• travel

    You’ve Made Your Bed, Now Lie in It

    As an example of the sort of witty, insightful, and altogether fresh thinking which makes the Monocle Quality of Life Conference so energizing, we are reprinting Monocle editor Andrew Tuck’s recent missive on his adventures in the sharing economy. Enjoy.

    This is a column the size of a cotton sheet. And a warning — it’s going to cost you this week. How much? Only €15 each — you can leave the money on the kitchen table as you leave.

    It’s a few days before a wedding in sunny rural Provence. Hotels are few and far between so we have booked a couple of houses via you know who. A few days before we depart my phone pings. It’s a message from the host. “What time do you arrive?” she asks. Then adds, “We do not provide sheets. Do you bring yours?”

    Now, while I have been thinking about an outfit that might make me look almost dashing, I have not been contemplating decanting the contents of the linen cupboard into my suitcase. To start with, I don’t even have a linen cupboard.

    So begins an exchange of messages with our host where I try to ascertain the size of the beds and whether there are pillows. Towels? Perhaps I should check if there are four legs on the bed. Before I can ask — PING! A new message. Would I be interested in renting sheets? Oh and check out is 09.00.

    Most people have wised up to this sharing economy, where amateur landlords rebadge themselves as hosts (do you remember when a host would approach with the offer of a drink, perhaps a canapé or two?). Madame’s version of being a host is a bill for a sheet, an early-morning boot up the backside and an anonymous key exchange at the village kebab shop.

    The house turns out to be OK, decorated with the cheapest version of everything you can imagine and a fondness for rag-rolled walls not seen since the 1980s. The pillows are firmer than a weightlifter’s buttock. When tense. The pillowcases are boudoir-red and the glass-topped kitchen table is wrapped in a thick layer of plastic, like it might be used in a mortuary. The shower is so ill-fitted that, as you exit, you realise the water has made a dash for it and filled a neighbouring utility room. Cue frantic (naked) mopping.

    OK, I get it. The deal you are entering into is one where cheapness and simplicity trump cost and complexity. But that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If a hotel messaged you to say your room will be sans sheets, you’d presume some prankster had hacked their computer. But in share-y world you just shrug and pay up.

    The interesting thing about revolutions is that they often don’t stop where the rebels want. And as fissures show around the sharing economy — and especially how property sites are bending local economies and devouring city cores — you have to hope that there are more, and better, changes to come.

    Or, as we regularly champion here at Monocle, a world of possibility for a new generation of modest inns and hotels that don’t resemble an Ikea showroom and don’t charge extra for sheets. We’ll do our bit to make sure this happens — it’s central to the debate at our forthcoming Quality of Life Conference. But before you move on today, don’t forget to leave the money.

    A few of us from AGEIST will be in Madrid for QOL. We hope you can join us there. 


    More Stories

    Kim Marshall, 62: Multi-Generational PR

    We met Kim last fall while speaking at The Global Wellness Summit in Singapore and were fascinated by this humble, direct Midwesterner who is...

    Being Lazy? That’s Good! The Rationale for Doing Nothing

    By Bija BennettDo you think that you’re being lazy when you’re not doing something? Or wasting time when you’re simply just being there? Chances are...

    CIRKEL Love and Sex

    Valentine's Day is coming up and CIRKEL is having an intergenerational mentor event around the world's oldest topic, Sex and Love, on Feb 6....

    Leaving the Corporate Ladder

    Jonathan Haisman, 52, living in Providence RI, recently decided to get off the corporate ladder and help start a company that is all about...

    5 Ways to Strengthen the Gut-Brain Connection and Boost Your Brain Power

    You would have to have been walled off from the world recently, meditating in a cave or exploring deep in the Amazon jungles, not...

    LATEST Profiles

    Kim Marshall, 62: Multi-Generational PR

    We met Kim last fall while speaking at The Global Wellness Summit in Singapore and were fascinated by this humble, direct Midwesterner who is...

    Dr. Bella McCloud, 59: Upward Life Trajectory

    When, two years ago, we last spoke with Bella, she was deep in the long process of getting her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Then...

    Joe La Fontaine, 59: Flying High

    Joe La Fontaine, 59, lives the high life, as in the really really high life, flying at 40,000 ft, captaining the world’s largest commercial...