So I’ve been travelling, and it’s work-related, so I’ve been put up at a bunch of fancy hotels. As a representative of my company, I’m obliged to behave in a manner that is mature and becoming of a responsible adult; this is why I now take my shoes off before jumping up and down on the bed. I rebel by leaving my socks on though, because Rohan Joshi is no corporate stooge.
There’s something about the five-star hotel experience that is thrilling. Everyone loves the idea of a night or five (with one night complimentary if you’re a Platinum Inner Dungeonmaster Points Member) in a five-star hotel. Everyone except that guy from Man vs Wild, but I saw him arm-wrestle a bear and eat raw eggs on TV once, so I’m not sure his opinion counts for much.
The five-stars of today aren’t the five-stars of my childhood though. They were pretty fancy then, and now they’ve had to evolve with the times and become fancier, except, I’m not sure there’s any further to go on that front. So now they just make up activities and call them ‘service’.
For example, two days ago, I checked into a hotel where everyone was so nice to me, so helpful, so maddeningly polite, that it got a bit weird. For starters, I wasn’t allowed to touch anything.
When I got out of the car, three men rushed up to it, and looked stricken when I attempted to open the boot and get my luggage myself. When I insisted on carrying my own laptop bag, I’m pretty certain I saw one of them cry. They were so dead set against me carrying things that I started to feel less like a guest and more like an Ebola victim in quarantine.
Also, you’re not allowed to just enter a hotel anymore. After you’re done with security, you’re subjected to an entire ornate ceremony. A woman put a garland of flowers around my neck, a tikka on my forehead, and then threw rice in my hair. It was so religious that I was afraid that ten days later, hotel staff would kick my door in and attempt to immerse me into the ocean.
After I’d checked in, I was offered another service in which someone ‘escorted’ me all the way to my room. I explained to them that I could do that on my own, since I have the life-skills required to complete this arduous process, such as reading numbers, standing still in an elevator, and walking in short confident strides. They didn’t listen, and sent a really nice lady with me, who chatted with me the whole way, explaining complicated concepts like “See sir, this is our elevator” and “look! This is the door to your room.”
Five-stars have also gotten a lot odder when it comes to the layout of their rooms, and nowhere is this more evident than the bathroom. The next time you go to a five-star, check out the bathroom. The good news is, you can do it while lying in bed. The bad news is that this is because someone has decided that nothing says luxury like a bathroom made entirely of transparent glass walls.
Who wants a glass bathroom? Who thinks to themselves, “You know what would make this morning ablution amazing, is if everyone could see me.” This is India, if I want to complete my morning glory in full view of everyone, I can do that for free at any local railway track. Also, one thing I’ve never understood; Indian five-star hotels have only toilet paper in the loo, no water. Quite a scathing rejection of 4,000 years of Indian social evolution.
It gets odder when you try and take a shower, because at many of these hotels, you don’t just get hot and cold water taps. In one hotel, I was faced with a complex array of multiple knobs, which had to be turned in conjunction with each other to a precise point, otherwise you’d get hit with a torrent of water so hot, it’d scald Satan. It was like being in a really hygienic Mensa puzzle.
So if you run a five-star, here’s a tip; real walls for bathrooms, and for the love of god, keep it simple. Just because you can use an RFID swipe card that reacts only to the DNA from my tongue, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your complicated hotels are making me angry. And when I get angry, I leave my shoes on.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi