Heads in Beds is more fun than a room with a view and a suitcase full of stolen Toblerones.
Which is exactly how you could spend your next vacation if you take author Jacob Tomsky’s advice.
In the tradition of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality is an insider’s look at the world behind the frozen smiles on the staff at your favorite hotel. The book is a compilation of personal experiences from author Jacob Tomsky’s time working in the hotel industry – from parking cars to running housekeeping to manning the front desk. In addition to being a fun romp, Heads in Beds is rife with tips on how to treat people in hotels in order to get what you want. Or, if you’re an ass, you might found out why you always seem to get the room without a view.
This book was all the rage last Christmas, and it had been sitting on my shelf since then. In March I finally picked it up, and damn if Tomsky didn’t get me reading again. I’d been falling behind on reading for fun until I started this book and found myself unable to put it down. Heads in Beds is written in a wonderfully readable, casual tone that makes the experience of reading feel more like sitting down with the author at a bar. By the time I finished, I felt like some snarky friend I used to know from high school had written it.
Tomsky’s freewheeling conversational writing tone might rub some gentler folk the wrong way. A quick peek on Amazon’s reviews will show a small handful of people too distracted by profanity to appreciate the book (hence the title of this review). To read some of those reviews, you’d think the book was called Fucking Heads in Fucking Beds, but there really isn’t that much profanity. Overall, I’d have to say old Anthony Bourdain is a much more miserable, sarcastic bastard and he’s got his own show.
What more could you ask from a book than to both entertain you and offer tips on making hotels stays more enjoyable? Tomsky lets readers in on industry secrets like the fact that you never really have to pay for in-room movies: They are the fastest thing taken off your bill if you complain. Mini-bar charges aren’t written in stone, either. He goes as far to say you could check into a room, empty the fridge, then ask for a room change (your suitcase full of snack items in tow) and then spend the rest of your vacation in your new room enjoying your ill-gotten gains. This tip made some reviewers crazy, but Tomsky isn’t telling you to steal. If you’re the sort of person who would try this trick, then you’re probably the kind of person who brings dead cockroaches into restaurants to get free meals and you’re already an ass - you didn’t need Tomsky to tell you that.
But was I absolutely giggly at the idea of sitting around my room eating ill-gotten Toblerones? Yes! It’s that sort of skewed way of sharing information that makes the book so much fun to read.
There are ton of great nuggets, I won’t blow the whole book by reciting them here, the way I’ve blown it for my husband by following him around the house telling him every trick the moment I read it.
In addition, I followed Tomsky on Twitter (
@JacobTomsky) and he followed me back, which F. Scott Fitzgerald never did (who’s the dick now, F. Scott? Guess the “F” doesn’t stand for friendly, huh? HUH?) and Jake would like you to all know about his short story club called “Short Story Thursdays” which he would love for you to join. (I call him Jake ‘cuz we go way back. Like two weeks. And he says I can. Because it’s his name and everyone calls him that.) Each week ol’ Jake will send you a short story to your inbox, and the stories are not all weird stuff his cousin wrote; they are all classics. All free.
So go join the Short Story Thursdays and get Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality if you haven’t read it already!
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