As weary travelers we spend unusually high numbers of days away from the comforts of our own homes. Sometimes the accommodations we choose are a delight, or at least not too disagreeable, and other times they are a horror!
My recent stay at a motel I've visited several times over the last three years has prompted this post. Although at the lower end of the chains members it is affordable, clean, has some limited breakfast offerings and is reasonably close to the show. Usually, the beds are moderately comfortable but on this visit the room I had must have been specially made up for the guy who usually sleeps on the bed of nails. The nails were replaced with springs whose ends were strategically placed to poke and prod every part of my tender body!
I used to stay at the Motel 6 because Tom Bodett promised he'd leave the light on for me but I prefer it a little more upscale since I've aged a bit (and can afford it) and besides which I prefer places where the patrons have less tattoos, more teeth and don't pan-handle for my spare change.
Which brings up the larger issue of how to find places, in cities that you are not familiar with, that are not in industrial parks or part of the local meth distribution complex. Two years ago I was looking for refuge while participating in the Scottsdale, AZ show. I found what was a reasonably priced accommodation nearby. Upon arrival my first impression of the area was that it was a bit sketchy and when I saw that all five of the tenants cars were parked in front near the office I started to get suspicious. The only thing missing from the front counter was the bullet proof barrier glass and the sign giving hourly rates. Our room was on the second floor in the front of the place ( I was able to listen for my alarm and watch my van parked out in front with the other 5 cars) and it didn't seem like the back rooms were rented at all. The place had more stairs and walkways then an Escher illustration. We had a large "suite" with a parlor area, kitchen and bedroom in the back with French doors that didn't exactly fit snugly or lock very much better. The red shag carpet suggested that it hadn't seen much remodeling in a while and I wasn't going to sit on the couch no matter what. I like having a frig in my room for leftovers from dinner but this one was mostly broken and smelled of old salami. My wife being somewhat fastidious didn't care for the kitchen counter being sticky from who-knows-what and that shag carpet also being a little tacky, if you know what I mean!
There were pale yellow sheets on the bed that I suppose were white at one time. It was nine o'clock, we were road weary but we found the closest Walmart where we purchased our own sheets and mattress pad. When we got back to the No-Tell Motel we found that the sheets were the wrong size! Fortunately, it was a 24 hour Walmart. I'm a very patient individual, sometimes too tolerant, one night in that place was all I could take. In the morning we showered in the bathroom that had this black fuzzy stuff on the wall, packed our bags, asked for a refund for the remaining days of our reservation from the guy who had a puzzled look on his face as to why we were checking out early and found another place to stay as quickly as possible!
Nowadays I try to be a little more diligent about researching places to stay but on occasion still get it a little wrong. Most of the motels in Houston are "downtown" locations which means they are about 10-15 miles from downtown in the industrial complex. I don't know who can afford the "Partner" hotels for shows whose Artist special rate is over $100. As a side note the Cottonwood Art Festival has a really good partner hotel at the Courtyard by Marriott which really IS special! It is close to the venue, is only $2 more then the Super 8 across the street and has really high thread count sheets! Last year when I was looking for a place in Omaha to replace the above stated "special" rate I found a place that was close to the venue that was reasonable and of a brand that I trusted. Somehow I was magically transported to the http://bedbugregistry.com/
site. After reading the report on the place I quickly found somewhere further away. Another good resource is http://www.tripadvisor.com/
where I've found information just in the nick of time. Do you have a good travel resource or story to relate? Let me know, I may not be Tom Bodett but I'll be look'n for the light!