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Taking Requests

By Mordechai Schmutter

It’s summertime: time to pack up your car and drive to some destination—it doesn’t matter what destination, as long as you get to stay in a hotel. Because once you’re there, you don’t have to get anything yourself. You can just call down to the front desk.

We’ve all done that. Mostly, we’ve asked for sane things, such as soap. Hotels give the tiniest bars of soap, smaller than the bar you have at home the very last time you use it.

We also ask for more towels. We peek into the bathroom when we get to the hotel and see this nice big pile of towels, and then we get out of the shower and discover that the entire pile is washcloths. And one hand towel. Who needs this many washcloths? Is this instead of soap? And what are we supposed to dry ourselves off with? The hand towel?

Another thing we ask for is more pillows, because these hotel rooms definitely don’t take into account the size of the typical Jewish family. Only two kids? Many of us, by the time our two kids are both old enough to sleep in a bed, have two more kids.

So we call downstairs, because we picture the hotel having a whole stash of pillows right under the front desk that they’re saving just for the people who ask. Rather than sneaking into someone else’s room and giving you their pillows. Or their towels. Is that what’s happened to your towels?

But the hotel staff is asking for it. After all, if they didn’t want us to request things, why did they say, “If there’s any way we can be of service, don’t hesitate to ask”? What do they even mean by that? Can you test them? Can you ask for, say, a negel vasser dish? Or do you have to use the ice bucket?

But according to a new survey of hotel managers, some guests really have been testing that offer. So hotels have to work on rephrasing that.

For example, at Spain’s Hotel Puente Romano, one guest requested that hotel staff cut the legs off his bed to make it shorter. Apparently, he was having problems getting in.

I don’t know why he couldn’t just invert the ice bucket.

Meanwhile, a visit from members of The Tall Persons’ Club of Great Britain had to be put on hold after a hotel was unable to locate enough seven-foot beds.

Yes, there’s a Tall Persons’ Club, where people walk in and bump their heads on the doorway and discuss things like fitting into airline seats and raising the mechitzah in their shul and how their cubicles offer as much privacy as an open shoebox, and how everyone’s always asking them to get things down, and having people assume, back when they were in grade school, that they were several years older than their classmates. And how they always had to stand in the back in class photos. But there’s a lot to talk about—enough for at least two days and one night—and they couldn’t very well get together to discuss those things in a hotel where the beds weren’t long enough. This gave them something else to discuss, but nowhere to discuss it.

Of course, not everyone has a complaint. Sure, sometimes the beds are too tall, and sometimes they’re too short, and sometimes a family of bears comes in while you’re sleeping. (“Hello, front desk? Someone’s been sleeping in my bed. Hang on; my wife wants to talk to you.”) But sometimes the beds are just right. One family at the Shanghai Mansion had such a restful night that they asked if they could buy the bed—pillows and all—and have it shipped back to Europe. This is probably why there are no comfortable beds in any of the hotels by the time you get there.

But really, you never know who used the bed before you. One couple checking into the Swiss Diamond Hotel booked two suites. And when the bellboy asked who the second suite was for, they said, “It’s for our beautiful dog, of course.”

Um . . . So did they not want to sleep with the dog, or did the dog not want to sleep with them?

Of course, you shouldn’t always bring your dog. One guest in the Beau-Rivage Palace (also in Switzerland) asked if he could bury his dog on the hotel grounds. The story I read didn’t specify whether he’d brought his dead dog on vacation, or he brought a live dog, gave it its own room, and then forgot about it.

But the hotel refused, so he had to load it back into his car and drive home. Or figure out how to get it onto a plane.

And at one hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, a guest asked, Can we keep 20 sheep in your car park while we stay at the hotel?

You know how it is when shepherds go on vacation. Sometimes you have to bring your work with you. These sheep sure aren’t watching themselves. At least they didn’t ask if they could rent an extra room for all the sheep.

But not all guests love nature. One guest at a seaside villa in Greece, after hearing birds singing peacefully upon his arrival, demanded that there be no chirping outside his window the next morning. Like sending birds to everyone’s window was a service the hotel provided.

Wow. It must be fun to go on vacation with him.

I don’t know how he thought they’d keep the birds away, other than having the staff stand outside his window waving their arms and making noises to scare them away. Which is arguably worse.

Just wait until he finds out there are 20 sheep in the next room.

Also, a guest at Spain’s Gran Hotel Elba Estepona found the sound of the sea so irritating that he actually asked hotel staff if they could stop it. Which is weird, because most people love the ocean. In fact, one guest at a hotel in England requested a room with an ocean view, even though the hotel was 107 miles from the nearest ocean. The best they could do was put him on that side of the hotel and give him a telescope. Kind of like facing mizrach to daven. (“It’s that way.”) You kind of have to have kavanah.

I don’t know how this guy expected them to turn down the ocean, though. Waving their arms won’t help here.

Some requests, though, are easier to accommodate. One Best Western hosted a lawnmower convention, whose organizers asked if attendees could test their mowers on the hotel grounds.

Bump. “Is something buried here?”

The hotel agreed, because they decided that the benefits of getting their lawns mowed for free far outweighed all the guests calling the front desk to ask them to keep the lawnmowers down.

Another guest requested “a room large enough to park my motorcycle.” Also, it should preferably be on the ground floor.

“Do we have any rooms with an empty space that big? What about that couple who bought a bed?”

I don’t know why he couldn’t just park his motorcycle outside. It’s not like the sheep are going to steal it.

And some guests should probably sleep outside too. For example, one guest at a hotel in Istanbul was claustrophobic, and he wanted to keep his door open at night. Your kids do that all the time. They say they’re scared of the dark, when you know very well that they just want that crack of light so they can jump around and make your chandelier shake.

But you can’t just leave your door open in a hotel, unless you want your other guests complaining about the view. So he asked the hotel to provide security guards outside his door so no one would come near the room. Though all those extra people right outside probably made him even more claustrophobic. Maybe he should have gotten a guard dog. And then put it in its own room, with the door open.

So my point is that whatever you’re bothering the concierge for, they’ve seen worse. I wonder what kind of destination they go to when they need a vacation. Probably not a hotel. v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to

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Posted by on June 19, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.