As an aspiring pilot I used to think any hotel was an adventure. It started with the cheapest motels, when I worked my first flying jobs and staying overnight anywhere was rare. My first real experience with extensive motel living though was at Northwest Airlink. Almost every trip ended at some small town motel. Often these overnights were continuous duty by nature, because we didn't have enough time to get legal rest. We called them stand up overnights because you usually got about five hours of sleep. In Hibbing Minnesota we stayed at the Americas Best Value Inn. A cab usually drove us there and I remember the driver always had a bottle of scotch in hand to help keep warm with. This motel was bare bones basic. We broke down once and spent three nights there waiting for the plane to get fixed. There were two high school hockey teams and a cheerleading squad there as well. Our flight attendant was Sahrie, and all night long these kids would be in the hallways partying with Sahrie screaming obscenities at them. Later the company gave me the Employee of the Month award for helping out at the airport while we were waiting, but the Chief Pilot told me it was really for surviving that nightmare with Sahrie. They couldn't believe I didn't strangle her.
In Eau Claire we stayed at a slightly better motel. The American Motel or something like that. It was a safety rule that flight crews always stayed on the second floor or higher, but one night he put the flight attendant in a room on the first floor. Around 0430 she woke up to find a man crawling through her window! She screams, he runs, she calls me and we all meet in the lobby. She's ok and it's about time to leave anyway so we just grabbed a cab to the airport. I made sure she reported it to her supervisor, Sue Berg. Back in Minneapolis Sue asks her if she'd recognize the guy and our flight attendant says “Yes! It was the albino creep behind the front desk.” She gasped “Why didn't you say something??” “Well, I didn't want to delay the flight.” Sue marched her out to the ticket counter and they both got on the next flight to Eau Claire, called the police and went with them to arrest the guy. This created panic among our young flight attendant group, but Sue knew her job well. “If you are concerned, you may bring a relative or boyfriend along if you'll feel safer.” Boyfriends went along on every overnight for six months.
In Sioux City, Iowa, before we were based there, we stayed at the downtown Hilton. Not as fancy as it sounds, but it was nice. We always got the same rooms, every time. Flight Attendants used to leave notes for each other in their room. One night the flight got downgraded and they used a plane with no flight attendant. That night the First Officer got assigned the flight attendant's room. As he walked in he was startled by a large black man who came out of the dark bathroom. The man said he was with maintenance and left. The FO called the front desk who told him no, there was no maintenance at that time of night. After that little incident we started a new routine. It was a routine the pilots came up with on our own. When the flight attendant goes in her room we would stand by the open door while she checked the bathroom, under the bed and behind the curtains. I still do that even today whenever I fly with a woman.
Some hotels were memorable for different reasons. In Las Vegas we stayed on the 28th floor of a luxury hotel where each room had a jacuzzi in it. It was heaven! I've stayed at numerous bed & breakfasts that were delightful, and surprisingly affordable. The Hilton Garden Inn in Mobile AL is a favorite because it was just a nice time, as was the old west hotel in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Texas. In Orlando we stayed at a resort, that was so relaxing we left only once. Giant pool with water slide, meals poolside, bar by the pool. In Evansville IN we had reservations at the Holiday Inn. Upon arrival the desk agent was very rude. No rooms left, he said. Sorry, can't do a thing. Goodbye. My boss was so mad he took the man’s name and we left. Went to the fanciest hotel in Evansville and stayed there. The next morning he said my job was to make life a living hell for that guy. So I called up the Holiday Inn home office. Explained how I am the chief pilot for a major corporation (sorta) and we always stay at the Holiday Inn. She thanked me for our loyalty. “Except Evansville. When I talk to other corporate pilots should I say Holiday Inn is great except Evansville? I don't think he represents your company very well.” She promised to call me back and about thirty minutes later she did. “We paid for your hotel last night, it was credited back to your card. That man you spoke with no longer works for Holiday Inn.” Let me tell you, unemployment is the best revenge!