Some say that home is where the heart is. But when you travel for work, you end up leaving your loved ones behind on a regular basis, and feeling at home in some random hotel room can be quite a challenge. Over the years, I have developed a few strategies to feel at home wherever I go.
Single hotel chain
Whenever possible, I always book a room from the same hotel chain. In my case, I picked Hyatt, because it offers the best range of options in the places where I travel most, especially in Asia. Beside points and status, sticking to the same hotel chain brings familiarity, from the scent of the soap, to the habits of the staff, or the rules that govern minibar consumptions.
If you end up traveling a lot to the same places, going back to the same hotels reinforces this feeling of familiarity. After a while, you know where the gym is, whether you need to bring your own towel, or whether the sauna is set at the right temperature (I love sauna). Eventually, you’ll know which dishes should be picked at the hotel’s restaurant, or whether you’ll find better options at a nearby joint. For example, when I used to stay at the excellent Sheraton Miyako in Tokyo, I would always have dinner at a sushi restaurant that was a 5-minute stroll away, and I knew precisely where I could pickup and drop an umbrella in case it was raining.
Same hotel rooms
Once you become accustomed to a particular hotel, time might come to pick your favorite room and stick to it. That way, you will always know where all the light switches are, which is quite nice when you wake up in the middle of the night with a severe case of jet lag. Over time, you will learn to appreciate the view that you have from your room, or all the little imperfections that you might notice on walls or some pieces of furniture. For example, my favorite room at the fabulous Park Hyatt Tokyo is located on the 45th floor, a short walk away from the sauna, and with a direct view of Fujisan. Whenever I check in that room, I experience a deep home-sweet-home feeling that I would not trade for anything.
Playing some familiar tunes in your hotel room is another good way to feel at home. Fortunately, streaming services like Spotify are making it easy to play virtually any kind of music you might like, directly from your laptop of cellphone. From there, sound quality becomes the next challenge. As a music lover, I cannot be satisfied with the quality of the sound coming out of my laptop, and very few hotels provide decent speakers onto which you can plug a phone.
For some time, I have been carrying my Grain Audio PWS around. While I love it, I do not want to bear the extra weight, especially now that everything is on my back or on my shoulder (Cf. Nomad). I have also tried various combinations of cables for plugging my laptop to the in-room media center, but every setup is different, and I usually do not feel like fighting with RCA cables after a long flight. Clearly, the best solution would be to use AirPlay, and I really wish that some Hyatt manager is reading this post right now…