The other night, I was Skyping with a friend of mine: me from my London bedroom, and her from a hotel room in Bologna. We live on separate continents, and decided to take advantage of being in a similar time zone by having an evening catch up.
This particular friend travels frequently for work, her trips often stretching on for weeks at a time, so she definitely knows her way around foreign hotel rooms. According to her this one was particularly depressing, and we got to chatting about what makes a hotel feel special and inviting.
I've also been feeling inspired by our recent My Bedroom Retreat contest. With so many relaxing spaces, many with a boutique hotel feeling, I'm wondering about the inverse. How do you make a hotel room, particularly a generic, uninspiring one in which you have to stay for longer than you'd like, feel more like home? Here are a few ideas.
Our sense of smell and sense of place are intrinsically linked, so it's no wonder this is one of the most-touted tips on design sites and in magazines. As someone who almost always burns a scented candle before bed, I like to travel with a smaller version to help me relax, and make the room smell like home. Most candle brands do two sizes these days — large for at home, and tiny for on-the-go.
Fabric softener sheets are another means to reach the same end; you can tuck them into your pillowcases and closet, they take up less room in your luggage, and you don't have to worry about accidentally nodding off while they're lit (if you're going to burn candles, definitely be careful about this).
If music is important to you at home, you may want to consider bringing your favorite tunes with you, especially if they help you to work, relax or whatever you'll be doing while away. Many hotels now have iPod docks or similar in the rooms, but if not, you could bring a small, lightweight speaker to do the job. Check first and pack accordingly.
People seem to be divided on this one: many are happy to use whatever bath products their hotel provides, and some need their own items with them. I'm a mix; I bring my facial and hair products, but am happy to use whatever soap/body wash/lotion is freely available. Wherever you stand on this, bringing small bottles of your favorite products can make your morning routine feel a little less dislocated.
One way to put your own stamp on your home-away-from-home is to treat yourself to something that brightens the space. I occasionally buy myself fresh flowers at home, but have never thought to do so at a hotel before. But if you'll be away for longer than a couple nights, it makes perfect sense: they're relatively inexpensive, not something you have to bring from home, and they'll be dying by the time you leave, anyway. Most hotels will gladly provide you with a vase, or just use one of the water glasses in your room.
How do you make a generic hotel room feel more like home? Does it even matter to you? Chime in below.
(Image: Mama Shelter Hotel in Lyon)