have never set a Shabbos clock in my life (until 120, I hope). Instead, the last 15 minutes before lichtbentshen are spent barking out orders and delegating for dear life.

But none of this applies when spending Shabbos in a lonely hotel room.

Shabbos in a hotel in a foreign country comes with its own set of rules. I’ve learned most of them the hard way.

Rule #1: Stay on a low floor. And remember, it’s worth changing rooms just for Friday night. Hmm, there’s no room below the 27th floor for Friday night? With an outside temperature of 94°F, and 80 percent humidity? This calls for reassessing the situation.

Experience is the best teacher. The first time I spent Shabbos in a hotel, the drawbacks of that gorgeous 24th floor view didn’t even occur to me. I had chosen that particular hotel because it was right near the local Chabad House, and I didn’t anticipate any problems. Feeling very well organized, I went to the reception desk three times that Thursday and Friday, to make sure that each desk shift was aware that when they saw me come in on Friday night and Saturday, they’d send someone to my room to wait, and when I appeared from the stairwell, they’d open the door for me. I had asked my husband about using the elevator if a non-Jew pressed the buttons. The hesitation in his voice made me reassure him that I was young and healthy, and what are a few stairs, after all?

Friday night, it worked like a dream. After a beautiful meal at Chabad, I walked in and waved at the reception desk. By the time I arrived at the 24th floor (albeit not as well-groomed as I had looked on ground level), someone was waiting at the entrance of my room to unlock the door. Pleased and well-fed, I fell asleep, only the smallest bit homesick (maybe the physical exercise contributed to my fatigue).

Before I left the hotel Shabbos morning, I made sure to pass the reception desk and wave once again to Susie, who called out the magic words, “See you later. Don’t worry about getting into your room.” Three hours later, when I walked back in and blithely waved, she looked up from her phone call to nod, and gave me a thumbs-up. I began my ascent.

By the tenth floor, I was fantasizing about the ice water I had left out on the counter. Eventually I made it all the way upstairs, and gratefully opened the stairwell door to 24. There was nobody waiting for me. The elevator remained silent. For 20 minutes I sat and waited. Slowly, my brain processed the unwelcome truth: I had been forgotten.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 589)