My collection of ‘stolen’ hotel property

December 1, 2022 — by Derek Liang
Photo by Derek Liang
A hotel card collection stacked together, with the Proper Hotel card sitting at the top.
I have a collection of hotel cards that I’ve taken from hotels since I was six.

Everyone has a collection of some type of things. For me, they’re hotel room cards — little memories of places I’ve visited. 

My first time collecting a card was by accident. My family took a trip to Paris when I was 6, and I loved it there. The architecture, streets, art, music, weather and food were so different from what I had been familiar with in California. The view from the Eiffel Tower was mesmerizing. But nothing beats the pleasant surprise of when I  discovered the luxurious taste of macarons for the first time. Just when I was grieving for the end of this trip at the airport, I realized that I still had the hotel’s card in my pocket. I was delighted, since it felt as if I kept a part of Paris with me as we traveled back home.

Ever since, I’ve been keeping every hotel card of the hotels that I go to. At this point, I have a collection of 70 hotel cards sitting in my room, with a few duplicates from the same stay here and there.

What’s even better: My family and I typically celebrate my birthday while we’re on vacation, so having these little pieces of my birthday’s over the years in a collection is a nice way to reminisce about the past.

Not only do these cards serve as mini time capsules, but their different designs also tell a lot about the hotel’s aesthetic and service. Some of my cards have pictures of the hotel or the views, while others have logos and company names. Most of the high-end hotels tended to have simplistic designs on their cards, such as the Ritz-Carlton, which either has their logo and name or just their name, with no more than two colors on the cards.

My favorite card appearance wise is Proper Hotel’s in Santa Monica. Their card is a little heavier than the others and matte black, with only the name “Proper” in the middle written in a simple yet elegant and golden font. In fact, the reason that my mom chose this hotel to begin with was because of the unique designs of the whole hotel and its furniture. The beds had semicircular bamboo headboards, with all the other furniture matching in a similarly unique and welcoming theme.

Although not the best hotel in my card collection, the Venetian Hotel was the one I felt really attached to. My family had been to Las Vegas a few times the past couple of years, and one of those had been during my birthday. After spending a birthday in Vegas and staying at the Venetian, I declared it as my favorite hotel in Vegas. As a young kid who hadn’t seen a lot of different places yet, the outdoor-indoor canoe rides around and inside the hotel were about the coolest experiences I had ever had. The extravagant designs and architecture of the main lobby and the big hotel rooms had me absolutely mesmerized and enough for me to enjoy Vegas on my birthday without any gambling.

From time to time, I flip through my hotel cards, the physical embodiments of special memories, whether it be spending time with my family, meeting relatives and friends or exploring new places. People may have different collections distinct to their own likings, but one thing we all share in common is the deeper connection and attachment that we have developed with our collections.

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