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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

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In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry. Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry. Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know. Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge. Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.


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In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry. Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry. Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know. Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge. Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.

30 review for Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stacia (the 2010 club)

    (Hotels have no thirteenth floor, hence I have no thirteenth chapter) I'm guessing there's at least one person who's reading this review that has never noticed most hotel elevators don't have a button for floor number 13. Dear Author, I had more fun reading your book than I have had reading memoirs from "actual" comedians. A trashy errr classy girl like me really vibes on your kind of humor. Please ignore the fclass="gr-hostedUserImg">Dear (Hotels have no thirteenth floor, hence I have no thirteenth chapter) I'm guessing there's at least one person who's reading this review that has never noticed most hotel elevators don't have a button for floor number 13. Dear Author, I had more fun reading your book than I have had reading memoirs from "actual" comedians. A trashy errr classy girl like me really vibes on your kind of humor. Please ignore the fact that I just reviewed a book for being too brash and crude. You, sir, are nothing of the sort. Your specific brand of humor may be too much for some, but I was dying over here in my little reading zone. Dying in a good way, that is. I'd say we should hang out but you want cash, not nipple slips. Dammit. I'm kind of short on cash at the moment. Talk about a great voice. Everything was told like it happened (and if there were embellishments, we'll never know). I appreciate that. Hell to the yes - this book was funny in the sort of way that only guys who have gone through crap and have come out on the other side can be. And don't forget helpful! Helpful + funny = good deal. What exactly is Head in Bed...whoops, I meant Heads in Beds about? This is an irreverent look at what exactly goes on behind the scenes in the hotel industry. And boy, does stuff go on... I found bondage gear still attached to the towel holder that had been ripped out of the wall, the prisoner escaped, I suppose, wandering the hallways in a ball gag. ~ I've seen footage of close-packed fistfights in a rising elevator (incredibly confined and extremely interesting to watch, especially if there are unrelated people along for the ride, backs pushed against the wall and hands protectively raised before their faces). ~ "Yeah, i'm in room 1205. I accidentally ordered a movie. Can you take it off the bill?" "Certainly, sir." Over to the movie console to cancel (porn name removed because it might offend someone but it made me laugh hard) two minutes and seven seconds into playback. I guess the opening credits were sufficient. Worry not. The systems have changed, and we can no longer see the movie titles. I mean, we know that the new releases cost $12.95 and the sexual releases cost $14.95. We just no longer have access to your specific fetishes. Not that we judge you (LIE). There were celebrity antics aplenty : We had a few working class celebrities, nice guys like Tony Danza who stuck it out because the bellmen here weren't afraid to scream, "Ayo Toneee," when he would swagger into the lobby, and you could tell, Danza loved that shit. Tips? You want tips? Here's one : Don't drink from the in-room glasses. Certainly not all, but some of them were using furniture polish on the drinking glasses. Keeping those glasses clean "looking" was also part of the job. Do you see any dish soap on a housekeeping cart? So the next time you put a little tap water into the minibar glass and wonder to yourself why it has a pleasant lemon aftertaste, that's because you just took a shot of Pledge. I liked how each new story sort of came with its own built in tip for how to get what you want during your hotel stay. The glossaries at the end were also priceless. Loved this book and loved the PoV. Good luck in your future endeavors, Mr. Author. "Don't forget where you came from, Tommy." I never have. Valet 4 Life, motherfuckers. This book was provided from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    Heads in Beds is the perfect “dessert” book. Dessert books are the books you want to read when you don’t want to cry at the end or get too emotionally involved in an overly intricate plot or when you really don’t want to think too hard about anything at the end of a shitty day. Sometimes people might think that lighter reading fare means that it’s intrinsically not “good,” but that’s just a matter of perspective. For me, a great, light nonfiction read like this one totally makes my day.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This book is not what I expected. I travel often and frequent hotels. I was hoping for some behind the scenes action and useful tips. If this is what the heart of hotels looks like then eww... this book is trashy & crass. The author is a bitter and nasty, and by the end of the book he drowns his troubles in alcohol & drugs. Essentially, what I got from this book was unless I tip exorbitantly I could expect shit service and a shit experience. I don't know about you but I'm not about to to This book is not what I expected. I travel often and frequent hotels. I was hoping for some behind the scenes action and useful tips. If this is what the heart of hotels looks like then eww... this book is trashy & crass. The author is a bitter and nasty, and by the end of the book he drowns his troubles in alcohol & drugs. Essentially, what I got from this book was unless I tip exorbitantly I could expect shit service and a shit experience. I don't know about you but I'm not about to toss around 10s and 20s, nevermind a "brick". I also found the way he mimicked the vernacular of blacks, latinos, and Asians extremely offensive. If I walked in the lobby of a hotel & he was behind the front desk, I would abandon my reservation. I do not recommend this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    In this Age of Memoir, I guess we were due for one by a hotel clerk. Jacob Tomsky's book focuses on his experiences working at two hotels: a luxury one in New Orleans and a Midtown one in New York. (All names have been changed, so there's no point stating them. He even changed his own name in the text to Tommy/Thomas.) In his introduction, he brags that he has worked in hotels for more than a decade and that he's probably checked us in before. Jacob/Tommy/Thomas promises to give the reader advic In this Age of Memoir, I guess we were due for one by a hotel clerk. Jacob Tomsky's book focuses on his experiences working at two hotels: a luxury one in New Orleans and a Midtown one in New York. (All names have been changed, so there's no point stating them. He even changed his own name in the text to Tommy/Thomas.) In his introduction, he brags that he has worked in hotels for more than a decade and that he's probably checked us in before. Jacob/Tommy/Thomas promises to give the reader advice on how to get the best deal and the best service, which I will summarize for you: Tip the front desk clerk when you first arrive. This may get you a room upgrade, free movies, a late checkout time, etc. BOOM! I just saved you 240+ pages. You're welcome. OK, so there's a bit more to it then just sliding a $20 to the clerk. He also recommends being nice to the staff -- which is generally a good policy to live by -- but in a hotel, if you manage to piss off the wrong person, you could end up with a string of annoyances, such as getting a room near a noisy elevator, getting mysterious wrong-number calls, having your key card not work, etc. He frequently says that a hotel staff is like a family, and they will trade stories about the guests who are mean, and the ones who are nice. (So always be nice!) Jacob/Tommy/Thomas has some decent stories about learning the hotel trade -- he started out as a parking valet, worked his way up to the front desk and later became a housekeeping manager -- but he comes across as an arrogant jerk, which made me like this book less. For someone who boasts that he has a philosophy degree and that he's wicked smart, he could be more philosophical in his attitude. I used to be a hotel clerk, so I could relate to some of his stories. But there was so much padding in the memoir that this would have made a better essay in The New Yorker. It didn't need to be upgraded to a book. One of the promotional blurbs on the back cover is from Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote: "Jacob Tomsky is a star. The kid writes like a dream. Heads in Beds is hilarious, literate, canny, indignant and kind -- revealing an author who manages somehow to be both a total hustler and a complete humanitarian. I love this book. Keep an eye on this writer. I'm telling you, he's a star." I agree with one word in that paragraph: hustler. Tomsky is a hustler. He even uses that word to describe himself in how he hustles for tips from guests. When I started this book, I expected to give it a 4-star rating for Tomsky's fun hotel stories. But his arrogance and narcissism wore me down and I dropped this to 3 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    Well ... I made it through the book (OK, so I skimmed in places), though at around the 2/3 mark I was sorely tempted to bail! Two stars out of five reflects that roughly 40% of the book has redeeming value, and the rest didn't, between repetition, attitude, and the author's personal life. First part covers his time at a new upscale hotel in New Orleans, where the author starts as a valet parker, bonding with the largely non-white crew. Then, he's promoted to front desk there, and we get muc Well ... I made it through the book (OK, so I skimmed in places), though at around the 2/3 mark I was sorely tempted to bail! Two stars out of five reflects that roughly 40% of the book has redeeming value, and the rest didn't, between repetition, attitude, and the author's personal life. First part covers his time at a new upscale hotel in New Orleans, where the author starts as a valet parker, bonding with the largely non-white crew. Then, he's promoted to front desk there, and we get much of that 40% "relevancy" with his work in that establishment. He saves up a lot of salary, working so many hours after being "promoted" to a housekeeping manager, that he has no social life to spend much on! So, he resigns to bum around Europe. Second part begins with his return from Europe to New York where, needing money, he takes a front office job at a faded hotel whose name still means something, although the guests seem to be mostly Priceline and business folks (trying to stay within their per diems). He bonds with the largely non-white staff yet again, which I mention as he dwells on that. Eventually, the hotel is sold to a private equity firm, which guts the place, making impressive-but-shoddy refurbishments, doubles the rates to attract the Glitterati, and fires as much existing staff as they can. Author is union-protected so gets to stay. They keep harassing him, and writing him up to build up a termination case, yet he hangs on, out of stubbornness, and financial considerations. Other reviewers have mentioned that they wouldn't want him as an employee, and question his single-sided view of events, to which I add an "Amen!" Ironically, new hires require drug tests, but he mentions in passing that in NYC he was arrested for using drugs (I don't think he meant pot) with co-workers in public. I've been an "elite" in a couple of hotel chain programs for a while now, and his antics don't match my experiences much at all. The audiobook, which he narrates himself, highlights his coarse punkishness. Pro's: explanation of organizational structure of hotels, examples of dealing with both nice, and far-from-nice guests. Con's (where to begin): bragging about his drug use, lots of profanity, interchanging the term "tip" with "bribe" (often!), bragging about being a toyboy having sex with Sugar Mama in public places, bragging about celebrity guests, feeling incredibly sorry for himself for being miserable in a job where they outright want him to go, and throwing around throwing around money to employees as a swell idea (he mentions it so often that I feel compelled to count that twice here). Despite my harsh comments, I think his heart is in the right place, but his personality on the whole was a real turn-off.

