If Kitchen Confidential made you squirm over all your restaurant meals, get ready for a full body spasm regarding past hotel stays while reading Jacob Tomsky’s often hilarious but darkly informative hotel memoir, Heads In Beds: A Reckless Memoir Of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality. Tomsky has worked every job at a hotel from valet parking on up and he spills the goods on everything. Reader, you will cringe. Through his alter ego Tommy Jacobs, Tomsky gives the reader a look at every trick, every hustle in the hotel playbook. But it isn’t all bad news, he also showcases the heroes, the ones who go the extra mile, or ten, to make sure a visit is memorable.
Amid the tales of celebrity misadventures, overbooked rooms, and crazy customers, there is plenty of advice on how to get the most out of your hotel stay. Truly, however, it boils down to a few key points: ask clearly for what you want, be nice, and be prepared to tip generously. There is generally always a better room, a special amenity, or an additional service that can be unlocked with a little cash and kindness. Should you want to skate out on the minibar or that blue movie you ordered, there’s a way to do that too.
Tomsky waxes philosophical at times, at times descending into a rough poetry including a paragraph-length sentence devoted to the scene of a late night in New Orleans. He also probes the psyche of the hotel guest, who tends to act with a reckless abandon missing from his or her daily life. “I wandered the hallways every day like a guard in the house of reinvention.” Indeed, the anonymous room, the total removal of all things familiar, replaced with a staff eager to make sure you are pleased, can inspire a guest to all sorts of mischief. The hotel staff, however, sees all and as Tomsky proves again and again, they aren’t shy about gossiping about it.
The book is a foul-mouthed delight and it drives home one essential lesson, a little cash can unlock a world of hotel delights. The next time you are checking in, smile slightly, make eye contact, lay some cash on the counter, and just ask. You never know what might happen.