Guest House vs Hotel

A delightful guest soireed out of Avatara saying “oh darling what a gorgeous place you have! Such a pity my husband insists on staying at hotels as we usually travel together!’ Afriend also commented that she doesn’t stay at guest houses as there is always someone peering into your business when you simply want to be left alone. So what is the low down on guest house vs hotel? There is the grey area of boutique hotel – but then if a guest house is rated high enough it can compete very well, so long as you are not checking for the Hastens bed label!

One viewpoint is that business travelers feel that hotels are trusted – you know what you are getting. Yet that market too is changing where more and more business travelers are pointedly choosing guest houses. I used to be the former while jogging the corporate mile. I traveled monthly to various corners of the planet and was put up in the finest hotels that provided for everything from making you completely blind in the dark, to a phone in the loo, which of course gave you stomach cramps if you ever spoke on it. Oh I am being fascecious as it was very glamorous – especially in the early 90’s!

One trip to Germany I stayed in one of those hotels privileged to be in the alphabetic prefix range of H… I was working the clock and getting home after dark when after a few nights I came back to my hotel room to find an incredibly long stemmed single red rose with a cryptic note. I immediately asked the management as to who had put it there? Who had sent it to my room? Well which flower company had access to my room?… all questions remained a mystery. No one could be sure.

I now was certain that I had a stalker and at any moment he would gain access to my room as mysteriously as the rose had appeared and I would …oh my imagination went wild, but for goodness sake the rose didn’t grow into my room – how did it get there? I ended up spending the night in a colleague’s room, who assured me that she had a black belt in karate. Sleeping in a stranger’s bed all because you are scared witless about a mysterious delivery to your room may sound absurd. However, what was more absurd was when in the blinding dark I got up to go to the loo and my colleague cuts a karate chop mistaking ME for the intruder!!

Yes my paranoia did get the better of me probably due to too much travel and working far too many hours, however, the idea of staying at a guest house where there is a more personalized touch may have calmed my nerves or the very least helped me to remember which country I was in for a start: all H…. hotels look the same regardless if you are in Germany or the USA!

While it is not always easy to find just the right guest house, when one does one should expect that Je ne sais quoi… that just speaks to you. From the welcome drink, to the local design, to the advice about where to go and what to do, should all be personalized. Of course it goes without saying that comfort is primary in any place you are paying to stay, but then again I’ve slept on a desert floor witnessing a stupendous fireworks display of shooting stars which was one of the best travel experiences of my life..

Alas there is no fireworks room service delivery in guesthouses, but you will experience the local ambience in an individual manner. Personally the key ingredient of any travel is not to feel entirely like a tourist, but to taste the local flavours, see the best local sites and hear the local conversations.

There is no better or worse, it simply is a choice of what you are looking for at a particular point. I know that after many years of business travel I started to feel like a widget in the tall glass buildings and so something inside of me sought a different experience. I wanted to know where the chef bought their local produce, I wanted to ask the owner their philosophical and political views as I didn’t get a chance to meet a local. I wanted to feel the fabric that the locals chose and not some mass-produced tried and tested label. I wanted it to be real yet magical. Not always achievable, and not every place will be designed for every palette, but at least I will have a story to take home with me. A story of a native person’s perspective, and my own personal experience of the place itself.

So are you traveling to get that perfect selfie on the rooftop of the H.. Hotel or do you want to get to the heart of a city, explore what makes it’s lungs pump and breathe it all in… then a guest house is definitely what I recommend for you.



This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

By Rumi