Living In Hotels: Day Four

On Monday I “officially” moved into hotels full time, after an exciting 72 hour Cragislist blitz. So far I’ve been living at the Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle, which is about a 15 minute drive from where I used to live in Bellevue.

So, has my life changed radically? Am I going crazy yet?

I figured I’d share my initial thoughts, just four days into this journey:

Being “homeless” hasn’t hit me yet — business as usual

On one hand I expected I’d have strong (and probably mixed) emotions as soon as I moved into hotels full time. I figured I wouldn’t feel a sense of “place,” and that I’d miss the comforts of home. But much to my surprise it really hasn’t fazed me yet.

And I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, since I usually do travel a lot, and so far it doesn’t feel different than any other trip, I guess.

So while I’m surprised I don’t have stronger feelings, when I think about it I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.

I’ve quickly learned the importance of being organized

While I always kept my apartment neat and organized, I have a bad habit of not keeping hotel rooms neat. I usually stay for short periods of time, so just dump everything out of my bag and throw it back in when I’m ready to leave.

Two days into living in hotels I realized this will drive me nuts long term, especially as I’m traveling with a bit more stuff than usual.

So I’ve done what I can to be “neat,” both big picture and small picture. For one, I’ve set up a dedicated laundry bag for dirty clothes (yes, even though I’ve been traveling frequently for close to a decade, this is a novel concept to me — previously I just used different compartments of my bag). And while I’m not unpacking my suitcase, I’m keeping everything in my suitcase neatly.

But I’ve also found it valuable to keep the little things neat. For example, throwing away a gum wrapper instead of putting it on the nightstand, throwing away the soap wrapper after opening it, etc. Using this system has made me feel much more “at home” the past 24 hours.

I’ve figured out a bag system, finally

Yes, it’s true that these are the bags I checked into a hotel with a few days ago.

Moving-Luggage

Full disclosure, the two biggest bags are actually packed up and ready to go to Florida. I’m heading to Florida in a couple of weeks, so figure I’ll fly them there with me rather than shipping them.

But I was still trying to figure out my system for the other bags, and I think I’ve finally established one. My Tumi Alpha 20″ will be my primary bag, so I’ll always have it and my laptop bag on me.

Then the slightly larger bag is my secondary bag, which I also plan on keeping with me. If I’m just doing a quick trip away from my “home base” I’ll just leave that second bag at the hotel, while if I’m actually going somewhere for an extended period of time I’ll take it with me.

I’ve realized I just can’t maintain my sanity while living out of a 20″ bag, and the Olive 8 has been happy to store the second bag for me. So I think that’s the system I’ll go with for now.

The Hyatt Olive 8 is a great home base

All things considered the Olive 8 is an awesome home base:

  • The beds are comfortable
  • The sheets aren’t too thick
  • It has a nice gym, pool, hot tub, steam room, and sauna
  • The lobby area is a nice place to get some work done with lots of outlets
  • There’s a coffee shop in the lobby with reasonably priced cappuccinos
  • As a Diamond member I get complimentary restaurant breakfast, and they have a fairly good breakfast (though Hack My Trip and I disagree on the taste of the breakfast potatoes)

Hyatt-Olive-8

Getting over the temptation of restaurant breakfast

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t review multiple items on the breakfast menu, though I’ve also quickly realized that my pants won’t fit in about two weeks if I have a regular omelet with breakfast potatoes every morning.

So I’ve transitioned to my usual egg white omelet, and am mixing it up with oatmeal/fruit every other day. At least that’s the plan. I’ve managed to stay away from the french toast/pancakes section of the menu, fortunately.

Hyatt-Omelet

Restaurant Week will be the end of me

The past two weeks we’ve had restaurant week in Seattle. As if hotel living wasn’t unhealthy enough to begin with, add in $15 three course lunches and $28 three course dinners at Seattle’s best restaurants, and it just gets plain ugly.

Strawberry rhubarb ice cream sundae for lunch? Sure, why not?

Hyatt-Sundae

Thank goodness it’s over. Now back to the gym.

Seattle people are fascinating

Seattle is such a unique place. My apartment used to be in Bellevue, which is basically the sterile “side” of Seattle. It’s a utopia of sorts, in the sense that it’s so “perfect” that it’s off and just kind of boring.

You know the whole “Keep Portland/Austin weird” slogan? Yeah, well the same kind of applies to Seattle as well. We have some really unique people, and I’m really enjoying that.