  6. 5 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine

    With Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, something unprecedented has happened in the publishing industry: they published a book by (wait for it!) a good writer. >>gasp<< I know. I'm as shocked as you are, really. While Heads in Beds is being marketed as Kitchen Confidential with a hotel slant, there's a marked difference between the two books: Anthony Bourdain is a cocky chef who also happens to know how to open a Word Doc on a PC, and thus gets his half-decent memoirs publi With Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, something unprecedented has happened in the publishing industry: they published a book by (wait for it!) a good writer. >>gasp<< I know. I'm as shocked as you are, really. While Heads in Beds is being marketed as Kitchen Confidential with a hotel slant, there's a marked difference between the two books: Anthony Bourdain is a cocky chef who also happens to know how to open a Word Doc on a PC, and thus gets his half-decent memoirs published. Jacob Tomsky, on the other hand? Goddamn, this kid can write. Don't believe me? Have a look for yourself. When describing his asshole manager, Tomsky writes that when his supervisor spoke, "it sounded as if his tongue were too swollen for his mouth, the words wet like a flopping fish." (Pen mightier than the sword and all that). And if you can find me a passage anywhere that more perfectly describes the ambivalence of living in New York City, I'll buy you a Coke: "I couldn't help but think back to New Orleans. Hadn't I been happier there? I was a nicer person there, right? How come I'd even stayed this long in New York? I might have already left the city, but in a way New York put a hex on me. The gravity is so strong here, that center-of-the -world feeling, it made leaving the city unfathomable." I feel you, bro. And then there is his description of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, which is nothing short of poetry. "I sat down ...watching the evening sun bleed from the streets, the city shifting into night, when it truly became New Orleans: the music, the constant festival, the smell of late evening dinners pouring out, layering the beer-soaked streets, prostitutes, clubs with DJs, rowdy gay bars, dirty strip clubs, the insane out for a walk, college students vomiting in trash cans, daiquiri bars lit up like supermarkets, washing-machine-sized mixers built into the walls...lone trumpet players, grown women crying, clawing at men in suits, portrait painters ... jazz music pressing up against rock and roll cover bands, murderers, scam artists, hippies selling anything, magic shows and people on unicycles, flying cockroaches the size of pocket rockets, men in drag ... the affluent, the beggars, the forgotten, and the soft spring air pregnant with every scent created by such a town." Whoa. Hey Norton people, are you reading? Anthologize this shit already. And don't worry. Despite the good writing and many references to classical philosophy and literature (and those references are correct, by the way, which in itself is surprising given that publishers crank out any old crap without bothering to check Cliff's Notes for accuracy), the book is hilarious (think of me when you get to the section about Room 212) and is bound to inspire a maniacal laugh or two. The hotel info? Just an added bonus. All of Tomsky's tactics are likely to score you upgrades and free alcohol the next time you stay in a hotel. Sweet! Hmmm, let's see.... Exceptionally good writing, humorous, and useful. Know what I call that? Un-put-down-able. I know. I still can't believe it. KICKED ASS.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    This will be short 'n sweet, since I'm typing on my ipad, and doing a road trip with a challenging meeting behind me. The author provides several good reasons why you should not stay in hotels, if you're not into bribes, extortion or abundant tips. You will regret it! My mouth hung open for most of the book. Rudeness will cost you dearly!!! Don't despair, the disgruntled desk clerk also explains in detail how to raid the minibar and get away with it. The friendships and wacky lingo be This will be short 'n sweet, since I'm typing on my ipad, and doing a road trip with a challenging meeting behind me. The author provides several good reasons why you should not stay in hotels, if you're not into bribes, extortion or abundant tips. You will regret it! My mouth hung open for most of the book. Rudeness will cost you dearly!!! Don't despair, the disgruntled desk clerk also explains in detail how to raid the minibar and get away with it. The friendships and wacky lingo between employees was hilarious. A few tender memories balanced it all out. But really, sabotaging the business which paid their salaries was the same as cutting off your nose to spite your face and was annoying big time. While causing financial losses, the employees unionized themselves in protecting themselves against being fired. Amazing. I enjoy reading this book, since there was much to ponder and much to remember. It was really entertaining and relaxing. Worth it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vegantrav

