As summer 2007 winds to a close, I thought I should recap some of the places I called home when away from home. Let's start south of the equator, where it was not, in fact summer at all.
The Hotel Presidente - Aguas Caliente, Peru
With its standard issue, wooly alpaca blankets and staticy TV with maybe three channels, mostly soccer, The Hotel Presidente was a welcome oasis after three rather frosty nights sleeping in a tent high in the Andes. While tent camping included such amenties as a cow standing just outside the toilet tent, curious children chasing dogs through our campsite, the late night sounds of a fellow camper's vomiting, and a "jacuzzi" (a plastic bowl of luke warm water for us to wash the dust off our face and hands), the Hotel Presidente had something much better: a shower! Sure it had no shower curtain, but it had partially warm water and Johnsons Baby Shampoo in little packets.
In all seriousness though, the Presidente had magnificent river and mountain views from our balcony and a very adorable llama painting above the beds. Plus it was conveniently located nearby Machu Picchu and offered super strong coffee at the continental breakfast. Which we enjoyed at 4:30 am when we woke to catch the bus. So actually my time at Presidente was mostly showing up, taking a long bath, taking a nap, and then leaving to climb another mountain.
My Friend Sam's Family's Cabin - The Adirondacks, New York
Unless you are pals with Sam or any of his cousins or siblings, you won't be visiting the family cabin. But take my word that this is a true family treasure with bare wood walls, a big roaring fireplace, several rooms with cozy beds for at least ten people, and a big deck full of Adirondack chairs and hammocks for relaxin'. Among the family ephemera (dating back five generations) was an impressive bear skin rug, caught and skinned, supposedly, by some relative pictured here.
Best thing in my bedroom, beside the bunk beds and a poster from the 1980 Olympics, was a Bill Cosby vinyl record. It was like a time capsule from my own childhood.
The Standard - West Hollywood, Los Angeles
I'm writing to you now from my very retro/utilitarian room at The Standard, seated in front of an enormous mirror wearing the white hotel robe. Not because I just got out of the bright orange shower, no, just because it was hanging in the closet and I like to try everything.
The Standard is an older hotel with a lot of cred for being "the" place to stay in West Hollywood, though apparetly not as hip as the Downtown location with its rooftop pool. Still, the WeHo Standard is where the ladies on Sex and the City stayed, and it was featued in Oceans 12, and it has a girl in her undies hanging out in a glass case behind the reception desk, so I'm still pretty impressed. As advertised on the website, the lobby features floor-to-ceiling shag carpeting (which sounds gross actually, but is somehow sorta neat) and every room has a baby cacti. I don't think I've seen a single person here over 40 unless they were in some entourage following a band around the pool or the cocktail bar.
But how does the place measure up as a home away from home? Well without a doubt it looks cool. The colors are bright and the decor is minimal. But minimal just doesn't jive with my personal style and I'm left feeling pretty uncomfortable in my utilitarian surroundings. Thankfully the utilitarian, hospital-motif bed's pillows are comfy and plentiful, which also helps drown out the thumping bass seeping into my room from the lobby below. The milkshakes in the 24 hour diner are excellent, but avoid the hotel bar unless you prefer table service vodka and Red Bull and care to watch girls give their boyfriends lapdances.
Not sure how I feel about the giant silver beanbag chairs.