Surfing, Skateboarding, Music, Photography, Travel, Culture and general antics of the youth on the run.

How To: Stay in a Hotel By the worlds finest connoissuer of accomodation: Chas Smith

kai neville how to hotels what youth

The greatest gift an adult can give himself is a night in a hotel. Hotels, and more specifically, hotel rooms, are portals that exist somewhere between fantasy and reality. They are neither truly real nor truly extraterrestrial. The fine hotel room will exude a sort of “all things are possible, sir” je ne sais quoi. It will build self-esteem to heady, even dangerous, levels.

I used to get off on very fine hotels. On nights in Manhattan’s Meatpacking Standard, West Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, Zurich’s Dolder Grand. I would revel in high tread count sheets and open and close and open again remote controlled curtains. Over the years, as jade set in, I have come to some concrete conclusions. First, as grand as trendiness is, nothing beats the Four Seasons as far as service is concerned. Second, service is the only thing that really matters. Third, kinky nights in rundown, backwater Floridian hotels is still fun. And fourth, staying in a hotel beats staying with friends. Always.

I love hotels now with a deep an abiding love that transcends mere getting off and thus feel very suited, young hipster, on giving you rules that will undoubtedly maximize your hotel experience.

Booking: Do not use Travelocity, Hotelstonight or anything .com. Tablet is a nice resource for window shopping but when it is time to book call the front desk directly. A personal encounter takes the day. This does not mean you should expect fruit baskets, teddy bears, upgrades upon checking in. It just means that a personal encounter takes the day.

Checking in: You are not the savvy traveler you imagine yourself to be, if you imagine yourself to be a savvy traveler. The true savvy traveler has moved beyond first-timer giddiness, beyond false “I’ve-seen-it-all” posturing, beyond regarding himself as anything other than a man needing a service. Be polite to the check in desk. Be happy, sad, whatever you want, except cool. Cool equals amateur. Are you an amateur? Probably. But don’t act like one. No amount of posturing can supersede points. Get on a point system, American Express, Starwood, whatever and let that bring the upgrade. Gold status beats cool status when standing in front of front desk staff every day of the week.

The Hotel Bar: Fine hotel bars will put you shoulder to shoulder with greatness. If you are staying in a fine hotel you should really not leave. You should move from bar to pool to room to bar to pool to room to bar to bar to bar. All the people you need in your life are there, if it is a fine hotel bar. I did not follow this advice, once, in Miami. I stayed at the Standard, which was good enough, and spent the day going from room to bar to pool to bar but then I got restless and drove over to the Fontainebleau and right into the middle of a giant hip-hop party. I was stuck between Pitbull and some other gross Dominican “star” drinking “bubbs” and retreat took multiple hours.

Amenities: Soap and fancy chocolates and caramel corn and little bottles of Grey Goose are all cute but never necessary. Likewise, a roadside inn along the 101 in rural Oregon with nothing but knock-off Dial and only a dream where the refrigerator should be is quaint but blah. I cannot overstate. The best amenity is service. Will the kitchen make you a Monte Cristo at three in the morning? Will the doorman give you a cigarette? This happens, for sure, at the Four Seasons but may also happen at the roadside inn along the 101 in rural Oregon making it * * * * * at least for the night.

The Pool: Pools in cold climates are who cares. I once stayed at a fine hotel called The Prince in Melbourne, Australia and it had a hip little indoor pool. Melbourne, unfortunately, has the climate of awful so that hip little indoor pool is entirely superfluous, and, moreover, annoying. But a pool at, say, The Parker in Palm Springs is a total revelation. Sitting there, in the sun, cocktails at the call, alternately boiling hot and cool is…is…is…well, life simply cannot get any better.

Location: Where your hotel happens to be, geographically, is overrated if it is fine. Staying at, say, a Wyndham, just because it is close to where you need to be is dumb, unless you are in love with the Wyndham, which makes you dumb. The hotel is, generally speaking, destination enough. All else is merely window dressing and so the hotel should be chosen first and foremost. The Hotel Amour, for example, is on the outer outskirts of Paris. It is far from the tower Eiffel and the left bank but it is one of the finest hotels on earth and so it could be in Mitry-Mory and still be completely worthwhile.

Staff: And finally we are to the most important of all. Connoisseurs choose hotels based purely and, really only, on staff. A keen, energetic, thoughtful, discreet staff is the greatest luxury of all. Usually such a staff is housed in fine hotels and so there is no compromise but I would stay in a pig sty with an exceptional staff rather than heaven with poor. Four Seasons is a guarantee. The Standard is not and usually has bad staff. The Shorebreak in Huntington Beach tries very hard to be chic and helpful but dwell in Huntington Beach.

