In a recent post, I asked you to share your most memorable lodging experiences while traveling. It could have been good or bad, a hostel or a 5-star resort. It just had to be memorable.
I firmly believe that where one chooses to spend the night when on the road is perhaps the most important part of a trip. Depending on one’s experiences, it can many times make or break the entire travel experience. In my post I shared both an outstanding as well as a miserable lodging experience, both making the trips completely unforgettable.
In response, you all shared your most memorable experiences with me, some of which I want to highlight here.
Several of the responses made me laugh out loud, but none more than this short, but succinct story from the great guys at Tandem World.
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.
If you travel anywhere, you have got to have a good sense of humor and the ability to take life with a grain of salt; traits these guys obviously have in abundance.
The post that I thought was the most heartfelt and really highlighted the importance of hotel hospitality was by Tim:
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.
When we travel we are completely at the mercy of where we choose to spend the night. So many times, the service just checks the boxes: doing no more and no less than what is required. Other times though, such as in Tim’s example, the staff can make a holiday a trip of a lifetime. It doesn’t have to be an upgrade to a suite, but thoughtful and kind service means a lot to someone who is road weary.
Finally, a post that I really enjoyed reading was by Katie, because it brings up another important travel topic, perception:
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.
As Katie explains in her post, for her the rustic camp was a perfect refuge – a great end to a very difficult, but exciting, adventure. It really shows how subjective and individual travel can be – a palace for one person may be a miserable experience for another.
Thank you to all who contributed. I loved reading through all of the responses and appreciate the time it took to add your thoughts. I also hope some hotels and hostels are reading this and take note that their portion of the travel experience is arguably one of the most important.