Thursday, December 31, 2009

Like hand sanitizer for your insides.

The headmaster of a culinary school told me that if you were to eat wasabi with every meal you would never succumb to food poisoning. That's because it acts as an internal antibacterial agent. So when my husband came back from the restroom at Roca in London, England and told me a wait staff didn't wash their hands according to North American health standards -- soap, water and Happy Birthday -- I was indifferent. Yes, the Hygiene Hunter said, "Let's order pork sashimi." That's because I am a good pupil. I very much enjoyed the food at this Japanese restaurant despite my significant other's keen eye. Hit & Miss.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hail the white glove.

Shopping along Old & New Bond Street in London, England during the holiday season is particularly magical with its display of twinkling lights, evergreen floral displays and sale signs. The most magical window of all was Sotheby's with their homage to white gloves. The write-up in the display window explained that at the end of the sale the technician hands his white gloves to the auctioneer as a sign of respect for the latter's accomplishments.

I just like the fact they wear gloves to handle precious objects like the Romanov Heirlooms. Gloves can offer you a layer of protection, but they shouldn't give you a false sense of security. Personally, I still use a tissue to navigate my way through this world. That's just me. If you wear gloves remember to consider what you've touched and what you're about to touch next -- heirloom or not. Hit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The downside of a pristine bed.

I'm not a morning person to begin with. Provide me with an immaculate bed, Frette linens and drizzle and the sites of London will just have to wait until at least 3 p.m. Believe it or not, so does champagne. Convent Garden Hotel's aromatic lavender infused Sleep Well mist is also to thank. I guess there can be an advantage to a soiled bed -- like not wanting to sleep in it -- ever. I've often heard people say a hotel is not worth spending money on because "You're only going to sleep there." Duh-huh? Hit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Always nervous.

Even when I check into a hotel I have stayed at many times before, I still have butterflies in my stomach. No, not because I eat them for breakfast -- that would be insect cruelty. As the Hygiene Hunter, I am obligated to execute a room inspection. Think of it as a program function I can't turn off. Some people don't want to know what lies beneath. I have to know. I arrived at my favorite hotel in London, England yesterday. The Covent Garden Hotel oozes charm. And, you don't have to share your rider with them twice. Plastic lined garbage bins? Check. Liquid hand soap? Check. Extra tissue? Check. Pillows? Clean. Mattress? Spotless. Male escort? Not this time. I'm with my husband. Hit.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ha. Ha. Ha.

On the day of the year when virtually all stores are closed I ran out of dishwashing liquid. I am nearly as fond of DL as I am toilet paper, paper towels and champagne. My mother said not to worry. She told me she had some Ajax at home that she could give me. My children became true believers on Christmas Day. They now know I've been telling them the truth all along. For context, read my "Blame it on my mother." post. I was delighted to see Ajax is now available in liquid form.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh my.

Just because I didn't find a rat on Halloween doesn't mean I wanted one for Christmas. Thank you Anonymous for thinking of me though.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another present.

This is a gift from Debbie and it's not for sharing. In that way it's better than chocolates. Although you could always hide those. Without question, I prefer soap and water to hand sanitizer. But when it comes to soap you may be surprised to hear I have my quirks. Communal soap must be liquid. Bar soap should have your name on it. If it has my name on it and you touch it -- you eat it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An early Christmas present.

My friend Mark was thoughtful enough to think of me when he came across X3. This hand sanitizer foams and kills germs and bacteria with benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol. That makes this a non-drying formulation. It's also said to be fragrance free, non-toxic and non-irritating. I tried it and it didn't remove a layer of skin like some hand sanitizers do. It must be effective because it's used by police officers. I guess the next time I'm being frisked I can relax just a little knowing the officer's hands are germ free -- assuming he/she sanitized before and after.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The wrong address.

