Thursday, October 01, 2015

Planning travel is a trip


The best part of travelling for me is planning it. For the most part, I plan all of my trips both for my family and for work. According to TripIt.com (which I've been using for a couple of years), I've traveled almost 21,000 miles this year alone, most of it for business.

I am also a top contributor to tripadvisor.com, which, BTW is a great place to get real reviews of hotels and destinations that haven't been paid for. I know no one has paid me for reviewing anything.

Of my trip planning, I enjoy picking a hotel the most. Renting a car is okay, and usually the easiest. Booking an airline is my least favorite thing to do. Mainly because the options usually suck. And there isn't much pleasant about flying these days unless you can get a first class upgrade. Even then, you basically get what you used to get ten years ago in coach.

The reason I like shopping for hotels is because I basically love staying in hotels. And since a stayed in a hotel for the first time (when I was 14 on a road trip with my parents...it was a dingy hotel outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming and you had to pay extra for color TV), I have been in search of the perfect hotel room. Some have come close (The Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Washington or the Dreams Resort in Cabo).



A hotel room for me is more than a place to sleep. It becomes your home for several nights. It is your sanctuary. I hate cookie cutter boxes in chain hotels. I like big rooms that are well laid out. I like suites that are truly suites (which I define as having a separate living and bed room). I like balconies with great views. I like original art. I like something that sets the room and the hotel apart from others.

For example the Edgewater on Seattle's waterfront boasts the only hotel in Seattle that is truly right on the water. It's balconies literally open onto Elliott Bay. They used to advertise that you could , "fish from your room." And the Beatles stayed there back in the early 60s when they were playing a concert in Seattle. You can fish from your room and claim to have stayed in a hotel the Beatles slept (or whatever else) in. So what if you walk out on your balcony in your underwear and discover a cruise ship has docked 10-fee from your nose. And it isn't a major inconvenience that the sea gulls swarm the hotel every morning at 6 a.m. when the kitchen dumps it's garbage.

But I digress.

I like hotels that have a reputation of being haunted like the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. It is haunted and was the set for Marilyn Monroe's film Some like it hot back in the 1950s. Plus L. Frank Baum apparently conceived and wrote The Wizard of Oz at the Del in the early 1900s. So what if the rooms in the original part of the hotel have paper thin walls and you can here teenage girls talking to their boyfriends on their cell phones in the hallway all night in between the sound of people stopping up the original uncarpeted wooden stairs.

But I digress.

I like former cruise ships that have been permanently docked and turned into hotels like the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. It is said to be haunted and you can theoretically fish from the port hole in your room. The Queen Mary has also been the set for many movies and television series including one episode of Entourage which I recently rebinge watched. Though the original staterooms in the Queen Mary are a bit cramped and seedy. Or at least they were 11 years ago when we stayed there.

But I have digressed an extraordinary amount of time with this post. I have managed to travel to LA and back without finishing it. I stayed at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City. It used to be frequented by acting greats like John Wayne, Clark Gable and Betty Davis. It had everything you could ask for in a quirky out of the box hotel (except for an ice machine on each floor and elevators that worked). I didn't find any ghosts, but I did dig the Old Hollywood vibe.

Next stop is the Safari Inn in Burbank where a portion of True Romance was filmed. I just hope they've cleaned the place since then.

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