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

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  16,739 Ratings  ·  2,319 Reviews
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 luxu
Hardcover, First Edition, 247 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stacia (the 2010 club)
Aug 23, 2012 Stacia (the 2010 club) rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
(Hotels have no thirteenth floor, hence I have no thirteenth chapter)

I'm guessing there's at least one person who's reading this review that has never noticed most hotel elevators don't have a button for floor number 13.

Dear Author, I had more fun reading your book than I have had reading memoirs from "actual" comedians. A trashy errr classy girl like me really vibes on your kind of humor. Please ignore the fact that I just reviewed a book for being too brash and crude. You, sir, are nothing o
Jaclyn Day
Jan 02, 2013 Jaclyn Day rated it really liked it
Heads in Beds is the perfect “dessert” book. Dessert books are the books you want to read when you don’t want to cry at the end or get too emotionally involved in an overly intricate plot or when you really don’t want to think too hard about anything at the end of a shitty day. Sometimes people might think that lighter reading fare means that it’s intrinsically not “good,” but that’s just a matter of perspective. For me, a great, light nonfiction read like this one totally makes my day.

There hav
Jan 22, 2016 Kimberly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not what I expected. I travel often and frequent hotels. I was hoping for some behind the scenes action and useful tips. If this is what the heart of hotels looks like then eww... this book is trashy & crass. The author is a bitter and nasty, and by the end of the book he drowns his troubles in alcohol & drugs. Essentially, what I got from this book was unless I tip exorbitantly I could expect shit service and a shit experience. I don't know about you but I'm not about to to ...more
Dec 20, 2013 Diane rated it liked it
In this Age of Memoir, I guess we were due for one by a hotel clerk.

Jacob Tomsky's book focuses on his experiences working at two hotels: a luxury one in New Orleans and a Midtown one in New York. (All names have been changed, so there's no point stating them. He even changed his own name in the text to Tommy/Thomas.) In his introduction, he brags that he has worked in hotels for more than a decade and that he's probably checked us in before.

Jacob/Tommy/Thomas promises to give the reader advic
Well ... I made it through the book (OK, so I skimmed in places), though at around the 2/3 mark I was sorely tempted to bail! Two stars out of five reflects that roughly 40% of the book has redeeming value, and the rest didn't, between repetition, attitude, and the author's personal life.
First part covers his time at a new upscale hotel in New Orleans, where the author starts as a valet parker, bonding with the largely non-white crew. Then, he's promoted to front desk there, and we get much of t
La Petite Américaine
Jul 30, 2014 La Petite Américaine rated it it was amazing

With Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, something unprecedented has happened in the publishing industry: they published a book by (wait for it!) a good writer. >>gasp<< I know. I'm as shocked as you are, really.

While Heads in Beds is being marketed as Kitchen Confidential with a hotel slant, there's a marked difference between the two books: Anthony Bourdain is a cocky chef who also happens to know how to open a Word Doc on a PC, and thus
Dec 03, 2012 Vegantrav rated it really liked it
Having worked as in the service industry (both as a waiter and front desk agent), I had high expectations for Jacob Tomsky's memoir about life as a front desk agent at a luxury hotel.

And I was not disappointed: Tomsky's description of life in the service industry is spot on: the great friends you make on the job, the after hours drinking and commiseration with said friends, the casual use of profanity (what? you don't swear? spend 2 months as a waiter or a front desk agent, and you goddamned wil
Oliver Schnusenberg
Dec 29, 2012 Oliver Schnusenberg rated it it was ok
I'll start with what I liked about this book. As I would say to anyone who seems angry or upset with me (in this case, it seems, the author is in general pretty upset with guests), I appreciate the candor. In the author's words, Boom! That's it.