My goal was to finish my Christmas shopping this weekend. Alas, while I may be hygienically superior, I am directionally challenged. So instead of being cradled in the bosom of Holt Renfrew -- Canada's best department store for fashion -- I found myself in one of Canada's most tragic neighborhoods -- Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. With the Olympic Winter Games only 52 days away, the City of Vancouver is focused on making this area more visitor friendly. Personally, I find the area more sad than scary. I would, however, advise that you watch where you step. While waiting for a taxi I bided my time admiring the HH in the doorway of this dilapidated building. I can't decide if it stands for Hygiene Hunter or Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pretty garbage.

I just love how tidy this collection bin in San Francisco looks. It makes me want to feed it chocolate bon bons. Do I have a volunteer to open the lid?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Missing ingredients.

I was going to make one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes last night when I realized I didn't have any eggs and I didn't feel like going out back to the chicken coop to collect some. Since I was in a mood to create, I decided to try a recipe for hand sanitizer blog reader Anita sent me. I had all of the ingredients necessary except for isopropyl alcohol. I was tempted to substitute this ingredient with vodka, but then thought better of it and just drank the vodka. Cheers Anita for thinking of me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I had to ask.

After reading the first three books in Daniel Edward Craig's Five-Star Mystery series I was curious whether he as a hotel professional had ever encountered a dead body. Here's what he had to say.

"I've experienced every imaginable situation as a hotelier, except for murder -- fortunately, that part is pure fiction. However briefly, people live in hotels and therefore employees witness every aspect of life, from birth to death and everything in between. There have been a few circumstances in which guests have died while staying at a hotel where I worked, due to anything from suicide to a heart attack, but rarely does a guest die in a room -- he or she is usually taken away by ambulance and dies in hospital.

If a guest dies in a room, depending on the circumstances, the room is given an extra thorough cleaning and put out of order for a few days, and no future guests are the wiser. This reminds me of an incident I heard about years ago at a hotel in Miami Springs, which I referred to in my blog about bed-and-breakfasts. A guest complained at checkout about an unpleasant odor in his room. It turned out to be a dead body."

I always reject rooms that have an off smell. In addition to my already complex room inspection, I also perform a visual inspection under the bed, behind the bed and in any crawl spaces. Fortunately for me the worst "body part" I've come face-to-face with in a hotel room has been ... cue the trumpet ... toenail clippings! ... on the carpet by the head of my bed! It gets worse. In that circumstance, I was sequestered for jury duty, there was no phone in my room and our floor guard already determined I was a princess. I told him, "No, I'm the Hygiene Hunter." I had to sleep with the toenails.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A mystery gift.

There's nothing I love more at Christmas than receiving a new pair of flannel pajamas and some great books. In my opinion, this combination is the perfect way to avoid doorknobs during the holiday season. Even your own. Seriously, I would never open the door in flannel -- front or back.

The books on my gift-giving list are those written by Daniel Edward Craig -- former hotel VP and now author and hotel consultant. The first three novels in his Five-Star Mystery series fall into the category of I'll-only-put-these-books-down-when-my-dog's-bladder-0r-mine-makes-me. We have a plot, a witty writer and and an insider's perspective into the hotel industry. The following excerpt is one of my favorite parts as told in the first person by novel character Trevor Lambert, director of rooms, in Craig's first book Murder at the Universe. This is not a plot spoiler.

"For me, the hotel is anything but erotic. It's my place of work and no sexier than a cubicle, a corner office, or a cash register. A bed in which a different person sleeps every night, sweating and drooling and doing God knows what else, is not terribly appealing. People come to hotels to recover from illnesses, to visit sick people, to attend funerals, to fire employees, to close down offices, to do drugs, to escape reality, and sometimes to kill themselves. To me, a hotel is about as sexy as a hospital."

This is why an exceptional cleaning staff is so important and my tips are so useful. In Murder at the Universe, Trevor struggles to find the killer of Universe GM Willard Godfrey. Trevor returns in Murder at Hotel Cinema and Murder at Graverly Manor. These books are available through Chapters Indigo in Canada, Amazon in Canada/USA and Midnight Ink (US Publisher).

Monday, December 14, 2009

A dual purpose Christmas tree.

