As somebody who loved Kay Thompson’s Eloise books, about a little girl who lived at the Plaza Hotel, I’ve always wondered what it would actually be like to live at an upscale hotel.
Now I know. I’ve been living at the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, a luxury hotel in California’s East Bay, for the past two weeks, and I can confirm that dwelling at a high-end hotel is pretty damn sweet.
I live in the Philadelphia suburbs. My son and daughter-in-law and three grandsons recently moved to Lafayette, California. When I flew out for a visit, I decided to stay at the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, and totally fell in love with the place.
It’s a beautiful facility, full of character and charm. Terrific rooms with every amenity. A wonderful and caring staff. And the best outdoor pool in the world. What’s not to love?
If you live here, you lack for nothing.
But, you protest, don’t I miss my own things? The furniture I selected? The art on my walls? Having a kitchen that I can cook in?
I don't cook, so I’m perfectly happy without a kitchen. All I need is a microwave and a minifridge — and my hotel room has both. Sure, I’m not surrounded with my own stuff. I’m surrounded with their stuff — and it’s beautiful.
And if it breaks? Somebody else has to fix it.
I’ve got a fabulous bathroom with a perfect bathtub. And when the drain on that tub stopped working? The hotel took care of it immediately. Not only that, but I leave a messy lived-in room every day at noon and when I return that evening the cleaning staff have made my room impeccable again.
That never happens at home.
The jumble of bedclothes have been transformed into a neatly made bed. The wastebaskets have been emptied. The used towels have been whisked away and replaced with clean ones. New coffee cups! New glasses! New pods for the coffee maker!
The only thing that hasn’t changed is the glorious view of the California hills out the window.
And if I leave a little note with my daily tip asking the cleaning staff to provide me with four extra green tea pods? They’ll be lined up next to the Kuerig when I get back.
There are few things in life that operate as smoothly and efficiently as a well-run hotel. When I die and go to Heaven, I only hope it’s as nice as this place.
I’m a swimmer. Every morning I wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, and then put on my bathing suit and the comfy terrycloth robe that came with the room and stroll down to the 3rd floor courtyard, where I swim for an hour in a beautiful outdoor pool, under a wide California sky.
Even if the rest of the hotel was awful — and it certainly is not — I’d still stay here to be able to swim in that glorious pool.
Recently, the pool temperature dropped from the balmy 85 I’d been enjoying to a chilly 80 degrees. When I asked the front desk about it, I learned that the hotel manager had decided to lower the pool temperature for the summer.
It costs a fortune to heat a large outdoor pool.
When I protested that when I’d originally made my reservation I’d been told that the water would always be maintained at 85 degrees? The hotel manager cranked the pool temp right back up to 85 and promised to keep it there for the remainder of my stay.
That is amazing customer service!
Besides the fact that everything here is beautiful and comfortable and convenient, there’s also the fact that living in a hotel is a daily adventure in meeting new people, both fellow guests and hotel staff. When you live in a hotel, you meet cool people from all over the world. Like my new pal Steve, who brings a Starbucks latte to the pool for me each morning and regales me with tales of the over-the-top behavior he observed in the hotel bar the night before.
So for the past two weeks, I’ve been living in a California paradise. I swim and write and talk on the phone with writers -- I'm a writing coach -- in the morning, spend the afternoon and evening with my grandchildren, then return to my favorite hotel for a nice soak in a hot tub and an early bedtime.
It’s an escape from reality and a fabulous vacation and even with the extended stay discount it’s way too expensive for me to actually live here year round. I’m a retired librarian, not a socialite.
But every day at the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa is a perfect day, and whenever I stay here, I like to pretend that I’m going to stay here forever.
A librarian can dream, can’t she?
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