PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Why do the big U.S. hotel chains treat just about every amenities upgrade like a boutiquey modern must-have, but treat in-room entertainment like the guest-house technology that they haven't updated since the Clinton administration?
Unless there's an off-peak deal that's too good to pass up or a compelling reason for me to do so, I ordinarily avoid hotel stays from November through about mid-January. There are a whole lot of people out, there are a lot of rooms filled for the holidays and there's the overarching sense that these hospitality havens turn into filing cabinets for humans around this time of year.
This season, however, I've found myself in homes away from home more often than usual. A large family reunion dropped me and my wife into hotels in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., in early march and an unexpected business trip has me tapping out this missive from a hotel overlooking the mall traffic on Peachtree Road in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood.
In truth, it's been wonderful. Our fairly low-budget stop near Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market gave us free wi-fi, coffee and fresh-baked cookies. The heavily discounted suite in Wilmington was bigger than my wife's first apartment in Boston and came with two sprawling rooms, a kitchenette, pool and gym facilities we never got to use, Starbucks coffer, two HDTVs and free garage parking.Our current residence, the W Hotel, puts out a white hot chocolate bar at night, has an infinity pool looking out onto the city, feather beds, down comforters and free Bliss bath products. It's purposefully leaning toward the hipster aesthetic, which would be just fine if its tech offerings weren't stuck in a purgatory somewhere between streaming audio and video and stacks of vinyl. Beneath our HD TV screen sits a DVD player that seems to serve a dual function as an in-room stereo, at least judging from the CD library selection listed among the amenities. That's about albums including 10,000 Maniacs' Love Among The Ruins, Stone Temple Pilots' Core and the Hope Floats soundtrack. The concierge desk DVD collection is a bit more flush, mixing classics like Cool Hand Luke and The Graduate in with Caddyshack, Stand By Me and The Fugitive.