Not all artificial Christmas trees are created equal. I believe mine is superior because not only does it not shed needles, in a pinch, it could save the day if you have a bottle to clean -- just remove the ornaments first. This Bottle Brush Tree was designed by Juno Prey, professor of the Bauhaus Design School in Dessau, Germany. It was also made in Germany. For me this concept is as exciting as snow before a dog defaces it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I can't believe I'm saying this.

Talk about viral marketing. While I'm pleased that hygiene is top of mind courtesy of H1N1, I must admit I'm tired of seeing hand sanitizing dispensers everywhere -- restaurants, hair salons, church pews. On the one hand, it's there if you need it. On the other, it feels like crass commercialism. It's like we've lost the true meaning of hand washing. For me, these dispensers are becoming as annoying as overplayed Christmas songs. Anyway, I prefer carrying my own so I don't have to touch a communal one

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A must once a year.

Yesterday I went for my annual physical. My new doctor made the mistake of asking me if I had any concerns. Clearly, she isn't reading my blog. Where to begin? Doctor: Is the exam table sprayed down between patients? Are stethoscopes cleaned in between patients? Was the person in the exam room before me contagious? Do you ever swab your doorknobs? Do you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water while singing Stairway to Heaven in between patients? Is there a woman on this planet who can pee into a cup without peeing all over her hands? Why didn't health boards realize magazines and toys in health clinics and hospitals were a bad idea long before H1N1?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clean on the inside.

With the help of the Raw Fairies in London, England I plan to be .1% of the population who will not eat beyond their means during the holiday season. This way I can hopefully fit into some fabulous odd-sized Boxing Day sale rack find. A Size 2 has a way of making you regret inhaling that gingerbread house, those egg nog shooters, a stuffing sandwich with gravy, the Christmas tree along with all of the ornaments and yellow snow.

When in London, the Raw Fairies are my go-to-food source. I love their food because it tastes delicious AND is truly good for you. As opposed to some raw restaurants that give the movement a bad rap and can often leave a mleh aftertaste in your mouth and your teeth on the dining table.

The following is a recipe courtesy of the Raw Fairies. You'll feel fantastic after drinking this suitably festive colored drink.

Green Smoothie with Spirulina and Chlorella:

For eight 250 ml smoothies:

1250 ml filtered (or mineral) water

7 medium organic bananas

4 organic kiwis, peeled and cut into pieces

2 large handfuls of fresh organic spinach

1 tablespoon organic spirulina

1 tablespoon organic chlorella

Blend all ingredients in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender until totally smooth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An early Christmas present.

From the Raw Fairies to me. From me to you. Let's get into the Christmas spirit together with something other than an Egg Nog Latte. I avoid touching doorknobs in an effort to stay healthy. I also chose to fortify my body from the inside out. Tomorrow, I'll share some goodness with you from the Raw Fairies -- a London, England based raw food delivery service. Just like Christmas Day, I'm going to make you wait, but only for 24 hours as opposed to 18 days.

Monday, December 7, 2009

An open letter to my son.

Dearest Zachary:

Why did it have to come to this? I was prepared to deal with a drug habit, a knocked-up girlfriend, even grand theft auto. You, however, choose to rebel by picking up a sliced tomato that fell on the floor and eating it -- right in front of me.

I know. I know. I have only myself to blame. You are the son of the Hygiene Hunter and we live in an altered reality, a safe haven, a bubble where bleach flows from the taps. I know. I know. I am just like Henry VIII who created hyper-sterile living conditions for his beloved son Edward. I know. I know. If only I would have hugged you and your sister more often as you were growing up. As you can appreciate, that would require touching. Blah, blah, blah.

Seriously, now how can I sleep at nights worrying about whether or not you're eating off public floors?


Your mother,
Hygiene Hunter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's right with this picture?

I apologize in advance, but I don't remember this adorable dog's name. I do, however, remember his manners. I met him at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco. What impressed me most about him was he kept his saliva where it belongs -- in the privacy of his mouth. He managed this despite a hot day, food scraps on the ground and being in the presence of a bitch. According to some, that would be me. Two-legged creatures who create obstacle courses on pavement with their phlegm should take a cue from him. Yet another reason not to wear outside shoes inside.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A hotel after my heart.

