Thom and I took a quick trip to Central Florida to celebrate several things we’d not had time to celebrate these last few crazy Covid years. We went to a show, ate fabulous food and stayed at a hotel (because there were no real bed and breakfasts for miles around).
I noticed immediately, that no-one seemed pleased to see us, check us in and show us to our room. In fact, the staff acted like we were a bit of a bother to them and their conversation behind their huge sterile desk. I desperately wanted a cup of tea, but the little coffee shop next to their desk appeared to be closed and in darkness. No-one offered to go make me a cup of tea, just told me that area was closed. It was 4 pm in the afternoon, not midnight, I might add.
The non-communicative staff person slid a plastic card across the desk, muttering, what we assumed was our room number. He waved towards the general vicinity of the elevators when we asked how to get to our room.
We returned to our car, retrieved our luggage and parked it in a non-descript, maze of a car park. With our luggage, we walked past the silent check-in man and returned to the lift to take ourselves to the 3rd floor.
Might I add, this was a rather nice hotel brand. We paid a hunk of money, on an average Tuesday night to stay there. So far I was rather underwhelmed by their hospitality.
Our room and bathroom was very clean, efficiently laid out, dark and cool, much appreciated in the heat of a Central Florida day.
But can I just say – I wished we’d driven a few miles and battled the traffic to find a real bed and breakfast.
As a real innkeeper (not an Air host), I am genuinely pleased to greet each and every guest. I’m happy to make them a cup of tea/coffee upon arrival, walk them to their room, answer questions, provide dinner recommendations. Maybe not every single time, but certainly 99.9% of them. And usually, we always stay at a real bed and breakfast when we’re able to get away. We try to be incognito, so as not to talk business with them – after all, we’re having a little mini-vacation. But in general, we are always greeted by an innkeeper who is happy to see us and happy to help us figure out our new surroundings.
I believe it’s called hospitality.
We walked past the sterile desk on our way out of the hotel in search of dinner. There was a different staff person – who appeared to have the same non-communicative style with the new guests checking in. I felt sorry for those guests. If their welcome to Florida was one of boredom, annoyance, exhaustion… I don’t quite know what to call it, I’m not sure they’d be impressed with American hospitality. I’m not sure they would want to return. I know I certainly wouldn’t.
Suffice to say I didn’t write them a glowing review. Actually, I didn’t write a review at all (Mum always said, if you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing…). But it did make me realize anew why a real bed and breakfast is always a better idea than a hotel, an airmattress fake b&b, or any other lodging establishment that one can find on the internet these days. And it makes me a better innkeeper to go away and be a guest somewhere else.
Next time you’re in Tallahassee, stay with us, why don’t you? LittleEnglishGuesthouse.com
Or if you have no plans to be in Tallahassee, but in SomeOtherTown, USA, please let your fingers do some walking over the keys and find a real bed and breakfast. bnbfinder.com
They are becoming a little harder to find, ’tis true. Thank you pandemic, recession and airmattressplace.com.
But if you’re going to be there for a night, or 5, realize that your stay will be so much more enjoyable if you’re greeted by a real human being that wants to help you have the best possible experience. Not everyone wants to chat for 20 minutes, particularly if you’ve a dinner date to get to, are tired and ready for bed, or prefer a little more isolation from possible covid exposure. All this is true.
A real innkeeper will have enough hospitality experience and intuition to know. And they won’t make you feel like you’re an imposition on their time and energy. And you’ll see them again next time you’re in their town, because you’re likely to never stay anywhere else. Are those enough reasons?
Trust me, I know these things.
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