If, for some reason on your ventures you have to live in a hotel (and for longer than you’d want to, not as a nice little spa break kind of treat) DO NOT PANIC!! All is not lost!! Even if we’re talking a very cheap hotel. Or even a motel. Basically a Bed without any sign of Breakfast that you’ve landed on as a stop gap solution because you can’t find anything else.
Even if you hate the fact you’re doing it.
It may well feel like you are on the slippery slope to bankruptcy and possible moral decay.
Because this is how ‘vagrants’ live, right? This is one step from being on a government list isn’t it?
Certainly, that can be the perception.
Last year this happened to me. I have a decent degree, I owned a swanky apartment once and earned even more in one year than the ridiculous fantasy forecast I gave the bank when I setup my business. Having to live in a cheap hotel pushing fifty was not on the plan. It wasn’t even on the back up. Uh oh, slippery slope here we come…
That said, the idea should sound pretty glam: ‘Oh yes, I now live in a hotel!’ said with dramatic conviction after I’ve listed the Palace in Venice, the Castle in Tuscany, my lake house, New York City. I should have felt like Hemingway, like Bette Davis, like John Lennon.
It should have felt that way. But it didn’t.
It felt like I was fooling no-one. It just isn’t done is it?
I was living in a cheap hotel and my post was going to a mailbox.
It can happen. You may not find your ideal AirBnB or maybe what you had booked falls through at the last minute. Spoiler alert. Short term lets in some countries can cost a kidney. In my case the lake house I lived in had to be vacated for a couple of the deepest winter months. Most of those times I had ventured to Tuscany and lived the dream and come back goggle eyed.
But last year my budget was bust and my health was touch and go, so I moved into a small hotel in the next rural village. I was paying peanuts for a cheap room above a ramshackle wine bar. The one big plus, given my obsession for living by water, was that my room had a full window view of the River Avon. And they had a ukelele club.
Thus began my venture into British village life. Which was rather ironic because I knew much more about Tuscan village life than I did the British version at that point!
LIVING IN A HOTEL: THE PROS & CONS
Choosing to live in a hotel for a while can have its pluses: if there’s a bar you will have the option of ready-made social on hand within stumbling distance of your bed. If there’s a chef they may well become yours for the duration. Fresh sheets and towels can appear more frequently than you would usually conjure them. It can, on good occasions, feel like a swanky sojourn, a treat, a dalliance with celebrity living.
But all the converse can also be true: a bar on-site can expect your custom to support it and get sniffy if you don’t, the chef may be over-enthusiastic and in your face when all you want is something on toast in your room. Fresh sheets and towels may appear far less frequently (or far less fresh) than you would like.
In such circumstances, if you have to live in a hotel for longer than you’d like, it can feel like you’re serving a sentence for something you did in a past life.
The hotel I lived in for a few months was really a wine bar with rooms. It was a unique venue that survived due to live music nights and lock-ins and an unpredictable but impressive Thai menu. It was both run and frequented by village folk who had lived there most or all of their lives and slept with most or all of each other. The opportunity to share my kind of ventures was pretty rare. The opportunity for a drunken local to know I was ‘in’ upstairs was a daily worry.
So here are my tips if the need arises for you to live in a hotel for longer than you’d want to. There will be something to treasure in even that venture.
Yes, I used the word treasure there.
Because there always is.
1- MAKE SURE YOUR HOTEL HAS A REDEEMING FEATURE
You will likely get sick of it. Hotel living is not real home-making. In my case I got to know the hotel and chose the room with the best river view and a bath in the ensuite. I didn’t have a bath in the lake house so even that was a treat.
For you it might be the beer on tap, the French waitress with the throaty laugh or the Thursday night quiz. If there is something you can latch onto as a ‘bonus’ for being where you are that will help. The owners of the place I stayed had an 8 year old daughter who liked to visit my room after school some days for a hot chocolate. We would use my binoculars to watch for deer in the copse across the river.
Those times alone made my stay there a treasure.
2 – IF YOU LIVE IN A HOTEL, MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME
When I viewed the room that became my home, the carpet in it made me want to gag. God knows what had happened on it. I’d bet He wants to gag at the memory of whatever had happened too. So I struck a deal: I’d pay for new carpet for a peanuts rent. I also brought my own sheets and towels, my coffee machine (that also made the addictive hot chocolate), a box of my own DVDs and books and basic crockery. I repainted the bathroom one afternoon with cheap but cheerful paint.
Put your stamp on your hotel room and living in it won’t feel so dislocating.
Pssst: your ability to do this may surprise you. It’s precisely then that having to live in a hotel can become one of your most empowering ventures and open up others for you.
