Raynham, Massachusettes may seem like a pretty random place to write about. That’s kind of the point. I had the idea for this series while floating in the pool of a very middle-of-the-road hotel in the Boston suburb of Raynham.


I was there supporting a friend through some family stuff, one of the only reasons I could possibly imagine anyone ever going to Raynham, Massachusettes. It’s a place where people live but I don’t see why it would be a place anyone would visit. I had some decent nachos at a cheesy faux-Mexican spot, and I ordered in over a hundred dollars of Bertuccis because there was one on campus when I was in Boston for University and I have a soft spot in my heart for anything that I had only during those four years then literally never again (well, until sitting alone in a random Raynham hotel room browsing the very limited selection on Raynham UberEats). But that, other than sit quietly with my friend and float in the hotel pool, is all I did in Raynham. There does not appear to be much else to do in Raynham.


But I’ve stayed in lots of terrible hotels in my time: dangerous motels in Florida, filthy group lodging in Vancouver, creaky hostels in Ireland, and a particularly memorable 2-star place in Budapest with hair all over the floor. This wasn’t that. Maybe it was because I was spending more time there than I normally do at a hotel but I found myself not only taking stock of where I was but appreciating it. I think the Holiday Inn Express in Raynham is over-performing expectations. Coming from theatre criticism, I long ago learned that when someone is over-performing expectations, they ought to be written about.


So I started this series. It will cover all the fancy hotels I stay at, and I will absolutely blast the bad ones, but at the heart of this series I hope will be the Holiday Inn Express Raynhams, the places where local managers and employees of low-expectation brands are taking it upon themselves to make life a little better for whoever it is that finds themselves in such a random place, for whatever reason they’re there.


My room in Raynham was huge. Just a basic double room, it came with a huge comfy bed, a chaise longe, a fridge, a microwave, and, most importantly, a large desk where I could work while away from my office unexpectedly. I ordered in food once (the aforementioned Bertuccis) and was able to reheat and save things as needed so I didn’t need to keep shelling out all week. There was omnipresent coffee in the lobby (it was weak but that wasn’t as important as it just being there) and underwhelming but abundant free breakfast in the mornings that didn’t close impossibly early. The ensuite showed the room’s only wear and tear but it had a full bath and plenty of space. The rest of the place was spotless and looked brand new, which it couldn’t possibly have been. There’s a lovely pool and a little lounge and a place to buy basic supplies if you need them. The staff was, at every possible turn, incredibly kind and helpful.


My whole career, I’ve never felt better about what I do than when I’m writing about something I think no one else is likely to write about. So, while this series will not usually be this, today it’s about the Holiday Inn Express in Raynham because I thought someone ought to say that someone over there’s doing a pretty good job.