Katie Archibald column: ‘Nothing settles me down more than the unfamiliarity of a hotel room’

Social convention is the best way to ensure you get a solid eight hours, says Katie

I sleep better in hotel rooms than at home. And my home is nice. My family runs a chain of bed shops called Archers Sleepcentre — there’s no apostrophe before the s (but please do write to my dad about it: he enjoys this).

I tell you this to brag about it: I get the pick of the shop for any bed I have ever owned. I sleep on a pillowy throne, a cradle made of clouds, a mattress no amount of peas could stop a princess enjoying.

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But it doesn’t matter. Nothing settles me down more than the unfamiliarity of a hotel room, and the presence of another person, who I probably know quite well, but who I am unfamiliar with enough to ensure I observe the social niceties.

I should stress that the only people I wouldn’t be generally polite and socially graceful towards are my boyfriend and my mother. Pretty much everyone else, though some might receive the bare minimum, gets what I would class as niceties.

You might call it basic human consideration. I would hold a door open for you, I would (at least pretend) to listen to what you’re saying, I would ask if you would like the last Yorkshire pudding before I take it for myself. Though in this last instance I would be mortified if you said you did want it, when I had so clearly given the social cue that means ‘I am having it’.

The point is, the role of room-mate can be filled by almost anyone but is very important to a peaceful night’s sleep. The room-mate supplies two important factors: obligation and accountability.

I am obliged to sleep peacefully otherwise I’ll no doubt disturb their sleep, and that would be rude. I am accountable to someone if I sit staring at my phone until midnight and then try to complain about how hard it is to drift off.

You think I care about waking up my boyfriend when I can’t sleep? If I’m tossing and turning he should be awake feeling sorry for me. And you can bet we’re sat staring at some screen or other until midnight together.

It’s disastrous. No, the best way to catch up on some sleep is at a bike race where I’ll get a minimum eight hours every night simply because it’s polite to do so.