I have returned from Florida after an absence of seven days. Now if I were a typical blogger, I would promptly write out a long day-by-day account of everything that happened to me from the time I pulled out of driveway to the moment I pulled back into my driveway. I would include funny incidents, such as the time I took a wrong turn trying to get into the Renaissance Orlando Hotel and ended up at gates of Disneyworld instead, and mention strange encounters, such as when an armadillo tried to raid my campsite. But I’m not going to do that, because frankly why would you care about such things anyway?
Instead I shall write about where I stayed. During the trip I camped at one state park in South Carolina on the way there and a different state park in South Carolina on the way back. While attending the conference in Orlando, I camped at Louisa State Park, about ten miles west of Orlando. (That’s where I met the armadillo, thank you very much.) Between South Carolina and Orlando, I stayed at hotels in northern Florida. One night I just couldn’t find a campground, while the other night it was raining heavily.
Now the other teachers at the conference probably all stayed at hotels. Most likely they stated at the Renaissance Orlando if they could get their school to pay for it. Otherwise they stayed somewhere cheaper. I, however, dislike hotels and avoid them as much as possible. In fact, I view my two nights in hotel rooms as the low points of my trip.
Why do I dislike hotel rooms? For starters, they often smell funny. The first one I stayed in certainly did. But that’s the minor reason. The major reason is that I find hotel rooms these days to have a creepy, borg-like feel. Every hotel chain in the country seems to have decided that every room needs to look almost exactly alike. They all look something like this:
Now if you’ve stayed in an American hotel during the last ten years or so, you can surely recognize the details. The rectangular room, the queen-sized bed, the blank walls, the mediocre landscape painting, the garish curtains and bedspread, the blocky black TV, the dreary brown furniture, and so forth. It’s all the same no matter where you go. Variety is non-existent. Diversity is squashed to uniformity. A bland ugliness and mediocrity is the order of the day.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, if you go to hotels in other countries, it generally isn’t. In France, for example, hotels are generally much smaller and not part of chains. Consequently they can set up the rooms any way they like. Any floor plan, any furniture, any decoration. There, or anywhere else in Europe, it’s actually fun to check into a hotel room and see what sort of stuff is waiting for you. Here in American, corporate hegemony has sucked all the enjoyment out of the experience.