How – and Why – to Choose a “Fast” Hotel

Travel tip: When speed matters, choose a hotel with self-service, convenient parking and quick breakfast options. Even if it means sacrificing a star.

I read Tyler Cowen’s blog post called “If they designed a hotel room just to please me” with interest. (I came across it via View from the Wing and Gary Leff’s hotel-room essentials list.) It got me thinking about how I increasingly value hotels that get me in and out quickly. And often these are not the most luxurious hotels.  No matter, since I’m not spending much time in the room, and as long as I can work and sleep adequately, that’s good enough.

Efficiency means, as Cowen pointed out, as little service as possible. At least as little of the human kind as possible. I want to carry my own bags. I don’t want to be interrupted or disturbed in my room. This is not old-fashioned five-star service, but it’s what’s important on many work trips.

It also means that in addition to choosing a hotel based on location, I think about parking. If I’m renting a car, valet parking can be a huge time suck. Someone told me recently that he loves Holiday Inn Express (and this was a five-star property kind of person) because he wants to park his car by his room so he can get to his first meeting of the day quickly.

Breakfast can be another time suck. The advantage to the free hotel breakfast is that it’s fast (because it’s certainly not the quality of the food), but club floor lounges accomplish the same thing with good food [usually]. For me, even better is the increasingly common to-go market in the lobby where I can pick up a piece of fruit and some cereal on my way back up to my room after a run.

Yes, there’s a place for slow in travel. But rarely when you’re on a business trip. When time is of the essence, choosing a hotel that gets you in and out fast can make a big difference in a trip’s success.

Are there other hotel attributes you like that speed you on your way?