What I don't appreciate (and this list is longer):
1) Thanks for trying to tell me how to game the system and, essentially, steal and cheat. No interest, thanks, though!
2) It seems the author is bipolar. In parts of the book, he has whole monologues about
Nov 29, 2012 Leslie rated it did not like it

At one point in the book Jacob Tomski states "I am a ----ing good writer!" I disagree. This book would have been great at 20 pages. Tomski's language is unnecessarily foul and he repeats the same anecdotes just in different locations. While mildly entertaining in a few spots, the book does not deliver on the author's promise of how to work the hotel system. I'm not sure that anyone was looking for the secret to be summed up in one solution -just hand out twenty dollar bills. He also lost credib
May 20, 2014 David rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, humor, audiobook
This is a fun, somewhat raunchy book about the author's experiences in the hotel business. Jacob Tomsky starts out as a valet at a luxury hotel in New Orleans. He graduates to become housekeeping manager, and then on to a front desk clerk. Then he moves to New York City, where he continues to work at the front desk at a luxury hotel.

The book is fun because of the variety of anecdotes about hotel guests and co-workers. One woman checks in for a few hours in the afternoon, several times a week. T
Jennifer Hummer
Aug 28, 2015 Jennifer Hummer rated it it was amazing
Forget The Bible, this is the book that should be in every drawer of every bedside table in every hotel room. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky is just about the most horrifying (in a good way) book I’ve ever read. I had no idea that doing the “crinkly handshake” could get you a better room. Or scarfing down the entire mini-bar just before demanding a room change (too smoky, too loud, too pink, whatever) would get you free grub. And more sadly, I was not aware of just how many housekeepers/heads of ...more
Brendon Schrodinger
Nov 24, 2013 Brendon Schrodinger rated it really liked it
This read was a bit of a gamble. Written by a employee in the hotel business it professes to tell great stories, tips on getting the best service and an insider look behind the scenes. With many other writers this could have been quite dull, but Jacob's wit, heart and cynicism makes this a great read that does deliver on all the promises.

The memoir part takes up most of the book with a chronological tale of his employment from a valet parer in a luxury hotel in the southern U.S., through the lof
Sep 12, 2013 Angela rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I admit it: I like the rant/tell-all memoirs of service industry. They make me remember past jobs that I was glad to leave behind, and make me grateful that I'm not walking a mile in the author's shoes. I don't expect the books to Pulitzer-worthy, nor do I want them to be. I want to sit back, glad that I'm only reading about a particularly nightmarish job and not experiencing it. I want to revel in insider dirt, be outraged by patron behavior, and deliciously scandalized by staff retaliations. H ...more
Oct 06, 2012 Karen rated it it was ok
The narratives were written in varying accents from Cajun Louisiana to Japanese to hip-hop vernacular. If you are amused by snarky invectives then you will like this book. I just thought it kept hammering the same ideas over and over again. I actually got it because it claimed to offer insider tips on getting upgrades and better service. Instead of anything meaningful, the author suggests that lying is the way to go. Stuff your face at the mini-bar, watch porn and then Deny! Deny! Deny! The reas ...more
Nov 11, 2012 Birgit rated it it was ok
Not only have I got a soft spot for behind-the-scenes looks, I also love traveling which, more often than not, involves staying at a hotel. Needless to say Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky went straight onto my list of books I really wanted to read.
The thing is that books like these are usually written by wanna-be authors who, with any luck, have a bit of talent up their sleeves, plus a proficient editor, which may then result in an enjoyable, insightful and fun read. Sadly, this isn't the case her
Diane Barnes
Mar 27, 2014 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it
I have a confession to make; I really, really, really enjoyed this book. I wasn't expecting to like it quite so much, I picked it up as a filler between reading some heavier fiction just to see what it was. Yes, as expected, I read the gossipy anecdotes about what goes on with the guests, got the scoop on what to do and, most especially, what not to do to insure good service. But what I also got, and was not expecting, was some very fine writing from a man who tried to maintain some humanity and ...more
Aug 08, 2013 Mediaman rated it did not like it
This worthless book is written by a bellhop/front desk guy who has had limited experience at a couple hotels. His job is dull, his stories are simplistic, his anger-fueled anti-guest attitude gets him fired, and his perspective in the book is one of preaching at those of us that pay to money on how we should treat him, not on how his industry should improve to treat us.

