My daughters have never had to share a bed at home the way the Ingalls girls did on “Little House on the Prairie” but when our family travels the two often end up in the same bed.
The other night I asked my girls to sum up that experience and they complied, recalling their recent travels with my wife to visit colleges.
“There was that time,” my eldest daughter said, describing when she and her sister turned in at a roadside hotel,” when she just put her hand on my face. She did it in her sleep, and it was gentle. But still,” my daughter said, her voice trailing off in that way I know well, when she finds something funny but also a little disturbing.
Regarding their hotel bed sharing, my younger daughter claims that her sister “takes up all the covers, so I have to hide some under my body and then I take them out during the night.”
While my daughters never shared a bed at home, for several years they successfully shared a room, which I suppose is why when our family has been fortunate enough to stay in a hotel suite, the girls will gladly share a bedroom if it has two beds (queens, preferably) or a king, bed configurations we’ve found most often at resorts, but which are also common in Residence Inn suites nationwide.
American Horror Story: Airport Hotel
When my wife and eldest daughter visited schools in the Midwest they booked several hotels primarily because of location, a necessity when you need to hit colleges in different cities on the same day and also get to those schools on time for inconveniently scheduled campus tours.
My wife scoured hotel reviews with an eye toward safety, cleanliness, and decent food, but one airport hotel in Detroit ended up checking none of those boxes.
Upon arrival the duo hit the hotel restaurant and found that even the simplest of menu choices, a chicken caesar wrap, was terrible. After dinner they went and played mini-golf mainly to avoid being at the hotel, which was depressing even in semi-broad daylight.
However, the golf outing was serendipitous, because the two had fun. And the mother-daughter time even yielded a few discussions about what my daughter wanted to study at school.
And then the sun set.
“We had a ground floor room that faced the inner courtyard,” my wife recalls, “and it was dark. The whole place was very run down. “The iron railings to go up stairs were wobbly, the carpet had stains…”
My eldest daughter broke in, noting that the door of the bathroom seemed to be made out of cardboard and the room, including the covers, felt mildewy. “I slept on top of the covers,” she said, “in my pajama pants and hoodie,” noting that she pulled the hood over her head before going to sleep. “It felt icky.”
While my wife is as skeptical as any frequent traveler about hotel website photos, she wanted me to remind you that the website photos of the aforementioned hotel “make it look airy and bright and all the other things it was not” and so, let that be a lesson.
Hotel amenities we like… and are still wishing for
During one college visit my wife and eldest daughter had to check-out super early to make it to a campus tour on time. Knowing that they were leaving before breakfast, their hotel gave them to-go bags with granola bars, apples, and, yogurt.
Of all the amenities this particular hotel had, it was this thoughtful — and, hoteliers take note — painfully simple gesture that made the biggest impact on the traveling duo.
In general, though, my family avoids leaving anywhere before breakfast, especially when it’s free, and really especially when there’s a waffle-maker on hand.
An extended-stay hotel (disclosure: my family and I have overnighted at extended-stay properties, but not at Residence Inn) will often include other meals or snacks, too, often during “socials” — my daughters still talk about the hot dog and ice cream social that coincided with one of our extended hotel stays.
Residence Inn offers up hot breakfasts and what appear to be creative socials, albeit ones geared toward grown-ups.
Needless to say my family appreciates free Wi-Fi (Residence Inn offers it in their suites, lobbies, and business centers). And while we’re never checked in or out using a mobile app — how handy that might have been during those college visits, especially on those mornings with no time to spare when the TV check-out option (surprise!) doesn’t work — Residence Inn has an app for that, as well as the capacity to field mobile requests; if you need a phone charger, for instance, borrowing one is only a text away.
Beyond the hotel amenities my daughters like or would like to see more of (USB ports everywhere imaginable, please) there are certain perks and services they’d like to see — from the practical (Netflix available on every hotel TV, hotels that offer free swimming lessons to their younger guests) to the fanciful (a massage chair in every guest room).
One extended-stay amenity we appreciate is a real kitchen (Residence Inn suite kitchens have full-sized refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and coffeemakers). My kids like knowing they can save all of their leftover pizza and have it for breakfast hot or cold.
And one of my younger daughter’s most vivid hotel memories was that time we checked in at an extended-stay property way after hours and the only food I could scrounge up were cans of ravioli at a not-so-convenient convenience store. We heated the food on our stove in one of the pots provided in our kitchen cabinets.
I asked her if she recalled it so clearly because it was a fond family travel memory.
No, she said, “it was the only time I’ve ever had Chef Boyardee.”
Still, it’s a memory that doesn’t involve stolen covers or mildew, so I’ll take it.