I had dinner with a friend on Wednesday, and we were seated so close to the table next to us that you couldn’t help but hear their conversation. Here are some of the gems I got from one of the four ladies at the table:

  • “I’m trying to like figure out what I want to change my last name to. I’m thinking Superstar, because everyone like already calls me that.”
  • “I only wear mens jeans, which I buy at the thrift shop. They fit me better, and I don’t need them altered since rolling them up is my style anyway.”
  • “I still have to like by my Burning Man tickets. It’s going to be totally ratchet this year.”
  • “I’m so busy tomorrow, I have to get my finger tats touched up.”

And it went on and on and on. If she were 20 I wouldn’t have thought twice about any of that (well, except the part about changing her last name, which is just plain weird). The only concerning part is that she mentioned in the conversation she was 44, and that she was starting to feel like she was getting too old for “this stuff”…

Meanwhile over in Bellevue…

Bellevue-meme

Bottom line

So far so good, nothing exciting to report, not that there really should be anything exciting a few days into this.

Thanks to everyone for their support, help, and encouragement with this move and adventure, and looking forward to actually “living” in hotels in some fun places abroad soon. Stay tuned!

Comments

  1. I generally take the hotel laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate/contained in my luggage on longer trips.

  2. I also find it really hard to pass up a “free” breakfast buffet, whether on a cruise ship or in a hotel where we have status.

    As you start this project (?), I’m guessing you might not make an entire year. OTOH, I could see a book coming out of the experience, at least if you show the same discipline to write as you are avoiding the omelets and waffles. ­čÖé

  3. Also, just to cancel out Mark, I really liked this post, look forward to more of them, and I’m happy you wasted a minute of his life.

  4. Are you paying for your daily room out of pocket or with points? Is this more expensive than just renting an apartment?

  5. @ Lucky – glad everything is going well so far. Having a “base” hotel in each region where you can leave extra stuff sounds good.

    Nitpicky question — there are 3 carry-ons in the photo but you only mentioned what you were going to do with 2. Is a third one going to Florida along with suitcases?

  6. @ Lucky – glad that all is ok with you… just out of curiosity… where will your first international “home base” going to be?

  7. @ Miro — Not sure I’d call it a “home base,” but I’ll be in Sicily for a couple of weeks in May, followed by the Middle East for a couple of weeks. So those are my first destinations.

  8. @ Avi — To be honest not totally committed to one over the other. In general what I like about the Olive 8 is that you get a restaurant breakfast and that they have a pool and hot tub, while the Grand Hyatt doesn’t (as a Grand Hyatt guest you can use the pool and hot tub, I believe, but not exactly fun to go outside in Seattle weather to get to the pool).

    Like the Grand Hyatt, but in terms of living in a hotel really not sure it’s a good idea to have easy access to a club lounge with delicious cookies all day.

    But I’ll give the Grand Hyatt a try in a couple of weeks to compare.

  9. @ Maury — All depends on the hotel. At the Olive 8 I’m paying the daily rate, while at other hotels I’ll be using points. I’ll share the exact details with every report.

  10. Sounds exciting. Good luck! I’m trying to encourage some family visiting Seattle to stay at the Hyatt Olive.

  11. Hi Lucky, looking forward in hearing about your hotel adventures. I know you’ll post info on them all. I’m particularly interested on your lodging in Sicily as it is now on my watch list. Thx.

  12. Lucky – would you do it (hotel full-time) if you don’t have hotel status?
    Free wi-fi and breakfast for sure comes in handy

    Obviously you may have top status of all chains by end of this adventure, but please do try some non-chain hotels, especially in Asia, if possible.
    I’m tired of Hyatt hotel reviews as a Canadian and not interested in Hyatt status ­čÖé

  13. I love it! I’m living vicariously through you. (Although I guess I can’t complain too much about my 170 days of travel last year…)

  14. Do some hostels. You will be bored of fancy establishment sooner or later. Even try capsule hotel. It is not as horrible as it sounds. It will be a refreshing change. I personally like capsule and hostel for their cheapness and easy laundry, but I dislike them for unreliable internet sometimes. I like big brands such as Hilton for reliable upgrades.

  15. So does that mean you’ll be coming back to Seattle (and the Olive 8) on a regular basis? In that case how is it much different from having an apartment in Seattle?

