Hotel rooms- your home away from home and little slice of space just for you.
If you’re a full-time flyer then you may spend between 60-100 nights a year in a hotel room, depending on the type of trip you fly. If you have seven two-days trips each month then that ends up being around 84 nights at a hotel each year. If you only do five three-day Europe trips then you’ll start at the 60 mark. That’s before you pick up a single trip, and everyone starting out picks up at least one extra trip a month. So roughly a fourth of your year/life will be spent in hotel rooms. Learn to love them.
The airlines have promised you certain things when it comes to accommodation on the job. You’re not supposed to be on the bottom floor for safety reasons. The hotel should have food available 24/7, or at least very near food. You’re always given the option of a non-smoking room, which however, may be a floor that allows smoking. Those rooms are annoying, like the smoke knows to stop at your door and not go in. That’s about it as far as the hotel’s responsibility to you. As long as the hotel meets those criterium then they’re an option for the Hotel Board to decide on. The range of hotels in staggering. For the most part it’s an inverse relationship. The nicer the country, the more meager the hotel. The shittier the country, the more luxurious the hotel. London is a closet. Port Au Prince is a palace.
You’ll find that some of your crew members are way too particular when they request their room. It’s ridiculous and it’s embarrassing. I feel so sorry for anyone that has to deal with pilots and flight attendants, mostly van drivers and hotel staff. You must really be a masochist to voluntarily put up with that hell. I don’t feel as bad for airport security, we give them a hard time but they usually deserve it. Some crew members don’t want to be on a floor too high up because there’s no water pressure. The low floors have too much street noise. The rooms near ice machines and elevators are too noisy. The rooms near the microwave room are also too noisy. In fact they don’t want to even be on the floor that has the microwave because it all smells like weird food, especially if Asian airlines stay at the hotel. It’s like they have a particular room in mind and won’t quit until they get it. Airline people get a little too comfortable and start taking things for granted. It’s the unbearable lightness of being.
Even though all rooms are different you’ll try to keep a basic set-up and routine. We crave structure and are all creatures of habit. You’ll keep your suitcase in same place in every single room. Some people utilize the closet and the drawers. I don’t bother with the drawers, it’s just too much work to unpack and then repack a few hours later. It’s easier living out of the suitcase. When we get in we all set up the bathroom how we want it. We have the toiletries laid out just so and our uniform hung neatly in the closet. Some people have a cleaning ritual that includes putting on their own sheets and pillowcases brought from home. The hotel sheets get washed so I’m ok with those but the comforters or duvets are ignored so those are pretty nasty and my naked body will never touch them.
Ignorance really is bliss. Don’t think too deeply on what may or may not be in your room or look too closely to the refilled body wash/shampoo bottles. At least the little bottle of mouthwash is factory sealed. Ignore that undercover news report you saw online about how the glasses get cleaned in hotel rooms, sometimes with the same rag that was just used to wipe off the toilet. Never look under the bed! Some people use the shower cap as a condom for the remote control and phone receiver. To test for bed bugs put the bar soap on the bed and check back with it later. Apparently bed bugs head right for that. I’m not sure if that’s true, it may be one of those tricks you use to fool yourself into thinking everything is just fine. One of my favorite layover games is to check for the one maid hair that’s found in every shower. It’s like playing Where’s Waldo. It may take you half an hour but that hair is always in there somewhere, sometimes on the ceiling. A word to the wise, some people use the coffee makers to clean their panty hose. Gross. I sometimes use it to reheat food or warm a can of soup. I’ve also found that if your room has one of those fancy pant-pressers you can use that to make a pseudo grilled cheese sandwich.
You’ll do all your dirty stuff in a hotel room, the messy things you don’t want to do at home, like dying your hair or having period sex. I used to try to keep the room as clean as possible, as a favor to the maid. I try to be a team player. I put a liner in the trash can which I’m sure helps a lot. I tried to leave the room cleaner than I found it but then I heard that rooms left like that don’t really get cleaned that well by the maids. Now I’ll trash their room on purpose just so it HAS to be cleaned.
You usually get a little fridge in your room but if you’re staying somewhere cold you can use the ledge outside the window as a fridge extension. It really frees up some space, especially if your fridge is crammed full of useless minibar items that cost way too much. In some places, like Caracas, you can sometimes get free porn if you clip your ID to the cable going into the TV. Most hotels are onto that one because some idiot flight attendant left his ID behind when he checked out and then had to call the hotel for someone to get it. How do you explain why your ID is clipped to the back of a TV unless something is up? Every now and then your porn channel will come in unscrambled. If that happens then watch it for as long as you can because once you turn the channel, it’s gone forever. If you turn back then it’ll be scrambled again and the free porn will be nothing but a distant memory. Some hotels have secret hiding places that crew members will use to leave goodies for each other. The Los Angeles Bonaventure was famous for that. The hotel is circular and the far wall of the hotel rooms is curved, the one made entirely of windows. Because the ceiling doesn’t exactly fit flush to the curved wall, there are little gaps where you can reach up if you stand on the desk. People leave all sorts of things up there: porn, minis of liquor, wine, People magazine.
You’ll find that spending so much time in hotels will eliminate certain chores you have to do at home, like shopping for toilet paper, shampoo, hand lotion, towels, and shower curtains. If you tell the maid that your significant other LOVES the way you smell in their lotion, she likely to hook you up with dozens of bottles. Score!
The worst feeling is checking out of the hotel and realizing you left food in the fridge (or on the ledge outside the window.) That precious food has probably been all around the world with you and you were so looking forward to having that on the flight back home. You might need to leave a post-it note on the door to remind yourself.
So make your room your own and learn to love living out of a suitcase. It may be one of the few things you really have control over when you’re on the job. Try to see a layover as a much-needed break from reality rather than being stuck away from all that are near and dear to you.