Ask and I shall receive. Not only were there new pillows in my hotel room as requested, but they were still in their respective plastic bags -- with the "Not to be removed" tags still intact. Yeah Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph, Canada! I slept so much better knowing no one else has sweated or drooled on the pillows I was sleeping on. I cut the tags off and kept them as souvenirs. See, I'm actually not that hard to please.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How thoughtful of her.

Same flight. Different aisle. Do you still think I'm crazy for wiping down armrests on an airplane with hand sanitizer?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How thoughtful of him.

On a red-eye flight, while others slept, I tip-toed around the plane looking for hygiene infractions. Even when people are sleeping they're only thinking about themselves, not other passengers.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Well done RC.

The Ritz-Carlton Beijing was immaculate throughout the property. Which naturally I adored. What I loved most this hotel and the city itself was the people -- the pride they take in everything they do. When they respond to a request with, "My pleasure."  you know they mean it. Not that I had many requests. Hit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some insects are cool.

I don’t have an issue with insects as long as they’re not in my bed, hair or salad. These giant stainless steel ants are a creation of artist Chen Zhiguang and were on display at Mook The Gallery of Contemporary Art in the 798 art zone of Beijing. Hit. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Brooms with a past.

On a Hutong tour (an ecosystem of lanes and alleys) I met this mop and broom. I stopped to talk to this couple as I made my way through one of the few old remaining neighborhoods that are an homage to Beijing's past. The conversation I had with them was more fascinating than any of the ones I've had with a Swiffer. Hit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

70 kilometres outside Beijing.

The sky was a brilliant blue and the air clean the day I climbed three stairs at the Great Wall of China. Take my advice, don't wear skinny jeans if you want to conquer this piece of history. Hit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not all days were like this.

Truth be told I didn't run a marathon in Beijing because it's difficult to run more than six city blocks in heels. Plus, my friends who had previously visited this city frightened me with their personal horror stories of burning eyes, sore throats and flaming lungs. As a precaution I limited my outdoor time. I was fortunate because the sky only looked like this on one day of my week-long visit. FYI, I didn't experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms and believe it or not I didn't even wear a mask. Although I did bring one with me. Hit & Miss.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whimsical and clean.

Red stall? Blue stall? Not all toilets in Beijing are squatters. The one pictured here is in one of my all-time favorite restaurants anywhere. The Whampoa Club is located in the Financial District in a courtyard house. I divided my time equally between the washroom complete with mood lighting that you can still see yourself in (and the surroundings) and an attendant who would turn the water faucets on and off for me and the dining area where food served included secret ingredients my waiter told me, "Would keep woman young."

I was so excited by this restaurant I asked for a tour of the kitchen which the chef was more than happy to take me on. The area was pristine. A truly fantastic feature of the Whampoa Club was the see-through ceiling pool with fish. You could point to your entree of choice and they would kill it for you upon order. Now I can say I've been fishing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Worse than a doorknob.

I never thought I would say this, but yes, these fringed toilet doors in Beijing caused me more grief than a doorknob. At least with a doorknob you know where the concentration of germs are. With this fringed business it was a crapshoot. I chose to kick my way out. I still got slapped in the face. Miss.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I thought I was a master squatter.

Until this. Try as I did I just couldn't hit my mark in this public squat toilet at the Great Wall of China in Beijing. It was as if I had an invisible penis with a mind of its own. I guess quite like having a real penis. As I hovered above the ground, my urine sprayed left, right, frontwards, backwards, on the ceiling, on my shoes, on someone else's shoes. It was hideous. I tried to run away as fast as I could, but my feet kept sticking to the ground. This is why you should never place your handbag, man bag or shopping bag on the floor in a restroom or on any floor for that matter. Being the Hygiene Hunter I was able to clean my hands because I always carry wet wipes or hand sani with me. This facility had no soap or paper towels. FYI, this is not my urine. I prefer taking pictures of other people's urine. Miss.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A sad picture.

First the IKEA lamp, now this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not as innocent as it looks.

