Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Puttin' on the Ritz

Traveling for work, I end up staying in much more high-end hotels than I would pick out on my own. I don't dislike the experience, but I've decided that the marginal difference in quality is, for me, definitely not worth the marginal difference in price between a place like the Ritz and a budget hotel. I know some people would love it, but the experience is really wasted on me. For example:
  • Every night, I walk past the swanky hotel restaurant with my bag of take-out Subway or McDonald's food in hand.
  • I only ask for the turndown service so I can get my chocolates. Otherwise, I think it's a waste of the maid's time to come "refresh" the room before I go to bed.
  • As soon as the maid leaves after doing the turndown service, I strip all the bedding off the bed so I can get rid of the annoying feather padding. The bed is still far too soft with just the mattress, but it's more tolerable this way. (True story: the first night of my hotel stay at the Ritz, I ended up sleeping on the floor because the softness of the bed was bugging me so much.)
  • I never use the large flat-screen TV, since I'd rather just watch Indian films on my laptop. (Of course, I'd prefer to watch movies on the TV, but the powers that be don't see fit to equip rooms with DVD players. At least, not the cheaper rooms I usually end up in.)
  • I've never even seen the purportedly great fitness center, with its climbing wall and salt-water lap pools and other extravagencies.
  • I shove the exorbitantly priced mini-bar items out of the way to make room in the fridge for the carton of chocolate milk I bought at the corner convenience store.
  • I walk through the hotel lobby in my faded blue jeans and tennis shoes, in direct defiance of the hotel's snooty dress code. (I don't wear business casual at work, for heaven's sake. I'm not going to wear business casual clothes just to walk through the hotel lobby on my way to the homeless people's McDonald's.)
  • I always wish there were an alternate way out of the hotel where you could open your own door and not have people constantly bowing at you and saying polite things to you. (I always feel compelled to say polite things back, which is really tiring at 8 in the morning.)
  • I find it annoying that they leave the radio on in your room, apparently to make it feel more home-like when you get there. This wouldn't be so annoying if their radios had an on/off switch, but they're far too fancy for such a utilitarian feature.
Okay, now I'm feeling kind of bad for bashing the Ritz, so let me finish up by listing all the ways in which the Ritz is better than my true Denver nemesis, the dreaded Hotel Monaco:
  • Peace and quiet! This difference alone is enough to make the Ritz a million times better than the Monaco. At the Monaco, you've got drunken guests talking in the halls and banging their doors at all hours of the night. And, if you're me, you always get put in the room that wraps around the elevator shaft, so you can hear obnoxious pinging all night, or the room that's directly over the supply docks, so you can hear trucks driving up and dropping off provisions all night, or the room that's over the dumpsters, so you can hear glass bottles being thrown around all night. I've spent many nights at the Monaco, and most of them have been sleepless ones. Both times I've stayed at the Ritz, by contrast, my room has been very quiet, even if the softness of the bed did hamper my sleep a bit.
  • Along the same lines, the Ritz's refrigerators are very quiet. The fridges at the Monaco kick on every few hours throughout the night, and they always wake me up if I've forgotten to turn them off or unplug them before going to bed (assuming I was able to fall asleep in the first place, between the elevator pinging and the drunken guests and all of that). Sometimes I've even been woken up by the fridge in the next-door room.
  • Although I don't like the Ritz's pretentious snootiness, I'll take it any day over the Monaco's tacky trashiness (see, e.g., the icky faux fur throw at the foot of the bed, the sleazy animal-print lingerie for sale in the closets, etc.)
  • At the Ritz, I'm not afraid that I'll contract some terrible disease if I let any bit of my skin come into contact with the carpets. I'm not saying that I have any facts to base this opinion on -- I'm just saying this is how I feel.
  • At least the Ritz gives you chocolates, even if you have to accept an unnecessary turndown service to get them.