    Having worked as in the service industry (both as a waiter and front desk agent), I had high expectations for Jacob Tomsky's memoir about life as a front desk agent at a luxury hotel. And I was not disappointed: Tomsky's description of life in the service industry is spot on: the great friends you make on the job, the after hours drinking and commiseration with said friends, the casual use of profanity (what? you don't swear? spend 2 months as a waiter or a front desk agent, and you g Having worked as in the service industry (both as a waiter and front desk agent), I had high expectations for Jacob Tomsky's memoir about life as a front desk agent at a luxury hotel. And I was not disappointed: Tomsky's description of life in the service industry is spot on: the great friends you make on the job, the after hours drinking and commiseration with said friends, the casual use of profanity (what? you don't swear? spend 2 months as a waiter or a front desk agent, and you goddamned will, mother-fucker), the way you hate management and massage or completely disregard idiotic management policies, the mind-numbing tedium of most interactions with your customers which is relieved almost always by angry assholes (whom you learn to appreciate solely for their entertainment value) and the once-in-a-great-while genuinely positive interactions with customers who are also really great people. Heads in Beds is a book about the inner workings of life in the hotel industry, but it's more than that: it's a dramatic soap opera, at time hilarious and at times sad, about the lives of the hotel employees. If you know nothing about the hotel business, you will leave this book with a good education, but you'll also learn a lot about how to treat the people who work in the service industry (you might think this would be obvious, but you might also be surprised by the portion of the population composed of assholes or of people just too callous and self-centered to give a second thought to their bellmen, doormen, concierges, front desk agents, waiters, cab-drivers, etc.), and that's the best lesson from this book. Tomsky writes as if he is telling a story to his friends, which makes for very enjoyable reading, and he is a great storyteller.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    At one point in the book Jacob Tomski states "I am a ----ing good writer!" I disagree. This book would have been great at 20 pages. Tomski's language is unnecessarily foul and he repeats the same anecdotes just in different locations. While mildly entertaining in a few spots, the book does not deliver on the author's promise of how to work the hotel system. I'm not sure that anyone was looking for the secret to be summed up in one solution -just hand out twenty dollar bills. He also lost credibi At one point in the book Jacob Tomski states "I am a ----ing good writer!" I disagree. This book would have been great at 20 pages. Tomski's language is unnecessarily foul and he repeats the same anecdotes just in different locations. While mildly entertaining in a few spots, the book does not deliver on the author's promise of how to work the hotel system. I'm not sure that anyone was looking for the secret to be summed up in one solution -just hand out twenty dollar bills. He also lost credibility about how big, bad, mean and unfair hotel management is as soon as he described, at length, how he and other employees milked the system, avoided work, and sat around bored. This was a great concept for a book. It was just written by the wrong author. Tomski is a greasy, unsympathetic character who cannot write. He only knows a handful of adjectives, and most of them are profane. By the end of the book, I wanted to fire him myself!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Schnusenberg

