Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Transportation and Accommodation Included

When I travel, more often than not, I spend some time looking at hotels and finding the cheapest flight. I don't really care what time a flight takes off or lands, as long as it doesn't have too many stops and it doesn't cost a fortune. For hotels, I might spend a little extra for a better location. Your hotel's neighborhood can make a huge difference, especially if it's your first visit to that place. A bad hotel far away from everything you want to do can make you think less of even the best cities while a great hotel within walking distance of everything can make even a mediocre city more enjoyable.

For my trip to Jerusalem, all of that was done for me. Only one airline has direct flights from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv, and they only have one flight a day, so I doubt anyone spent much time thinking about what flight I should take. You can get from here to there on other airlines, but they mostly fly a few hours out of the way to Europe before turning around and heading to Israel. Those flights take a lot longer and cost more.

I don't know anything about the hotel. They have a website, but it's not very informative. It looks like someone put it together in less than an hour and then forgot to finish it. I know where the hotel is on a map and they have a few pictures, but the website tells you nothing about different room sizes and what's actually in each room. The pictures look nice, but most hotels look better on their website than they do in person.

One of the great things about East Asian hotels is that they all come with refrigerators. You can go to the cheapest hotel in the dirtiest slum and you'll still have a refrigerator in your room. In any other part of the world I've ever been to, you have to check to make sure. This hotel website tells me nothing.

Having a refrigerator in the room isn't the most important thing in the world, but it's nice to be able to get a cold drink without going out, especially in a new city. In a place like Hong Kong, where every hotel has a refrigerator, you don't really need one. You can get a drink by walking less than a block from your hotel in any direction. In Jerusalem, I have no idea. Maybe there's a 7-11 next door. Or maybe the nearest place is on the other side of town. I don't know.

The two deal breakers for me are cleanliness and smoking. I don't need a room to be white glove test spotless, but I want it to be clean enough that I'm not scratching myself for a week. Maybe not Japan clean. That might be asking for too much. But definitely better than China clean. I don't know where Jerusalem hotels stand on that scale.

Smoking is a big deal to me. I can't stand the smell of it. I would rather be in a room that smells like vomit and dog shit. If I walk into a hotel room and it smells like cigarettes, I will immediately ask for a new room. I'm sure I'd do the same if it smelled like vomit and dog shit, but I've never actually had that happen. I've walked into smoke rooms too many times. If they can't or won't give me one that doesn't smell like cigarettes, I'll leave. There are bound to be other hotels somewhere.

Smokers say that makes me demanding or high maintenance, but that's really the only time I'll storm out of a hotel. Maybe if the room has rats eating dead hookers, but I almost never see that sort of thing. Smoking rooms, unfortunately, are entirely too realistic. And I've seen more than a few smokers make unrealistic demands while they stink up the place without any consideration for anyone else. From housekeeping's point of view, smokers are high maintenance. That stench doesn't just dissipate like old cabbage and onion sandwiches. It lingers worse than dead fish and soiled diapers stuck behind the radiator.

I read somewhere that Israelis are big smokers. The hotel website says that it is an entirely non-smoking hotel. We'll have to wait and see about that. I've been to several non-smoking hotels that smelled worse than those supposedly non-smoking train station restrooms. The Chinese system is to spray disinfectant in the room and call it non-smoking right after the latest smoker checks out. I'm hoping Jerusalem has a better system.


No hate, please. There's enough of that in the world already.