WHAT YOUTH EATS: AGUACHILE Another Raw One: Sinaloa Spicy Shrimp

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late…

what youth eats, raw, radical class, paul brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW BEEF The latest in our Raw Series: Steak tartare is the primest of the prime.

For the last few weeks we’ve gone raw. We’re doing it all for the flavor — an exercise to experience great ingredients at their root essence, with a secondary win of less time cooking and more time having summertime fun outside (making raw things takes less time, duh). So far we’ve focused on fish and…

Tuna Don, Adam Warren, What Youth Eats

WY EATS: Spicy Tuna Don Another hit from our RAW series — best washed down with ice cold Kirin

Its time to expand on our RAW capabilities here. And just like the Mediterranean version of the albacore crudo that you’ve already mastered, we are leaning on our Japanese influence of raw efficiencies for our next dish: The Spicy Tuna Don. “Don” is short for “donburi” which is a traditional Japanese dish where any number…

what youth guide to the bar

WY Guide: The Bartender Getting a drink in a crowded bar is an art. Here’s your paint set.

As Shane Dorian famously said in Loose Change: “What’s your poison man?” That ageless, sometimes slightly altered greeting has been heard by bar patrons since the first bar opened circa 900 AD. And after 1100 years of human interaction at these establishments one would hope there would be some orderly and respectful manner one might…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW The first in a Series: Albacore Crudo

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going raw. This isn’t some nonsense trendy food fad out of Beverly Hills: this is all about efficiency and simplicity. Efficiency because eating raw means less time in the kitchen and more time outside shredding through summer. Simplicity because I won’t have to develop complex sauces and spend…

what youth dead writers shirt

The WY Dead Writers T-Shirt Before it’s gone here’s why it exists

We still read…actual books even. And while a lot of our favorite writers are long gone, their influence is still smothering us. They’ve left us with piles and piles of great reading, insight, fucked up situations, and maniacal living to read about. This shirt is an ode to them. Here’s a run through who they…

what youth drinks tequila

What Youth Drinks: The Paloma Cuz it’s just so damn hot outside

It’s officially summer now. And since we’ve already taught you how to order a margarita the right way here, now it’s time to learn how to make the G of all tequila cocktails best drank in the sun: The Paloma. If the margarita is the popular girl in high school that everyone knows, then the Paloma…

Radical Class, What Youth Eats

What Youth Eats: Huevos Rancheros Your weekend mornings are now better

Huevos Rancheros hold a special place down deep in my gut. Growing up, when dad wasn’t at work on weekend mornings, we’d wake up early to surf the Cliffs, then he’d take me to Georges Mexican Food right by our house in Huntington Beach for breakfast. Every time the order was the same: two orders…

What Youth, Radical Class, Paul Brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: WITHOUT RECIPES Try this, then go rip into it

Learning to cook and make cocktails is a funny process. We read cookbooks, we watch TV shows, maybe we try a recipe or two from For the most part, we get set up with a list of instructions, and we’re expected to follow it closely or else it will be ruined. That’s a process that’s…

what youth eats our veggies

WHAT YOUTH EATS: OUR VEGGIES Skip the Meat with Grilled Mushroom Risotto

You’re eating your veggies, right? For those of you who just need meat with your meals, may I offer mushrooms instead. Here, the mushrooms are grilled to give a deeper, nuttier flavor, and combined with creamy rich risotto. Once you get the hang of risotto, it can be a quick dinner. Until you get the hang of…

what youth memorial day

Radical Class: On Memorial Day Celebrating and Remembering in Equal Parts

These days, Memorial Day is all about burgers and beers, beach days and maybe some deeply discounted retail shopping. But, of course, it isn’t. It’s about war and the people who fought in them — namely the Civil War, where 620,000 Americans died. Where today’s Memorial Day is little more than an excuse to party…

What Youth Eats: On a Trip Bridging the disconnect between great waves and crappy food on surf trips

I haven’t been lucky enough to be on a fancy boat trip with a private chef, but I have been on plenty of surf trips where we’re in the middle of nowhere without so much as a taco stand in sight. So what to eat? Usually it’s an early question on that road between the…

Sign up for letters from What Youth

By enabling this page, you are acknowledging and accepting our privacy terms and conditions.