You may have heard by now that the TV remote is one of the dirtiest things in a hotel room. I don't understand. You're really into a particular program and then all of a sudden you just have this urge to change channels to Sesame Street?

The TV remote aside, have you ever thought about the hotel blow dryer as a germ-toting appliance? There is the obvious reason that not all people wash their hands after private matters like watching television or visiting the water closet. Just as the doorknob, light switch and faucet are vulnerable, so is the blow dryer.

Here's a more obscure reason. I was injured while having a Brazilian in London. Unfortunately a waxing, not a man. The esthetician split me open like a banana. For a moment I thought I was in the Tower of London and I had inadvertently signed up for a unique torture experience. The on-call hotel doctor said he has seen this before and it was a telltale sign of poor technique on the esthetician's part.

To aid healing he recommended a saline wash followed with a thorough blow dry. Twice a day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I've never been a fan of sharing.

In the Sex and the City movie, Miranda gets chastised for her prolific growth down under. Maybe she didn't let herself go, but rather knew something you haven't thought of. The Double Dip. Yes, this happens. No, not in every spa, but in more spas than you may think. The esthetician will use the same spatula again and again as she makes you over into a Peruvian Inca Orchid. Some estheticians say, "Oh, I replace the stick if I notice someone starting to bleed." That's one dip too late. Ask before you assume the Crow Posture on the table. When I've enquired about waxing policies, some estheticians will promise to use clean sticks just for you. They're missing the point. I don't want to share salsa with anyone.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How I get through life.

Or at least this is how I get through doors. If the survival rate of the H1N1 virus on public surfaces isn't enough to turn you off doorknobs, consider mucus, feces and mayonnaise. That's why I never open a door without protection. FYI, mayo is fattening. For me, protection comes in the form of tissues, plastic baggies or in moments of desperation -- VISA receipts. Sacrificial door openers (family, friends, chivalrous strangers, unwitting strangers who I follow through doors with my perfected door slip) are my preferred methods of getting around the issue altogether.

I would only open a door with my gloved hand in case of emergency. No, a sale at Barney's doesn't qualify. Being chased by a perfume demonstrator almost qualifies. Mainly, I enjoy wearing gloves because they finish off an outfit so nicely. Gloves for the novice offer a false sense of security. Conjure a mental picture of the gloved food worker making a sandwich for you who thinks just because he/she is wearing disposable gloves that it's okay to wipe his/her nose with their gloved hand. Bon Appétit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You dared me.

An anonymous commenter dared me to touch a urinal in NYC. A well-visited one I presumed. I thought, "What a charmingly bad idea." As in any good brainstorm one so-so idea leads to a brilliant one. So as not to disappoint my challenger, I decided my husband would step into a dirty puddle on my behalf. My husband didn't know about my delicious idea. A little dipsy-doodle on my part as we walked to Omen for dinner and his left foot, sock, shoe and pant leg became unwilling participants. He walked back to the hotel to soak his foot in boiling water while I enjoyed sake at the restaurant. In my opinion, a successfully executed dare. I have the drycleaning receipt to prove it. Hit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We'll never know.

The Mercer Hotel corporate policy dictates they can't divulge the name of the cleaning products they use to keep their tiles and grout so Hollywood white. I understand. Every industry has their trade secrets. And, as I've been saying, clean is an advantage. In addition to their enviable whites, this walk-in-shower that you could go for a jog in didn't smell. My sense of smell is so acute I could be a member of a police canine unit. When you check into a hotel I recommend you smell it in addition to conducting a visual inspection. This doesn't mean you have to get down on all fours unless of course that's your thing. A moldy odor in a shower is usually an indication of a clogged drain with hair being the culprit. Other people's hair. And likely lots of it. If I encounter unpleasant smells in a hotel or anywhere for that matter, I high tail it. Hit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Better than a star sighting.

