Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hotels, and the marginal utility of wealth

I have stayed in three different hotels in the past seven days.

High-end hotel. Unctuous staff. Complimentary wine. Airport music in the lobby and elevator. Lemon-flavored water. High-tech light switches that require a college degree to use. Abstract art. Everything is made to stand out ostentatiously. Elongated shampoo bottle, zig-zaging floor pattern, and a bed big enough to get lost in. A good place to feel dizzy. No ironing board.

Comfortable business hotel ($160 plus tax). Bland in the extreme. Staff blends in with the walls. No colors. Nothing stands out at all. Clean, anonymous, comfortable, it could be situated anywhere in the world. A good place for an out-of-body experience. Ironing board.

Hostel ($17.10 including breakfast). Small bouncy bed. Matter-of-fact staff. Friendly people gathering around the outdoor pool. Room-sharing with a stranger who turns out to be, of all things, an assistant professor of computer science who asked me what I worked on and who, when I mentioned bin packing, said it reminded her of knapsack problems that come up in cryptography!! A good place to make friends. No ironing board.

In my case the marginal utility of money for lodging is negative.


  1. Care to share which hotels (especially the first and the last)?

  2. Both in LA. One is the Palomar hotel, within walking distance of UCLA, and the other is the Adventurer's hostel, 3 miles East of LAX.

    I take it that you don't want to do any ironing?

  3. Funny enough, I've stayed in both (though only the first since becoming a professor, and not doing room-sharing with strangers when I stayed at the last).

  4. Nice blog! I love this hostels very much. I will definitely visit and stay to that place.

    Pousadas Em Florianopolis


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