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10 tips for feeling at home in a hotel

Monday, November 26, 2012

A bit over three years ago, my husband got a job in Singapore and moved there from the Netherlands.

Due to circumstances I can not do the same, so since then my life looks like this: three months in Haarlem (in the Netherlands), three months in Singapore, three months in Haarlem, etcetera. When in Haarlem I live in my own house, in Singapore we rent an apartment.

With my dear cat Guust in my garden in the Netherlands.
Livingroom Haarlem.

My garden in Haarlem.

Going for lunch and a photoshoot with a good friend in Singapore.

The Sail, our condo in Singapore.

The three months in Singapore are sometimes mainly spent there, while other times we are 'on the road' a lot. My last two Singapore periods were actually mainly spent in India. In those cases we stay in (luxury) hotels.

Being all over the globe all the time, it is very important for me to make myself at home, even when I am not!  My husband works all day and meets colleagues, I usually spend way more time in the hotel (-room). We are not on a holiday, although staying in a hotel. So I could easily feel uprooted, lost and lonely. Fortunately I seldom do.

How to make yourself feel at home when not at home?

1. Always unpack completely, right away, using the drawers and cupboards in the room. Being there often for a longer period, we have quite some clothes with us, so I ask for (a lot!) more hangers. I also ask for things that are important to 'live' comfortably and 'as we normally do', if not present when we check in. This could be an extra chair or desk, a scale, a dvdplayer, two plates and cutlery, etc. Usually the hotel is very cooperative to fulfill these requests.

Flowers on the table, clothes hanging in the walk-in closet, laptops on the desk.

2. Read the local newspapers everyday and try to get your hands on local magazines, like Time Out. It's interesting, it gives you a feel of what is going on in your temporary environment and it provides you with information about events and itineraries.

3. Bring or buy some personal items for the room, like a small statue that you like, flowers or candles. 

Three elephants/Ganesha's decorate our hotel room in Pune.

The staff provided us with fresh flowers regularly.

4. Be kind and personal to the staff, after all they may be your next-best-thing to being with friends. I have had great and heartwarming experiences, e.g. when being ill or injured. Handwritten get-well-cards, cakes, gifts, kind meant the world to me. Not to mention very simply the smiles on the staff members faces when they greet you. Who does not like a friendly face?

This girl, Poona, excelled in her personal service.

The Westin Hotel Pune's name tags with everyone's hobby are good conversation starters.

There were three insect-killing staff members working in shifts; these people are usually forgotten when guests give tips, so I pay special attention to including them in my farewell tips.

In Manila the girls from the hotel staff all wore gorgeous lipstick, a good topic for some warm, girlie smalltalk.

The hotel manager saw my eczema and brought me a handwritten card and a box with natural, handmade soaps. So kind!

When I had the flu in the Westin Hotel in Pune, the team of one of the restaurants gave me this handwritten card; very sweet.

When this hotel found out that I had blogged (positively) about them, they brought this card and a bottle of wine to the room.

When we checked out, we got this giant chocolate cake.

5. Keep in touch with your friends and family back home. I use all the means available to me: Skype, FaceTime, email, snail mail (letters and postcards), phone calls and social media. It's nice and keeps me from feeling lonely or disconnected.

6. Try to meet new people. Personally I am a bit hesitant to make friends in the hotel itself. First of all most of them are short-stayers. Secondly, if that other long-stayer turns out to be not such a good match after all, but he/she feels differently about that, then a hotel is a small place where you may keep bumping into each other all the time. Akward! 

Hotelguest in fantasy outfit, Manilla

So I prefer to meet people in other ways and places. I am fortunate to be 'into Argentine Tango', which is a sort of a mondial and international  subculture. Find out where and when there is a dance evening in your temporary town, show up and voila...a room full of potential new friends! Really awesome! 

House milonga in Mumbai

Owner and host, milonga, Mumbai. Kitu and I became friends after I DJed in her salon.

Dancing in salon, Mumbai.

7. Bring your own music and music player. It's very pleasant and comforting to be able to play the music you love in your hotel room, or to listen to your favorite music (headset) while lying at the pool. 

8. Bring your own DVD's. Often the TVchannels in the hotel show nothing interesting, while pay TV may be expensive and still not offer what you would like to watch. So I buy some nice movies and series (detectives) in Holland, with subtitles in my own language, that I can watch in my room. Hmmm, cosy! If you don't mind the movies being in english without subtitles, you can also buy them in your temporary city.

9. Be sure to bring whatever you need to entertain yourself. For me that means that I always bring two laptops (one for my music, as I DJ as well, and one for my pictures), my iPad and my iPhone. 

I DJ in the Netherlands, Singapore, India and wherever I am wherever they want me;-)

A lot, I know, but with that I can do my photography, blogging, social media, emailing, DJing and whatever I would like. 

Many things I can do wherever whenever, thanks to the modern media: writing articles for La Cadena, the Dutch tango magazine....

...and blogging for NotaTourist, a Singaporean website where I am one of the writers....

Never a dull moment, this way. I also always bring a pair of tangoshoes so that I can go dancing. 

My tango shoes adorned with Heels Diva shoe accessories from my best friend in Singapore.

10. Bring your loved one along! In my case it is usually the other way around: my husband is sent somewhere for his work and I come along. Not everybody has a spouse, but I am blessed with a great guy! Even though he is working a lot, also in the evenings and weekends, he will come back to the hotel at one point. This means the world to me. Knowing that he is 'around' helps me to do my own thing and to cope with being alone most of the time. 

At the beach in Phuket.

Rooftop bar Mumbai

Taj Mahal, Agra.
All the above helps me to feel at home wherever I am, to stay rooted and sane, and to have a good time, even when alone in my hotel room for days ;-) ....


  1. Lovely article, good tips and great photos Anja!

  2. What an interesting article, Anja, I love reading about your life on the go and how you keep busy when your husband is working.
    It's lovely to see you holding hands together and obviously in love.

    1. Yes, we are, Aileen;-). Thank you for your feedback!

  3. You are so lucky. You guys look great together. This is what I want when my son goes to college. I look forward to living life through your eyes.

    1. Yes, we are lucky, Thriftygirl. Hope you get to do this yourself! Thanks for reading my post and leaving your comment.


Hello there! Thanks for engaging with my blog by leaving a comment. I always reply to comments, so be sure to check back for that. Have a nice day! Anja, Curly Traveller

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