It's hard to believe this book got published--there's nothing interesting in it. It might not even have enough material for a ma
Ellen Librarian
May 12, 2013 Ellen Librarian rated it it was ok
I was pretty disappointed in this book. For one thing, the author admitted he's not honest. He said right up front that names and people were fictionalized. And he kept bragging about lying and hustling. So I questioned the truth of a lot of what he said. Even worse, I felt like he didn't really have a story to tell. The author gets a job he doesn't really want, is good at it but has problems on the job. Does he quit? Get fired? Not only did I not care, it was hard to see how it ultimately matte ...more
Feb 14, 2013 JDK1962 rated it really liked it
For what it is, very good, very much like Kitchen Confidential. A great book to get you through a plane ride, or (as in my case) a day sick in bed. I would disagree with those who say that the author sounds like a real asshat...I would defy anyone to work a service industry position for that long, with the management he faced at the end, who could come out half as well. If you want to read the adventures of an jackass author, may I humbly recommend Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?. That one will ha ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
”Remember: heads in beds. The only thing that matters in this business. Heads in beds.”

My best friend Lauren loves going on vacation. Specifically, she loves going on vacation and staying in hotels. She has a weird fetish/obsession with hotel beds that makes absolutely no sense. If it were up to her, she probably would never want to leave the room at all; just stay in the bed all day. I joke with her all the time that if being an elementary school teacher doesn’t work out for her, she could al
Roz Warren
Feb 02, 2013 Roz Warren rated it liked it
Ten Things I Learned Reading “Heads in Beds“ A Tell-All Memoir About Working In Elite Hotels

If you don’t tip the bellman who carries your bags to your room, something nasty could wind up on your toothbrush during your stay.

There is always a better room.

People who hang out in hotel lobbies all day are called “lobby lizards.”

Reservations made through Internet discount sites usually get the worst rooms.

If you want an upgrade, hand over a twenty at check-in and say, “Give me something nice.”

Mar 04, 2013 Anthony rated it it was ok
In life more than a few things have caught attention and fascinated me. Some of the great questions I have pondered include: How are roads made? How did they make that big tall building? How does a 747 stay in the air? Have people always confused Taiwan and Thailand? And …. Is the cheery helpful hotel staff person as enamored with the hotel experience as I am? Mr. Tomsky would answer me with a resounding – no. In fact, he did his best in Heads in Beds to take whatever glamour and gilt I (and man ...more
May 05, 2016 Rochelle rated it it was ok
Heads in Beds is the author’s memoir about his accidental career in hospitality, starting from working in valet to front office manager and housekeeping manager. What I did like about this book was the “behind-the-scenes” info, and learning about the inner workings of the hospitality business. He did shed light on the bellman lifestyle and the difficulties of being a front office manager dealing with thousands of patrons, to the challenges in managing housekeeping. Some stories he told here genu ...more
Bonnie Brody
Dec 18, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing
Thomas is a pseudonym for a hotel worker who writes his memoir of several years in the hotel business. If you have read ‘Do Travel Writers go to Hell?’ or Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, you will get the idea of where ‘Beds in Heads’ is coming from. It is a true, though appalling, story of the culture of hotel workers. As a worker himself, Thomas writes a full-scale ethnography which makes even the most steadfast reader flinch. I thank Doubleday for their generosity in providing me this ...more
Mar 27, 2013 Eh?Eh! rated it liked it
Shelves: babble-added
A rambling chronicle by a cocky grunt who pulled together stories of his years, so far, as a hotel front desk clerk. The stories are interesting, some appalling, but may be better told than written. When you get into the minute details of what you do and try to explain intricacies to outsiders, sometimes there's a lot of background explaining to be laid down before you can deliver the full impact of the punchline. These stories got interrupted by preliminary stories, a number of them pages long ...more
May 10, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: doubleday, 2012
The "Kitchen Confidential" for the hotel industry, and I do not make that comparison lightly. Tomsky has the wit and fire of Bourdain, and the balls to use it, both at the front desk and on the page. Bourdain wrote from the eyes of a mere cook, no master chef; Tomsky does the same, writing as a low-level manager and front desk jockey, a pawn and a thorn for the big shots. His stories about coworkers and customers rivet on every page, and he has that particular gift for picking only the most inte ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Jennie rated it really liked it
Ah the service industry. A means to an end or a passport to the world?

