VIDEO: RV vs. Hotel (A Slightly Biased View)

Posted In: RV Lifestyle, Video

Being travel enthusiasts, my wife and I have stayed everywhere from flea-infested hostels, to skanky motels, to cozy bed & breakfasts, to five-star resorts. I’d like to think we’ve learned something about hotels, and how they compare vis-a-vis RVs. So let’s ponder the timeless question: “What’s better, staying in an RV or in a hotel?”

Probably the most elegant hotel atmosphere I’ve enjoyed has been the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, at Christmastime. During my stay, the President of the United States was also staying at the Waldorf. I ran into Peyton and Archie Manning in the downstairs bar (Peyton was up for the Heisman that year). Heady times to be sure, but after three nights the final tab was enough to buy three months in a campground. And Peyton didn’t win the Heisman.

The Waldorf wasn’t the nicest hotel room I’ve experienced. That honor probably goes to a Four Seasons hotel, also in Manhattan. Since they lost my reservation at the front desk, a kind clerk upgraded my room to a suite. Apology accepted, thank you sir. The Four Seasons suite was so plush and comfortable, it taught me a lesson applicable to RVs. You don’t need a lot of space to be happy; you need everything to be done just right.

That brings me to our Airstream travel trailer, and how it compares to staying in a hotel. We don’t have acres of space in our RV. We have no balconies, nor a full size desk paired with Aeron chair. There’s no turndown service (yes, we have to fold down the covers of our own bed — the humanity!). We don’t have any slideouts. Our ceilings are just tall enough, but you won’t find us doing a lot of jumping jacks inside. It’s a compact space, to be sure.

But everything is done just right. There’s quality oak in the cabinetry, the bed and sofa are comfortable, and we’ve got plenty of windows for sunlight. We have a full kitchen with oven, Corian counter tops, and a well stocked refrigerator. This is where we begin to explore the advantages of an RV. It’s all about what you like.

Our RV bed has one of those foam mattress covers that’s incredibly comfortable. We sleep on our own pillows, on our favorite 600 thread-count sheets, beneath a nice comforter. The shower is stocked with our own soaps and shampoos. The aforementioned refrigerator contains our favorite snacks and drinks. We’ve got our own HDTV, and my own video games console is tucked beneath it.

The point here is simple — we not only have the necessities on our RV, we have OUR FAVORITES. It’s loaded with our personal stuff, and being inside feels like home. Traveling by RV has brought new meaning to the phrase “home away from home.” This isn’t rented space; it’s our space.

Then there’s the cleanliness factor. Sure, the nicer hotels appear to be clean. But are they really? I’ve been told that most hotels DON’T WASH THE BEDSPREADS. Heck, some hotels don’t even properly wash the glassware. Ewwwwww. Simply stated, if you want to stay in a germ free hotel room, you need to pack a large can of Lysol and a bucket of bleach. And a small, portable flamethrower wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I’m reminded of our all-time WORST hotel experience. It occurred in New Haven, Connecticut. My wife and I were road tripping up the east coast. We booked the room online, paying about $100 in advance. By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was well after midnight. We were thoroughly exhausted, and really couldn’t safely drive another mile.

Stepping into the dark, rundown motel lobby, I immediately feared for my safety. There were several shifty looking people loitering in the lobby. Who loiters in a decrepit motel lobby after midnight? After accepting our room key, we quickly retreated to our quarters, and deadbolted the door.

The room itself offered your standard 40-year old motel accommodations, its thin wood paneling emitting a distinct aroma of cigarettes and body odor. We turned on the 1970s-era television, and were greeted by “complimentary” videos that would make an Amsterdam street walker blush. The shower and tub were covered with a thin layer of (hopefully?) human filth. The “towels” were thin, dingy polyester rags not suitable for scrubbing a pickup truck. We slept that night with one eye open, never feeling either clean or safe. When dawn arrived, we were happy to skip our showers and hit the road. Heck, we were just happy to have survived.

So, back to the original question: RV or hotel? Given the choice of RV or hotel, in most situations (ie. unless you’re offering a Waldorf Astoria or Four Seasons), I’m choosing RV. The RV is less expensive, more clean, just as comfortable — and it’s got my favorite cold beverage in the fridge.

What about you? If you have an RV, do you still stay in hotels? How would you compare the two experiences?

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