Unlike Eloise, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City and said, of hotel living:
I absolutely love the Plaza!
I have not expressed the same joy during my six weeks at the Residence Inn.
It’s not because there’s anything terribly wrong with the Residence Inn in Bellevue, Washington. In fact, as Residence Inns go, I would think this is one of the nicest ones. It’s always clean, the staff is friendly, helpful and respectful, the (newly upgraded while we were here) televisions are HD and have Netflix, and the refrigerator in our 2 room accommodations is full size. You notice I did not refer to our two rooms as a “suite,” as the Residence Inn does, because, well, to me a suite indicates luxury, and while there are many ways you can describe this hotel in a positive light, luxurious is not one of them.
We have lived at the Residence Inn, for 6 weeks, during the darkest, dreariest time of the year here in Washington State. The sun rose at 8 am and set at 4 pm when we first arrived. Upon arriving, I got a miserable cold that became a nasty cough and kept me in bed for most of our first week here (Happy New Year!!!). Everywhere we went those first few weeks, when we told people we had relocated from California, they would all say the same thing –
You came at the worst time. Summer is beautiful here! Just wait!
Summer better be pretty freaking amazing.
We went apartment hunting the day after we arrived. Even with a miserable cold, I knew (and my husband did too) that finding a home was going to be the best way to make me feel comfortable in our new city. I already knew where I wanted to live, having spent countless hours scouring rental sites and Yelp reviews to see where the best place to live is in Bellevue, and sure enough, that’s where we found our apartment. I was very happy – except for one small thing – we had to wait 6 weeks to move in.
So we headed back to the Residence Inn with optimism and bags of groceries, and started our lives in Bellevue.
A few days into our stay, the novelty of hotel living was quickly wearing thin. And so, even with a miserable cold, I headed out into the dreary, rainy weather to find the local Target so I could spruce up the place.
It may seem silly, but I bought a couple of throw pillows, a cozy blanket, a warm comforter, and two large coffee mugs. I also got an inexpensive pitcher where I could put flowers, my favorite soap and shampoo, and fuzzy socks. I got extra hangers, a Tempurpedic pillow, cute bowls for my dog’s food and water and a little file case to keep my papers. I bought my favorite Peet’s coffee, Triscuits, hummus and bottled water.
That kind of helped – but not much. The flowers were a nice touch, the comforter was a big hit with my husband, and the coffee, which is usually delicious, always tastes a little off because, I think, the coffeemaker is in need of a serious vinegar cleaning – which I am not going to do.
I tip the housekeepers well, and the houseman who brings me my laundry, too (which I send out – expensive but totally worth it). I smile at the receptionists and thank them every time they do anything nice. I don’t talk to other guests because that’s just not my thing, but I did bang on the door that connects to the room next to ours when the kids in it were screaming one night – there was a hockey tournament in town. Since then, it’s been fairly quiet.
Being a long-term resident of a hotel is an odd experience. It has been even more strange, I think, because this is all unfamiliar to me – the city, the streets, the faces. You get used to living in a place – you get familiar with the surroundings, with the way the air feels and the way the light shines. You see people over and over, and even if you hardly ever speak – to the grocery checker, or the neighbor down the street, or the people you unconsciously pass by each day, hardly aware of each other – you know a place. And even more important, you are known. Here, in Bellevue, at this point, the only people who know me at all are the people who work here, at the Residence Inn. They have become my little micro-community – even if they don’t know it.
In a few days, we will be moving out of the Residence Inn and into our new apartment, where we will unpack our things, hang up our clothes, cook a meal and feel, finally, at home. I am sure that we will talk about the past six weeks in the months and years to come and remember that, as with other tough, or strange, or odd experiences in our marriage, we made it through and it made us better.
But…the next time I have to live an hotel for a long time, it better be the Plaza. I’m sure, like Eloise, I would absolutely love it.