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In Praise of the Basics

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I have just spent a night in the most basic hotel I have ever been in. Initially I was a bit depressed by the come down in my circumstances. Sitting in the hotel bar, alone, I took time to have a look around not only at my environment, but at what was inside my head. The decor was the pinnacle of “cheap and cheerful” – great big 60’s daisies wallpaper in pink and green, shocking pink plastic-moulded chairs and a cheap, but cold Pinot Grigio. No barman, no little doilie under my glass, no buzz of conversation from the smart set chilling out after work.

So? Would I talk to the barman? Do I need the doilie to affirm my specialness? Would I engage with the smart set? No. So not having those things didn’t really make any substantial difference.

Up to the bedroom – the sort of fundamental reason for being in the hotel in the first place. Ghastly, tacky, plastic carpet, grey, furry fleece curtains( I kid you not ). No shampoo, bath gel, body lotion or proper glasses. No satellite TV, no wireless connections, no central heating. But – a big space, windows on two sides, spotlessly clean linen, piping hot water, plenty of towels, efficient wall heater and a working telly. Everything I would have had at home and absolutely everything I needed for the 10 hours I’d be there, most of which I would be unconscious.

On to the breakfast. Oh my, a very spartan affair. Fairly nondescript coffee, juice from concentrate, toast, fruit, cereal and a bog standard selection of so-called Danish pastries. What would I have had at home? Middle of the road coffee and a banana – if anything.

What did I pay for this? £30.

Now, what struck me was, why would I pay anything more than that for stuff I won’t use, things I won’t do and bits and pieces I don’t need? I don’t want satellite telly, a beauty counter of weeny bottles of ‘stuff’, including – almost religiously – a shower cap and a shoe horn. When last did you use or need either?

The extras and non-essentials are costing us and the planet dearly. Strip it back. Stop paying extortionate prices for hotels when all we really do there is shower, sleep and drink a cup of coffee.


4 responses »

  1. I couldn’t agree more – I have a few basic (but luxurious) things I would find it hard to give up, some kind of connection to the internet being primary, but the rest is just, well, tomorrow’s dust. Liking the sound of this hotel, we need an anti-Trip Advisor site, Trip Warner. We can all check in, well warned!

    • Hiya Peter
      I was actually surprised at my reaction, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I did get an internet connection – I had to pay for it, but I pay for my one at home too. I reckon £30 for a clean warm room, hot water, coffee and toast and all the people who provided that is well worth the money. PS the connection cost £3.50 for 2 hours which was all I needed.
      Thanks for popping in!

  2. With you there sister!

    I’m on my way around Britain right now – which is why I’m commenting on your blogpost at five in the morning, the joys of jet lag. I’ve had the same feeling about places to stay although I haven’t been able to find anything for £30 on this trip. Clean room and decent bathroom – that’s all that’s needed.

    Completely agree that we should embrace the basics because when we stop thinking about stuff, it frees us up to focus on those around us, and as you so eloquently wrote, look around inside our own heads.

    Hotels also remind us how little we actually need. After a few days with just a suitcase and a small space we come home and wonder if having all this stuff cluttering up our living space makes us any happier. Well I do anyway.

    Thanks for the reminder and for giving me something thought provoking while I wait for the UK time to catch up with mine.


    • Hi there Chris – many thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Pleased to know it resonated with you. Enjoy your trip around the UK. Let me know how it goes and whether you found somewhere uncluttered and refreshingly spartan to overnight anywhere.


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