Friday, October 15, 2010

Motel heaven

Melbourne-based journo, Myf Warnhurst writes a touching account in the Sydney Morning Herald about her obsession with fair-dinkum Aussie motels.
A square of soap, my toast in a bag and a paper seal on the toilet. Motel heaven. 

THE best thing about my ''job'' (if you can call it that) is occasional country travel. And while I enjoy the journey and the destination, there's one part that pleases me the most: motel rooms.

Last weekend I hosted the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities awards, held in last year's winning town, Beechworth. I couldn't wait to get out of the city. It took forever to hit the Hume. Stuck in Saturday traffic on Sydney Road in Coburg, I eyed off my favourite fast food joint, the Kebab Station (Melbourne's best-kept kebab secret, may I add) and tossed up whether a falafel was an appropriate pre-award meal. A badly timed hummus repeat when announcing, ''And the winner is … Rutherglen'', could ruin things for everyone. I regretted this decision as I passed a million golden arches on the way there.

Empty of kebab and long of drive, I spent some time fantasising about my lodgings for the night. Well before I'd passed the Glenrowan turn-off, I was pining for the motel electric blanket I knew awaited me.

This obsession with electric blankets stems from childhood. I was deprived of one when I was a kid. I use the term ''deprived'' knowing this will annoy my mum terribly. She believed we should regulate our own temperatures in bed. Plus we'd all heard the horror stories of beds catching fire. And no one wanted to get burnt wearing those acrylic PJs that nan gave us for Christmas. We'd seen how easily they stuck to the skin on your backside when you accidentally leant on the gas heater. Electric blanket disaster stories were up there with the one about razor blades being stuck on the waterslide. We lived in fear.

On arrival at my motel, I was ticking boxes. There was a pool that rarely gets swum in because it's too cold. A doorbell to announce your arrival at front desk. A delightful host who gives you the milk you'll need for your cuppa in the morning. Bliss.

It was only 4pm and already I was fantasising about the motel breakfast. I filled out the request form. Kellogg's cereal variety pack or tinned spaghetti on toast? I chose the latter. Canned spag is my secret food shame. That, and when I used to eat the stuff - with a few slices of Straz deli meat in the car on the way home from the supermarket.

As well, I was eagerly anticipating cold white toast in a paper bag, pineapple juice in a glass wearing a little paper drink hat, conveniently delivered through a breakfast hole in the wall so no one has to endure the vision of my sweaty, curly just-slept hair as a result of the electric-blanket-induced night sweats.

On entering my room, I hoped there would be bedspreads (not quilts) with folded towels, a bar of soap perched on top, and a paper seal on the toilet to let me know that no one else's bum had hovered nearby recently. I've heard Madonna orders an entire new toilet at every gig she performs at. Given she's notoriously tight with money, someone should tell her about these convenient paper seals. It would save her heaps. Moteliers of Australia, you are genius. I'll pass it on.

Country motels have really stepped up in recent years. Electric blankets are still de rigueur (thank goodness) but there was no dodgy TV with only two channels and crap reception. Instead, a huge plasma telly, free wi-fi, mini bar, and my spaghetti on toast came on sourdough bread. Prepared with the same level of care I've always experienced.

Two days later, I'm on a different job and staying in an upmarket city hotel. This time there's no electric blanket but I do have an air-conditioner I can't turn off, and a window I'm not allowed to open. There's no wi-fi in the room and if I do need to get work done, they'll sting me $30 a day for the privilege. And breakfast costs as much as my entire one night in a country motel.

Guess I'll be re-heating last night's leftover room-service chips using the hairdryer for breakfast then.

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!