When we lived in Vermont, we had probably stayed overnight in a hotel with our kids less times than I could count on one hand. In my opinion, staying in a hotel with young kids is ranked among the suckier things to spend your time doing. You know how it is: everyone sleeping in a confined space, no room to run/jump around, no screaming allowed, adults reading a book in bed with a flashlight so that nobody will wake up, etc. However, now that our kids are older and especially because we’re in Europe, we’ve been more frequent hotel visitors.
Since price is always a factor, sometimes we get great hotels for great deals……………..and sometimes we end up staying in places that are more similar to The Happiness Hotel straight out of the Muppet Movie. Recently, we took an overnight trip to a small town in northern France called Amiens and we rented a room at a hotel whose two main selling points were: 1) that it was cheap and 2) it was within walking distance to the train station. Translation: if you are a European traveler who has not showered in weeks, you will think this place is pretty damn nice. It even has hot water!
The ways that my kids talk about hotels, it’s like they have stayed in some pretty fancy places. They often talk about the number of stars a hotel is given, since that’s the European standard (however, it is unclear to me who decides what ranking hotels deserve). Not long ago, my kids started randomly talking about a hotel we had stayed at and how many stars it had. I asked them what they thought would make a three or four star hotel. They told me that a hotel that had a little fridge should always be a three star hotel and that a four star hotel would definitely have fuzzy bathrobes to wear. We may have a team of future hotel reviewers on our hands here, friends.
When we rolled in to our hotel in Amiens, its ranking was no surprise at all.
The kids said, “Wow, a two star hotel!” When we entered and it smelled like old Chinese food, I was thinking it should have been given one star. That was, until the kids saw an old school vending machine in the foyer and Eamon exclaimed, “They must have made a mistake on the sign! This must be a three star hotel! Look at the soda machine!”
To further boost the credibility of our two star hotel, the next day the kids discovered this in the lobby:
I told them it was to shine their shoes and despite the fact that they were wearing sneakers, they decided to give it a try. At that point, I started chatting with the desk clerk and the next thing I knew, the boys were using the shoe shine machine to clean the French dog shit off the bottoms of their shoes. My apologies to future travelers staying at the Hotel Anzac intending to shine their shoes, who leave smelling like dog shit.
Later that day, when we were checking out Eamon said, “This is a really nice hotel…………especially for a two star hotel.” I’m so glad their standards are low. It’s much harder to be disappointed that way.