Sometimes I turn on the television in our bedroom while waiting to fall asleep, switching from one channel to another, and eventually settling for some news program. But I don’t pay attention to the reports at all. I just like having them in the background because they remind me of the nights I spent in hotel rooms back when people could still travel without having to worry about the deadly virus.
I’ve always been in love with hotel and inn rooms. There is just something charming about their unfamiliarity, especially if they are located in a city or province I don’t know much about. I like the fact that they perfectly symbolize transcience, too, like a brief affair you know you have to enjoy because it will be over soon.
Staying in hotels and inns is one of the things I miss the most about traveling. In fact, one of my favorite parts of every trip is when I check into my room, unpack my stuff, take a shower, and enjoy a brief rest. It’s a time when I get a feel of the place I’m in and start to make more concrete plans for the days to come, and it’s usually filled with anticipation as I am left wondering what the rest of the trip has in store for me.
There were times in the past when I’d rent a room in a nearby city for a night or two just so I could sleep in a place that wasn’t my own. I liked doing it on days I had to work on something important like papers for grad school and literary pieces. And once I was done with whatever task I came there for, I’d simply lay down and watch whatever show I could find on TV, usually lifestyle shows on TLC or Filipino movies on Cinema One. Then I would take a break by having coffee, whether by briefly going out or having some delivered to wherever I was staying.
I once tried celebrating Christmas in a small hotel room in my country’s financial district all by myself, and I must say it was a magical experience. I had booked the room before the holidays and ordered a special Christmas basket containing pastries and a bottle of cold brew then had it delivered to the hotel on my check-in day, which was a day before Christmas. When the special day finally arrived, I just remained in the room, eating cookies, drinking coffee, and listening to The Carpenters. I sat on a comfy bed positioned right beside the window, through which I could see the city’s impressive skyline. I was at peace.
Perhaps one of the things I also like about staying in hotels and inns is the sense of anonymity it gives me, not that I need to hide from anyone. It’s just that, when I am in a hotel or inn, I can briefly pretend I am someone else. I can deviate from my routines. I can mess with my schedule. Plus, I’m in a place where no one knows me, except, of course, the personnel at the front desk, who usually checks guests’ IDs. Regardless of that, though, I know I’m just a mere customer to them.
In hotel and inn rooms, I am not forced to make my bed. Someone else can do that for me. And though I try my best not to leave a lot of mess during checkout, I am also comforted by the fact that no one’s going to pressure me to tidy up.
I like scaring myself in unfamiliar places, and of course, I sometimes do it in hotel and inn rooms. I ask myself, “Did somebody die here?” I also think of some stories I heard and films I watched about haunted places. In the end, I sleep with the lights on.
I already tried living in an inn. Well, technically, it was a boarding house that eventually became an inn. Its owner used to operate an inn in a separate building located on a nearby street. I don’t know what happened, but I just came home one night and one of the staff members told me the two ventures were merging and the inn would also be in the same building where the boarding house was. Staying there was fun.
I think motel rooms have their own charm, too. Sure, they are associated with sleazy stuff and they are usually super sketchy, but I think there is also something fascinating with them. I already tried staying in motel rooms by myself. Several times. Maybe I was just bored during those times.
Some of my favorite shows are about temporary accommodations: Hyori’s Bed and Breakfast, Korean Hostel in Spain, and Youn’s Stay. I really enjoyed them mainly due to the stories of the guests and their interactions with the hosts. Watching them made me feel as though I were traveling, too, which was perfect, because I saw them all at the height of the pandemic.