. When the board says “weekly rates” what they really mean is “hourly rates for you and your tranny prostitute.” When they say “A/C” what they mean is “no heat.” When they say “free HBO” what they really mean is “free HBO” – jump on that right away.
Definitely look for a motel that bills itself as a “motor lodge” or “inn”. It’s a little-known fact that in order to legally call yourself an inn or motor lodge you must have a mini-sized pool table in the game room. Don’t forget to bring a roll of quarters!
Corporate hotels come in all shapes, sizes and quality levels and can cost anywhere from $75 to $500 a night, depending on the location and the thread count of the sheets and towels. Unlike motels, hotel feature interior room entrances, hallways, lobbies, restaurants/bars and patrons without felony convictions. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to scope out the individual properties in order to determine whether the hotel meets your personal standards and is worth the cost.
Things I look for in scoping out high-quality corporate hotels: those nice, thick plastic laundry bags hanging in the closet (perfect for transporting sensitive organs packed in ice!); an extra pillow in the closet that isn’t made out of feathers; 2-ply tissues and TP; ice machines on every floor (perfect for…well, you know); and a bar that doesn’t turn into a breakfast buffet in the morning (that really depresses me for some reason).
I personally favor boutique hotels because when I stay at them they make me feel slightly hipper than I really am. Signs that you’re in a boutique hotel: the lobby and the bar area are nicer than your house; the staff is better looking than you; the staff is slightly rude to you (because they’re better looking – duh); your room is the size of a closet (but a nice-sized closet) and is all art deco-y; the mini-bar has condoms AND chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.
Please note that the one thing you can never ask for in a boutique hotel is where the gym is located. There isn’t one. People that stay in boutique hotels stay thin through the cigarette and vodka diet. Looking for the gym is a tip-off to the staff that you’re not a cool boutique hotel person and then they’ll never, ever be your friend, no matter how many condoms and chocolate-covered macadamias you give them.
Luxury Hotels are the most fun at the stay in because you can freak out the uptight patrons quite easily. Just walk through the lobby in jeans and a hoodie and you can literally hear the monocles smashing on the marble floor. Order a beer at the bar and I guarantee that you’ll hear some old bitty complain that the Four Seasons has turned into “a veritable halfway house.” Accidentally urinate in a plant and the police will accuse you of “disorderly conduct.” They’re uptight, I tell ya!
The nice thing about luxury hotels is that they put a lot of money into their bathrooms. Even the toilet paper gets its own fancy little metal door. And make sure that you load up on the free shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and hair dryers – they’re all top-notch and complimentary.
Whether you choose to stay in a hostel, motel, corporate hotel, boutique hotel or luxury hotel, the important thing to remember is that even though they don’t print the title of the movie on your bill, everyone will assume that you rented porn even if you just watched “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”