Opinion: The ups and downs of the Suffolk suite life

At the start of the Fall 2020 semester, my sophomore year at Suffolk was beginning to look pretty bleak. Classes were held online, a few of my friends wouldn’t be returning to campus and the entire world had been turned upside-down for months with no end in sight. The one bright spot was that I would be returning to Boston and living in a hotel provided by Suffolk University: the Doubletree by Hilton. 

I was absolutely ecstatic at the thought of regaining the feeling of independence that I’d come to expect from being in the city and living out my Suite Life of Zack and Cody dreams.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the “suite life” wasn’t so sweet after all.

To their credit, Suffolk and the Department of Residence Life and Housing did the best they could, given the difficult circumstances surrounding the fall semester. While my experience in the hotel was less than ideal, there were a few perks that I would be remiss to ignore. 

Firstly, the Doubletree itself was quite pleasant. The room I received completely surpassed my expectations, boasting a king-size bed, mini-fridge, microwave, flat-screen television and even a small couch. It was very comfortable and had way more amenities than I had become accustomed to after living in the dorms during my freshman year at Suffolk. Aside from the room itself, the staff were always very kind and helpful, the snack shop was open 24 hours a day and there was even a Starbucks connected to the lobby. 

Although there were some great aspects to hotel life at first, the bad quickly began to outweigh the good. I’d never really thought about it before, but hotels are not made to be lived in long-term. The first issue cropped up pretty early in the semester: none of the residential students had access to laundry in the building. Although the Department of Residence Life and Housing had sent an email promising a laundry system for Suffolk students by October at the latest, none ever came. Instead, I had to haul my laundry around the block every weekend, to a crowded laundromat that only accepted five dollar bills. 

The next problem came in the form of dining options. While the Doubletree was a short distance away from a variety of restaurants, it was also slightly less than a mile from Smith Cafe in the Samia building, the only dining hall that was regularly open and that hotel students had access to. As colder weather set in, I felt less and less like making the trudge to grab food and ended up wearing some truly impressive blisters on the backs of my heels. 

Although life in the hotel presented many material challenges, the worst was the profound sense of loneliness and isolation that set in rather quickly, but managed to escape my notice until Thanksgiving break. 

Understandably, due to COVID safety precautions, no outside guests were allowed inside the hotel, and Suffolk students were only allowed to admit one other person into their room at a time. This, coupled with the fact that I had a jam-packed schedule full of online-only courses and very little free time, meant that there were days (and sometimes weeks) at a time when I hardly left my room.

All of these factors combined in the most vicious of ways and made me feel absolutely terrible. After returning home over Thanksgiving Break, I realized that I couldn’t face another five months in the Doubletree. I was wracked with loneliness and overwhelmed with stress nearly every moment of every day, so I decided to move out.

After petitioning the Department of Residence Life and Housing, who graciously allowed me to be released from my housing contract, I returned to my home in Michigan to complete the spring semester virtually. 

The truth is, the pandemic has made a great many things incredibly difficult, including gaining a true college experience. I had hoped to grasp as many fun memories as I could by returning to campus and forcing myself to stay in a hotel room, but as the past ten months have taught us, nothing ever goes as planned.