Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ear Plugs

If you read the hotels independent reviews as compulsively as I do, a recurring complaint is about noise. Noise in the hotel coming from the shared wall, or the room above, or the street outside. New York and San Francisco are good examples of shrieking streets sounding off sirens 24/7. After too many sleepless nights, sheer madness and desperation drove me to a solution: EAR PLUGS! Years ago I invested in my first container of 100 when snoring (not mine) drove me to madness. I felt like my head was going to explode - from the snores and the ear plugs. Despite stuffing my ears until my eyes rolled, the snores still made it through. Recently I discovered an inexpensive ear plug with maximum effectiveness if fitted right: HEAROS Xtreme Protection Series with highest noise reduction level of 33 decibels. They're feather soft, come with instructions, and can be found in the corner pharmacy for a lot less than the cost of a shrink if you don't get enough sleep. Now when I travel I don't worry about noisy neighbours or cops chasing robbers. If I don't get a good night's sleep it's usually just because I'm devotedly OC and there may be a spot on the sheet or the carpet which can wreak havoc with my comfort. Or worse, a bad mattress...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Duane Street Hotel, Tribeca, NY

Wall UnitDuane Street Hotel Tribeca, New York - hotel Photo This hotel should win an award for great use of space ie stuffing a lot into a little. Don't plan to work out or overeat in these small spaces. They're for sleeping. It's either you or the bed. But to their credit the rooms have everything you need: bed, "desk" + chair built along the wall, narrow closet space, reading lamp, book shelves, and a surprisingly generous shower/bath. All quite esthetically pleasing, somewhat eco-friendly, and very cute, tight spaces. My suitcases had some issues though as they hadn't been planned into the room design. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I got a torn top sheet and had to change rooms. The hotel expressed just the right amount of concern and consternation so my visit ended on a high note. But just between us, I did strip down the bed in the new room to check for rips and tears. I'm happy to report that there were no nasty surprises!

Monday, August 16, 2010

San Francisco travel prep.

Choosing the right hotel is a huge issue for me. Stories of bed bugs and filthy rooms abound. The very thought makes me itch! Pictures do lie. The worst thing is to show up at a hotel after seeing the amazing but outdated pics on their website and find out that their reality is a far cry from my truth. So to eliminate the feeling of hotel dread I've devised the following rules:
  1. travel with my own portable bed. Torn, stained, cheap sheets make me want to avoid the bed/hotel altogether
  2. troll the independent reviews endlessly before settling on a hotel. Balancing good with evil commentary can help to minimise nasty surprises
  3. stick with 5 star hotels when the other options just don't measure up. If a feeling of continuing queasiness persists, spend the extra on a sure bet.
  4. never EVER stay in anything less than a 3 star and only settle for 3 stars if it's been misclassified and should be a 4.
So, although I been to San Francisco ( a fav spot) many times,  I like to discover new gems and spent the weekend trolling the hotel reviews. I finally settled on the Courtyard by Marriott Fisherman's Wharf for surprisingly high level of customer satisfaction (reviews), location, free internet, and reasonable price. A Courtyard-really? Stay tuned...