Contributor/ The Vulture
I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, the most important person in my known universe is me. I have close friends, confidantes, cronies, but, when it comes to who I’m thinking about last thing at night and first thing in the morning, it’s me all the way.
Every decision I make, I think about the ramifications for me. Which type of gin. Which type of mixer. Ice or a slice? What impact is this going to have on my happiness over the next 20 minutes? I blame the politicians. People think the 80s Yuppie was self-involved, but thanks to New Labour telling us it was OK to think about ourselves as long as we at least looked like we were thinking about others, we were set. Private healthcare, private schooling, private armies, they all proliferated under Blair. Just ask Mark Thatcher.
But what does this mean for the home-from-home? The more demanding, the more obsessed with our own rights and tastes, the more choice we need. I can’t have my gin just like everyone else. If the guy next to me has ordered the same Shoreditch-hipster-distilled bottle, I’m having it with lime rather than lemon. And one hand-cut ice cube, not the proletarian shovel.
This is bad news for hotels, but also bad news for people who sell slabs of marble and gold leaf. Thanks to New Labour being unable to add up we may be picky as all get-out, but we can’t afford to indulge our idiosyncracies too far. Our luxury is not perfumed lackeys fluffing our pillows and hand-sculpting our mints, but choice.
And to be fair to the branded operators, they have been spewing out brands like never before to tempt our strained dollar. Much of it with an eye to the boutique and much of it at an acceptable price point. We won’t be lingering in the rooms, we’ll be off in the bar having an Instagrammable experience, where a decent meal and a drink can cost as much as the room itself.
But while the brands are throwing odd-looking chairs and modern art at the situation, there’s one offering that you can’t beat for options and that’s the booming sharing economy. Nothing else lets you kick back in your bespoke abode, with added inviting-your-friends-over for locally-sourced nibbles than a house you’ve chosen to your specific specifics. And at a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
The global operators’ calling card used to be consistency. Now they must create the illusion of choice.