    I'll start with what I liked about this book. As I would say to anyone who seems angry or upset with me (in this case, it seems, the author is in general pretty upset with guests), I appreciate the candor. In the author's words, Boom! That's it. What I don't appreciate (and this list is longer): 1) Thanks for trying to tell me how to game the system and, essentially, steal and cheat. No interest, thanks, though! 2) It seems the author is bipolar. In parts of the book, he has I'll start with what I liked about this book. As I would say to anyone who seems angry or upset with me (in this case, it seems, the author is in general pretty upset with guests), I appreciate the candor. In the author's words, Boom! That's it. What I don't appreciate (and this list is longer): 1) Thanks for trying to tell me how to game the system and, essentially, steal and cheat. No interest, thanks, though! 2) It seems the author is bipolar. In parts of the book, he has whole monologues about the importance of guest service. These last for about two paragraphs each and must have been written after a positive guest experience. Then you turn the page, and the author goes on a ten-page rampage about guests, management, and anything non-union. 3) It's nice to know that you will turn around and bad-mouth me to all your co-workers unless I tip you at least $20 up front. That really makes me want to treat you real special. 4) Let's see. a) you don't care about guests, b) you only care about your cash flow, c) you will actually take steps to give guests an unpleasant experience (such as the key bomb) if they upset you and, finally d) YOU WORK IN A SERVICE INDUSTRY. Guess what, you should have been fired. Ultimately, the author states he really doesn't care if we, as guests, have a good experience. What he cares about is the money. So why on earth would I tip you up front, taking away the incentive of making my experience better. A tip is for service performed. In a way, this book is the ultimate hustle.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a fun, somewhat raunchy book about the author's experiences in the hotel business. Jacob Tomsky starts out as a valet at a luxury hotel in New Orleans. He graduates to become housekeeping manager, and then on to a front desk clerk. Then he moves to New York City, where he continues to work at the front desk at a luxury hotel. The book is fun because of the variety of anecdotes about hotel guests and co-workers. One woman checks in for a few hours in the afternoon, several times a week. T This is a fun, somewhat raunchy book about the author's experiences in the hotel business. Jacob Tomsky starts out as a valet at a luxury hotel in New Orleans. He graduates to become housekeeping manager, and then on to a front desk clerk. Then he moves to New York City, where he continues to work at the front desk at a luxury hotel. The book is fun because of the variety of anecdotes about hotel guests and co-workers. One woman checks in for a few hours in the afternoon, several times a week. Tomsky realizes that the room she rents can be rented twice in the same day, and tries to refund some of her payments to her. She refuses to accept the refunds, and Tomsky suspects that she may be a prostitute--but she probably isn't--she is just on a lavish business expense. Tomsky shows how his can-do service-oriented attitude helps customers, and earns tips for himself and his co-workers. He understands all the tricks and hustles, and shows the reader what is really going on at the check-in desk. If you want to understand how to get "something extra" as a guest at a hotel, like a room upgrade, a late check-out time, or avoid a non-show fee, then you can find the answers in this book. There are some fun, hilarious stories mixed in with some sad stories. Tomsky sees hotel management as uncompassionate at sometimes downright ugly people who do not understand their own business. Management often fails to understand that a clerk might go a little out of his way to brighten a guest's stay, and ultimately may have enormous pay-back to the hotel. Don't read this book for deep thoughts or insights into the hotel industry. And, this is not a "self-help" book that might guide you to selecting a good hotel. This is an easy-reading look at how people working at a hotel think about their jobs, their customers, and life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Hummer

    Forget The Bible, this is the book that should be in every drawer of every bedside table in every hotel room. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky is just about the most horrifying (in a good way) book I’ve ever read. I had no idea that doing the “crinkly handshake” could get you a better room. Or scarfing down the entire mini-bar just before demanding a room change (too smoky, too loud, too pink, whatever) would get you free grub. And more sadly, I was not aware of just how many housekeepers/heads of Forget The Bible, this is the book that should be in every drawer of every bedside table in every hotel room. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky is just about the most horrifying (in a good way) book I’ve ever read. I had no idea that doing the “crinkly handshake” could get you a better room. Or scarfing down the entire mini-bar just before demanding a room change (too smoky, too loud, too pink, whatever) would get you free grub. And more sadly, I was not aware of just how many housekeepers/heads of housekeeping may have had sex in my room just minutes before my initial entry. And then there’s the dialogue. “Imma take these five twenties and get myself a bobo.” (Pg. um, well location 2033). You might not know what “bobo” means, but I do and I’m never calling a hundred dollar bill anything else. I’m also never not using a doorman. You’d be smarter to defriend someone on Facebook. No bag you say? Let him carry your iPhone. Your kid. Anything. But use him. Give him the crinkly handshake and your every wish will be his command. Unless he simply doesn’t like you (you screamed at your kid, cut a little old lady in line – they see it all) and then you’re pretty much doomed and housekeeping might very well do something unsanitary to your toothbrush. Not only will this book make you laugh, it will make you smarter. Let the other yahoos suffer the consequences of calling the Front by their first name at check-in. And try not to break into chokes of laughter while watching that guy march up to the desk, throw down a Ziploc bag with a small black dot in it (raisin?), and try to swindle a bed bug room rate. Do, however, record it. And put it on YouTube. Were it merely fiction, this book might not be one of the most entertaining books to grace my kindle. But being a memoir, it is. And the author didn't even have to slide me a baby brick to say that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I admit it: I like the rant/tell-all memoirs of service industry. They make me remember past jobs that I was glad to leave behind, and make me grateful that I'm not walking a mile in the author's shoes. I don't expect the books to Pulitzer-worthy, nor do I want them to be. I want to sit back, glad that I'm only reading about a particularly nightmarish job and not experiencing it. I want to revel in insider dirt, be outraged by patron behavior, and deliciously scandalized by staff retaliations. H I admit it: I like the rant/tell-all memoirs of service industry. They make me remember past jobs that I was glad to leave behind, and make me grateful that I'm not walking a mile in the author's shoes. I don't expect the books to Pulitzer-worthy, nor do I want them to be. I want to sit back, glad that I'm only reading about a particularly nightmarish job and not experiencing it. I want to revel in insider dirt, be outraged by patron behavior, and deliciously scandalized by staff retaliations. High-brow? Hardly - and that's the point. Having said that, Heads in Beds still felt... underwhelming to me. It felt like there just wasn't much THERE. Tomsky alludes to a few celebrity encounters, and shares a few eyebrow-raising stories of hotel-revenge. But the bulk of the book is devoted to explaining why you should tip everyone in the industry, and how you can get anything you want if you grease the right palm. That's it. Not much insider info, not much STORY, really; just restating again and again that you should pay money upfront for an upgraded experience. And that? Well, that gets a bit repetitive after a couple of hundred pages. It felt to me like Heads in Beds could have been shortened to a really juicy, really great chapter in an anthology, or an extended magazine article. There just wasn't enough to justify an entire book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brendon Schrodinger

