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Heuristics for Finding a Superior Hotel: Glass Showers and Superior Mixology

May 12, 2013

Some of us travel way too much. When our friends ask us where they should stay in a particular city on planet Earth we actually have an answer. This blog exists for my friends (though since the early days it has taken on a life of its own and now lots of people I don’t even know read it). So other than reading this blog, how do you judge whether a hotel is worthy?

I developed two heuristics for determining in advance whether a hotel is likely to be a good place to stay. Number one, and the reason behind the name of this blog, is a glass shower. Simply put, if the shower in your room is glass, you’re good. And if the shower in your room is built on top of a bathtub with a plastic shower curtain—you should run away.

Heuristic one: Glass shower

Plastic shower at the Marriott (well, what did you expect?!).

Plastic shower at the Marriott (well, what did you expect?!).

Kimpton shower cube equals good.

Kimpton shower cube equals good.

Heuristic two is much more difficult to find out there in the world than glass showers. It’s a bar that does not suck. Oh, every hotel has a bar. And they all think they have a “full bar” whatever that means. Most of them are trapped in the “we have eight different vodkas” days which are long since gone. (For the record, vodka is boring.) And most of them couldn’t make an interesting drink to save their lives. (A mojito is not interesting, and neither is a cosmopolitan.) What discriminating travelers want is some serious mixology. Why? Because we care as much about a beautifully constructed beverage as we do about a gorgeous meal.

When you find a hotel that meets both of these heuristics, you’re in luck. Know why? Because hotels with a great bar program and glass showers also have superior management, great staff, and a clue about what you like.

Want an example or two? Well, you’re in luck. I am a big fan of the Kimpton chain and have been for years. I prefer them to every other chain I have ever come across. And what sets some Kimptons apart from others is a great bar. Chicago Palomar? Superb bar. World class. Phenomenal property. San Francisco Palomar? Great bar. And the best staff in the business to boot. But what about New York? I like 70 Park, but 70 Park needs a great bar.

Forward thinking General Managers will immediately grasp what a great bar can do for a property. It will transform it from a great place to stay into a great destination even for locals. Build buzz. Create a community. And at the same time advance the art of the bar.

What constitutes a great bar in my book? Well it needs to be at least as well stocked as my own bar ar home. And I would really like to learn something from the professionals working behind it!

So happy travels. And may the bar be with you.

CIMG2580

One Response to “Heuristics for Finding a Superior Hotel: Glass Showers and Superior Mixology”


  1. […] A visit with my brother and Esther to the bar revealed a nice space with a decent bar run by Obi and Joe. There is some trace residual Jacques evidence, but all in all the bar is not quite where it needs to be yet. […]


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