Corey writes:

We've stayed in about a dozen different hotels over the past year and each time we find something noteworthy:

The first big difference is in the reservation process. If you wanted to reserve a room at a hotel in the U.S., the process might look something like this:

  1. Do a Google Maps search for "hotel" in the area you want to stay>
  2. Read reviews and rankings of all the area hotels. Check proximity to places of interest. Decide on a hotel
  3. Go to that hotel's website, fill out a form, give your credit card number.
  4. Receive a printable e-mail confirmation of your reservation.

In most of India, it is possible to follow the above process but only for the expensive chain hotels. We're not rich, but we also know that the cheapest hotels might have more rats than guests, our process goes something like this:

  1. Tell your friends you plan to go to a place and are looking for a place to stay there.
  2. Get a dozen different pieces of advice and vague leads like "my brother's friend works for a hotel chain and can totally hook you up."
  3. Cross check against the Lonely Planet. Try in vain to find out more information on the Internet.
  4. Just pick a hotel and recruit a friend to call them for you. Trying to make reservations ourselves in English, at least at the cheaper places that we like, is a pretty silly idea.
  5. Your friend tells you the number listed for the hotel (in several places on the Internet) is disconnected. Search a dozen sources and try five different numbers before getting the right one.
  6. The hotel staff person takes your name and contact info. They do not take a credit card number, since many people don't have one. There is no confirmation number or any evidence that you have reserved a room at that hotel. You just have to hope that the person wrote something that resembles your name (CARRIY GRRAWNN) in the register.

That being said, once you actually get to the hotel there are many nice differences to hotels in the U.S. They are much more willing to oblige you. For example, at one of the hotels in Araku Valley they asked us if we wanted any sweets. "Sure" we said. About 30 minutes later they came back with a box full of sweets from a shop about 2 km away. Hotel staff have also offered to go get us alcohol and of course arrange any transportation.

Sometimes the hotel service can go too far though. When Gina and I check in to a hotel, we really just want to be left alone in our room. If we need anything, we'll ask. But in hotels here, interruptions are an indication of good service. There's constantly someone knocking on our door to take breakfast, lunch, or dinner orders. Or bring us the towels, then the soap 5 minutes later, then a blanket 10 minutes later. We've also been interrupted by people pushing back-rubs and mosquito spray.

One other interesting thing about Indian hotels is the divide between A/C and non-A/C. It's more than just that box sitting in your window. It's a whole different class. Being rich foreigners, everyone always assumes Gina and I want A/C. We have to say many times loudly that we prefer non-A/C. It's the same thing on the train actually. People are shocked to see us rich foreigners in the sleeper class (non-a/c) when we travel for fun.

One of the things I always look forward to in hotels is TV. I can't explain why though. While we don't have a TV in our house we watch plenty of shows on our laptops. Plus 90% of the channels are in Hindi.