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Improving the Chain Gang

Staying in a drab chain hotel can suck the life out of any traveler. We asked three design professionals their strategies for bringing the surroundings up a notch.

Stop Spreading the News

"I don't know if it's my expertise in design that causes me to dislike the bedding in chain hotel rooms, or the fact that the bedding isn't usually the best quality. The bedspreads in particular are ugly, overly flowery, and feel cheap. Simply removing them can make the room a little less oppressive, as the rooms are usually heavy on the prints and flowers anyway."

— Brooke Hodge, curator of architecture and design, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Escape, at Least Mentally

"Virtually any space becomes more livable if you can close your eyes and mentally slip away. I carry a Dell MP3 player. I don't use external speakers when I travel; I just listen through a pair of Shure isolation headphones."

— Timm Fenton, vice president of design, Tumi

You Can Take It With You

"A good pillow, not a piece of foam rubber, can really help make my stay. Occasionally I'll bring my own pillow from home. Better hotels tend to have better pillows, but I had a nice surprise at a Marriott recently — a great pillow and a great bed. Another thing is bathroom stuff. Hanging up my great-looking toilet bag and taking out my good shampoo, soaps, and creams at least makes the bathroom feel more like my own."

— Sandy Chilewich, founder, Chilewich LLC, a home-furnishing company

A version of this article appeared in the June 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.