Size does matter, as this Australian National University study showed. And as in other aspects of life, that well-worn maxim applies to hotels but not quite in the way you might think. Too small, I've found, and you won't find the amenities and services that make life on the road bearable. Too large and bustling, and you may find your stay unpleasant. I call just-right-sized properties "Goldilocks" hotels.
After a couple of decades jetting around the world for work, I think I've settled on a sweet spot. Although these days I actually prefer staying at home whenever I can, when I'm choosing a hotel I start with something between 50 and 150 rooms. To illustrate, a tale of two cities based on my most recent trip to Paris and London, the two European capitals that I'll gladly leave home for.
First, the 54-room Pavillion de le Reine in the Marais, my favorite Paris neighborhood. It has a spacious fitness room with enough new and well-maintained equipment to keep up my workout routine, but it's sedate enough that I won't be woken up at 3 a.m. by late night revelers traipsing past my door as happened a while back at a 415-room hotel in Washington, D.C. when a group of teenagers celebrating a friend's bat mitzvah camped outside my room and ran up and down the corridor until the wee hours, slamming doors and generally making a ruckus (where were the parents? Apparently in an Ambien-induced slumber, lucky them). The Pavillion de la Reine also offers fast, free Wi-Fi and a well-connected concierge, along with 24-hour room service, an amenity that some smaller hotels lack, but that's essential since I tend to wake up hungry at all hours when I'm jet lagged in a foreign country.
Slightly larger, but still meeting my size requirements, London's 105-room One Aldwych, steps from Covent Garden and the West End, offers an excellent fitness room and a large swimming pool in the basement (under water music included!), round-the-clock room service, a lively lobby bar, and a cozy restaurant. And, as with other hotels of its size, One Aldwych is too small to host a noisy convention, yet big enough to provide essential services.
Smaller and larger hotels just don't appeal to me as much. While I admire London's 28-room Egerton House Hotel (rated at No. 2 on TripAdvisor, so I guess many others do as well), there's no gym or spa (you get access to the LA Sports Club a five minute walk away), an amenity also lacking at London's otherwise adorable 38-room Dorset Square Hotel (both hotels do have 24-hour room service, however). As for larger hotels, I need a GPS device to navigate buzzing grand dames like London's 268-room Savoy, lovely as it is after its recent renovation.
Before you call me as picky as the little girl who annoyed those three bears, I've spent many a restful night in the relatively inexpensive Hilton Garden Inns and Courtyards by Marriott scattered around the world, most of which fall into the perfectly sized category. And keep in mind that my favorite place to sleep is my humble home in Los Angeles. Although it offers just two bedrooms, no room service and no gym, the beds are not too soft or too hard, the chairs neither too big nor too small, and the porridge, when I make it in the microwave, is always just the right temperature. As Goldilocks would have said -- or was that some other little girl who lost her way? -- there's no place like home.
Related: 15 Gripes About Hotel Rooms
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