    This read was a bit of a gamble. Written by a employee in the hotel business it professes to tell great stories, tips on getting the best service and an insider look behind the scenes. With many other writers this could have been quite dull, but Jacob's wit, heart and cynicism makes this a great read that does deliver on all the promises. The memoir part takes up most of the book with a chronological tale of his employment from a valet parer in a luxury hotel in the southern U.S., through This read was a bit of a gamble. Written by a employee in the hotel business it professes to tell great stories, tips on getting the best service and an insider look behind the scenes. With many other writers this could have been quite dull, but Jacob's wit, heart and cynicism makes this a great read that does deliver on all the promises. The memoir part takes up most of the book with a chronological tale of his employment from a valet parer in a luxury hotel in the southern U.S., through the lofty heights of management, and finally to a bitter front desk clerk in New York. You get to experience the differing hotel environments in each hotel he works in and see the direct effect of these styles on the staff, which of course reflects in the service of the clients. Jacob has wonderful tales from his time in each hotel from the classy woman who only hires a New York room for 3 hours regularly, to the CEO client who stays multiple times a week and leaves a bag behind containing some interesting luggage. So many funny and weird tales. Interspersed throughout is Jacob's advice to us, the paying public. How do you get the best service and the added perks? What the fuck is up with minibars and how do you get stuff for free from them? And why do people constantly underestimate the power of the front desk clerk? This person has complete control over your stay and if you treat them like shit, they can make your stay hell. The methods for making a client's stay not so nice are rather funny and clever, but do not worry, you probably won't get to experience these methods unless you are an asshole to the clerk, or do something nasty in their presence such as treating your wife, girlfriend or especially kids like crap in front of the clerk. This book is a wonderful and fun read, with the added advantage of being educational on what happens behind the scenes in the hotel industry and how you can make the most out of your next stay at a hotel.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Birgit

    Not only have I got a soft spot for behind-the-scenes looks, I also love traveling which, more often than not, involves staying at a hotel. Needless to say Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky went straight onto my list of books I really wanted to read. The thing is that books like these are usually written by wanna-be authors who, with any luck, have a bit of talent up their sleeves, plus a proficient editor, which may then result in an enjoyable, insightful and fun read. Sadly, this isn't the ca Not only have I got a soft spot for behind-the-scenes looks, I also love traveling which, more often than not, involves staying at a hotel. Needless to say Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky went straight onto my list of books I really wanted to read. The thing is that books like these are usually written by wanna-be authors who, with any luck, have a bit of talent up their sleeves, plus a proficient editor, which may then result in an enjoyable, insightful and fun read. Sadly, this isn't the case here. The combination of a startling overuse of the F-word - 56 times in various combinations, preferably using the word "mother" as prefix - and suggestions to weary travelers that all seem to revolve around lying to the people at the front desk so as not having to pay for this or that, leaves only little room for maybe one or two actually interesting observations. All this "revelatory" book gives insight to is the mind of an annoyingly prepotent employee who apparently dislikes his job and thus felt like yammering about it in the form of this book whereas, in my humble opinion, the better choice as an outlet for dishing the dirt would have been, plain and simple, a blog. Of course those not easily offended by certain crude expressions might find this book quite entertaining and a breezy read, though I have to say it certainly didn't work for me. In short: Little insights, lots of swearing!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    I have a confession to make; I really, really, really enjoyed this book. I wasn't expecting to like it quite so much, I picked it up as a filler between reading some heavier fiction just to see what it was. Yes, as expected, I read the gossipy anecdotes about what goes on with the guests, got the scoop on what to do and, most especially, what not to do to insure good service. But what I also got, and was not expecting, was some very fine writing from a man who tried to maintain some humanity and I have a confession to make; I really, really, really enjoyed this book. I wasn't expecting to like it quite so much, I picked it up as a filler between reading some heavier fiction just to see what it was. Yes, as expected, I read the gossipy anecdotes about what goes on with the guests, got the scoop on what to do and, most especially, what not to do to insure good service. But what I also got, and was not expecting, was some very fine writing from a man who tried to maintain some humanity and common sense while surrounded by insolent guests, psychotic managers and crazy co-workers. (Yes, I know, this describes every job for anyone working with the public.) I learned two very important things from this book: kindness and simple good manners will get you more than screaming at the unfortunate clerk trying to help you. And #2: NEVER make a doorman or bellman mad, or stiff them a tip. They WILL get you. You will be guaranteed to be amused and educated by this book. Highly recommended for anyone ever planning to stay in a hotel, or for anyone who just wants a witty, well written biographical account from a first rate author.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    The narratives were written in varying accents from Cajun Louisiana to Japanese to hip-hop vernacular. If you are amused by snarky invectives then you will like this book. I just thought it kept hammering the same ideas over and over again. I actually got it because it claimed to offer insider tips on getting upgrades and better service. Instead of anything meaningful, the author suggests that lying is the way to go. Stuff your face at the mini-bar, watch porn and then Deny! Deny! Deny! The reas The narratives were written in varying accents from Cajun Louisiana to Japanese to hip-hop vernacular. If you are amused by snarky invectives then you will like this book. I just thought it kept hammering the same ideas over and over again. I actually got it because it claimed to offer insider tips on getting upgrades and better service. Instead of anything meaningful, the author suggests that lying is the way to go. Stuff your face at the mini-bar, watch porn and then Deny! Deny! Deny! The reason being those things don't cost the hotel much so they are more willing to waive the fees rather than argue. That isn't much of a tip....oh and speaking of tips, apparently if you drop a $20 on the front desk clerk you might get an upgrade. I just wasn't very impressed with the purported "stories" or the insider tricks for upgrades and freebies. Save your money and tip the housekeeper :-)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mediaman

