Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Wish -- A Quiet Hotel

I will be doing a lot of traveling soon, from serving on a panel in the DC area, to giving talks in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Hawaii (an invitation I could not turn down), and Buenos Aires, Argentina (and this is just over the next couple of weeks).

I wish that there would be hotels that would guarantee peace and quiet or, at least, an area of a hotel, where the guests (as well as the staff) would agree to:

1. speak softly

2. close the doors very quietly

3. refrain from having the TV, radio, etc., at a noticable volume

4. not run up and down the halls screaming,

among some other points.

The last business trip that I was on I specifically requested a quiet room only to be put into a room that sounded like a subway tunnel. When I called the receptionist I was told that I was next to the laundry room, so I requested a room change. A hotel staff person then walked with me to several floors to see where it might be "quiet" and, finally, we found a room. After about 30 minutes some not quite "gentlemen" started banging on my door, and then one of them said, there is a "No Disturb Sign" on the knob. Indeed, there was, and I had put it there for a reason. These "guests" had been given a key to my room and were not happy that it was already taken. So I requested another move. By the third attempt, despite the banging of the doors, I stayed put.

I have slept in a rental car in Ireland while my family snoozed in the hotel since I could not stand the loud banging of the doors (and this was by the cleaning staff). The lightning during the storm (and the car was under trees) was preferable to me. At another hotel (also in Ireland, a country which was lovely to visit although I hardly slept there), a set of parents was in a hotel room on one side of us in a hall and their young children were way down the hall in a separate room (from the parents). You can only imagine the traffic back and forth past our room.

I have tried to sleep in a hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia (just before the fall of Communism and the USSR) only to have people peering into our room (my husband and I did not realize that the outdoor porches were connecting). Of course, the babushkas on each floor monitored our comings and goings as well.

I have tried to sleep at a hotel in Oslo only to hear a Back Street Boys concert right outside of it (at least some of the music was bearable in that age).

I tried to sleep in a hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, but there was a state high school wresting tournament going on, so sleeping was next to impossible.I still managed to somehow give my talk the next day.

As for NYC, I have found a relatively quiet hotel in Manhattan but will keep it a secret. You don't hear concierges whistling for taxis there nor ambulances and firetrucks blasting by. My suggestion (simple location analysis, really) do not situate a hotel close to a hospital or to a fire or police station!

I never travel without my BOSE headphones, but as wonderful as they are, they do not block out sudden hotel noises. I wish that there would be hotels, where the doors would close quietly, the floors would be carpeted, the walls, ceilings, and windows (which should open to get some air in), would be soundproof, and white noise machines would be placed in each room. Or, perhaps, someone can invent headphones to block out hotel noise (both inside and outside).