  16. If you want a nice little break, there is a doggy day care place one block east at Olive & 9th. It’s like watching the Puppy Bowl, only live.

    See you at SEA FTU.

  17. @ jon — That’s somewhat the plan. Ultimately the whole point in moving into hotels full time is that it ISN’T a radical lifestyle change for me. Previously I was home about a week a month, and it just didn’t make sense to pay rent for that. So really I’m just spending an extra week a month in a hotel.

  18. For what it’s worth, I haven’t had an apartment since I moved out of my student apartment in Rotterdam last August. Since then, I have lived in a student dormitory in Costa Rica, crashed with friends and family, and stayed in everything from hostels to 5-star hotels across four different continents. Maybe it’s easier because I still own a home in the Seattle area, and the renters are gracious enough to let me store stuff in the garage. My parents also own a second home in Phoenix, which I was able to use for a couple of months. For the most part, I’m not missing having a bunch of stuff. I have managed to start a company and spin up offices in two different cities while being–effectively–homeless. Interestingly enough, my housing costs aren’t any more than they were when I lived in Beijing.

    I agree with Yichuan that you should consider mixing things up a little. Unless you’re independently wealthy, high-end hotels are budget-busting (it’s hard to play enough points games to live in hotels full time for free). There is also a sameness to the experience and they all start to run together after awhile. Finally, you’re in Washington state, one of the most spectacular places in the country! Why not get out of town a bit? Experience the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley or visit historic Winthrop this summer. Take a trip to the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth. Check out the oyster harvest at Willapa Bay, and enjoy some of the freshest cranberry juice you have ever tasted at the nearby cranberry bogs. Experience Neah Bay and the splendor of Cape Flattery. And take some time to soak up fresh and funky downtown Olympia. There is a lot to see if you’ll just take the time to do it. ­čÖé

  19. It sounds like you don’t have other activities beyond travel requiring any equipment like golf or photography?

  20. Is this more expensive than just renting an apartment?

    I travel 200 nights a year so keeping an apartment is exactly the same price as if I stayed in a hotel. And the apartment doesn’t clean itself or come with free breakfast or points.

    I can see a lot of appeal in Bens plan.

  21. Lucky, your livelihood is dependent on reliable, reasonably fast Internet connectivity (as is mine). Have you had issues with slow or unreliable Internet at hotels, compared with your home service?

  22. The most interesting part of this adventure, Lucky, is the economics. Could you do a bit of explaining on how that works? A nice apartment in Bellevue is $100 a day, tops. Olive8 is double that, if not more… Did you negotiate a special rate?

  23. Puppy Bowl Live is cuteness overload. If you are having a glum day, walk over there and check it out. Also, there is so much great food around you, especially just a couple blocks up the hill to the Melrose Triangle. I’m in that area almost every night – never gets boring. Never.

  24. @ brianna hoffner — The thing to keep in mind is that over the course of 18 months I never spent more than ten days a month at my apartment, and rarely consecutively. So the comparison isn’t really between a month of rent and a month of hotels – just the marginal cost of hotels for 7-10 nights a month, versus the expense of maintaining a complete apartment.

  25. I’m going to really enjoy watching you live this quite abstract lifestyle, it’ll be quite educational and and adventurous. Best of luck and don’t forget to visit during these beautiful PNW summers!

  26. I look forward to hearing about your interactions with various hotel staff as they gradually realize you are not just visiting.

    Also, how do you handle housekeeping/tipping?

  27. Hi Lucky,
    Glad to hear it is going well, I’m curious what your estimating your monthly costs to be? what will all this cost you in cash vs points? and I know as you stay you will earn more points if you are paying for stays but how many points are you starting out with. I would love to live in hotels but I’m not sure I can afford it without a boat load of points.

    Maybe you can figure out an average cost per night, I’d be curious.

    Thanks

  28. I use a Travel Berkey and sometime a “Go Berkey” to purify all the water I drink in hotels.

    The Go Berkey holds a quart of water is small enough for carry-on for small trips.

    In honor of Ben making this big move, I set up a coupon code “lucy5” for 5% off.

    Happy travels all!

  29. Anyone in Austin with a “Keep Austin Weird” bumper sticker in the year 2014 should be forced to wear clown shoes for a month.