    This worthless book is written by a bellhop/front desk guy who has had limited experience at a couple hotels. His job is dull, his stories are simplistic, his anger-fueled anti-guest attitude gets him fired, and his perspective in the book is one of preaching at those of us that pay too much money on how we should treat him, not on how his industry should improve to treat us. It's hard to believe this book got published--there's nothing interesting in it. It might not even have enough This worthless book is written by a bellhop/front desk guy who has had limited experience at a couple hotels. His job is dull, his stories are simplistic, his anger-fueled anti-guest attitude gets him fired, and his perspective in the book is one of preaching at those of us that pay too much money on how we should treat him, not on how his industry should improve to treat us. It's hard to believe this book got published--there's nothing interesting in it. It might not even have enough material for a magazine article. And it's very poorly written. He keeps harping at the terrible guests who actually want to carry their own luggage or be put in the room they reserved! At one point he starts to write about his celebrity encounters and I thought, "Okay--finally something worth reading." But then he says he isn't going to tell any celebrity stories! Why in the world not? What does this guy think is interesting about his tedious everyday experiences? He keeps going back to focusing on the bellhops, easily the least interesting employees in the building. Most frustrating is to read the unnecessary profanity the author inserts throughout the book. And his fondness for drinking and drugs. He thinks he's being cool using raunchy language to write about his faults and vices--instead he's actually proving himself to be a simple low-life valet who was promoted to a management-level job he should never have been given. The guy is a loser. The book is the same.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    In life more than a few things have caught attention and fascinated me. Some of the great questions I have pondered include: How are roads made? How did they make that big tall building? How does a 747 stay in the air? Have people always confused Taiwan and Thailand? And …. Is the cheery helpful hotel staff person as enamored with the hotel experience as I am? Mr. Tomsky would answer me with a resounding – no. In fact, he did his best in Heads in Beds to take whatever glamour and gilt I (and man In life more than a few things have caught attention and fascinated me. Some of the great questions I have pondered include: How are roads made? How did they make that big tall building? How does a 747 stay in the air? Have people always confused Taiwan and Thailand? And …. Is the cheery helpful hotel staff person as enamored with the hotel experience as I am? Mr. Tomsky would answer me with a resounding – no. In fact, he did his best in Heads in Beds to take whatever glamour and gilt I (and many others) have attributed to our hotel going experience and brings us to a reality where the service and specialness we all feel is merely a financial transaction. I can’t recall staying in any hotel that charged more the $200 a night for a room but I have stayed in some places that made me think I was worth that and much more. In reading his book I had hoped for some insights on the inner workings of the industry but this wasn’t the book for that. About halfway through I thought to myself – is this book going to be anything more than repetition of the “tip to get” mantra? But I kept reading – wanting more. In the end I received nothing (perhaps I should have tipped the author?). No witty insights on the other side of the reception desk. No characters I could empathize with (except for those ladies in housekeeping) The book was over 200 pages long (247 not counting the Acknowledgements and About the Author pages) and offers less than a dozen “tips” or intriguing bits of trivia (room drinking glasses cleaned with furniture polish). For me – (and perhaps you if you want to get it all in a few pages) the last 9 pages that cover What a Guest should Never Say or Do, What a Guest should Know, and How to Find your Agent were a welcome respite from the previous 200 pages of ‘tip to get.” Problem is – I didn’t need to read a book to get those tidbits…. That could have been provided in a magazine article (and I am sure it has).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Librarian

    I was pretty disappointed in this book. For one thing, the author admitted he's not honest. He said right up front that names and people were fictionalized. And he kept bragging about lying and hustling. So I questioned the truth of a lot of what he said. Even worse, I felt like he didn't really have a story to tell. The author gets a job he doesn't really want, is good at it but has problems on the job. Does he quit? Get fired? Not only did I not care, it was hard to see how it ultimately matte I was pretty disappointed in this book. For one thing, the author admitted he's not honest. He said right up front that names and people were fictionalized. And he kept bragging about lying and hustling. So I questioned the truth of a lot of what he said. Even worse, I felt like he didn't really have a story to tell. The author gets a job he doesn't really want, is good at it but has problems on the job. Does he quit? Get fired? Not only did I not care, it was hard to see how it ultimately mattered. He didn't seem to care that much so why should I? It's too bad because I felt that this could have been a good book if the author hadn't turned everyone into a caricature and usually an ethnic stereotype at that. There wasn't a single developed character in the book including the author. If he had any relationships with his co-workers, any meaningful encounters with them beyond partying, I must have missed them. The passages at the hotel either involved a hustle or an explanation of how hotels work, which is mostly a hustle. That said, the book was a quick read, an enjoyable enough look behind the scenes of a hotel that it kept me, someone who travels a fair amount, interested enough to keep going.

  21. 5 out of 5

    JDK1962

    For what it is, very good, very much like Kitchen Confidential. A great book to get you through a plane ride, or (as in my case) a day sick in bed. I would disagree with those who say that the author sounds like a real asshat...I would defy anyone to work a service industry position for that long, with the management he faced at the end, who could come out half as well. If you want to read the adventures of an jackass author, may I humbly recommend Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?. That one will have you despising th For what it is, very good, very much like Kitchen Confidential. A great book to get you through a plane ride, or (as in my case) a day sick in bed. I would disagree with those who say that the author sounds like a real asshat...I would defy anyone to work a service industry position for that long, with the management he faced at the end, who could come out half as well. If you want to read the adventures of an jackass author, may I humbly recommend Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?. That one will have you despising the author a couple dozen pages in. But for the record? I've got one bag that, as the author points out, I already lugged 1000+ miles. I can find my own damn room, thanks. I don't want a bellman to show me to my room. Not trying to be cheap, or a jerk, or anything...but I'm extremely introverted, and the luxury service I want is to be left alone. Trying to politely get rid of someone who sees me as nothing more than a walking pile of singles is exactly what I don't need.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roz Warren

    Ten Things I Learned Reading “Heads in Beds“ A Tell-All Memoir About Working In Elite Hotels If you don’t tip the bellman who carries your bags to your room, something nasty could wind up on your toothbrush during your stay. There is always a better room. People who hang out in hotel lobbies all day are called “lobby lizards.” Reservations made through Internet discount sites usually get the worst rooms. If you want an upgrade, hand over a twenty at check-in and say, “Give Ten Things I Learned Reading “Heads in Beds“ A Tell-All Memoir About Working In Elite Hotels If you don’t tip the bellman who carries your bags to your room, something nasty could wind up on your toothbrush during your stay. There is always a better room. People who hang out in hotel lobbies all day are called “lobby lizards.” Reservations made through Internet discount sites usually get the worst rooms. If you want an upgrade, hand over a twenty at check-in and say, “Give me something nice.” Slang names for a hundred dollar bill include: nugget, money shot, redhead, dirty dancer, hundo, hunnert, brick, left, ben and denny. Hotel guests can make quirky demands, such as refusing to stay in any room where the digits in the room number didn’t add up to nine. If your employers try to fire you unjustly, even though you do your job well, the union will protect you. If your employers try to fire you because you’re a lazy slacker, and do your job abysmally, the union will protect you. The morbidly obese are good tippers.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle

