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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels,…

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called… (edition 2012)

by Jacob Tomsky

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Title:Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
Authors:Jacob Tomsky
Info:Doubleday (2012), Hardcover, 256 pages
Tags:hotels, front desk employees, memoir, corporatization, hostelry, hospitality industry

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



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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
The subtitle to Jacob Tomsky’s memoir, Heads in Beds, tells the book’s potential readers pretty much what to expect from it. That subtitle reads: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, placing the book firmly in that category of insider looks at various service industries – anything, say, from restaurants to cab drivers to hotels, and the like. In almost every case, the author of these books comes across as some combination of angry, fed up, sarcastic, demeaning toward customers, and just plain nasty. Tomsky does not come across as angry about his plight in life as some of the other writers of these memoirs, but he does conform to the general pattern via his sarcasm and condescending attitude toward those seeking shelter for a night or two in whatever establishment happens to employ him at the time.

Jacob Tomsky is one of those unfortunate college graduates who completed his education in a field that does not exactly offer great odds of employment upon graduation: Philosophy (if I remember correctly). All most by accident, Tomsky - a military brat with no real roots - began his hospitality career in New Orleans as a hotel parking valet, one of those guys largely dependent upon tips for the bulk of his spending money. And he did well, learning all the little tricks that bring larger tips along the way, a lesson that will serve him well no matter what position he holds in the industry.

He did so well, in fact, that within months he was plucked from the car-parker ranks and placed in charge of over 100 people responsible for cleaning and preparing rooms for the next day’s guests. And, despite his obvious lack of enthusiasm about his new position, he did well enough with it to be moved again, this time to the front desk where he was able to put his tip-harvesting skills to good use. (I hope I have not chronologically flipped these two positions, but I don’t have a copy of the book with which to check my memory.)

Sadly, however, Tomsky seems to feel that he has become trapped forever (primarily because that is all he has ever done) in a lifetime spent greeting hotel guests, lying to them, and ultimately milking them for every extra dime he can squeeze out of them. He does not want to be there, but it is all he knows. Thus, the sarcasm of his tone and the language he uses to describe his experiences with guests, co-workers, prostitutes, and hotel management. That is not to say that Tomsky does not tell some interesting anecdotes in Heads in Beds, because he does. Some of them are funny, some are sad, and more than a few are disgusting, so he does deliver everything promised by the book’s subtitle.

Some readers, especially those who believe hotels are ripping them off, will find one section of the book to be particularly interesting. This is a list of tips and reasons that hotels will almost certainly always remove any disputed charges to the room minibar or movie services. In the end, however, Heads in Beds is pretty much just another memoir exposé of a type that has just about been done to death now. ( )
  SamSattler | Aug 31, 2015 |
This professional confessional is less arrogant than Kitchen Confidential and more entertaining, maybe because I've spent more time in hotels than in fine dining establishments. The jobs and work culture described here are pretty foreign to me but somehow relatable, not to mention that Tomsky litters his memoir with tips for the traveller. The language flows and the stories manage to be both lighthearted and heart-wrenching, always engaging. There is just enough celebrity suggestion, without flat-out name dropping, to keep a gawker's interest. I hope I'm brave enough to try out some of Tomsky's insider tips next time I find myself checking into a luxury hotel (which I've only ever done in Vegas-- do these rules apply even there?), but sadly, I'm not sure I am. ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
What do you do when graduate with a philosophy degree? In Mr. Tomsky’s case you go into the hotel industry. People check into hotels all the time and probably never really think about what goes on behind the scenes. In this book the reader gets a peek behind the curtain. If you want to know how to get free upgrades, free mini bar items and free movies read this book. If you want to make sure you get the best room at the best rate read this book. Mr. Tomsky shares the secrets. Of course some of the secrets may make you rethink ever leaving your home to stay at a hotel.

Mr. Tomsky shares his decade of experience in a humorous manner that was informative yet easy to read and highly entertaining. I enjoyed the book and from now on I will definitely go out of my way to be super friendly to the front desk people in any hotel I may patronize.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Amusing and helpful at the same time. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
While I often felt sympathy for the author (and hotel servicepeople in general), at other times I also felt a bit of contempt for him. When he was talking about substance abuse or providing a detailed explanation for how to steal from hotel mini-bars I wondered whether his moral compass had been lost before or during his time in the industry.

The book is entertaining, but in the same vein as stories about criminals are entertaining. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
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I've worked in hotels for more than a decade.
I am standing on St. Charles Avenue, uptown New Orleans, a few months out of college and a few weeks into summer.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385535635, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: Always tip. If you can’t tip, be nice. And if you can’t manage either, you might be better off unwrapping a new toothbrush every day. That’s just one lesson to be learned from Jacob Tomsky’s gonzo account of his years as a front-desk clerk at hotels in New Orleans and New York. From the glad-handing doormen to the unsung workers in the “back of the house,” Tomsky exposes the machinery and machinations that make luxury hotels run (if not always smoothly), advising his potential guests about whose palms to grease (and how much) in order to get that coveted park-view upgrade. Informative and mildly salacious, Heads in Beds is an entertaining peek inside the places people go to get away, and the stunts they pull when they get there. --Jon Foro

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Jacob Tomsky

When I started working in hotels the computer screens glowed in one color, alien green, and the monitors were the size of boulders. We used to confidently toss comment cards in the trash (or, as we referred to it, file them in the “T” file) making them disappear forever. I used to cash checks by picking up the phone and speaking to another human being. Music in the lobby was usually provided by a piano player, who would swivel his head at passing guests with a ridiculous, pasty-looking smile as he tapped out non-offensive cover songs played with a non-offensive classical flourish.

Now, mid-volume, beat-heavy techno seeps from recessed speakers built into the lobby’s crown molding. The screens are flat. You can’t manage to direct anything from Trip Advisor into the “T” file and all the guests want to hook up their iPad to the toilet or whatever. And if you pay with a check I still have to pick up the phone, which is extremely irritating because who pays with checks anymore? Stop it.

But all of that change means nothing. Because I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed: The front desk agents, the bellmen, the doormen, the housekeepers, the room service attendants, and the managers. Hotel employees are still version 1.0 and I guarantee if you brought me to a bar and sat me next to a front desk agent from 1897, we’d over-drink and swap the same type of hilarious stories about the same type of insane guests. Hospitality, no matter how slick it gets, will always be a business run by people who serve people. It will always be about service. It will always take a person to explain that, no, you cannot hook up your iPad to the toilet but you can use it to control the lights and wirelessly play music through the in-room speaker system. And guests still, and hopefully will forever, hand me physical comment cards, which I will continue to throw in the trash.

During all these renovations (while I said things like, “Wait, they made the internet wireless? It’s in the goddamn air now?”) I was always writing. I grew up reading novel after novel and that’s all I wanted from life, to give back and write something good. After years of hotel work and relocations that took me from New Orleans to Paris to Copenhagen and ultimately New York City, I finally conceived the idea for Heads in Beds. I put everything I had into it, all my knowledge of the industry and the writing skills I’d developed since I was a child. I truly hope you find it funny and informative and that it helps you navigate the crooked halls of hospitality. That has always been my goal, to write something good.

That and hang out with a front desk agent from 1897.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:48 -0400)

"A humorous memoir by a veteran hospitality employee that reveals what goes on behind the scenes of the hotel business. Includes tips on how to get the most out of your hotel stay"--

(summary from another edition)

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