Once I entered a hotel room to a slap in the face. I cringed from the noxious smell of stale cigarettes, alcohol and body odor, shuttering a second time, as if trying to keep the smell from clinging to my body.
I peeked my head into the bathroom, and it was exactly what I had expected: clinical meets tasteless. The drab, white tile with dirty-gray grout had lost its grip in the corners, and the sink and toilet had a green color I’ve never seen in nature before. The toilet appeared small, but it was made for a time when people had tinier hineys. And, of course, there was that famous bar of soap that sat neatly wrapped like a little present on the sink. To give me the intended peace of mind of ‘cleanliness’, it had the same thin paper across the toilet seat.
The shower-tub combo looked as if it had been made for children. The tub held just enough water to splash myself like a bird in a puddle, and the shower head was so low that I might as well have been on my knees praying to the rain god for water pressure.
I left the bathroom and inched my way further into the room, afraid to wake the ghosts from its past. The carpet was worn and faded, and the dark wood furniture, with strips of faux brass for that extra dash of class, had chips on each of its sharp-edged corners. A framed oil painting bolted into the wall caught my eye—an “original artwork” boasting a bowl of overripe fruit, wilted ears of wheat and a dead pheasant on a chopping board. Apparently, it was overlooked for a coveted place in the Louvre.
I pressed the power button on the dated TV and flipped through the static-filled channels. The aluminum foil on the two antennas didn’t help with the reception, and I was limited to one home shopping network that was promoting 24 hours of bedazzlement ideas on sweaters and handbags. “And grandma will love it for Christmas,” the announcer with an orange tinge to his skin exclaimed.
Regardless of whatever was wrong with this room, a good night’s sleep was the most important on vacation. I turned around and regarded the bed with hesitation—its tattered bedspread reflected the color-blind designer’s interpretation of a recurring nightmare. I reached down and folded back the cover to reveal stiff, lackluster sheets and four lifeless pillows. To my amazement, nothing scampered, scuttled or scurried away.
I laid down with a heavy sigh and stared up at the rust-colored water stain on the ceiling. However, the bed would be far from taking me on a pleasant trip to slumberland. My body creaked like the old bed springs when I got up each morning, and after my stay I had to check the heavy bags under my eyes at the airport.
Oh, those were the days of adventure and shoestring budgets, and the memories still run strong.
Today, I look forward to the best part of the vacation: my hotel room. I open the door and my senses are embraced by a fresh scent of clean.
Of course, I first go into the bathroom. Amid gleaming, cream-colored marble and flattering lighting, I know I’ll surely coo while sitting pretty in this fancy loo. I spot a fine assortment of little bottles lined up on the sink: body wash, bubble bath, shampoo and conditioner, their tropical bouquets taking me to a far-flung island during each morning shower. There’s even some minty mouthwash and silky-smooth lotion—they think of everything here. I close my eyes and imagine soaking in the large tub at the end of the day, relaxing with the different speeds of its pulsating jets: low, medium and who needs a boyfriend.
I stroll into the room with a swing of excitement, glancing at a simple, modern picture hanging on the wall. Maybe it’s not my style of artistic flair, but I’m not staying here for the art, am I? A tasteful, brown cabinet lures me to see what’s hidden inside. I fling open the doors not to find yesterday’s boob tube, but a large, flat screen HD TV. I cusp the ergonomic remote in my hand and press the power button. I don’t really care what’s on, I just want that baby on.
Like a child on Easter morning, I check the nooks and crannies of the room to see what else I’ll discover. However, the favorite part of my vacation awaits my attention.
Yes, it’s the hotel bed. There isn’t a mere thin cover on the bed, either. No, no, it’s a fluffy, white down comforter. I run my hands over it. It’s soft and light, and I know it will keep me nice and warm at night.
Six white pillows of bliss rest against the headboard, each with its own little tag. The first one says: ‘Hello friend. I’m the pillow that will bring a smile even to the toughest guy.’ The next pillow adds: ‘Hey! I’m just a tad firmer for a bit more support at night.’ Another needs no introduction. I can tell by the slightest touch that this is the softy of the group. To top it all off each has a twin, so there would never be any arguing over who gets little softy.
I gently move the pillows away and pull the comforter down. I caress the sheets, so smooth and thick, there must be a thousand thread count in this Egyptian cotton. There’s only one thing left to do: lay down and test the mattress. I kick off my shoes, remove my tight jeans and crawl into bed, pulling the comforter up to my chin. Three pillows cradle my head, but I reach for the softy pillow and toss the rest onto a plush chair. I roll from side to side, onto my stomach, and then my back before returning to my side. I’m convinced that this is what sleeping on a cloud must feel like. It’s firm but comfy, and I feel as if I’m being hugged.
I move around some more, but the bed doesn’t move with me. It’s just like a great friend—a solid, quiet support under me. All this elation has made me sleepy, and now I know how Goldie Locks must have felt. Since this bed is “just right,” I decide to take a short disco-nap before going out for the evening.
When I wake up, I realize I’ve been asleep for hours. It’s almost dinner time, but this bed is so cozy I really don’t want to get up. I ponder my options and decide to stay in and order room service. After a yummy meal, I snuggle back under the covers and curl up with my pillows. I find an old movie on TV, but it doesn’t take long until I drift off after the opening scenes.
There is no alarm in the morning, no cubicle-filled office to go to, no appointments to make. Nope, it’s just me and the hotel bed—the favorite part of my vacation.