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

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  20,422 ratings  ·  2,765 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
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Hardcover, First Edition, 247 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Doubleday
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  20,422 ratings  ·  2,765 reviews


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Start your review of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
Stacia (the 2010 club)
Aug 20, 2012 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
...more
Jaclyn Day
Dec 14, 2012 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
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Kimberly
Dec 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, library-book, e-book
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 toss aroun ...more
Diane
Dec 04, 2012 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
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John
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
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La Petite Américaine
Feb 10, 2013 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 gets his ha
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Kelli
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I’m batting zero with my library audio app lately. I had bookmarked several lines to put in this review, I even double-checked them and added notes...and there are no bookmarks...so, that’s that. I hate to comment on arrogance and profanity without the quotes. I hated this book for a good portion in the beginning because he reminded me of a kid from the suburbs trying to act like he’s from the mean streets by dropping a string of expletives and offensively mimicking vernacular.

Something shifted
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Margitte
This will be short 'n sweet, since I'm typing on my ipad, and doing a road trip with a challenging meeting behind me.

The author provides several good reasons why you should not stay in hotels, if you're not into bribes, extortion or abundant tips. You will regret it! My mouth hung open for most of the book. Rudeness will cost you dearly!!! Don't despair, the disgruntled desk clerk also explains in detail how to raid the minibar and get away with it.

The friendships and wacky lingo between employ
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Vegantrav
Dec 03, 2012 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
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Oliver Schnusenberg
Dec 29, 2012 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
...more
Leslie
Nov 29, 2012 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 credibi ...more
Kimber
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"So, in 1794, someone, some asshole, built the very first hotel in New York City: a 137-room job on Broadway, right there in lower Manhattan...."

This is a tribute to the hotel workers who work long, long soul-crushing hours in an industry dependent on the uncertainty of tips. Who deal with the rudest, most entitled people. Who get stepped on by often crooked managers, who steal from them. Who tell you your job is Very Easy.

But there's also camaraderie, of being a part of a "big ass family"-that
...more
Jennifer Hummer
Jun 23, 2012 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
David
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, humor, memoirs
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
Angela
Sep 12, 2013 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
B Schrodinger
Nov 21, 2013 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
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Birgit
Oct 29, 2012 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
...more
Diane Barnes
Mar 25, 2014 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
Karina
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Funny!!! Good memoir esp if you are in the hotel business and get the crap these workers go through. Good to read if you want to be a better more aware person on how one treats people too.
Karen
Oct 06, 2012 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
Mediaman
Aug 08, 2013 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 too much 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 fo
...more
Anthony
Mar 04, 2013 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
Ellen Librarian
May 12, 2013 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
JDK1962
Jan 08, 2013 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
Roz Warren
Feb 02, 2013 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.”

Slang
...more
Rochelle
Jan 03, 2013 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
Jeanette
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
After returning this last month from 7 hotels in 17 days, I thought it was about time to read up on the Hospitality Business. It was illuminating and helped me understand some aspects of the discount online brokers for hotel or rentals at the same time. Not all aspects, but some of them. And I do understand when they have to ask you "to walk" as well. But I did not need to know how to steal items from the "in room" service fridge without getting caught! Nor to hear his swearing mode at times, ei ...more
britt_brooke
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Service is not about being up-front and honest. Service is about minimizing negatives and creating the illusion of perfection. Here’s how it’s done: Lie. Smile. Finesse. Barter. Convince. Lie again. Smile again.”

I didn’t expect to laugh so much! I respond to his type of humor and a funny book is exactly what I needed. This is also an interesting glimpse into the hospitality business. I highly recommend the audio. Tomsky’s narration is perfect.
Marilyn
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An entertaining tale of how a college Philosophy major gets roped into an unwanted career, and makes it, barely, to the other side. The only thing I really disliked about the book is how hard New York City makes the formerly sweet man Thomas (and he acknowledges this at the end). Pretty scary if you take it too seriously. A little repetitive, a little predictable, it nevertheless held my attention until the end. A good "I'm too busy to read during the Holidays" book.
Alex Givant
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tts, best-of-2015
Love this book! It shows you world of people we never see going through hotels: front-desk, bellman, cleaning ladies, etc. After this book I will never look the same on hotel's worker. Author put it as is (no sugar coating - specially liked "instant karma" stuff). Lot of tips how hotel works and what to do to get all upgrades.
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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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