On Bad Coffee and the Downfall of Western Civilization

gv coffeeWe were out on a mini-vacation this past weekend, doing a little exploring in western Colorado, visiting some old haunts. And had booked a room online. At the time it seemed slightly overpriced for Grand Junction – I mean, it’s not like we were trying to get a room in downtown Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. Still, I figured, maybe things are just getting more expensive. And, of course, the rooms all looked pretty similar on my laptop. But in person…

I don’t know what the Grand Vista hotel was in its previous life, but it’s obvious the place was recently given a new name and a new coat of paint (and little else) in an attempt to stay relevant. And about that name – maybe some of the guests were treated to a view of the spectacular red bluffs and canyons of Colorado National Monument across the way, but our grand vista was of the Marriott next door. The room was, well, tired. Not run down, necessarily, but a long way from shining like a new dime. A rickety luggage stand (only one), a closet door swinging free, a shower head that hit me at chest level and meant I had to get on my knees in the bathtub to wash my hair. There was this large, empty corner in the room, obviously where a small table and a couple of chairs had lived, a place to sit and eat at one time. But now, what? A tiny dance floor? A calisthenics area? The room came with a microwave and mini-fridge, promising the opportunity to keep and prepare some sort of edible, but offered nowhere to enjoy it.

On one trip in the elevator we were joined by an unidentified visitor – my first guess was that someone had dropped a couple of small pieces of breaded chicken as they were smuggling a meal back from the buffet (maybe they had a dining table), but when we considered the fact that the hotel was full of young kids running through the halls in swimsuits (there was a soccer tournament in town and a pool in the building), we decided not to inspect further and simply gave our companion a wide berth.

The internet connection appeared to be powered by a poorly-staffed hamster wheel. And the final indignation was the complimentary ‘coffee,’ though I hesitate to label the swill that dribbled into that thimble-sized carafe as such. Even the strictly-rationed additives were unable to rescue it – two packs of sugar and that packet of powdered ‘cream’ disappeared into the lukewarm contents of my brown paper cup without a trace. A quick stir, a tentative sip and, as it always does, the hotel coffee wound up tasting like…disappointment.


16 thoughts on “On Bad Coffee and the Downfall of Western Civilization

  1. Great and timely post! “Tiny dance floor”… so true! My husband and I are often disappointed with our hotel accommodations. We aren’t high-end travelers so we don’t expect the Ritz, but there are certain base level services that – for the amount of money we do spend – should be offered. Clean sheets and vacuumed floors, for instance. On our next trip we are using various Airbnbs for most of our stays and are looking forward to the experience. If you Yelp, I’d definitely post about your recent experience.

  2. First thing in the a.m. anything caffeinated is ok by me
    No connoisseur here. But those cheap-o paper cups! If they aren’t leaking along the seam for sure you can’t pick em up cause they’re hotter than H.

  3. I do not use those coffee pots they put in the room. They gross me out too much. The Mister often collects coffee from the lobby, which are usually less than tasty, but you know, coffee. When the coffee is bad, extra sugar and extra cream almost help.
    I hate hotels. I don’t like to sleep somewhere the beds are less comfy and the room less clean than my own. And when we pay premium prices, my expectations are even higher, so my disappointment greater.

  4. Oh the misery of it. Having encountered more than my share of such places I was right there with you, Curt. I could see it all. Craving coffee or tea, as I do rather more frequently than might be good for my health, the taste of disappointment never brings out the best in me. Such is my desperation I’ve been known to try to clean the kettle provided by the hotel with a toothbrush. True story. I wasn’t successful and I went without my cuppa.

  5. This is why I never travel without my own coffee at hand, including filters and a small pot. Of course, I never fly, so that makes things easier. I’ve tasted enough of that colored water to know that it isn’t going to be satisfying, so I just employ ye olde worke-around. Some things just shouldn’t be compromised.

  6. Curiously, the one time I stayed at a hotel in Grand Junction, it sucked as well. My Iowa relatives were visiting me in Denver and on a lark, they sprung for Amtrak tickets to Grand Junction and back, just to see what it was like.

    I’ll tell you what it was like. Unless you are sitting up in the engine, your view is always the same–stuff streaming past you to the right or stuff streaming past you to the left. I’m not a drug person but I started fantasizing about extra strength Advil about two hours in.

    Getting off the damned thing made the stability of the Grand Junction streets seem more heavenly than they really were. My hotel room was, as you say, disappointing but the couple that sat next to me on the way back to Denver on the train had dubbed their experience The Ant Hotel. It was an anniversary weekend they didn’t expect to share with five hundred other tiny guests.

    I felt better about my stale-smelling sheets after that.

    • Yep…no matter how bad we have it, someone else always seems to have a better horror story. And thanks for dispelling any romantic notions I might have had about riding the rails. Think I’ll stick with my internal combustion engine.

      • Some can tolerate that level of monotony and unchanging motion and some can’t. Put me down for can’t.

        Do ride a train sometime, but take one of those short, narrow gauge tours where you can escape to hamburgers and beer after two hours and give your pupils a rest.

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