James M. Flammang, author of more than two dozen
books (including six for children), is at work on
several more, including the title described below.
A veteran automotive journalist, Flammang concentrates
on the "big picture," whether he's writing about cars,
consumer issues, simpler living, or any other topic.
During 2013, Flammang is expanding his efforts into
the areas of work/labor, consumer concerns, and travel.
Hotel Life looks at the pleasures of living in hotel rooms, with few possessions, at a time when "everyone" is expected to covet big houses and amass a virtually endless supply of consumer goods. Based mainly on the author's own extensive experience in hotels over the past several decades–one-star to five-star, residential and strictly overnight, memorable and otherwise–this book maintains a light and breezy tone, despite its serious questioning of familiar consumer values. In a humorous way, it asks a critical basic question: Do we really need, and want, so many "things" in our lives, including big homes and bigger cars?
Essentially a modestly fictionalized memoir, Hotel Life emphasizes the joys of living with less and enjoying it–wherever you happen to reside. What we describe here is simple living, but without making an issue or a cause out of it. This is no-fuss simplicity.
Most emphatically, this isn’t a rundown of tricks and gimmicks to cut back or save money, or save the planet, or anything else. We’re talking about going simple because you want and need little (assuming that’s true, of course). Think of it as living small, in an era of living large (and ever-larger yet). Or trying to, at any rate.
Living small doesn’t mean scrimping and scrounging every penny, or becoming a miser. Far from it. Leading the hotel-style life is simply a matter of realizing that you don’t really need that much stuff. Pretty soon, you won’t want it, either. It’s mainly, perhaps even entirely, a question of priorities.
To some of us–maybe most of us–making such assertions sounds unnatural, if not un-American. Probably you have trouble accepting the concept, unless you, too, happen to be a hotel aficionado.
Life can be good, out of a suitcase; maybe even better than life with loads of stuff and more coming in all the time. Living the hotel-style life lets you focus on the important things in life, unrelated to acquisitions and property. As novelist B. Traven wrote long ago, you really are owned by your property. Possessions do tie you down; and for what?
Sure, it helps if you’re childless, or even mateless. But kids, too, can benefit from a life based on something other than money and material goods.
Clearly, this kind of life isn’t for everyone. So, if the thought of doing without repels you, pay no attention. No one is attempting to convert others to a simpler life. All we’re doing in these chapters is showing that there’s another way to live, separate from property ownership, growing (or dwindling) bank accounts, investments, and rooms full of stuff that you seldom use and probably never needed in the first place. This is the simple way toward simplicity: just shrink your existence to a more modest, yet satisfying level.
Actually living in a hotel for an extended period isn’t necessary, of course. Hotel residency is merely a prime example of keeping things small and manageable. The point is priorities: knowing what to put first in your life and what to drop off the list completely.
Tempted by a new X? Ask yourself: Do you really need it? Are the benefits of acquiring X worth more than the drawbacks? Have you been enjoying your old X, or its predecessor? Surprisingly often, you may find that the answer is “no.”
In times past, as we shall see, living in a hotel was considered normal for many types of people–even including the wealthy and powerful, as well as those near the bottom of the economic ladder. Different kinds of hotels, obviously; but more similar in principle than either side might have admitted.
Even if you’re not inclined to make such changes in your life, we hope you enjoy these tales of long- and short-term survival–and pleasure–in a single room.