    Heads in Beds is the author’s memoir about his accidental career in hospitality, starting from working in valet to front office manager and housekeeping manager. What I did like about this book was the “behind-the-scenes” info, and learning about the inner workings of the hospitality business. He did shed light on the bellman lifestyle and the difficulties of being a front office manager dealing with thousands of patrons, to the challenges in managing housekeeping. Some stories he told here genu Heads in Beds is the author’s memoir about his accidental career in hospitality, starting from working in valet to front office manager and housekeeping manager. What I did like about this book was the “behind-the-scenes” info, and learning about the inner workings of the hospitality business. He did shed light on the bellman lifestyle and the difficulties of being a front office manager dealing with thousands of patrons, to the challenges in managing housekeeping. Some stories he told here genuinely funny, and he is without a doubt smart, witty, and snarky. What I couldn’t get my head around was the tone this memoir was written in. He came off as unpleasant, and many times during the course of the book I kept thinking, “good thing I’ve never come across a front desk manager like him.” I felt like he wouldn’t give guests the time of day if they didn’t already have a 20 on the counter. Can’t really say I’m surprised, but it all comes down to tips (or as he likes to use interchangeably, bribes). Also, woven in is his constant dislike of the hospitality business and his perpetual unhappiness with his own life. With his punk-ish attitude, I find it difficult to empathize with the fact that he is in job he never really wanted doing something he never thought he would do. For the most part, when I read memoirs, its of a period of time in the author’s life which has profoundly changed him, or it is a reflection of a past life. In this instance though, I didn’t get that feeling; Tomsky is still in the hospitality business doing the same thing he wrote about. There was no personal growth or development; I couldn’t understand why he chose to write a memoir now. If he wanted to inform the reader of the inner workings of the hotel business, it could have been neatly summed up as an expose in a magazine.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    An entertaining tale of how a college Philosophy major gets roped into an unwanted career, and makes it, barely, to the other side. The only thing I really disliked about the book is how hard New York City makes the formerly sweet man Thomas (and he acknowledges this at the end). Pretty scary if you take it too seriously. A little repetitive, a little predictable, it nevertheless held my attention until the end. A good "I'm too busy to read during the Holidays" book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    “Service is not about being up-front and honest. Service is about minimizing negatives and creating the illusion of perfection. Here’s how it’s done: Lie. Smile. Finesse. Barter. Convince. Lie again. Smile again.” I didn’t expect to laugh so much! I respond to his type of humor and a funny book is exactly what I needed. This is also an interesting glimpse into the hospitality business. I highly recommend the audio. Tomsky’s narration is perfect.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Love this book! It shows you world of people we never see going through hotels: front-desk, bellman, cleaning ladies, etc. After this book I will never look the same on hotel's worker. Author put it as is (no sugar coating - specially liked "instant karma" stuff). Lot of tips how hotel works and what to do to get all upgrades.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    ”Remember: heads in beds. The only thing that matters in this business. Heads in beds.” My best friend Lauren loves going on vacation. Specifically, she loves going on vacation and staying in hotels. She has a weird fetish/obsession with hotel beds that makes absolutely no sense. If it were up to her, she probably would never want to leave the room at all; just stay in the bed all day. I joke with her all the time that if being an elementary school teacher doesn’t work out for her, she could always b ”Remember: heads in beds. The only thing that matters in this business. Heads in beds.” My best friend Lauren loves going on vacation. Specifically, she loves going on vacation and staying in hotels. She has a weird fetish/obsession with hotel beds that makes absolutely no sense. If it were up to her, she probably would never want to leave the room at all; just stay in the bed all day. I joke with her all the time that if being an elementary school teacher doesn’t work out for her, she could always become a professional hotel reviewer (if there is such of a thing). And you think your job is tough. Hospitality work is probably one of the most thankless jobs out there, according to the author. These poor people have to see things that should be left unseen, and berated over things they have absolutely no control over. Their schedules are crap and overtime pay is practically unheard of. The only good thing about it is that you have the union to back you up. Needless to say, there will obviously be some funny hotel stories on both sides of the desk, employee to guest. Hopefully none of them will be nightmarish (or they may be nightmarish at the time and turn out to be hilarious in the end). Like this experience. Hotel Story #1 I was about 7 years old, and my family was visiting my aunt and uncle in the Bay Area. Since they didn’t have enough room in their own house to accommodate us visiting, we had to check into a hotel that my aunt and uncle made the reservation at. Well, unbeknownst to us, the hotel booked us in a room with a handicapped shower. If you didn’t already know this, the setup of a handicapped shower is a totally different setup then a regular shower. Well, here’s the scenario of my poor father trying to use the shower. **We arrive in the room and look it over** Dad:Um, Jane (aka mom)? This shower is wonky. Are you sure this was part of the reservation? Mom:This is a handicapped shower. Why the heck would they put us in a room with that? **Dad calls front desk, they can’t move us to a regular room for some reason.** Dad:How hard can it be to operate the thing? It’s just like a regular shower, right? Mom:Yeah, but just to be on the safe side, you go first. I don’t want Katherine getting hurt in there. **Five minutes later** BANG! CRASH! And a few other expletives too dirty to print. Me:What’s Daddy saying? Mom:FUDGE!! HE WANTS FUDGE!! Sometimes people get food cravings when they shower. Nice one mom… Onto the actual book. While there were some laugh out loud parts that were generally hilarious. I felt that this book was lacking in something. I’m all for reading tell-all books about people’s jobs, but what I usually look for (and like about them), is the humorous bits where they give confessions about BBG (badly behaving guests). There wasn’t really a whole lot in that department, so if you are looking for a book along those guidelines, you’ll be disappointed. You will, however, walk away knowing two things about hotel service. 1. TIP. For the love of God, tip. The dude emphasizes it so much he was starting to sound like a broken record. And if you ever run into him and not tip him, I swear he will probably hunt you down, find you and beat the crap out of you. Because TIPPING IS EVERYTHING. 2. YOLO it and raid the minibar and fridge. Seriously, they don’t care. You could rob all the floors of all the minibars and they STILL wouldn’t care. He emphasizes this point a lot as well. Not sure if this is a tip you should actually try, but hey, go for it if you feel like it. You know what? Just take whatever you feel like it, what the heck!! Hotel Story #2 Back in 2009, we had a foreign exchange student from Spain stay with us for a month. The group she was traveling with often made trips around the state, and one of these trips was to San Francisco. She came back with the group after a weekend there. And this happened… Me:Did you have a good time? Teresa:Yeah! I did! And I got some things too!! Mom:Oh yeah, these are nice! Dad:You bought a book there? Sure is nice. Teresa:I love it! It was in the hotel room!! I also took the glass and the Bible that was there. I didn’t know American hotels gave out free souvenirs. **Crickets from all three of us** Me:Uh, yeah sure! We’re sure generous. **Teresa, happy as a clam, continues to unpack. The three of us leave** Dad:She wasn’t supposed to take those…. So if there’s a hotel in San Francisco missing any of those three items from way back then…. Oops. 3. JOIN THE UNION. Anyone who doesn’t is a moron, according to Tomsky. While lacking in humor, I did find this a fascinating look at what really happens every time when we check into a hotel. Fascinating, overall. Do you have any memorable hotel stories, good or bad? What’s the best hotel you’ve stayed in? Tell me in the comments below!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    Thomas is a pseudonym for a hotel worker who writes his memoir of several years in the hotel business. If you have read ‘Do Travel Writers go to Hell?’ or Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, you will get the idea of where ‘Beds in Heads’ is coming from. It is a true, though appalling, story of the culture of hotel workers. As a worker himself, Thomas writes a full-scale ethnography which makes even the most steadfast reader flinch. I thank Doubleday for their generosity in providing me this Thomas is a pseudonym for a hotel worker who writes his memoir of several years in the hotel business. If you have read ‘Do Travel Writers go to Hell?’ or Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, you will get the idea of where ‘Beds in Heads’ is coming from. It is a true, though appalling, story of the culture of hotel workers. As a worker himself, Thomas writes a full-scale ethnography which makes even the most steadfast reader flinch. I thank Doubleday for their generosity in providing me this review copy. Thomas discusses service, stating that “Service is not about being up-front and honest. Service is about minimizing negatives and creating the illusion of perfection. Here’s how it’s done: Lie. Smile. Finesse. Barter. Convince. Lie again. Smile again.” Thomas is an ace at this practice. He starts off his hotelier experience in New Orleans, ending up the book in New York City. By the time Thomas reaches the Big Apple he’s jaded and burnt out. His mantra is “Heads in beds. The only thing that matters is the business. Heads in beds.” Though he says this to himself, there is magic that can be performed with a well-placed ten or twenty dollar bill – a room with a view, a larger bathroom, extra lotions and potions. Secrets of the trade are revealed on almost every page. Sometimes, he says, “the best possible upgrade isn’t always a suite or a view. It’s as simple as getting your key juiced, sliding it in, and activating the club level.” There are also the amenities that are yours for the stealing – shower caps, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, etc. After all, he states, they are for the customers. Secrets of the trade are shared readily with almost too much information. Did you know that furniture polish cleans glass and mirrors better than Windex? Well, it does. At least until it starts building up a film. That’s why housekeepers often polish drinking glasses with Pledge. The next time you go to a hotel and your glass of water tastes a little lemony, you will know why. It is never necessary for you to pay for your mini-bar accruals. Any charge could be incorrect. “Housemen steal from the minibar. Even minibar attendants might steal from your minibar … Any room, anywhere, anytime. We let ourselves in when you’re gone. We let ourselves in even when you are there. “ Therefore, dispute the minibar charges. You will always win because there is too much room for error. Thomas tells the reader why it’s better to book through the hotel directly and not use Expedia or another booking company. Those who use these companies will be given the worst rooms. “Well, honestly, those guests didn’t really choose our property based on quality; they chose based on value. We were at the top of a list sorted by price. They were instructed to book here. But the guest behind them in line, the one with a heavy $500 rate, she selected this hotel.” She will get the better room and the perks. ‘Heads in Beds’ is entertaining, scathing, educational and informative. I learned so much about the hotel industry that I will never innocently book a room again. I know now how to treat bellmen, deskmen, the concierge and other hotel employees. I will see how the information comes to play next time I’m in a hotel which will be shortly. Thank you, Thomas, for this wealth of information, that made me laugh, frown, and think. I hope your life is treating you well and that you’ve managed to make it out of the hotel industry and into full-time writing. It appears that your heart is with pen and ink.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eh?Eh!

