The Traveling Writer: A Case for Hotel Beds

A couple of weeks ago, prior to leaving for a trip to New York for work, I was chatting with a coworker who was (thanks, Nicole!) preparing to take care of my cat. She asked me something about how I get work done from afar, and I mentioned the importance of space, prompting a conversation and subsequent thought process about how I actually do work.

See, at EFF, a lot of folks like to skip out of the office to work from cafes. Not me – I’ve made my office exactly how I like it, and really enjoy working either from my (organized, clean) desk or my cozy green chair (, baby!). But when I travel, things are less standard: There are cafes, or I could abuse my Regus membership, but the truth is…I work best from hotel beds.

Why the hotel bed? Well, the funny thing is that I actually don’t work very well from my own (low-riding, Ikea) bed. Rather there’s something about the plushness and size of a hotel bed, coupled with the (typically) white walls and simple decor of a hotel room (and, probably, the sun streaming through the window) that just suits my style. I get some of my best writing done while propped up with all of the pillows (sometimes I order extra too) behind me, one pillow on my lap to hold my MacBook Air, legs spread out in front of me or crisscrossed underneath me. No noise, no interruptions, no distractions.

Now, you’re probably wondering if I have any favorites. While I’m a known United frequent flyer, and I do carry Marriott and Carlton rewards memberships, I rarely have a say in where I stay. That said, I am strangely fond of a few surprising hotels:

1. The Ibis chain. I know, right? So random. I’ve stayed in probably every Ibis in the entire country of Morocco, and quite a few in Europe, and all I can say is that there’s something about those plasticky “carpets” and plain rooms that makes me do good work. Sweden’s lower-cost chain, Scandic, should be the same deal, and yet for some reason they get it totally wrong when compared to ol’ reliable Ibis. For some reason, Ibis hotel bars are also conducive to my working.

2. Sofitel. This one’s easy: I’m a sucker for purple, and many Sofitels are outfitted in the calming hue. The downtown Brussels location is my absolute favorite of them all.

3. Four Points Sheraton. I think the Four Points by Sheraton is hands-down the most reliable, and thus my favorite, hotel chain. I stayed in the Soho location a couple of years ago and remember adoring the shower for some reason, but also recall getting a ton of work done whilst sitting on the plush bed. Bonus points: They tend to have great craft beer in their lobby bars.

4. Park Inn by Radisson. Perhaps you’re sensing a pattern? Yes, I love the mid-range versions of popular 4-star hotel chains. Park Inn uses bright colors, which just works for me.

5. Movenpick. This is a last but definitely not least situation. I don’t stay in them often, because they’re pricier, but my god, a couple of years ago re:publica put me up in the Berlin location, and I think I could’ve written a book. The desk was perfect, the bed was perfect…even the bathtub was perfect, and the dining area was intensely conducive to getting work done (not to mention the food was great). Bonus points for the sauna, which we may have over-utilized a little…

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