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

Jacob Tomsky’s tell-all about the inner workings of the hospitality industry teems with scandalous stories

(Doubleday, $26)

When checking in to a hotel, it’s best not to cross the bellman, said Sherryl Connelly in the New York Daily News. In Jacob Tomsky’s new tell-all about the inner workings of the hospitality industry, bellmen are clearly the most ruthless characters. An enterprising bellman can make $100,000 a year in tips. Stiff him and he might take the trouble to pop all the bubble wrap in your suitcase, ensuring that your breakables later get broken. Tomsky, who worked for 11 years at hotels in New York and New Orleans, once crossed a bellman, who promised to “collapse” his throat if he ever again passed a room key directly to a visitor. And woe to you, Bernard Sadow: The inventor of the suitcase-on-wheels would be better off sleeping in the street than checking in.

You, too, “might never want to stay in another hotel after reading this,” said Hayley Peterson in the Daily Mail (U.K.). Tomsky’s book teems with tales of the “sometimes scandalous things that hotel workers do,” from cleaning water glasses with furniture polish to “key bombing”—intentionally changing a guest’s door code. It doesn’t have to be this way. Tomsky also dishes plenty of advice on getting the upper hand, beginning with tipping the right people. A $20 bill slid across the front desk can guarantee all kinds of perks. Want a free minibar even without tipping? Just say you didn’t drink anything. Clerks almost always waive contested charges.

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Besides knowing how to steal free movies or get the better room, “Tomsky turns out to be an effervescent writer,” said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. This book has “novelistic breadth.” Some of its best stories come from Tomsky’s time at a high-end New York hotel where he catered to jittery pop stars, including one unnamed diva who demanded that her room be stocked with four full-length mirrors and two microwaves. By the final page, you’ll understand why Tomsky ended up in anger management therapy. Don’t think of Heads in Beds as merely “a travel book of the news-you-can-use ilk.” It’s much more.

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