    A rambling chronicle by a cocky grunt who pulled together stories of his years, so far, as a hotel front desk clerk. The stories are interesting, some appalling, but may be better told than written. When you get into the minute details of what you do and try to explain intricacies to outsiders, sometimes there's a lot of background explaining to be laid down before you can deliver the full impact of the punchline. These stories got interrupted by preliminary stories, a number of them pages long A rambling chronicle by a cocky grunt who pulled together stories of his years, so far, as a hotel front desk clerk. The stories are interesting, some appalling, but may be better told than written. When you get into the minute details of what you do and try to explain intricacies to outsiders, sometimes there's a lot of background explaining to be laid down before you can deliver the full impact of the punchline. These stories got interrupted by preliminary stories, a number of them pages long so that it was easy to lose track of what the driving point was by the time he looped back around. If you come to this for advice, it all boils down to treating people like people not doormats (be nice) and $$$ (tip). While a bunch of his material came across as duh issues, he's encountered enough oblivious a-holes to justify repeating obvious things like not taking attitude out on service folk who have access to your delicates. There were a few helpful things on how to game the system for perks. The stories themselves varied in tone - he liked to present the front of despising how he has to serve idiots, but took pride in being competent and capable. The general approach could be applied to any field, I think. When you're employed as part of a team, it is so. goddamm. frustrating. when the whole team doesn't pull as one. And it's also frustrating that certain positions require a great deal more hours and effort out of a person than certain other positions, but don't pay commensurately better. People crack and the whole thing can fall apart. I guess I'm thinking of my job now, and not necessarily me. At the end of the book, the author had just had his firing undone and was still working at the front desk. I hope his situation is better now.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A revealing memoir that I could not stop reading.

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