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

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  12,228 ratings  ·  1,809 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...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 247 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Doubleday
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Stacia (the 2010 club)
(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 of...more
Jaclyn Day
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
La Petite Américaine

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...more
Oliver Schnusenberg
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...more
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...more

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...more
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
Brendon Schrodinger
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...more
Jennifer Hummer
Forget The Bible, this is the book that should be in every drawer of ever 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 h...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
Ellen Librarian
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
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
Roz Warren
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.”

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
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
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
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
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
Diane Barnes
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
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...more
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Nicole Bonia
Tomsky’s writing is colorful – full of foul language, juvenile humor, and peppered with examples of how he became a “down” member of hotel staffs that are primarily Black or Latino. Many pages are devoted to skirmishes among staff and employers, and the unpleasant customers who don’t realize how their experience is detrimentally affected by their behavior – not least of all, failure to grease a palm. The narrative peaks again when new private equity managers try to force out the old employees fo...more
Currently reading. Given to me by a neighbor- friend, who found the behind-the-scenes adventures of a hotel/service worker hilarious enough to drop the book off at my doorstep.

Update/Review- I gave it two stars because, it was a mixed bag for me. Some parts were funny, entertaining, and had decent narrative; while other parts got repetitive to the point that I almost had to ditch the book all together. I found it frustrating that, every ten pages he wrote about tipping, good tipping practices, b...more
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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.
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“My degree was garbage stuffed inside a trash can of student loans.” 4 likes
“I began to consider, upon the thought of "permanently" relocating, everything New York had made me. When I arrived, I was like a half-carved sculpture, my personality still and undefined image. But the city wears you down, chisels away at everything you don't need, streamlines your emotions and character until you are hard cut, fully defined, and perfect like a Rodin sculpture. That is something truly wonderful, the kind of self-crystallyzation not available in any other city. But then, if you stay too long, it keeps on wearing you down, chipping away at traits you cherish, character that you've earned. Stay forever, and it will grind you down to nothing.” 3 likes
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