I spent Thursday and Friday working in Barcelona – a bit of a monthly routine for me and nothing out of the ordinary. But I did stay at a new (new to me, anyway) hotel and so was able to notice the little differences that make for a nice hotel stay.
Firstly, I had my own Nespresso machine, allowing me to replicate my at-home morning ritual: Inhale coffee before doing anything even remotely complex. Like washing. Or walking more than a few steps. Tipping some coffee into my face is my ideal way of starting the day, especially when that day has to start at an uncivilised hour.
Secondly, I enjoyed a couple of walks – from the client’s office to the hotel and back – in glorious sunshine. Seriously blue skies and 28C. I ambled, really. I wanted to stretch it out for as long as I could. I felt a little sun-deprived, especially given the utterly rubbish weather London has experienced recently.
The challenge was getting any sleep.
And this was related to the third difference with this hotel, not my usual insomnia. As it was a Hilton, it had an Executive Lounge. And while these really differ from hotel to hotel, they’re all normally pretty decent. A nice place to get some peace and quiet, nibble on a free buffet, have a couple of drinks and plan your travel adventures.
Or write up meeting notes, as I did.
Anyway, this particular Hilton had a small, but perfectly formed Executive Lounge, with a wonderful selection of local snacks on offer. Some tortilla espanola, lovely bite-sized fish-cakes and delicious deep-friend, breadcrumbed jalapeños. Understandably, the latter got my attention, along with a few local alcohol-free beers.
in fact, I got so comfortable, I basically finished off the plate of jalapeños. I won’t exaggerate, but I was on what seemed to me to be a productivity roll. I was tearing through my to-do list, chugging delicious Moritz beers and chomping down on the peppers. After a couple of hours of this, I went to my hotel room to have a shower and consider my options for the evening.
That’s when the heat began to creep in. My hotel room was perfectly air-conditioned, yet I was sweating. Uncomfortably so. I hadn’t really been exerting myself at the table in the lounge, unless you count tapping a Macbook keyboard as exercise. I took a shower, lay down on the bed and shut my eyes for a while.
That ‘while’ turned into about two hours. And I may have slept for some of it.
I dialled down for some room service – out of habit more than necessity. I definitely ordered a little more than required, but I was mostly concerned about getting a massive bottle of sparkling water. The food arrived after about 30mins and I’m ashamed to say I really just picked at it. I was too full from the buffet downstairs. But I demolished the water in minutes flat. And started sweating again.
It then hit me: it was the peppers. I was experiencing jalapeño overdose.
I thought back to the Executive Lounge and realised that in working there for a couple of hours, I must have eaten over twenty of the things. Each deliciously deep-fried in breadcrumbs, seemingly not as hot as you’d expect. And exceedingly moreish.
On top of the heat, I was beginning to feel a slight sense of discomfort in my chest. I obviously thought it through in a rational manner and concluded I was having a heart attack.
Or perhaps it was the jalapeños. But I was still leaning towards heart attack. Between the sweating and the pain in my chest, I’d pretty much made up my mind about it.
I drank a little more water, emptying the supply from the minibar, and leaned back to go to sleep. I actually nodded off, but then woke periodically through the night. Not with pain, but with heat and sweating. Thankful that I wasn’t having a massive heart-attack, but still incredibly hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. The AC was on at a decidedly cold level of air-blasting and I was lying on top of the covers, completely naked.
Still, I tossed and turned in my own self-generated heat. I think if you could have somehow tapped this power, you’d have been able to charge my iPhone. And possibly my iPad too.
Six the next morning came around very slowly and yet annoying quickly. I definitely hadn’t enjoyed enough sleep, but I was glad that I was no longer sweating like a pig in a sauna. A little bald pig. In a spicy, Catalan sauna.
I was also freezing. I’d left the AC on an arctic levels as I slept, and as my own internal furnace subsided, I got colder and colder. Not enough to walk me up, but as I was still lying on top over the covers, enough to chill me quite a bit.
Friday morning started with all the coffee pods the Hilton had left in my room and a very long, very hot shower.
I felt like I had a jalapeño hangover. My body was set on reminding me that consuming so many miniature handgrenades had been a bad idea. That and the over-eating in general. It was the very opposite of mindful eating. Hence, my very rough estimation of how many I’d eaten in the first place. Especially as the lovely ladies in the lounge kept re-filling the plate.
Unlike Thursday afternoon, Friday morning’s sunshine was very unwelcome and all I wanted to do was quickly get from my hotel to the air-conditioned cool of my client’s offices. Friday was tough, I won’t lie. And I learned my lesson.
Jalapeño overdose. It’s real and it’s dangerous, kids.
And my digestive system still hasn’t forgiven me.