We were late to the hotel in Muscat. The drive down from Abu Dhabi had taken longer than expected. There'd been problems at the border, construction on the coastal motorway and a Pizza Hut iftar we hadn't expected to have.
Directions to the hotel were confusing. It took a while to figure out a flyover was an overpass.
When we opened the door to the room, it was 9pm.
"I'm not sleeping on that," said Georgia, who was three weeks shy of 13 at the time and as clear about her dislikes as when she was three.
"Georgia," I said.
"Don't start," my wife said.
There's a mother, a father, a child. It shouldn't take a manual to figure out hotel sleeping arrangements. Mother and father sleep together at home; the child has her own bed. Why should a hotel be any different?
For a variety of reasons. In fact, there are probably as many reasons why being on holiday throws off normal sleeping arrangements as there are hotels in the world.
I called the desk. "I ordered a triple," I said.
"You have a triple."
"But that's not even a cot. It's a couch. And it's not comfortable."
Georgia slept with her mother.
Back home, the times we need a hotel (with family and friends scattered about North America, we often have a place to crash), we can order a double room reasonably assuming it comes with two double beds and Georgia can stretch out as much as her frame allows.
Outside North America, we have discovered, a double means one double bed or a pair of twins (sometimes together, sometimes not). A triple could mean anything.
Five months later, the front end of February, and we're at the Liwa Hotel, whose idea of a triple is one double bed and one infant cot.
"I'm not sleeping on that," Georgia said, not being difficult, merely stating the obvious.
My wife, who'd made the arrangements, called the front desk and reminded them how much we were paying.
Two hotel employees came, folded up the cot and took it away. A while later they were back with the only thing we could all agree on. Because the room was too small to accommodate another full-size bed, we were given a twin-size mattress, which they put on the floor and fitted with sheets and blankets.
Georgia had a place for the night.
Now, when booking hotels online or by telephone, we try to be more clear about the size of beds and configuration of the room. It's still hit and miss. I've slept on lumpy cots, fold-out couches, sunken bunks and narrow twins in Petra, New Delhi and Istanbul, Jesolo, Tbilisi and London.
Lately, we've found suites or family rooms can be had (after some negotiation) for not much more than a triple; some hotel packages even offer a free twin room for a child when parents book a full-rate deluxe room. Not cheap, but everyone gets a decent night of sleep.