My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Heads in Beds” is a memoir written by someone who spent a large part of his career in the high end hospitality industry. Starting out as a valet parker in New Orleans, Tromsky rose through the ranks to managing housekeeping staff and working the front desk at luxury properties in both New Orleans and New York. The book is part memoir and part tell-(almost) all about the inner workings of high priced hotels from someone who has done it all.
I enjoyed the book. It was irreverent and amusing, with a tongue-in-cheek style that was easy to listen to. Tomsky got into the hotel business almost by accident. He graduated college with a degree in philosophy- not the most job-worthy major- and very few plans. He was hired by a luxury hotel in New Orleans to park cars. His affinity for the hospitality business and rapport with guests earned him a quick advance, and he spent the better part of his career checking in, checking out, cleaning up after, granting upgrades and special perks, denying upgrades and special perks, and generally taking care (in one way or another) of the thousands of guests that pass through a hotel lobby each year.
Some might expect to gain a lot of insight into how to get some of those special perks, and those tips are there, but honestly, it all comes down to money, in the end. Tip well and at the right moment, and you will be treated well in return. Of course, these are things that will work only in the same type of high end properties Tomsky worked at. You probably aren’t going to get them at that Motel 6 you always stay at.
And, there are the insights you might not want to know about. But, again in all honesty, did anyone think there aren’t some shortcuts and less than perfect aspects to this industry? It’s perhaps a bit disconcerting, but in the end, most hotels are fine. There are ups and downs, good things and bad, highs and lows, like most jobs.
The book flows well, and the narrative is engaging and at times amusing and poignant. Tomsky paints an honest picture of what it is like to work at one of these properties, both good and bad, and will leave you, perhaps, with a different picture of that smile behind the front desk at your favorite hotel.
People who enjoyed books like Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” will likely find this book just as interesting.
Coming soon: Two’s Company, a sci-fi novel in the space opera tradition. Artificial intelligence, corporate plots, spaceships, a heroine with an attitude. More details soon!
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