There are many moving parts in any trip that can either make the experience miserable or a memory of a lifetime. Personally, one of the most important cogs in my travel machine are the places where I decide to spend the night.
Over the years I have stayed in everything from the dumpiest of hostels to some of the most posh hotels in the world. Expense and prestige though does not necessarily a good experience make and some of my best lodging experiences were also the least expensive.
I have two nominees for my most memorable lodging experience. The first was at the 4-U Hostel in Munich, Germany. It was 2003 and my partner and I thought we were still the hostel types. We were horribly misguided in this supposition as it would turn out. We arrived very late at night and were exhausted; all we wanted to do was sleep. We entered our private room to find that while private, it was bunk beds. We turned out the lights and suddenly the hostel seemed to come alive. Through the paper-thin walls, we heard, um, a lot of amorous encounters and from the bathroom down the hall we could hear someone who was apparently quite ill. The whole experience was a complete and total nightmare and we ended up leaving in the middle of the night, tripping over passed out teens in the hallway on our way out. That was the last time either of us stayed in a hostel, and I have never looked back.
My second nominee is on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bangkok Marriott Resort. While absolutely every aspect of this resort was perfect, what truly made this a memory of a lifetime was my morning ritual. I would awaken in our spacious, Thai inspired room, take my coffee to the balcony and sit and watch the city come alive. The hotel is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya, and the sounds and smells of the river mixed to combine a completely unique and enchanting experience.
Ok, now it’s your turn. I want to know your most memorable lodging experience. It can be at a 5-star resort, or someone’s couch, it can be positive or really negative – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it must be an experience that you will never forget. If you have pictures, please link to them!
I will pick some of the best responses and highlight them in a post next week.
11 thoughts on “What is Your Most Memorable Travel Lodging Experience?”
I had met a 70-something man on a train to Bangkok. In his broken English, we spoke for awhile. Then he invited me to his place and toured me around Bangkok. Stayed over at his families house near Bangkok. The house was a mansion. They were retired government officials. I had an entire second floor of this house to myself. It was all really random. One of my most memorable travel and lodging experiences ever.
I’m writing about it now, Casas Brancas in Buzios! ;)
I will also provide two memorable experiences — one good and one bad. To get the bad one out of the way first, my partner and I were on Cape Cod about 25 years ago with no reservations. Hotels were booked solid except for one in Dennisport. We found out why when we entered the room — two single beds that were, shall we say, soiled; pungent aroma; multi-legged roommates; and the room the size of a closet. We got out as quickly as possible and thankfully found more suitable accommodations further down the Cape.
In early 2000, a few months after my father died, I wanted to do something special for my mom. I won an extraordinary deal on LuxuryLink.com — four nights at the Ritz in London at a fairly good price. When we arrived, the desk clerk was surprised to see an octogenarian and her son, believing the reservation was for a husband and wife. I explained that my father recently passed away and this was a getaway for “Mum.” We were upgraded to a beautiful suite. The clerk sent maids scurrying to separate the king into two beds. Fresh flowers and fruit were brought in every day, high tea was a great experience, and everyone on staff spoke to my mother by name and treated her like the queen. She was elated. Outstanding memories that we still share a decade later.
My friend and I showed up at a hostel in Queenstown, NZ and they were out of keys. So the dude gave us the master set and then disappeared. The room was terrible (stinky clothes from some much-more-serious-backpackers-than-us were everywhere). Luckily, another friend rolled into town with her wealthy parents – and they treated us to their duplex rental up in the hills. Beautiful!
We of course went back to the hostel the next day to return their master keys.
Abdul’s Bungalows on the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. Waterfront views, white sandy beaches, amazing staff, fresh seafood BBQ’s everynight on the beach – paradise!
Most memorable is probably Balmer’s Hostel in Interlaken Switzerland. It’s just full of frat and sorority type people. Drinking, TV, adventure sports tours.. you name it. I met some people from California and still 10 years later email to them. Amazing as this was WAY before facebook. The most interesting thing were the bunks stacked 3 high. It was easier to try to jump into your middle bunk from the end than to try to use the ladder. The appropriate sign above the automated self-cleaning toilet stated “Too much blood in your alcohol stream? Have another drink.”
No I wouldn’t go back, but it was certainly a cool 2 nights.
Last fall a friend and I booked a 2 night, 3 day hike in the Colca Canyon in Peru. The first night we stayed in what I thought was a cute bungalow with walls made out of bamboo (or something like it) and a dirt floor, but with wonderfully comfortable beds with super thick wool blankets. Our “neighbors” were a few chickens, goats and a couple cats, so we were greeted in the morning with cock-a-doodle-doos, bleets and meows. The toilet and cold-water shower were around the corner in another structure made out of bamboo – I was so covered in dust from the day’s hike that I braved the shower even though the structure was totally see-through and anyone could’ve walked by and gotten quite an eye-ful!
After hiking the Inca Trail, camping in tents for 3 nights with no showers, I though the set-up was rustic and cute and a definite step-up. However, my travel companion didn’t quite feel the same, saying she was at the limit of what she could tolerate.
It’s a toss up between the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego (technically on Coronado Island) and and amazing new find, the Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale oceanfront right on the beach. “The Hotel del” says everything summer and it’s place in California movie history is unique as it’s where all the legendary starts of the silver screen vacationed and was the setting for “Some Like It Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis. When I recently stayed at the Pelican Grand (on the opposite coast), it had all the look & feel of the Del, but I was shocked to learn that it was built just five years ago. The Pelican Grand is one of only three hotels in Ft. Lauderdale that is on the oceanfront. Both of these hotels have a very special place in my memory and my heart because they are unique.
Beyond staying with family and friends around the world (one had an apartment in the middle of Tokyo for me, another lived in a little village near Urbino, Italy) I won’t likely forget the time I did “luxury camping” at Chobe National Park in Botswana. We were about two weeks into camping around Africa so the thought of a mattress and a tent I could stand up in drove me to giddiness in excitement, and since we were in the park there was the additional excitement of knowing a lion had wandered through the camp a week before!
The other one I remember off the top of my head is how my family once rented a sailboat for a week of sailing around the Caribbean. That probably had the full range of good and bad in it, from jumping into the calm blue water first thing in the morning to the night the wind blew the waves into the harbor just so their rocking ensured you weren’t going to sleep a lick that night. Oh, and the whole time we woke up in the middle of the night realizing the boat wasn’t anchored properly!
http://www.whereisyvette.com (for some reason my website isn’t coming in as valid in the comment fields!)
Great idea for a post, Matt!
Hmmm… We’ve had a lot of memorable experiences. Today, I am thinking about being way up in the forest canopy at Tsala Treetop Lodge in South Africa.
We were out on the balcony, enjoying the view. When we got up to head back into the room, we saw that a band of monkeys had “broken in” and were going through our bags and the mini-bar to take everything food related.
Sounds kinda cute, but it was actually a bit scary – they were flying through the room.
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