When I was a dirt-bag trek leader in Nepal, I thought a hotel was merely a place to sleep – a jumping-off point before heading into the wilderness to pitch a tent. Price was the main factor in decision making, but if a private bathroom with hot water was included, bonus. Done and done. It never mattered.
I’ve since come to learn that a hotel can be the cornerstone of a great trip. In my decades-long career, I’ve slept around a bit – in some remarkable places. From the Terrace Suite at the Four Seasons London at Park Lane to a mobile safari camp set on the floe edge where ice meets open ocean in the Canadian Territory of Nunavut. From Hyde Park to the High Arctic. One place boasts high thread count, a pillow menu, butler service, complimentary Wi-Fi, silk-padded hangers and twice-daily maid service with evening ice delivery. Compare that with pristine glacier water melted fresh-to-order, no Wi-Fi or cell service at any cost, two chefs, a generator to charge batteries, unlimited access to hand warmers, even a hot shower on demand.
Sometimes it’s about opulence, elegance, being pampered and spoiled. Other times it’s about being off the grid in a pristine location. All the comforts that most of us require, with or without the distractions that we think we need and want.
Arctic Kingdom Base Camp
Hotels can celebrate a sense of place, not just from their location but from their history, the architecture, a signature cocktail, décor. You know where you are. Other hotels can offer familiarity; everything’s where it should be. These provide insulation from the culture, the oddities, the unknowns – a safe haven. It’s not until you step outside that you are reminded of where you are. I find merit in both.
Let’s be honest, it’s FUN to stay in a great hotel – in the heart of Central London or 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Here’s to a whole lot more “sleeping around” for all of us
Featured image shows view from the 10th Floor – Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane