Luxury to be Found Even in the Smallest Hotels.
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 1st July 2013
Exclusive Feature: Comfort is a relative thing: If you are tired, even an odd sofa can feel like the finest four-poster-bed.

Luxury is like an air mattress: There is actually nothing in it (except for air), but stretching out on it does always cause at least a cuddly feeling. At least. Just like the real luxury made by hotelism: It's literally invisible, intangible, inaudible.

Like that particular one in a small Frankfurt city hotel, we recently headed for (no, not that last week's one with the boa constrictor!). Because we would arrive very late in the city we had searched on the road already for accomodation via a booking portal app (no, we will not tell you which one we used – again, the contract is not yet signed).

We were explicitly looking for a budget hotel. You may argue now: "What has this to do with luxury?". Hold on a second, dear guest: Luxury is not in all aspects like an air mattress – as consistently relative thing it occurs even in places that you would associate not automatically so.

Places like that Frankfurt city hotel. Once attracted by its ad in the app's hotel list, we just had no choice except for choosing – because the strange discrepancy between a quite high average guest rating and the low room rate immediately caught our curiosity. Precisely 40 dollars per night in relation to almost 7 (10 is the maximum) points. How can this be?

Nearly reanimated with great expectations, we arrived late at night in a district of the main European financial capital, that still today rightly enjoys a nasty reputation. Instinctively, we locked the car at the first red light. But everything went well.

The first impression was among the worst possible: The hotel "Fatherland" was closed, all lights extinguished. With difficulty, we deciphered an emergency number, dialling – and five minutes later the night porter came from the inside of the building.

Here begins the lesson by the luxury: If one expects nothing or even less (namely miserable quality), but then meets relatively good standard, the star of luxury starts to shine. It shines - like the star of Bethlehem did at Christmas Eve- also over poor huts, if only the described condition occurs.

We had 700 km in the bones, had been up very early and had worked all day. We felt like zombies after the last wrap wanting just the thing all guests in the entire universe ostensibly want to: sleep, the sooner the better!

The night porter did everything correctly: 1 gave us a newly renovated room which was to the quiet side of the hotel. 2. bugged us not with deposits from credit cards or other frippery that always and unnecessarily lengthen the procedure. 3. He wished us a good night.

The rest is quickly told: We slept like gods. The relaxed waking up will stay forever in our thoughts and is connected to the small property which we will recommend to everybody. You may again be wondering what this has to do with the hotel, imagining that due to the gruelling history we would have slept probably also on a broom. Sure - but hotel portals do not broker brooms.

In other words: Our starting point was finally so low, that the impartially poor features of the hotel made a stunning impression on us. Had we previously resided at the Ritz-Carlton, the heartbreak would have been great. A drop of hot water to a desert walker will taste like the finest lemonade ever. To a king it will appear like waste. Luxury is relative.

Hoteliers should heed that, even - or especially - those with luxury properties. Gold-plated bed frames and glitzy indoor shopping malls are nice to have, but can be but mere decorations. Luxury never comes from the catalogue, are neither quantifiable nor measurable. This has its advantage: the competition can not just look off the real luxury from you.

Here, the comparison with the air mattress fits again: real luxury is shockingly easy, invisible (as attentive housekeepers), inaudible (such as soundproof windows), intangible (such as everything which is running smoothly), but even harder to copy. Ultimately, what matters is a good night's sleep and kind staff, that makes guests the way to as short and pleasant as possible. By the way: We do wish you a pleasant night!

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.

Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info:

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