If there was a black book with the names of hotel experts, Becca Hensley would be the lead, the thumbed page, and the one I’d seek out first. Her knowledge of the world’s best is extensive. It is far more than that though; her ability to capture the very essence of a hotel is astounding. More importantly her words share that experience and nobody does it better.
Beyond that I have been blessed by traveling with Becca on rare occasions. It isn’t by coincidence that when I am asked about my favorite trips, Becca was there. The laughs and conversations are livelier, in fact that doubles when her lovely daughter Lizzy is aboard. One word of warning, Becca keeps herself in amazing shape and a short walk with her will have you begging for a break! Luckily for us Becca agreed to share some of her insights about hotels and just how important the right choice is.
Hotels are like love affairs. There are the ones that sweep you off your feet at first meeting; these seduce you at first sight. They have you at hello before you’ve even seen your guestroom.
Then, there are those that serve a purpose. They are the best date in the best spot for the best occasion—and they will do in a pinch—yet, might be a destination in themselves.
Others, surprise you. At first, you are not impressed. But after some days, you yield to an everyday, almost secure pattern of life that must surely date back years.
Most of all, I like a hotel with sense of place. When you sleep there, you never doubt where you are or why you’ve ventured here. And, I want it to be in a hotel that appeared as a vision in somebody’s mind, late at midnight beneath the full moon. How can that not be enchantment? I yearn for magic rooms with big bathtubs, bottles of champagne and Lucy Honeychurch approved windows with a view.
I like staff that act a bit uppity, who all the while have eyes that stare warmly at you with just a hint of a smile. I like intimacy and history—funk, beauty and a penchant for eclecticism and a certain disregard of the status quo. Literal white-gloved service is nice, but so is sincere man handled rough and tough stuff. I don’t want one room to look like another. I like a concierge who actually can answer your questions.
Mostly, I hate big brands—even when they are luxurious. I want something that goes beyond “are you rich enough to pay?.” The people working at the hotel while I am there—well, I want them to enjoy their jobs, to treat you nicely because that is how they’ve been raised and I want these people to have a great affection for nature and space. And there must be kindness and concern—and of course very, very comfortable beds.
Travel & Lifestyle Journalist
National Geographic Traveler, Toronto Star, Fodors, Austin American Statesman, Washington Flyer, Austin Monthly, San Antonio Magazine, Spa, American Way, Private Clubs, Smart Luxury Travel, Mariner, Lexus-, France Guide, jetsetter.com, cnn.com, nypost.com-among others
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