Sunday, 12 October 2008

#38 – Stay at a hotel that is a story in itself

Or sorting the genuinely unique from the PR flannel.

Unique hotels
Just about every hotel in the world likes to think of itself as unique and worthy of coverage. Very few of them are, beyond a little factbox mention at the bottom of the article.
It never ceases to amaze me, however, that the PR people from hotels seem to think that the stories I write will largely be about the hotel. I’ve seen some instances (with other writers) where this is the case, and usually they are downright tedious to read.

Somewhere to stay
For most of us, a hotel is somewhere to stay whilst visiting a city or area. It may be really nice, but essentially it’s a place to rest the head for the night. For the travel writer, in particular, the emphasis should be firmly on exploring the area and chasing down story angles.

A story in itself
But one good way to get more stories (and thus more money) from a trip is to stay somewhere that genuinely is a story in itself.
Be warned. These places are very rare, but the PR people will desperately try and convince you that their place is truly unique with some blather about a new environmental initiative or mild refurbishment.
90% of the time, this is clutching at straws and trying desperately to get unwarranted publicity, but just occasionally they have a point.

Hotel examples
There are a few examples that I can think of. Altamer in Anguilla is one – mainly because of the celebrities that have stayed there in the past and the jaw-dropping prices. Another is the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados – again, largely because of its reputation for celebrity guests.

Sydney Hotel stories
I can think of two in Sydney, Australia – the Russell because it’s supposedly haunted, and the Stamford Plaza because that’s where INXS frontman Michael Hutchence died after his sexual experimentation went horribly wrong.

More hotels – from Liverpool to Los Angeles
The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles hosted the first Oscars ceremony, the Hard Day’s Night in Liverpool, England has a Beatles theme, and the Hotel Fox in Copenhagen has a series of mad rooms all designed by individual artists.

Genuinely unique gimmicks
All of these make for a good story on their own, and there are others around the world with celebrity links, or genuinely unique gimmicks and themes. They may cost more to stay in than a bog standard hotel, but that couple of nights can be recouped with an article sale or two.

Commission in advance
Even better, if you can get a commission to write about it in advance, the PR people may arrange for a complimentary stay.

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