Hotels should help celebrate our quirkier museums
Hotels should help celebrate our quirkier museums
15 APRIL 2019 7:23 AM

It is not just the huge-ticket museums and attractions that drive hotel bookings, but also—and I am a fully paid-up member—quirkier repositories of history such as the British Lawnmower Museum and, I think sadly gone, Mushroom Museum.

Museums are huge drivers of demand for hotel stays.

Notable is the transformation of the Spanish city of Bilbao after the first satellite of New York City’s Guggenheim Museum opened there almost 22 years ago.

I went to Bilbao in 1990 when I took my mustard-color Austin Princess 2200 HLS from London to Gibraltar via Spain, Portugal and France, and it was a soot-begrimed monstrosity—Bilbao, that is, but perhaps also my car.

I paused there for only an hour. Today Bilbao is transformed.

Abu Dhabi is attempting to continue its tourism initiatives with the first satellite opening of Paris’ Louvre.

I visited that museum this February. It is very nice, stuck there on its own at one edge of huge Saadiyat Island.

Usually, I must say, huge museums like this leave me cold. I enjoy going to individual exhibits that are held in these museum monsters often as attractions regarding additional ticket purchases, but trying to make sense of all the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the British Museum is enough to cause brain fade.

Is it possible to digest 6,000 years of human history into two hours?

Better for me are small, quirky museums, and I am reminded of this this week with an email from San Francisco’s Museum of Ice Cream.

Yes, there is one, and apparently the museum got its first permanent home only a few months ago, and that despite vanilla being the finest of the flavors for at least 40 years and after successful trial runs in New York City and Miami.

It is now in Union Square—San Francisco’s, not New York City’s—and I expect all adjacent hotels to start showing initially unexplained triple-digit rises in revenue per available room.

Get there now as it is putting on what it calls the “first ever, limited-run immersive experience Sprinkle Spectacular.”

I have also visited the Mushroom Museum in the U.S.’s mushroom capital of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

The mushroom museum needs a website, and when I was there many years ago it needed tender loving care. Actually, it might not exist anymore, in which case I strongly believe the only branded hotel in the area, the Inn at Mendenhall, part of Choice Hotels’ Ascend Collection, should resurrect it and at the same time help drive its own in-house F&B revenue.

The United Kingdom does quirky museums, too, I am proud to say.

The prize in my opinion goes to the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, Lancashire, where my older brother Christopher went to university, to study history but not, as far as I can recollect, the history of lawnmowers.

It sits there a few miles north of Liverpool, and who wants to find out more about The Beatles when you can learn everything about lawnmowers, and even inquire about buying spare parts.

You definitely can buy a DVD titled “Lawnmower World,” which tempts guests to book multiple rooms at nearby hotels with “a glimpse into the fascinating history of garden machinery.”

Funny how branded hotels from the behemoths of the industry stay away from developing near these essential tourism gems.

In Southport, there are no branded hotels other than in the economy segment—Travelodge, Premier Inn and Best Western.

I think Marriott International, Accor and InterContinental Hotels Group have missed a trick.

This is not the case in San Francisco, but then again it has the competition licked. 

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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