Note to Flipside: 4/5/24

There’s always a better hotel room

Dave Balter
5 min readApr 5, 2024

There’s a smell coming from the air conditioner. Or from the carpet. Or just lingering awfully in the air. Like maybe someone smoked a few Pall Malls or puffed on a Jägerbomb Vape. Or, no, it’s like egg salad on a wet dog.

I just want to be clear, I’m not saying anyone should lie. I’m just offering that you should get the hotel room you want. You’re paying a pretty penny after all. If there’s anything at all wrong with your room, anything you don’t like, anything that would keep you from sleeping well, from feeling rested, from appreciating the hotel’s amenities, then, goddamn it, you should change your space.

Maybe the curtains don’t close and a piercing shaft of sun burns your eyes awake at 6:14 AM, or maybe the light switches glow in the dark so brightly that it feels shortly after dawn at all hours. Then there’s the high pitched whine coming from the air vent. Or maybe, of course, you’re pretty sure you saw a bedbug leap from the seam of the mattress onto your duffel bag, or a silverfish crawl spastically out of the shower drain.

During Flipside’s recent Nashville company offsite, one team member noted that the thermostatic valve in their shower was loosened, leaving the water in a permanent state of chill. And so they Macgyver’d a pulley system with a hair tie, which ingeniously managed to keep the hot, hot and the cold, cold. Serious work for someone just barely standing after an evening of endless drinks and the cacophony of Broadway Honkey Tonk bars. If it were me in a similar situation, I’d strut downstairs (after clothing myself) and demand another room. Stat. Like right now. Like figure it out, I’m not your maintenance man.

Oh, you offer, but the front desk tells me they are 100% booked, absolutely no open rooms, no where to switch to, tight as a drum. Right. Sure. Of course. And I was the all state quarterback of my high school football team, or get oddly mistaken for Brad Pitt or happen to be a Turing mathematician.

First, Karen Up, ok? Feel free to suggest they better go get the Manager because things are about to get real.

Dave Balter via Mid-Journey March 2024

Let me tell you this: there is always another room. It’s just a matter of enabling them to find it. Once in NYC, in a premium hotel with 40 floors, my wife Sarah and I were offered a sacrificially tiny room on the 2nd floor, catty-corner from the gym. Oh no, that won’t do. Traffic noise from low floor, and early AM pump squatters and leg lifters (gym rats to you) coming and going. And so, another room please. We are well seasoned at this routine and begin to shape a standoff, in which we’re happy to stall at the front desk and stare at them, fuming angrily. So, well, off you go, get the Manager and do go about solving things. Eight minutes in the back room (I tapped my fingers on the front desk to annoy the remaining hotelier, while Sarah paced angrily, to ensure the stage was set), they return to let us know they’ve arranged to provide us the “only open room in the hotel,” which happens to be the Presidential Suite, with it’s 7 rooms — at no extra charge. With apologies, and they hope the accommodations are to your liking. Thank you very much (honestly it was impossibly big, and since it was too late to invite 35 friends over for a kegger, it was truly wasted; but, hell, there was a Butler that stood outside the door and offered to hold a kleenex over my nose should I need to blow it).

Early in my career, I traveled from the airport to a hotel with an architect who felt a desire to draft drawings while on the road. He explained that the light needed to be just so, and the Feng Shui — the way of the wind and the water — was critical to his creative process. Upon arrival to the hotel, he would politely ask to be walked to three different rooms, to understand layouts and confines and perspectives and at that point he would choose one that desired his fancy. One man’s best room is another man’s unpleasantry, or something of that sort.

Remember this, the hotel staff knows which rooms are the best ones and which ones constantly receive complaints. You might slip a folded $20 with your credit card and identification upon check in, and they’ll scroll the availables just a little bit longer, and pick the best of the litter. This works, although personally I prefer to save the boodle, and simply offer that I have peccadillos and am especially odd about carpets and it would serve all of our best interests to put me away from the elevator and not near the hallway ice machine, on a corner, in a king, in a space that has been well cleaned and is considerably furnished. Should it not suffice, sadly, they’ll find me back at the desk, using their valuable time and chaffing their positive energy, so let’s just save us all the time and get it right upon the first go around.

Let’s summarize. Choices for getting the room you want.

  1. Obtain hotel key, ride elevator, open door, glance and evaluate, identify an issue that gives you icky sock syndrome, spin around, head back downstairs (keep bags in tow), explain, demand, profess and receive fortress of a room.
  2. Upon check in, note your room requirements, kindly, maybe with money, maybe with a story about falling down an escalator in the airport (scrape paw on asphalt before to sell it) or 74.5 hours of no sleep due to impacted molar (do not show) or the death of your beloved canary (have pictures ready).
  3. If all else fails, be pissy, stomp your feet, cry like a baby, snot on back of your hand, smear melted chocolate bar on counter and make gurgling noises loudly so as to moderately spook other hotel guests. Hop on one leg while smacking back of your head (this does nothing, but will surely provide ample storytelling fodder for the hotelier and, thus, a willingness to part ways with you as fast as possible).

And if you decide to ignore all of these instructions, might I add that I will have no pity for you or your ridiculous telling of your horrible night’s sleep. You are a nothing. A boll weevil of a wimp. A dastardly ignoramus and, possibly, even though I won’t say it aloud, someone I admire greatly.