After speaking with my mom and my therapist it dawned on all three of us that I needed to get a hotel room just to unwind and center myself. I wanted to be far away from Chicago, about an hour away in Michigan, where I could have a nice hotel room where I could binge on room service, shower, & relax.
The issue with trying to find a hotel while driving is that;
1. I shouldn’t be actively searching the internet on my phone while driving, stay safe kids!
2. There’s now a ton of hotel websites all with different prices and claiming different amenities for the same hotel.
3. While driving you don’t really have time to do a full recon of each hotel in the area or let alone price match them.
With that said I decided to settle on using Expedia as my source of hotel information and booking. I made sure that the hotel I choose had room service, since I’m a binge eater when depressed or in high anxiety, and that was fairly cheap but not cockroach cheap. I settled on Holiday Inn Express in St. Joseph, Michigan since it claimed to have room service as well as laundry services, two things I was in desperate need of. It was a little out of budget for 2 nights but in my experience Holiday Inns are worth every penny. For two nights it ended up coming out to $244.08. Like I said, a little over budget, but to be honest I really don’t put that heavy of a price tag on my mental health self care days.
I got to the hotel around 3pm that Monday. I left Indiana in my car to check in, which is what I typically do since check in’s are usually quick and painless. I walked up to the counter and let them know I had a service dog with me. No questions were asked and no paperwork was required to sign to state I would be having a service dog in the room with me. I got my room keys and headed up to my room with Indiana.
Just a quick side note: Whenever you’re in a hotel with your service dog make sure their vest is on at all times. While I know the ADA doesn’t require any identification on your dog it’s honestly just best for you and the establishment that you have it on your dog for other guests or hotel workers to know it’s not a pet. Especially in hotels that don’t allow pets. This also goes for restaurants, shops/stores, airports/airplanes, hiking trails, etc.
I was about ready to hop in the shower but before I did I wanted to order room service since I was starving and the only meal I had that day was my morning shake that I almost wasn’t going to have due to the converter fire in my SUV. There was a menu in my room and after scouring the menu I settled on mac and cheese as well as spinach artichoke dip. I called and to my surprise it said they were closed on Sunday’s and Monday’s, remember I got to the hotel on a Monday. Having
that seem extremely odd for room service where it should be everyday service and sometimes 24 hours, I went down to the front desk to ask about this since Expedia claimed that they had room service. The two women behind the front desk informed me that they didn’t have room service but the restaurant where the menu came from is just near them and can deliver to the room when they are open. I let them know that I only booked this hotel, which was a lot more expensive than the other ones in the area, because they said they had room service as well as a laundry facility. The woman behind the front dest told me that, unfortunately since I booked though a 3rd party there was nothing they could do for me and I’d have to call expedia.
Then both of the women behind the front desk started complaining about how Expedia also has false information about the laundry facilities, strollers, cribs, etc. The manager has even tried calling Expedia multiple times trying to have them remove those amenities because guests, like me, get upset when they book the hotel solely based on one or two amenities that they do not have. Expedia apparently refused to do that because those amenities that those women were talking about where still on the website as being amenities offered by this hotel. While all first world problems, it still isn’t the best business model when people rely on booking a specific hotel for those specific amenities and are willing to pay extra for a hotel who has those amenities.
Upset by the staffs unwillingness to help me, but also completely understand since I worked in customer service before the military, I left to get some food. I knew I drove past a Big Boy and the thought of a greasy burger just soothed my soul. However, to my dismay there was no drive thru. The last thing I wanted to do was to go into a restaurant and possibly get harassed for having Indiana like I did when I was in Chicago. I called my mom and once again, I broke down crying. Realizing how stupid, small, and petty all my first world problems were that day, I couldn’t help but just feel mentally and physically drained. My thoughts were becoming more and more negative just suffocating me reminding me of all the negative things that happened today and might continue to happen since it just happened to be my luck. Not to mention the fact I had to stay there in the Big Boy parking lot crying to my mother about my ridiculous problems not able to also use my phone to search for a new place to get food. I was blessed to switch over to Verizon from AT&T, get the iPhone 7 Plus and learn that you cannot use data while on a cellular phone call on Verizon’s network. Something my multitasking, road tripping self learned to rely on when I had AT&T. Just another fun issue to throw into the metaphoric crashing plane that was my life today.
Once off the phone with my mom I found that there was a Panera near by and I needed the biggest bread bowl ever filled with creamy broccoli cheese soup to have enough carbs in my life to create a soft landing for my metaphoric crashing plan syndrome. Also for a slight day win for me, the staff, and patrons of the Panera, they had a drive thru! This meant no one needed to witness me crying while I stuffed my face with a baguette drenched in soup and ripped apart my bread bowl to further eating my feelings in a ravenous fashion. This also meant that they could also avoid hearing me rip the poor Indian Expedia customer service representative who had to answer my phone call to hear me bitch about my first world problems, while eating bread that could have fed 10 small children.
It took me calling them before I hit the drive thru at Panera, getting my food, and getting up to my hotel room before someone answered the phone. About a 17-20 minute wait time to get ahold of an Expedia representative. Finally after half crying and cussing out the first representative who was unwilling to help me at all, I was able to speak with a manager who put me on hold to call the hotel to confirm they didn’t have room service or laundry facilities. When she came back on the line she apologized for the misinformation and gave me a refund of $122.04, which was the cost of one night at the hotel. I thanked her and felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I had to do my quick cognitive therapy thought process and be thankful that all of this happened because it let me get 2 nights in a nice hotel with one night being free. I was also going to be able to rest, dye my hair, and do laundry. My outlook of this experience was looking up.
