Sunday, March 3, 2013

Heads In Beds - A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality By Jacob Tomsky

I got a text from my best friend saying, “You’ll love this book. It’s the Kitchen Confidential of hotels.” At the time I was well into reading Running The Rift and The Passage of Power, both “best of 2012” books. But I’m a shameless sucker for exposé, and I needed something light to sooth my raging case of flu. So I dropped them like hot rocks and went straight into Heads in Beds.

Yes, Tomsky is a sophomoric Anthony Bourdain, but it was still fun to hear a behind-the-scene’s rendition of what goes on in hotels. Most of what I gleaned from the book is that you should be sure to give every single person in the hotel a hefty tip, or face the perils of retribution. Ugly to the front desk, you’ll end up in the worst room in the hotel. Skip the tip to the valet service; your tires may be minus plenty of rubber by the time you get your car delivered to the front of the hotel. Bitch about the room service, someone will surely spit on your eggs.
However, Tomsky also makes it clear that a bit of humanity and kindness shown towards the hotel staff goes a long way. Exercise some patience, drop the arrogant demanding voice tone, express some appreciation, and you’ll most likely be treated like a king or queen.

Of course Heads in Beds is full of funny stories, and Tomsky’s (pictured) sarcasm is mostly clever and entertaining. I came out of this book (it’s a very quick read) with two things. One, which I really liked and adopted immediately (ill advised or not), and the other, which made me a little queasy.

The one I latched onto was Tomsky’s advice that you walk into a hotel, place a $20 bill on the front desk and say to the clerk, “This is for you for whatever you can do to enhance my stay in your hotel.” He promises that if you openly do this before you begin any negotiations with the front desk, you’ll get the royal treatment. However, I have to say that I did this at the first hotel I stayed at after reading the book, and although our rooms were really nice, I never saw the person at the front desk again. Maybe it doesn’t work as well at the Hampton Inn in San Angelo as it does in New York City. Click on read more below...

The one thing the author spent a good bit of time on was how to cheat the hotels, and that didn’t feel right. How to get free movies – just say you didn’t watch them, they’ll remove them, no questions asked. How to eat and drink everything in the mini-bar for free – just say you didn’t and they won’t charge you, no questions asked.

Then there were other tricks for getting out of secured reservations, manipulating reservations, etc., all of which just seemed like flagrant cheating. But according to Tomsky, hotels cheat people all the time, so it’s only fair. Ick.

The book is funny and fun, and there are some good and interesting tips in there, the veracity and applicability of which are all subjective. But I’m glad I read it because now, just as when I read Kitchen Confidential, I feel like I know what goes on behind those doors! 

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