  30. Staying in hotels you will miss out on one of the best parts. That warm feeling of anticipation you get near the end of a trip where you look forward to your own bed / TV / “place” to truly relax. Even the toughest road warrior gets it. It will be interesting to see your reactions and feelings once you go past your ‘usual’ trip time away and hotel living stretches out into the distance. Good luck though and stay same. (Spoken by a person who spent 368 days continuously at the Intercon Mumbai and stayed sane -barely!)

  31. Some hotel chains allow you to accrue lifetime status levels. Are you planning to cross those thresholds during your year-long adventure so that later in life you will always have elite hotel chain status?

  32. Is this the new blogger schtick? This now makes at least 4 that are now “permanently” traveling and blogging about it. Books have been written. Since everything you spend will be written off as “business” expenses, it kind of makes it much easier to do than commenter’s realize. This trend is becoming like the “reality” shows, seen one, seen them all.

  33. Lucky, you pretty much nailed the Bellevue vs. Seattle thing. Having gown up in Bellevue and graduated from Bellevue High School (“Hot Tub High”), moving to Capitol Hill in Seattle was a very welcome and positive change of pace. I think my mom summed it up best when they came over for dinner shortly after I moved to the hill, “I love this neighborhood! You see more f@#$%-up sh@t in one block here than you see in a decade in Bellevue!”

    But to be honest I’m getting bored with Seattle. The need to be different is starting to go a bit too far and is becoming rather clich├ę. One can handle only so much hipster attitude! But that’s one reason why I’m training to be a pilot. I can’t think of a better way to explore the world than getting paid to do it!

  34. @ Chris — This far I’ve only been staying at a hotel a few nights at a time, so haven’t done anything differently. Agree it will be interesting going forward!

  35. @ Chris — That’s a good idea. I’ve mostly been thinking of the marginal costs here, given that I was already spending 20-25 nights a month in hotels, but I’ll see what I can put together.

  36. @ Bob — I will probably hit lifetime gold status with SPG in the next year, but it’s not something I’m focused on, necessarily.

  37. Lucky, what do you do for cash on all your travels? How do you tip bell-hops for instance bringing all your bags up? Taxis where no cc are accepted?

  38. lucky,

    So do you take all those bags with you? Or do you store some between layovers. They can’t all fly for free.

  39. Lucky, I’m especially interested in the “practicalities”, in which I would include:
    – analyzing the economics fairly closely (dining out, laundry, tux rental, etc.; all the stuff that if you had a “base” might not occur. Seems as though many are interested in this aspect.)
    – clothing versatility issues. Okay, so only about twice a month do I wear my field boots. However, packable loafers aren’t exactly a substitute. What to do, what to do. (Also, see “tux” above.)

  40. I love the Hyatt Olive 8. That’ my go to in Seattle. Great food and solid upgrades for Diamond members. The Presidential Suite is crazy big and was perfect for having the family there.

  41. On a side question Lucky, how much do you value a stay at Hyatt property? I remembered you valued each stay at Starwood somewhat around 17-23 USD? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks

  42. @ Alan — I’d say about $25 sounds fair, but since they’re constantly running promotions, I rarely have to put much thought into it.

  43. I think that’s a fair valuation. I’d say a stay credit at Hyatt is marginally more valuable than Starwood’s.

  44. Lucky,

    now that you’ve been living full time in hotels for… a few weeks, any new thoughts?

    I also have a question – after reading your pet peeves – about hotel hygiene issues. Ever have a problem with using their pillows/blankets/bedsheets? They must wash them quite well, but still… who knows what one has done what in those beds? All those young active couples, honeymooning couples, one night stands ;-)… Then there are those who sleep naked. All those bodily fluids. Gross.

    Maybe I need to start bringing my sleeping bag to hotels next time.

  45. @ Charlie — Will have another post soon about my feelings thus far. Totally agree re: beds. I try to just not think about it. Gross!

  46. Hi, what kind of bag is the smallest one in the pic? Need something similar now that Ryanair allows a second bag ­čÖé

  47. Wow this is awesome! On your ‘home base’ hotel, will you be checking out every time you fly out and leave your stuff in concierge or do you have the same room booked indefinitely?
    Looking forward to an update on your hotel living in about 6 months time. I did this for a year (but in an entirely different circumstance ) and the packing/ unpacking drove me nuts – as I had to check out and leave my ‘main bag’ to the concierge everytime I flew out which is the biggest pain. Anyway I hope you enjoy the full time move ­čÖé

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