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 Do Not Disturb by Michael Matthews for 2004

michael December 9: Working Up a Lather About Hotel Soap
There are only three criteria for great bathroom soap. The first is scent: You don't need a smelly soap where the odor clings to you all day and has people thinking that you've just spent an hour with a lady of ill repute. The second is size: Rinky-dink bars are useless if you want a good lather. The last is ease of opening: Even a great soap is useless if you can't open it.

November 18: Forty-Eight Hours in the Pink Palace
I've been off the air for a few weeks on my honeymoon. I will spare you the details except to write about a hotel that I cannot fault--the first stop on our honeymoon journey that, I hope, will reflect the years to come. The hostelry is on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. I will not be the first to sing its praises for The Beverly Hills Hotel, the Pink Palace, has few equals.

October 7: My Turn on the Soapbox
I'm getting bored with this election. Oh yes, I knows how important it is, but it's just the same old topics that get to me. Everything rehashed time and time again. I'm also angry with the three candidates. None of them have made a murmur, or dropped a hint, that they will pay the slightest bit of attention, if elected, to the tourism or hotel industry.

September 9: To See or not to See, That Is the Hotel Question
This is a hotel story of a blind man and a sighted man. An otherwise idyllic stay at an English country house was ruined by the dirt and the dust and a general manager who blindly blamed housekeeping. But a stay at The Landmark Hotel in London was perfect because it is run by a general manager with a great eye for details large and small.

July 29: Sheets Make the Man--and a Great Hotel Bed
The best linen used in hotels is from the Italian firm Frette. It produces bed sheets that have 600 cotton threads per square inch. The 600 thread count Frette sheets are not the top of the line, but they are specially produced for hotel use. Sheets for domestic use can have as many as 800 or 1000 threads per inch, which is complete and total luxury.

June 24: Making (Hotel) Book on Little Girls and Pythons
Over the past 40 years in the hospitality industry, I have seen and heard many amazing things, most of them humorous. And whenever I recount these anecdotes, I am told that they would make a great book. Two of my favorite stories involve a little girl, a Do Not Disturb sign and a 10-foot python. Do you think the publishing plutocrats will be interested?

June 3: A Man's Best Friend Is a Great Hotel Bathroom
You spend, maybe, 10 hours a day in a hotel room. For about eight of those hours, you are in noddy-noddy land. You spend an hour watching TV, working on your computer or whatever. The remaining time is spent in the bathroom: half an hour when you get up, half an hour before bedtime. So you spend more awake time in your bathroom than in your sleeping area.

April 22: From Nome to Hong Kong in One Easy Slurp
My choice for world's best hotel bar is the Library Bar at the Lanesborough in London. This incredibly expensive watering hole is presided over by Salvatore Calebrese, the barman supreme. There is a tie for my next favorite hotel bar--and both are in the same hotel. I'm talking about the Captain's Bar and the Chinnery Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong.

April 1: A Five-Star Link to Luxury Lodgings
Want to stay at a luxurious five-star hotel for half the price rather than slumming it at your regular on-the-road abode? Michael Matthews says forget Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and all the others when booking anything more than a three-star hotel. This luxury-lodging miracle has been around for eight years, it has survived the dot.com bust and it is now the largest of its type on the Web. It's called LuxuryLink.com.

March 18: Bugs in Your Bed--and Other Horrors
When you return to your guestroom at the end of the day, it looks clean and tidy. There are fresh sheets on the bed. The bathroom looks fresh and it has been stocked with clean towels. The room has been given a cursory cleaning. But the room is not clean. And, sadly, unclean rooms are not the sole territory of the lesser chains. This problem even affects properties at the 5-star level.

February 26: Great Hotels Have Great Barmen
Michael Matthews considers what makes him want to return to a hotel time after time. No doubt there are many opinions, but his is that great hotel experiences run parallel with great hotel bars--and great hotel bars are made from great barmen.

February 12: Get to Know Your General Manager
Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for 45 years and now he's bringing his insight (and his inside tips) about lodging to JoeSentMe.com In his first column, Matthews offers this extremely practical tip: Get to know the general manager of your favorite hotels. He suggests you'll soon be awash in wine, women, song and upgrades. Well, wine and upgrades, anyway...

These columns originally appeared at joesentme.com.

Copyright 1993-2004 by Michael Matthews. All rights reserved.