I then went to the bathroom to fill up Indiana’s water bowl, since he was getting the short end of the stick due to my self centeredness of my first world problems, but when I lifted the faucet handle all the way up water came spraying out of every direction from the base of the faucet, as if it wasn’t secured properly to the base of the tabletop. I then realized it still worked but I just couldn’t lift up the handle all the way if I wanted to avoid having a broken hoover dam situation in the bathroom. Not only that since I already complained about the no room service or the lack of laundry facilities I figured this would be something I would just mention to them as I was leaving to let them no maintenance should fix this issue once I left.
Finally motivated and less defeated feeling, I sat at the table in the room to write about my adventures in Minnesota for this blog. Once that was done I decided to take a break and catch up on the last episode of New Girl and then the most recent episode of Once Upon a Time on my Hulu App. I finally went to bed around midnight but only to be constantly woken up by what sounded like people walking to their room in the hallway. After repeatedly hearing the same people till 2am, I finally got out of bed, opened my door, and was surprised to find out it wasn’t people roaming the hallways, it was the room across the hall pretty much having a hotel party. I ended up having to call the front desk to complain about the people in the room across from mine. Immediately he said, “It’s wayyyy too late for them to be loud! I’ll be up there in a moment to talk to them!” Not even a minute later I heard a knock on their door and him telling them to quite down. After that I was finally able to fall asleep.
The next morning I attempted to sleep in till 8am since the rest of my trip my time has been limited and sleeping in was not really an option. I got up and started to do a load of laundry in the bath tub, since they didn’t have laundry facilities. Throwing all my dirty clothes in cold water while adding some laundry detergent, I agitated the clothes until my hands became numb. I repeated that step after draining the water and ringing my clothes out since the water had pretty much become brown from all the dirt. Finally I was able to ring the water out of my clothes and do a rinse cycle. Ringing my clothes out again, I set up my clothes line and proceeded to place all my clothes on the line. The hardest thing while doing laundry in a hotel room is finding a place to hang up your clothes line. For me in this particular hotel room I didn’t want the line in my bathroom since I was going to be dying my hair and didn’t think purple splattered all over my clothes would look very cool. Which meant I had to get creative in finding a place to hang the clothes line. The biggest thing is you need to make sure it’s high enough where your clothes don’t hang on the floor and that it’s in a place where air can get to your clothes.
Once my clothes were all cleaned and hanging up, I decided to finally get my well needed shower so I could wash my hair before I dyed it again since I had a ton of dry shampoo caked on my hair. I dried my hair after my shower and then proceeded to start putting dye in my hair. I was finally done putting the dye in my hair and went to the sink to clean all my hair supplies. All of a sudden the water that came out of the sink was brown! Then after time waiting for it to clear up no water was coming out of the sink. I franticly went to the shower, pushed aside the shower curtain, turned the faucet handle and no water. It then crossed my mind that maybe Expedia canceled my second night stay at the Holiday Inn Express, which is why the water was shut off as a form of getting me to leave the hotel since I was now a squatter. I called down to the front desk and the guy on the phone acted just as confused as I was stating he didn’t know why my water wasn’t working either but that he’d call me back when he got some answers to my water situation. 2 minutes later I got a phone call from the front desk. It was the man I spoke with earlier. He said they were fixing a water main and the water should be turned back on shortly and he’d call me back to inform me that the water was turned back on. 20 minutes passed and I finally got the phone call that the water got turned back on. I was able to clean all my hair dye items and then jump in the shower to wash the dye from my hair.
After that I ordered from the nearby restaurant what I wanted to order the previous day and gorged myself in more of a carb filled heaven with some beer from my left over six-pack from Upper Peninsula Brewing. The rest of the day I had set aside for pure laziness and unwind time since the next day I’d be back on the road again car camping and constantly on the move to my next destination.
Hotel Review Rating:
The Holiday Inn Express in St. Joseph, Michigan gets 3 paws. It was a very clean hotel really close to lake Michigan. The staff were nice when when they were telling me there was nothing they could do about a 3rd party booking website lying about the hotel’s amenities. They were prompt on having my loud hallway neighbors being silenced and keeping me updated on the water being shut off. However, the biggest reason for the 3 paw score was due to the fact that being a higher priced hotel in the area they should have had more amenities to back up that price in my opinion. The faucet aka geyser when turned on got all my things wet when I first used it. It also should have been fixed prior to anyone using the room and the hotel cleaning staff should have realized it was a problem. I also wasn’t notified about the water being shut off. Which really would have been bad if I was in mid shower. Would I stay at that hotel again? Maybe but only if the price was a little cheaper, if there were actual activities to do in that area, and if I booked it through the hotel so if any problems occurred I could be compensated.
Update: Expedia a month later still has these amenities on their website for this hotel
Dog Friendly Rating:
The Holiday Inn Express in St. Joseph, Michigan gets 5 service dog paws for being great with accommodating service dogs. I didn’t even have Indiana with me for proof that I had a service dog when I checked in and it was no questions asked or paperwork for me to sign.
Please note: This is a service dog only hotel. If you’re dog is not a service dog please do not try to abuse the system by claiming your pet dog, emotional support dog, or therapy dog is a trained service dog just so you can have them stay with you at this hotel.
Indiana’s Final Thoughts