Monday, October 01, 2007

Professor Magnet Hotel

Later this fall I will be traveling to a large city to which I’ve traveled a number of times in the past ~ 20 years. A long time ago, I found a hotel that I really like, so I typically stay there. I have never bothered to read reviews of this hotel before, perhaps because I started staying there in the pre-online review era and already know that I like this hotel. Out of curiosity, I looked it up online recently and found to my surprise that this hotel is “favored by academics”.

I find it disconcerting that being a professor so pervades every molecule of my being that I am subconsciously attracted to a particular kind of hotel. When I’ve stayed at this hotel before, I have not noticed that it is swarming with professorial people. Next time, I will look around and see if there are people in shirts that look like graph paper or people dressed all in black editing manuscripts in the breakfast room.

I’m not sure what specifically makes this hotel a professor magnet. The hotel is architecturally interesting (= charming), smallish (= cozy), and conveniently located in the city center. So..?


EcoGeoFemme said...

Is it near a university?

Female Science Professor said...


Angie said...

If that is what makes a hotel "favored by academics", then I'm going to start looking for that designation when I'm searching for hotels!

Auntie Em said...

More importantly, is it cheap..?

In all seriousness and speaking as a UK postdoc, academic allowances for conference travel are pretty derisory where I work.

When traveling for pleasure, my partner (another academic) and I look for places that don't have a load of organised activities. Places where you can be left in peace because the staff and fellow guests just get the fact that, for some people at least, reading is the first and favoured pleasure. Places where they spend more time an perfecting the food menus than they do on inventing new double entendres for the cocktail menus. And places that are cheap- because let's face it, a postdoc's salary is not that great either.

Anonymous said...

I suspect you've been attracted to the same characteristics as other members of your tribe.

There's an intriguing series of portraits by a dutch (I think) photographer who took hundreds of pictures of people in different groups (grunge, gypsies, skinheads, . . . . The remarkable characteristic of how similar the individual members of the group look. Everyone expects conformity from the corporate lawyer, but it was true for every group (through this photographer's lens).

But, you really have to go further than just look at people at the hotel out of the corner of your eye. You have to take out the piece of graph paper (or wear a graph paper shirt) and make a little bar graph of people's professions at the hotel. Then, you can go back to the website and post the actual distribution.


PS: I'm really not joking.

Anonymous said...

The concierge probably asks people why they are staying at the hotel and somewhere they keep a basic log of it, and that's been noted. A lot of business and single travelers will be drawn to such a hotel because it's a lot more appealing to those people than 'this hotel is frequented by exhausted parents who flew 12 hours through 3 different cities with 4 kinds under the age of 10, who are never going to be tired ever again'. Academics say 'we're quiet, peaceful, reasonable, and reliable'.

Female Science Professor said...

This hotel does not have a concierge, does not have a restaurant (except for breakfast), and has no organized activities -- it's just a small charming place with small charming rooms and 'atmosphere'.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... does it have fre wireless internet ? That is the deal breaker for me :-)

James Annan said...

Probably the reviewer was staying there at the same time as you and noticed your unmistakably professorial appearance :-)

Unknown said...

Maybe they host a lot of academic conferences?

Female Science Professor said...

This is a SMALL hotel. VERY VERY SMALL. No conferences.

Global Girl said...

Well, I can tell you that's the complete opposite of what I'm looking for in a hotel. I like big hotel chains, preferably four-star or above, with nice cocktail bars, mints on my pillow, and at least two restaurants. Lack of marble floors and dirty wall-to-wall carpets will be noted with disapproval, as will lack of polite concierge and large, yet stylish chandeliers in the lobby. At least one of the restaurants should have a nice nighttime view and a head chef who knows how to keep his staff in line. Basically, I like hotels in which people in shorts and t-shirts look weird.

