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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality [Kindle Edition]

Jacob Tomsky
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (792 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $7.01 (47%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.

Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know.

Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.

Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Jacob Tomsky

When I started working in hotels the computer screens glowed in one color, alien green, and the monitors were the size of boulders. We used to confidently toss comment cards in the trash (or, as we referred to it, file them in the “T” file) making them disappear forever. I used to cash checks by picking up the phone and speaking to another human being. Music in the lobby was usually provided by a piano player, who would swivel his head at passing guests with a ridiculous, pasty-looking smile as he tapped out non-offensive cover songs played with a non-offensive classical flourish.

Now, mid-volume, beat-heavy techno seeps from recessed speakers built into the lobby’s crown molding. The screens are flat. You can’t manage to direct anything from Trip Advisor into the “T” file and all the guests want to hook up their iPad to the toilet or whatever. And if you pay with a check I still have to pick up the phone, which is extremely irritating because who pays with checks anymore? Stop it.

But all of that change means nothing. Because I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed: The front desk agents, the bellmen, the doormen, the housekeepers, the room service attendants, and the managers. Hotel employees are still version 1.0 and I guarantee if you brought me to a bar and sat me next to a front desk agent from 1897, we’d over-drink and swap the same type of hilarious stories about the same type of insane guests. Hospitality, no matter how slick it gets, will always be a business run by people who serve people. It will always be about service. It will always take a person to explain that, no, you cannot hook up your iPad to the toilet but you can use it to control the lights and wirelessly play music through the in-room speaker system. And guests still, and hopefully will forever, hand me physical comment cards, which I will continue to throw in the trash.

During all these renovations (while I said things like, “Wait, they made the internet wireless? It’s in the goddamn air now?”) I was always writing. I grew up reading novel after novel and that’s all I wanted from life, to give back and write something good. After years of hotel work and relocations that took me from New Orleans to Paris to Copenhagen and ultimately New York City, I finally conceived the idea for Heads in Beds. I put everything I had into it, all my knowledge of the industry and the writing skills I’d developed since I was a child. I truly hope you find it funny and informative and that it helps you navigate the crooked halls of hospitality. That has always been my goal, to write something good.

That and hang out with a front desk agent from 1897.

From Booklist

Comparisons to Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential (2000) are inevitable but not entirely accurate. Yes, both Tomsky and Bourdain purport to expose the underbelly of service industries with which most readers are familiar, hotels and restaurants. But where Bourdain is all rock ’n’ roll, egotistical bluster, Tomsky is surprisingly earnest and sympathetic; there are, after all, no television programs called Top Desk Clerk. He wants your respect, not your adulation. Sure, he tosses off a few requisite f-bombs, instructs readers on how to steal from hotel minibars, and name-drops Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys, more so because he seems to feel the genre demands it. Indeed, it would be easy to pen a book about crazy hotel guests. But this memoir succeeds, instead, in humanizing the people who park our cars, clean our hotel rooms, and carry our luggage. You will never not tip housekeeping or your bellhop again. Tomsky fell into hotel work and proved to be rather good at it; the same can be said for his writing. --Patty Wetli

Product Details

  • File Size: 1622 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 030794834X
  • Publisher: Anchor (November 20, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0086MKQSU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,286 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
357 of 425 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent idea for a book, unreliable narrator September 23, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm conflicted about HEADS IN BEDS. I really wanted to like it. I spent some time in hospitality myself, and I think there are great stories to be told from both sides of the check-in desk. And there are some interesting stories in this book, at least in the 85 pages of it that I got through before putting it down.

And why did I put it down? Mostly, because a memoir needs a likable, or at least, engaging, narrator and Tomsky comes across as neither.

An example: early in the book, he decides to impress us by giving us some historical context for the development of the hospitality industry. I guess he and his editor thought that three paragraphs of history was too dry, so Tomsky decided to spice it up. "So in 1794, someone, some ---hole, built the very first 'hotel' in New York City..."

If Tomsky really feels that way about whoever opened that hotel, I've got to ask, why? What did he ever do to him to earn that kind of vitriol. And if he doesn't really feel angry enough towards him to use that word, then he's the worst kind of literary poseur: a YouTube commenting keyboard warrior with an agent.

Tomsky does this quite a bit. It's one thing to have the profanity and pseudo-tough guy language in your dialog. It can even come out of your narrator's mouth when speaking out loud. But when the narrator uses this kind of language to talk directly to the reader, it's trying too hard to be edgy.

He does this throughout, and it feels completely inauthentic to me. It makes me not trust the narrator, and that's the kiss of death for a memoir.

What finally killed the book for me was the narrator's sense of entitlement.
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73 of 86 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uhm, unemployed much? August 27, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Prior to my current vocation, I worked in hotels and resorts for 10 years, serving people, making money, and having all sorts of fun- I love it and it was hard to leave. I can tell you- the tone of this book and the things that are happening and have happened is just an attempt to cash in on the whole "Waiter Rant" snarky tone in memoirs today.

