“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”
Everyone knows the opening words to “Home! Sweet Home,” penned by John Howard Payne in 1823. Few know that Payne, an American whose family opposed his theatrical career, wandered Europe most of his life, dying in Tunisia.
What did he know about “home”? Payne rarely stayed around long enough to pay for trash pickup and roof leaks.
No doubt, his home-sweet-home fantasy was fed by the reality of 1820s lodgings, in which guests often shared rooms with scary strangers. If Payne were traveling today, he’d discover modern hotels present their own unique challenges.
For example, the more expensive a room, the harder it is to operate its coffee maker. Ditto for the clock — at least, I assume it’s a clock. Both devices appear to have been designed by NASA.
Likewise, nice hotel rooms feature remarkably complex TV remotes … whose batteries are always on the blink.
Given all this advanced technology, one would expect more than two clothes hangers in the closet, right?
I do appreciate hotel rooms’ multiple electrical outlets, as our 1960s home features one extra, originally intended for summer’s single oscillating fan. In most hotel rooms today, I’m not surprised to find outlets in the ice bucket.
But where the heck are the light switches?
John Payne probably took baths in a horse trough. Unlike us, he never faced crucial questions: will turning the faucet to red guarantee tepid or scalding water? Even worse (gaaaaahhh!), was the installer color-blind?
Payne surely couldn’t have imagined hotel grooming aids labeled “Clean Sand Spa.” Racier names almost prevent me from taking them home, for fear grandchildren will discover them in a bathroom drawer: “Grandma, what’s a French Fruity Massage?”
The French factor in today’s hotels does seem overdone. Who uses a duvet at home? Why do we need more French stuff in this country? Aren’t fries and toast sufficient?
I do, however, laud hotel king-size beds, loving those 26 pillows.
Did Payne pay extra for breakfast? Probably. Past, present, or future, nothing’s free. However, some modern “free” breakfasts are worth the hidden cost. Others feature orange water and cereal resembling kitty litter.
A less familiar verse of Payne’s song reveals his mind felt at ease at home. Is this true in my case? Not always, especially as I’m eating while sneaky ants pursue “free” breakfasts.
They picked the wrong ant hotel.
For me, though, it’s home. I can make coffee here, find light switches, and sleep well, even without French influence and with only one pillow.
“Be it ever so humble,” there’s no other place I’d rather be —
If only a housekeeper would show up.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hotel amenity?