“Heads in Beds: a Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality” (Doubleday), by Jacob Tomsky
Room upgrades. Free movies. Late checkouts. Jacob Tomsky promises readers the keys to the hotel industry kingdom in his tell-all book, “Heads in Beds.” The one-time philosophy major has spent more than a decade working in the industry and, like room service, he delivers the goods.
Take those extra charges for movies and the minibar. Tomsky tells readers they’re the most frequently disputed charges on guests’ bills. Just deny you ever watched it or ate it and it’ll come right off the bill. Going to incur a same-day cancellation charge? No worries, ask to move the reservation to another date without penalty, then cancel the new reservation later. Want to get upgraded to a nicer room? Try tipping the check-in agent $20 upfront.
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But Tomsky also gives readers good reasons to be on their best behaviour at hotels. Raise your voice and you may get “key bombed.” That’s where Tomsky, a front desk agent, programs your room key in a way that virtually ensures you will be locked out at some point in your stay. Give the front desk agent attitude and you may get stuck in a room where the phone rings incessantly, the result of guests forgetting to dial 9 when using their room phones to call out.
Beyond tips, Tomsky has packed his book with outrageous anecdotes about guests. There’s the celebrity who asked for several of the hotel’s potpourri bowls because he wanted to eat cereal out of them. Then there’s the frequent guest who refused any room number where the digits didn’t add up to nine. And, finally, there’s the group that built a fire under their suite’s claw foot bathtub, hoping to turn it into a deep fryer.
In fairness, Tomsky tells outrageous stories about the hotel staff, too: a valet learning to drive a stick shift using an overnight guest’s car, housekeepers using furniture polish on glasses to keep them spotless and a bellman who allegedly peed in a guest’s bottle of cologne after he was stiffed on a tip.
Tomsky has only worked at hotels in New Orleans and New York, so readers may wonder if his tips will work anywhere else. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But his stories are so good, it almost doesn’t matter.
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