There are two things I love about the lobby lounge at The Mercer in NYC -- three if you count the Ginger Margarita. Every time someone walks through the door every head in the lounge turns to see who it is. Yes, The Mercer does attract a celebrity clientele. Personally, I crank my neck to watch the staff clean the lounge meticulously late at night. (They even wipe down the backs of the seat cushions!) I'm usually the only one there to witness this ritual. That's because my good friend Ginger just won't let me go to bed. Hit.

Friday, November 6, 2009

To quote Cher.

If I could turn back time it would be October 31, 2009. This past Saturday was my first Halloween in New York and it was infuckingcredible. Yes, I will wash my mouth out. Not with soap though. Warm salt water is more effective and according to an Intensivist and Thyroid Specialist can prevent proliferation of H1N1 in a healthy person  (more on that in an upcoming post). Moby agrees with me. Not about the salt water, but about Halloween. All Saints Day made this trip to NYC my most favorite to date.

New Yorkers of all ages paid homage to the holiday. The weather was beautiful during the day and then it poured kittens, fairies and ghouls at night. Most people were drenched which added to the fun. Fun for me because I had an umbrella. The shopkeeps at Diptyque in the West Village told me this was the best time of year to window-snoop inside some truly gorgeous homes. That's because occupants of brownstones turn on their lights and open their curtains to make their homes inviting to children.

I was supposed to be a rabbit, but the Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear bunny ears I wore -- although fantastic -- were not as dramatic as the runway version Madonna debuted at the Met Ball so I think I looked more like a rat. A fabulous rat mind you.

Truth be shared, I did experience two disappointments. The first: I didn't find any rats (read my "Rats? What rats?" post.). The second: the egg-bomb dropped by a dude at the Submercer. If it was part of your costume, I forgive you. If it wasn't, you need to pass on sulphur-rich foods when you know you're going to be in a small, enclosed space with others who very likely didn't check their sense of smell along with their coat. Hit.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The benefits of hardwood.

I so wish more hotels had hardwood floors like my room in The Mercer. On the plus side, hardwood doesn't harbor fugitives like carpet does. Think about that next time you're standing sockless on a hotel carpet. The negative? Misspell the product as two words instead of one and you can bring out the juvenile in most of us.  Hit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To quote Britney Spears.

"Oops. I did it again." Step one. I admit I can't control my addiction to excessive amounts of toilet paper. I also have a fondness for tissue and paper towels. Oh, and plastic bags. Liquid hand soap. Dish soap. Vinegar. And bleach. Just never together. Grapefruits. Magazines. Always from the middle; never from the front. Lipstick. Garbageless garbage cans. Champagne. Gloves. End of steps. I don't want to lead a new life with a new code of behavior. And the only sponsor I want is Bounty. Or Glad. Does anyone remember the name of the radical who suggested using only one square of paper per visit to the basin? I love the planet to a point. Seriously, that presents an entirely separate set of problems. Namely, sticky fingers. Public stall handles are tragic enough.

I prefer to hide from my mistakes. Which is exactly what I did when the plumbing engineer came to resuscitate the toilet in my room at the Mercer Hotel. I hid in the courtyard of my scrumptious suite for one minute and thirty-five seconds. The time it took him to make the world right again and me to pose for a photo. I never said I was proud of my habit. Shameful. I know. I promise to never quote Britney again. Miss.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My new favorite bar in NYC.

This bar on the lower east side impresses for a number reasons. It's discreet -- some may say, hard to find. The bartenders are true mixologists. There is no Cosmo on the cocktail list. When they say fresh lime juice, they mean squeezed upon order as opposed to poured out of faux lime. The cocktails are inexpensive -- averaging about $13. And best of all, when one of the bartenders had to cough (a dry cough; not a sick cough; I know my coughs), he coughed into his sleeve as opposed to all over the martini glasses. Hit. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

To quote K.C. & The Sunshine Band.

That's the way, "Uh huh, uh huh, I like it." The Mercer Hotel knows how to read a rider (read "My hotel room rider." post). This is my beautiful, pristine mattress as requested. Hit.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Does this count as a sighting?

Rats aren't hideous when they're plastic and pink. Thank you Tommy Hilfiger. Your West Village shop window had what I was looking for. Not exactly what I was looking for, but much cleaner. Hit.