3 – KEEP YOUR SCHEDULE TO YOURSELF
A small hotel can be a friendly place. And friendly can mean that you become part of the team before you know it – covering deliveries when others are off, or the bar even. By all means be helpful, of course. But it’s a good idea to keep your comings and goings a bit of a mystery – try not to over share your movements.
You have no idea who’s passing them on to whom. There is a vibrant gossip culture in hotels and bars. Social Media has nothing on bar staff without boundaries.
Retain a sense of freedom, otherwise the limitations of hotel living can be compounded by the feeling that you’re swimming around a goldfish bowl butt naked.
4 – SUSS OUT THE RHYTHM SO YOU CAN RIDE IT
There’s a natural rhythm to a hotel: the breakfast rush in the kitchen, the after work crowd in the bar, last orders and late night car door slams. But beyond that it’s handy to get a feel for how a week will flow wherever you’ll be living.
Inevitably, energy affects you. Slowly either you will attune to it, or it will unhinge you.
So if every Wednesday is open mic night there’ll be nervous performers, doors swinging in and out, and cables and bits of music kit everywhere. The football crowd cheering in front of the big screen in the lounge every Saturday afternoon might drive you crackers if that’s your usual meditation time. But the Thursday morning painting class might be just the ticket for a bit of creative company.
The hotel I stayed in had its own band. They rehearsed right under my room every Thursday night, repeating songs until they’d locked in the chords and words.
Let’s just say that on Thursday nights I developed a habit of going to the movies.
5 – PAY AS YOU GO; DON’T RUN A TAB
In a small hotel this can be tricky – often cash is the only way to pay so it can be tempting to run a tab until you get to the cash point. My advice would be: don’t. It’s called running a tab not logging a tab for a reason. It will run away with you like Mo Farah. That’s the nature of tabs and why one will be suggested to you. I have never seen anyone say ‘Oh, I’m sure I’ve drunk/eaten/bought far more than that!’
It can also be a flag to others that you can shout them a few drinks as they’re non-resident and can’t run a tab.
They’ll pay you back, of course they will, yes you’ll see them again, don’t you worry…
6 – PARK OFF ROAD OR AT LEAST AWAY FROM THE ENTRANCE
There are two reasons to find a parking spot a little away from the madding crowd. One is, your movements are not so screamingly obvious to hotel staff and locals. So a few extra steps will increase your sense of freedom and privacy. It may well be that you can have a better view of your vehicle too if you park further away.
The less obvious reason behind this is to keep your vehicle away from the area where hotel goers are being unloaded or picked up. On nights out in bad weather or dodgy shoes (or both) the pressure is on to squeeze into spaces nearer to main entrance doors. Scrapes and crunches happen. Despite not wanting to think about it, there will be those who drive after drinking. There will also be those who might stumble into a vehicle and perhaps take out a wing mirror in the process.
Don’t let that be an extra cost of your having to live in a hotel.
7 – THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT ENTERTAINING FRIENDS
This seems counter-intuitive: surely a hotel is the perfect place to entertain your friends? Isn’t it a gift for entertaining? Mmm. Maybe not.
This very much depends on your friendship circle. Even in a grotty hotel you could have a blast in a far more carefree way than if you’d invited them to a swanky rental apartment with a white carpet and a strong damages clause in the lease. Oh yes, voice of experience.
However, if your friends have known you in much different circumstances, their appreciating that you have to live in a cheap hotel for a while may be a step too far for your friendship. You’ll know. That doesn’t make someone less of a friend if seeing you in changed circumstances is hard to process. It’s likely prompted by concern.
It may also be difficult for you to relax and be as free as you would like to be entertaining in a hotel setting where you are also living. You may not want the fact that you’ve been married five times before to slip out, or that your school nickname was Dumbo.
You don’t need to add any stress to what is by its very nature a stressful situation. You don’t need to explain it to anyone. Live it, let it be.
If you have to live in a hotel, it’s unlikely to be a long term arrangement – unless maybe if you marry the hotelier. I have ventured into two short term rents since. I’ve explored Cornwall and the Devon coast of the UK within a year. The days when I had to live in a hotel now feel far behind me, yet it’s not even a full year since I handed in my room key.
A lot can happen in a year.
If you have to live in a hotel for a part of one of yours, be ready for your perceptions to be challenged.
You may find surprising treasures you wouldn’t have found unless you’d had to live in a hotel. And those treasures can build a deep confidence to venture further.
Yes, I used the word ‘treasure’ there, not vagrancy.
Apparently the term ‘vagrancy‘ in biology is a rather interesting phenomenon. It is used to denote where a species is found in unexpected places, far beyond the limit of its usual habitat, such as a butterfly flying or even breeding in a new region. And so it can indicate important evolutionary progression.
Yes, like I said, surprising.