The author of this book comes across as entitled, snobbish, and horribly detached from customer service. The reason most people stay in those jobs is because they like the interaction with people, the money is secondary, and the location is a perk. Attracting drifters and those who can't settle down is a secodary aspect of the profession- and they don't last long. From past experience, anyone with an attitude half as nasty, condescending, and vitrolic as Tomsky's would be out of a job so fast they wouldn't have time to drop the key off at the front desk on the way out.

This book isn't so much a tell all as it is a mash-up of a "10-things-they-won't-tell-you" lists, "Waiter Rant's" pissy attitude, and some of the good ole "look-at-me-I'm-serving-rich-people" melodrama thrown in for good measure. Nothing special or spectacularly revealing here.
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103 of 123 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Did it not occur to the author that at least three of the tips on the list of ways to get the most out of your hotel stay were illegal? Watching a movie and indulging in the minibar and then saying you didn't do either of those things is outright theft. Saying you didn't get a robe when you did and then stealing the extra is lying and theft.

What kind of morally-bankrupt, selfish person blatantly lies and then steals and then tells other people that it's an excellent way to get something for nothing? Did you give one thought to the poor cleaning woman who will come under fire for not stocking the room properly? Actions have consequences. Are you so hard up for a bathrobe that you're willing to risk a hotel cleaning woman's job?

Shame on you Mr. Tomsky. You've not given us a how-to book to hotel stays. You've given us a lesson on your own selfishness. You are one of the reasons hotels are now so expensive. Who do you think ultimately pays for your so-called freebies? The next guest down the line.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author is a complete jerk. January 3, 2013
By jh
Format:Hardcover
Amazon won't allow post links (and with good reason) but do google his recent Lifehacker article ("Confessions of a Hotel Insider"). Rude and obnoxious ... not someone that deserves your money (or should work with customers directly).
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165 of 205 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Title Is Just The Beginning July 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The title is funny, but it's just the beginning of this factual, entertaining, and even informative look at the hospitality industry.
Jacob Tomsky graduated from college with a philosophy degree and a college loan. Without really intending to pursue a service career, he initially took a job in the Big Easy as a valet at a pricey restaurant viewing it as a temporary job and way to take a stab at getting that looming loan down. Before long, the innocent valet comes to the realization that his job is the pits. With that he rushes off two apps to hotels in New Orleans in search of more meaningful (I.e., more lucrative) employment. What follows next is a chronicle of life in the hospitality industry.
Over the next ten years Jacob's career goes from valet to front desk and almost every point in between. He introduces his reader to stories from the trenches and a large cast of characters that range from a crafty head bellman Alan(aka the "Gray Wolf") to Julio the night manager who pulled a disappearing act for hours on end as he conducted business of another kind. In the world of hotels, luggage takes a whacking, employees sample room service, and amenities are carried off like contraband. For the most part hotel employees are often poorly paid, treated badly, and angry.
The reader also learns that hotels can be very different. In New Orleans things were far more relaxed than in New York where check-in becomes a five second process of shuffling in the cattle/guests and being optimally productive while not even being provided a stool.
Tomsky offers tips on getting the most out of your hotel in regard to perks. Pretty obvious stuff actually but it's always good to be informed and even better when you are not.
I received this book at 8 a.m.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Learned something new
very easy read. I travel a lot and was surprised what I learned. I certainly will not use the glasses in the rooms without washing them out myself first.
Published 10 hours ago by Alan Deitel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book!
Published 10 hours ago by Ruth A. Raymond
5.0 out of 5 stars very educational
Good read. Good advice. Never use Expedia. And remember to tip. I think this should be required reading for life.
Published 18 hours ago by BlueSister44
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great gift for my daughter who is also a desk clerk in a hotel.
Published 2 days ago by Mark Haverland
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother.
Full of unnecessary expletives. Pretty offensive. I agree that this guy comes off as entitled and snobbish. Waste of money.
Published 3 days ago by reader in ca
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and easy read.
i enjoyed "Heads in Beds" as someone who used to run an annual meeting and worked with various hotel people over the years. Read more
Published 3 days ago by John Zajc
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not as fascinating as the summary would suggest. Still a somewhat interesting read if you have the time.
Published 6 days ago by Sarah Cast
2.0 out of 5 stars Too jocular and wordy. Lacking in real behind-the-scenes information...
Too jocular and wordy. Lacking in real behind-the-scenes information.
Published 7 days ago by Eileen K. Samuels
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Revealing
I couldn't put this collection of trashy stories down. Very interesting.
Published 11 days ago by C. Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the hotel humor
Brutal but honest truth about hotels..for smaller hotels maybe no tips but the thought are there.. good humour especially is you are in the hotel industry...enjoy
Published 14 days ago by Barbara Mudrick
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