Rats? What rats?

When you're looking for rats, you find Jude Law. When you're looking for Jude Law, you find rats. I'm terrified of mice. To face my fear I decided to go rat hunting in New York on Halloween Night. I could have rented a scary movie or gone to a haunted house, but this was freakier -- on many levels. Odi, the doorman working the night shift at The Mercer, told me where some of the best hiding spots for rats are in SoHo. I peered into piles of garbage. I poked around sewers. I looked behind grates. I circled the block. No sign. Jude Law, who's starring in Hamlet on Broadway, asked me if there was a deli up the street. I asked him if there were rats down the street. I think the rodents were wary of the revelers and didn't want to leave their nests. Miss.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Mercer Hotel is my hero.

If a hotel room doesn't meet your expectations a rider gives you an out. The rider is something you and the hotel need to agree to ahead of time and you should be clear to communicate that it overrides their cancellation policy.

Learn from my experience in New York a few trips ago. After looking at three rooms in a hotel that will remain unmentioned -- all with stained mattresses -- I had enough and decided to check out. The reservation manager was delightful enough to ask me why I had a problem sleeping on other people's stains. I looked at her with crazy eyes. She insisted on charging me half a night's stay which amounted to just under $400 US. So incredibly thoughtful of her.

A reputable hotel will usually let you out of your reservation to keep you happy and their reputation intact. FYI, once you give a hotel your credit card number you are agreeing to their cancellation policy and it is within their right to charge you accordingly -- even if their hotel disappoints. This fact was confirmed by VISA. Unmentioned hotel's policy is a two night charge for cancellation without something like five days notice. I guess they thought they were doing me a favor. I'll do them a favor by not naming them.

I guess this was my penance for cheating on my go to hotel -- The Mercer. If other hotels are interested in mastering the concept of boutique, they should attend finishing school at the Mercer. The Mercer came to my rescue when I left the unmentionable and I have been loyal ever since. That's why I'm back on this trip. And this is my beyond fabulous and immaculate room. Hit.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Waiting for a home in New York.

Okay, there is a slight downside to having a rider. It takes the hotel that much longer to meet your demands which means you could be without a room for a while. It's 7 p.m. in New York and I'm still waiting for my room. In my opinion perfection is worth the wait.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My hotel room rider.

Celebrities have riders. So should you. I'll explain why in Friday's post. I leave tonight for New York so today I'm busy packing Hygiene Hunter essentials like saline mist, jasmine oil, rose hydrosol, wet wipes, hand sani, plastic sandwich bags, flip flops, slippers, socks, tissue and Echinacea Combo. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oopsy daisy.

Perhaps, just perhaps, in my quest for clean I used too much toilet paper. At the precise moment it became clear the toilet was plugged my husband received an urgent phone call from the bran muffin he ate for breakfast. He wasn't amused because he hasn't had to sit on a public throne in years. BTW, he is no longer my husband. After he left, I called housekeeping who immediately sent engineering to my charming room in the historic building at The Fairmont San Francisco. The gentleman with plunger in hand was clearly relieved he only had to contend with a roll of toilet paper in the basin. He did so quickly and efficiently. Overflow is another reason you should never walk around barefoot in public spaces. To the hotel's credit they didn't cut me off from toilet paper or tissue. Hit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A souvenir you can't bring back.

Let's just say you're walking along the streets of San Francisco and you see a used mattress laying about. You think to yourself, "Wow! I sure would like to take that back to Canada with me!" Work with me.

The thing is you can't. I found this interesting tidbit while searching Canada Border Services Agency info online on the ins and outs of importing cherries. I bought some delicious cherry preserves from Happy Girl Kitchen Co. at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and wasn't clear on whether or not I was allowed to cross the border with them. I knew importing fresh fruit can land you a major fine. When I landed in Canada I asked a customs agent why you can't cross the border with a used mattress. She said because they can harbor ticks and all sorts of other bugs. My obsession with clean mattresses is justified. Thank you CBSA. I'm quite certain that's not something they hear often. Hit.