Monday, February 23, 2009

Academic Housing Smackdown

One of the interesting things about my job is that I get to travel to interesting places and stay in interesting hotels. Some are just fabulous (anything in the Kimpton line), some are really cool (any of the Joie de Vivre hotels in San Francisco, e.g. Hotel Phoenix or the Hotel del Sol), some interesting (Edward II B&B in San Francisco).

The other neat thing about some of the places that I go is that they have their own housing, aka, academic housing. With this trip, I've now stayed in three different academic housing arrangements: Trelease House (Missouri Botanical Garden), Swope Center (Marine Biological Laboratory), and the Academia Sinica Guest House.

All share in common a certain level of college dorm aspects (can you say cinder block? Single beds, cot style?), but all have their charms.

So, how do they stack up and who gets smacked down?

Trelease House (Missouri Botanical Garden)
Trelease House is a renovated apartment building located right next to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Visitors get a room in an apartment, so there are usually three rooms and a shared bath and kitchen. Pros for Trelease? Location! Right next to the Garden and price, very inexpensive. Also, you never know just who you'll be bunking with. Maybe a botanist from Kew or a grad student from China. The kitchen is great if you're staying for a while. Cons? Well, there isn't really anywhere to eat nearby (except for World's Fair Donuts – which, while fabulous, isn't a full service eatery!) Also, don't forget your sundries! No shampoo, soap, or those other things you might find in a hotel!

Swope Center (Marine Biological Laboratory)
Located in a pretty great location, overlooking Eel Pond in Woods Hole, Mass. Woods Hole is beautiful in the summer (so I'm told) but I've only been there in the fall and winter (which offers something special for the lovers of sea ice!). Swope has the advantage of a beautiful setting (even in winter) as well as a cafe and cafeteria attached to it. But the rooms themselves are uber-functional with tiny little cot-like beds. The price is higher than Trelease, but it often includes meals. Also, sundries are lacking (though there was soap last time I was there!).

Academia Sinica Guest House.
With the experience of Swope and Trelease behind me, I was expecting much the same from the Guest House. I was pleasantly surprised to find not only shampoo, but a razor and a comb waiting for me. And not only that, but a mini-fridge. Furnishing were, as expected, functional, but comfortable. Excellent vending machines and a cafeteria attached.

So, who wins? Well, they're all winners, but hey, let's give the nod to Academia Sinica Guest House.(because it's the most recent and because they have beer in the vending machines!). We'll give Swope points for the scary squirrel picture and Trelease a round of applause for the donuts!

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