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On Hotels & Happiness

“I wish I had your job; staying in hotels, living it up, all those toiletries,” says the class-based teacher to the roving nomadic trainer. “Sure,” I reply, “It’s pretty good. For the first week. Then the 10 hour round trips - to the hotel - and the bespoke gigs to 120 staff in chilly January school halls somehow shift your focus.”

“Oh, right, and you say there’s no pension or sick pay either. And no guarantee of paid work past tomorrow?  Hmm. Maybe I’ll leave the mini conditioner and that magical shoe shine cloth.”

Work has taken me across the country and across the world and into a huge variety of hotel rooms. I’ve shared a cupboard in New York with my co-author on Extra-Ordinary Teachers; been upgraded to ‘the Beckham Suite’ at a country manor in Kent (they weren’t there, but a typical match crowd could have joined me in the suite. Comfortably.) I’ve paid £200 for a night in a mould-speckled chain motel and £19 in a boutique palace. Sometimes I sit in a lobby, look up and forget which city I’m in or which hotel this is. But after 10 years on the road I’m settling on 3 criteria which, by and large, assure an uninterrupted night’s sleep and a decent bottle of shampoo:

1. Chain not family.
There are wonderful family owned hotels and there are awful family owned hotels. Choosing an unknown one before a key gig is not wise. A well-known chain guarantees certain standards. And assures that each room won’t be themed by a different African animal. Or decade. Or hair of previous occupant. You’re safe in Premier or HIE.

2. It’s all in the vision statement.
I’m a recent convert to Q Hotels. Why? Their motto, “If we’re happy, you’re happy” Cheesy but subtly powerful. With the usual and even cheesier “If you’re happy, we’re happy”  then responsibility shifts to the guest to be happy first with only a passing implication that the hotel will have any part in that feeling. Bring your happiness with you please. Q Hotels on the other hand act first. Staff are happy and as we all know, unless you’ve just crawled from a car accident on the way to your entire family’s funeral whilst being pursued by the inland revenue and a thunderstorm, then you’ll probably be happy back. It’s hard to turn a smile away.

3. Earplugs.
No hotel is immune to the variety of guest behaviours and their diverse opinions as to acceptable bedtimes and TV volume. Whichever bed you’re in, have in-ear foam buds ready. Just in case the couple next door fall out, make up, fall out and make up again, finally, thank god, at 4:26am

So, there are mine. If you’re a frequent traveller, let me know your three top tips for a happy, quiet and theme-free hotel night.
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