After more than three months of living in hotels, I am excited to share that we have moved into a house again! I feel like I have been “moving” for a short eternity now, and I am so ready to be done with this move in particular. I plan to give you a full tour of my new kitchen, but before we get there, I still owe you a glimpse of my hotel kitchen. If you are looking to check in to the Navy Lodge Hawaii, wondering how to make a small kitchen work for a family, or just want to indulge your curiosity, then read on!
We spent 65 nights at the Navy Lodge while we waited for this house. (Our reservation ended up being for something like 150 nights as things were looking rather grim but thankfully we were able to cut that short!) Based on our pre-move research, we anticipated living in a hotel for an extended period of time. We decided that we NEEDED two rooms separated by a door and a kitchen space so we could maintain our kids’ routines and save our own sanity. Additionally we did NOT want to hop around and change hotels due to cost or other factors. So that is how we ended up living at the Navy Lodge.
Is this the smallest kitchen I have ever cooked in? It very well may be. We stayed in a tiny house this summer that had more counter space and a dishwasher, but this one had more cabinet space.
As you can see, it is a galley kitchenette – “ette” because there is a 2-burner cook top but no oven. The kitchenette also boasted a bar-sized sink, apartment-sized fridge/freezer, full-sized microwave, and a decent amount of cabinet space. I’m going to walk you through the cabinets and drawers from top to bottom. Note: this is how they really looked most of the time; not everything is perfectly tidy as these are real pictures taken one afternoon during quiet time.
This room had three large upper cabinets plus a smaller one over the microwave. We kept less-frequently used dry ingredients, extra paper towels, and anything that didn’t fit in anywhere else in the huge cabinet over the fridge. Honestly there was a lot of wasted space in this cabinet because it was soo deep and had no shelving. If I had known from the get-go how long our stay was going to be, I would have purchased some add-a-shelf type items to add more storage.
Next we have the cabinet over the sink. This is where we kept plates, bowls, and food storage containers. The glass plates and bowls and three of the food storage containers/Pyrex bowls belonged to the hotel. I brought the kids’ plastic dishes with us, and supplemented the food storage with a set of Pyrex I found at Target.
The upper right cabinet had cups and glasses (again, glassware belonged to the hotel and the kids’ plastic cups are mine), my French press, and some more frequently accessed dry goods such as olive oil, bread, and pasta.
The cabinets over the microwave were just the right size to stash some items that I didn’t want my kids getting into – bandages, medicine, my kitchen scale, and the giant bag of lollipops.
I used the three generously-sized lower cabinets to store some of the bulkier and heavier items. Again, there was a lot of wasted vertical space that could have benefited from an add-a-shelf. Under the sink I kept aluminum foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap, and my colander. The dish rack, second colander, and cutting board all belonged to the hotel and no, I never used any of them, I just never took the time to move them out of the way. In the next cabinet, I kept my cheese grater, slow cooker, and electric tea kettle. Pots, pans, and their lids lived in the last cabinet.
The five drawers were my most frequently accessed spaces. The three directly under the counter were for tools and utensils. I brought a bunch of my own dishtowels, partly so I could use them as packing material (although my French press still shattered, whomp whomp). I ended up mostly using the towels the hotel provided, because housekeeping would provide new dish towels every day and it was less laundry for me. The metal knives, forks, and spoons and the utensil organizer all came with the room.
The middle drawer held a few boxes of tea, salt, pepper, and all of our other spices. I’ve done 8 cross-country and trans-oceanic moves in the last 10ish years, and spices are always a question mark for the movers – will they pack them or not?? I know it doesn’t seem like it should be such a big issue, but they are expensive to replace, and sometimes throwing them into our luggage at the last minute is not an option. Anyway, this time we planned on packing them with our luggage from the beginning. I used up a few and tossed a few more that were almost empty, then I packed the rest in 3 gallon-sized plastic bags. This packing method worked out very well, and I actually kept the spices in the plastic bags the entire time were in the hotel because it made the drawer more manageable and it was easier to find what I needed. Also, while last year I had a jar of turmeric explode when we left it in the car too long during a move, nothing exploded or otherwise spoiled this time!
The bottom drawer was for more food storage. As you can see, it was deep enough to fit boxes of cereal, oatmeal, and a giant box of goldfish crackers. I stacked cans and other containers in here as well – the banana chips are actually resting on top of another layer of food.
As I did not capture any pictures of the inside of the fridge, this concludes our tour of my small and mighty Navy Lodge kitchenette. This experience really pushed my efficiency and creativity. On the one hand, it was really nice not having to walk back and forth so much while cooking. But on the other (bigger) hand, it is actually really hard cooking with like 4 square feet of counter space and effectively 1 burner (because 2 pots would not fit on the stove at the same time). The real MVP here was my slow cooker – I used the heck out of that thing and would not have survived those 65 nights without it.
If you find yourself packing for a similar adventure, this is the list of everything I packed in our plastic tote and checked on the plane. Once the tote was unpacked, we flipped it over and used it as an extra seat at our little table. (Note: The Navy Lodge does provide some basic items that I include on this list such as small pots and pans, a knife, cutting board, a spatula, and a can opener. However, I found them to be very low quality and certainly not something that I would want to cook with for more than a night or two. I took most of the hotel-provided cookware and stored it on top of the cabinets. If you enjoy cooking and want to cook in the hotel instead of eating out, just pack a box of your own things.)
- Chef’s knife (with cardboard sheath, labeled *sharp*)
- Paring knife
- Kitchen shears (with cardboard sheath, labeled *sharp*)
- Vegetable peeler (with cardboard sheath, labeled *sharp*)
- Knife sharpener
- Stainless steel pot, saute pan, sauce pot & lids
- Small cast iron skillet
- Large cutting board
- Cheese grater
- Can opener
- Immersion blender
- Spatulas – metal, bamboo, silicone
- Silicone scraper
- Wooden spoons
- French press (glass broke in transit)
- Coffee grinder
- Kitchen scale
- Travel mug
- Kitchen towels
- Kids’ bowls, plates, cups, cups with lids, bibs
- Slow cooker (the plastic feet were smashed during transit – I recommend padding the entire casing with some towels for some extra cushioning)
- Pot holders
- Set of measuring cups & spoons – I wasn’t sure if the hotel would have these so I did not pack them. They had a liquid measuring cup but nothing else, so I picked up a set of each at Target. They would easily fit into the tote with everything else.
- Large mixing bowl – the hotel supplied 3 glass bowls, although none of them was particularly large and they were also the food storage bowls. A metal mixing bowl would have been a nice addition.
- Meat thermometer – I purchased this when I had to buy a new slow cooker and really I should have just packed one to start.
- Electric tea kettle – I guess I drink a lot of tea and coffee, but after a couple of days of trying to boil water in a cup in the microwave/in a pot on the stove, I was done. The lobby had hot water and (bad) coffee in the morning, and we asked the front desk for hot water a couple of times in the evening, but you can really only do that so many times before it starts getting awkward. I used my tea kettle every day, usually multiple times a day and I still do.
- Food storage containers – We needed a few more storage pieces anyway, so I planned on buying a set at Target from the beginning. If you pack food storage containers, I would pack plastic so you don’t have to worry about it breaking in transit.
Need some ideas of what to cook in your hotel room? Check out the menu plans I shared while we were camped out at the Lodge: