Last October, I was at the New York Comic Con having the best time at the Javits Center immersed in nerdvana. I’ve always loved visiting New York with its incredible energy and rich layers of architecture and culture. It was the Big City and very much the archetypal urban experience.
I have traveled every year for much of my adult life, spending two months of each year traveling and experiencing so much of what the world has to offer. My travels tended to be either short work trips or prolonged family vacations. This has allowed me to have a love-hate relationship with hotels. I love staying at storied old hotels immersed in the history and culture of its city or at brand new avant garde hotels that showcase the best facilities and architecture you can find. I hate staying at hotels whenever I’m traveling with my family or friends, where each of us are relegated to our rooms and wake up only to head out and explore this new place without having the time to actually quietly enjoy each other’s company.
This pandemic has pulled the travel industry to a screeching halt and the recovery will highlight the changes that have increasingly come to our places of hospitality in recent years. Spending on experiences has increased and the lowering cost of travel has allowed more and more people to experience traveling as never before.
When I stay at a hotel I look for a couple of things. Service and cleanliness are non-negotiable. Our recent experience in our own hermetically sealed homes will make us more aware and critical of the cleaning standards and procedures of not just guest rooms, but also all other hotel facilities. Services that make our stay smoother—with less unwanted interactions, in the form of in-room services or facilities, anticipated check-ins, and check out key drop boxes—will no longer be luxuries but vital features of any hotel.
One thing I try to look for in a hotel is a strong historical character that can allow me to have a feel of the local culture, especially if I won’t be able to really go around and see the city. In trips where you are just in and out of a city, it is always pleasantly surprising to find that the hotel you’re staying in has a story or two to tell about the city. This allows us to imagine the opportunities for adoptive reuse in our own cities’ heritage buildings. History can be a rather strong and robust feature for travelers.