‘A room is a room is a room’Written by Roger Holliday Claudia Fischer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Such was the philosophy of many travelers in days of yore. And for a while, we also subscribed.
Didn’t matter one whit if the room we were staying in for the night had a naked bulb, a wonky bed and paper-thin walls. Didn’t worry us that the floors were uneven.
There were flies on the ceiling. And the place smelled of must, dust … and lust.
After all, as long as there was some place to lay our heads … and a loo in the vague vicinity … nothing mattered very much, for we were only there to sightsee after all.
Or so we like to say.
A hotel room on Prague’s main drag was a classic. With a bedroom door that fell on us when we tried to pull it shut. A man next door who threw up all night after too much cheap pilsner. And having to fork out a dollar every time a crumpled lift operator creaked his antique contraption up to our floor. (Using stairs was forbidden).
We’ve also had some painful experiences in western Europe. And our fair share of naked bulbs, wonky beds and dirty bathrooms from Paris to Amsterdam, Barcelona to London.
Fast forward 25 years.
With a wider selection of frequently updated guide books and the Internet making room selection and booking much simpler, we still only do one-nighters except in extremes.
Like a weather event, a labor dispute or a transport snafu. When we’re on some kind extended driving tour. Or long hike. Or when we have to be at an airport at some ungodly hour of the morning … which happened to us a couple of months ago in London …
We were returning home from a whistle-stop business trip to Scotland and road testing some budget chains like Premier Inns and Ibis along the way. They were good value for the money and worthy of further exploration, even if lacking in charm and local character.
But as we had to be at Heathrow Airport at 6:30 a.m., we picked for our final night a new budget entry near Paddington Station — just a 15-minute train ride to the airport on the Heathrow Express.
It was an Easy Hotel — or rather an easyHotel. An extension of easyJet, one of the super-cheap, no frills European airlines. Same concept. Cheap and bare bones. Bookings done online. And the earlier you book, the less you pay.
We went to www.easyhotel.com and logged on. Room rates ranged from £25 to £100 ($40-$160). On the night we requested there was a room available for only £49 ($79). Yippee! Oh, you wanted a window? That will be another £5 ($8). And a remote control for that TV? Add £5 ($8). And, of course, don’t forget the taxes. In the end we paid £64 ($102). But still, pretty cheap by London standards.
All was well, until we actually checked in.
The room measured 8-by10 with a standard-size double bed on a platform shoved into the corner. Instead of a closet, there were three hooks on the wall. No chair, no nightstand, no dresser, no desk. Two towels in the tiny bathroom, no bath mat, no drinking glasses. And the £5 window looked out onto a wall.
Spartan just went to a new level! On the upside — the location was convenient. And quiet. The bed was very comfortable. And the room was not only the smallest we’ve ever seen … it was also the cleanest!
So maybe if we still want to travel in this current crumbling economy … we might have to rethink that “room is a room is a room” philosophy!