Perhaps whatever it is that drives you toward academia and me toward business also influences our hotel preferences? I lived in an apartment compound associated with a four-star hotel as a child, and I imagine that shaped my idea of what a hotel is like a fair bit. I still feel like I've come home at a Hilton or a Marriott. My desire to be a businesswoman comes a lot from the fact that that is the world that I grew up in as a TCK. I'm not expecting you to share your childhood social circumstances, but perhaps this could be food for thought.

Anonymous said...

a really small hotel near seattle downtown? I would like to know where you found it..

Female Science Professor said...

Who said anything about Seattle?

global girl: I was raised by cats.

Mark Whybird said...

Dear FSP:

This is unrelated to your present post; sorry about that. It has more to do with gender lenses, I suppose.

I was wanting to point out this post:

for your reading pleasure.

Mark Whybird

Ms.PhD said...


This made me laugh, your high content of professorial molecules.

I tend not to think of myself as terribly academic until I find myself, for example, at a party full of lawyers and people from industry.

Or talking to someone who doesn't want to stay at a hotel where people wear t-shirts and shorts if they want to!

Anonymous said...

I am forced to post by the sheer growing density of references to the graph paper shirt. I just went shopping with my (physical scientist) partner. We went to Brooks Brothers. He bought a ... drumroll please ... graph paper shirt!

I may never stop laughing.

Anonymous said...

My sleuthing leads me to:

Irving House, Harvard Square, Cambridge.

Feel free to reject all such speculation from your blog without explanation to protect your anononimity :-)

-- Mark Whybird
(p.s. I've never been there, or even anywhere in the USA, and I live on the other side of the world)

Katie said...

close to a conference center?

Female Science Professor said...

No and no!

Global Girl said...

I've been thinking of this post since last night - I'm at AVS 54 in Seattle and had the worst hotel experience of my life. I tried the Westin, who referred me to something called the Sixth Avenue Inn - the dirtiest, nastiest hotel I've set foot in in my entire life. I got to my room at 1:30 AM (not a fan of AA either at the moment) and had the urge to run right back out. I didn't want to step on the carpet with bare feet. There was someone else's hair in my bed (long, dark and curly - mine is short, straight and blonde) and in my bathroom (possibly hair from second person, because it was short, darker and straight), there were marks on the walls, there was no climate control, just a big clunky heater under the window, thread-bare blanket - no comforter, ugly laminated chipped furniture and ugly PVC-covered chairs with stuffing peeking out of a hole. This may sound silly, but I felt awful - displaced and abandoned at 1:30 AM after 12h of traveling, like I was cut off from the world. Today, I ran into a groupmate who is staying at the same hotel - and who thought it was fine. He even smiled when he said he didn't care!

THIS isn't what you're talking about, is it? I know it can't be the same hotel, but more generally speaking - the hotel self-described itself using words that you use to desribe the hotel in this post. I'm still in shock. I'm staying at a hotel that's double the rate now and feel much better. I seriously couldn't have done much work staying at that first place - I'd have been too busy being uncomfortable to give my presentation well or to be social.

I guess for me, the five-star hotels serve as an instant point of familiarity that allows me to get down to business anywhere in the world. Now that I think about it, there's even a Saskia Sassen article arguing that the need for such familiar deterritorialized infrastructure in driving change in cosmopolitan business centers. Not staying in one makes me feel cut off from the global network without which I can do nothing and don't really even exist. I realize that's more due to me being a TCK than non-academic at heart, but I can't help but wonder - academics DO object to hairs in hotel beds and bathrooms, right? Right?

If anyone reading this blog is at the AVS we should have martinis and talk at the bar of my hotel - it's won prizes for best classic martini. Reply to my blog and I'll be emailed.

Female Science Professor said...

ick. That is definitely not THE hotel. I do know some nice hotels in Seattle though, and am glad you found a better hotel than the Sixth Ave.

Anonymous said...

ceyda ateş

If that is what makes a hotel "favored by academics", then I'm going to start looking for that designation when I'm searching for hotels!