Every morning from Monday to Friday, I take about thirty to forty-five minutes to write my journal. I reflect on how I feel, the thoughts that are running through my head and the overall mood of the day. However, for the past three days, my morning writing sessions have looked like in the picture above.
Instead of writing at our white work/dinner table at home, I have been sitting at a brown table for two. Instead of drinking my morning coffee from the grey and blue Keep-Cup, I’ve been drinking a beverage made by someone else.
As you might guess, I’ve been out of town.
A Five Star Experience
I went on a short trip initiated by my mother, and I got to choose the country, as long as it was in Europe. I didn’t want to fly and I didn’t have a need to travel very far – therefore I opted for a spa holiday on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, only a two-hour cruise away from Helsinki: the city of Tallinn in Estonia.
The hotel we stayed at was a five-star Estonian-Russian hotel. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a five star hotel but I can tell you that the place was excellent.
When we arrived, a concierge carried our luggage to our room, telling about the hotel and where we could find the spa and the restaurant. The building was old and the rooms where small but high in ceiling, at least five meters straight up. Every day, there was a new pillow mint and a bottle of water waiting for us when we returned from walking around the city.
The service was amazing and the spa was great. Because I had wanted a spa holiday, I got to choose two different treatments. On Monday, I enjoyed a whole body scrub and on Tuesday, I fell asleep during a head massage.
The hotel breakfast was healthy and good, and the staff attentive and helpful. The hotel receptionist was happy to book a table for us every night in a different restaurant, saying politely: ”Consider it done.” And on the last day when we checked out, he gave us both a bottle of water to go so that we wouldn’t go thirsty on our way back home.
But none of these things listed above became my favorite parts of the trip. Instead, it was something else.
Every morning after breakfast, I took my journal, walked to the lobby and sat down to write down my feelings, thoughts and reflections on the day that had gone and the one that was ahead. The hotel was quiet as the tourist season starts later in the Spring and I wasn’t disturbed by any hustle or bustle of the usual hotel life.
Every morning, as soon I started scribbling down words, the same concierge who had carried our luggage to the room the first day, would walk up to me and ask: ”Can I get you anything, maybe a coffee or a tea?”
The first morning I was so taken aback that I just said no thank you and smiled, probably looking flabbergasted by the question. But the next morning I was ready, and asked for a coffee. The third morning, I didn’t feel like drinking more coffee than I already had, so I decided to ask for a cup of tea. The conversation went something like this:
The Concierge: ”Can I get you anything, maybe a coffee or a tea?”
Me: ”Yes, please. I would like to have a tea. What different flavors do you have?”
The Concierge: ”I can’t remember them all, there are so many. There’s green tea, Earl Grey, black tea…”
Me: ”Do you have something without caffeine?”
The Concierge (looking bewildered): ”Without caffeine…?”
Me: ”Yes, without caffeine, you know, like…”
The Concierge: ”You mean decaf?”
Me: ”Yes! Decaf.”
After a moment, the concierge is back with his tray and puts on the table some milk and sugar and…
Me: ”But this is coffee?”
The Concierge: ”It’s a decaf coffee. Didn’t you want…?”
Me (realizing the mistake I had made): ”Oh, no, it’s okay. It’s decaf, that’s the important part. This is okay, thank you.”
The Concierge (smiles and laughs, still confused by the situation): ”I hope you enjoy it.”
Well, I did enjoy it. It was the first time I drank a decaf coffee and I thought it was as good as a regular cup, and I told it to the concierge when he came to check up on me later. I’d say the whole thing ended well.
(And now I know how not to order a tea without caffeine.)
Although the trip was, well, interesting to say the least, the hotel made an excellent impression on me. On most of my trips, I’ve opted for the three star accommodation because the city and the activities have been more important than the place I’ve slept in. Isn’t the city, the architecture, the cafés and the cultural experience more important than the place where I sleep?
However, this hotel was one of the things that made the trip as good as it was. The people working there, the service, the spa treatments, the food… Everything was in its place. Although I was obligated to go on this trip I really had no need for, at least I learned this:
Sometimes it really is worth every single penny to invest in accommodation while traveling because it can become the thing that makes the whole trip into a memorable experience.
(Although this time it was my mother who paid for the trip. But you get the point.)