Spare Me The Quaintness by
(40 Stories)

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I don’t like quaint inns, with their seedy carpets and weak showers, and creaky floors, and threadbare towels, and stuffy parlors, and nosy innkeepers.  The beds are too soft, the toilets don’t flush, the wi-fi is weak, the swirling dust is scented with lavender.  I sneeze just thinking about these places.  Some are proud they don’t have the amenity of televisions (screw that; I need a television).  I hate “charm.”  I hate “guestbooks”.  I hate “warm smiles.” I hate “country greetings”.  I assume they’re all Republicans.

I’ll take a clean, business-like, functioning, reliable, no nostalgia Hilton Garden Inn anytime/anywhere.

With a couple of exceptions.  The cabin we happened upon in the wilderness north of Lake George, where the entertainment featured a life-threatening thunderstorm swooping through the mountains.  The posh inn in Edgartown—off season—with a breakfast to die for (or possibly from, with a smile on my face).  I can’t think of any other exceptions.  I’ll take a clean, business-like, functioning, reliable, no nostalgia Hilton Garden Inn anytime/anywhere, or almost any other Hilton brand, including most recently The Canopy by Hilton in Portland, Maine which was terrific, and fondly the Casa Marina Key West (Curio Collection by Hilton) where we luxuriated during the worst storm in Boston history (“Too bad about Boston; another margarita please…”), and the urbane Millennium Hilton at 55 Church Street, remembered before and after 09-11.

As for hotel literature, I loved “A Gentleman in Moscow”, by Amor Towles; and “Eloise at the Plaza”, by Kay Thompson, with its delicious New York vibe.

Profile photo of jonathancanter jonathancanter
Here is what I said about myself on the back page of my 2020 humor/drama/politico novel "The Debutante (and the Bomb Factory)" (edited here, for clarity):

"Jonathan Canter Is a retIred attorney; widower; devoted father and grandfather (sounds like my obit); lifelong resident of Greater Boston; graduate of Harvard College (where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon); fan of waves and wolves; sporadic writer of dry and sometimes dark humor (see "Lucky Leonardo" (Sourcebooks, 2004), funny to the edge of tears); gamesman (see "A Crapshooter’s Companion"(2019), existential thriller and life manual); and part-time student of various ephemeral things."

The Deb and Lucky are available on Amazon. The Crapshooter is available by request to the author in exchange for a dinner invitation.

Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Jon, you old curmudgeon, I love this story! I especially love your description of the “exceptions” and how charming they were (even if the charm of the Lake George one was apparently a life-threatening thunderstorm). I’m glad all your Hiltons make you happy. And I also love “A Gentleman in Moscow” and all the Eloise books. I have a picture of each of my children at age 6 posing with the portrait of Eloise that hangs at the Plaza.

  2. Marian says:

    Let’s hear it for Eloise, Jon, my favorite children’s book character. She knew how to live. I’ve stayed at my share of “good” B&Bs, but as you’ll see if you read my story this week, after my Mexico trip I gained a new appreciation for hotels as corporate and efficient as the Holiday Inn.

  3. Can’t agree with you more Jon!

    I confess I like my creature comforts in full-service hotels, preferably with 24 hour room service. And also love the Hilton chain – the Garden Inns as well as upscale Hiltons we’ve stayed in here and abroad.

    And love accumulating those Hilton Honors points! Can’t wait to travel safely once again!

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Jon, those are two of my favorite books. Thanks for writing a different (and honest) story on this prompt. When in doubt, going with a known quantity is preferable to a night on a quaint bed with a bad mattress.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    Damn. On the Memorial Day weekend of (I think) 1977, a sudden fierce storm on Lake George killed the engine, damned near swamped our boat and threatened to drown or hypothermize to death me and two other members of our SCUBA club. We had to be rescued by a much larger boat (but damn did we milk that tale for sympathy and female coo-cooing!) I thought it was a freak thing, but maybe not.

    • My thunderstorm boomed in early August, 1975, en route from Saratoga Springs to Montreal, off the beaten path. The Lords of Thunder went wild that night, targeting me and my cabin made of straw. I thought I was a goner. Found me some religion.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    I have been in a couple of those cloying B & B’s, but have also stayed in some exceedingly well-run ones. Good friends of ours were in that business for years—we met them when we stayed there—and are still the apex for me. It’s all in the details.

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    We also love those Hilton points, Jon and use them a LOT! They helped us stay free for 28 days at the Double Tree in London last December as we awaited the birth of our granddaughter (woohoo!). We will be there again in a month, but only for 6 nights. When our other child worked in the tech industry in Silicon Valley for 9 years, we were always in a Garden Inn in Mountain View on El Camino. As you say, we knew what we were getting, it had all the amenities and the price couldn’t be beat.

    I must ask, what posh inn did you stay at in Edgartown? Our home is in the historic district, so we know most of those inns (and live around the corner from many of them). Some of them are gone now, or sold to other owners, so I’m curious.

      • Betsy Pfau says:

        Very nice place! We stayed there once (also off-season) when our house was under renovation. We were not in the main building, but across the road in a separate space all to ourselves. The kids had their own TV in their room and were in heaven. They also LOVED afternoon tea, tried to play chess and generally enjoyed all the special attention they got from the lovely staff members. We knew the owner (Maggie) quite well. She has since sold it, but we understand it remains a lovely place. It’s just a few blocks from our home.

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