This book gives an inside look to Tom, a hotel/front desk employee facing both the enchantment of money and the abuse his job entails. Anyone who has had to work long hours, shifts, face irate customers and less than intelligent management/co-workers will laugh and cringe at some of these exploits.

"The hotel life: boundless, foreign, debaucherous, freshly laundered, exploratory, scantily clad, imaginative, frightening, expens
Jun 13, 2013 Ciara rated it liked it
Shelves: autobio-memoir
a memoir about working in luxury hotels. it was all right, i guess. a nice change of pace from all the mommy memoirs i've been reading lately. but honestly, it was a little too dudely for me. i can't get over the fact that tomsky actually used the phrase "that's a thought to tighten the balls" (or something to that effect). um. gross. also, i don't have balls so i have no idea if that's a good thing or a bad thing. (& i don't want to be enlightened.) i hate it when dudes do stuff like that, ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Monnie rated it really liked it
The economy being what it is, my husband Jack and I don't travel as much as we used to - but we still try to get outta Dodge whenever we get the chance. One of the biggest challenges, though, is finding a good place to spend the night (by that I mean a place that's clean, has comfortable beds and coffee available first thing in the morning). It would help, of course, if money were no object. But not only do we not have unlimited dollars to begin with, we hate paying top prices for rooms in which ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Annie rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
I adore traveling. Frequently, a visit somewhere involves a stay at a hotel and since I haven't had a bad stay yet (knock on front desk wood), by association, I like hotels.
When I stayed at the Luxor in Las Vegas, I did get a touch of vertigo. The room was on the 22nd floor of the massive pyramid and the walkway to the hotel room had a wall that only went up to my belly button. Therefore, any guest could lean out and have an unobstructed view of the floor thousands of feet below with little tour
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Heads in Beds, by Jacob Tomsky 1 4 Jun 23, 2013 05:39PM  
  • The Confidant
  • Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies, and one royal hairdresser)
  • The Shortest Way Home
  • Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen
  • A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi
  • My Extraordinary Ordinary Life
  • Dwarf: A Memoir of How One Woman Fought for a Body-and a Life-She Was Never Supposed to Have
  • Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life
  • An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris
  • I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High
  • Don't Look Behind You! A Safari Guide's Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos
  • Chanel Bonfire
  • Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet
  • Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home
  • Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll
  • Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen
  • My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir
  • Plane Insanity
Jacob Tomsky is a dedicated veteran of the hospitality business. Well-spoken, uncannily quick on his feet, and no more honest than he needs to be, he has mastered every facet of the business, worked in many departments, and received multiple promotions for his service. Born in Oakland, California, to a military family, Tomsky now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
More about Jacob Tomsky...

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“My degree was garbage stuffed inside a trash can of student loans.” 5 likes
“New Orleans, the storm, Perry, the river: they all reminded me not to take anything for granted. It all washes away, and we are all washed away with it. So when then ground is steady and the sky is clear, we should breathe deep until our lungs inflate against our ribs and hold in that one breath until we are lightheaded with the privilege of being human. The absolute privilege of being human.” 4 likes
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