I'm all settled in at the Omni Shoreham for Quark Matter 2012. First impression: this is by far the fanciest hotel I've ever stayed in. At least from the front, it's basically everything you'd expect from a hotel that hosts presidential inauguration balls on a regular basis. The place looks like a giant medieval palace from the outside, but the front lobby is clearly designed to sell the image of luxury. I'm sure there are a number of extravagant suites somewhere in this place, but my guest room is pretty ordinary; still, tucked away in the back wing of the hotel, it runs $500 a night. It's a pretty drastic (and, I'd say, welcome) change from the restricted budgeting we usually have to deal with in science.
As if that weren't enough, they're also giving us some cool swag. Everybody gets a themed backpack with a dedicated laptop pocket and cushioned case, a multipocketed ID holder on a lanyard, and a pen.
Anyway, the conference is kicking off with Student Day, which I expect to like because it's probably going to be more comprehensible than most of the other stuff I'm going to hear. More updates later!