This song reflects how much Cook's circumstances have changed since he auditioned for American Idol in August 2007. He explained in the album's press release: "What I like about that song is that it represents the last year of my life without perverting the last year of my life. It's written so that it could be about the whole Idol journey, but it doesn't have to be."
Espionage, which is the Norwegian songwriting/production team of Espen Lind and Amund Bjorklund, wrote this with Nixons founder Zac Maloy. The trio also co-wrote "Lie" and "Come Back to Me" for Cook's self-titled album.
The lyrics to "Heartbreak Hotel" were written by a steel guitar player who was once a dishwasher repairman. He was inspired by a newspaper story about a man who killed himself and left behind a note saying only, "I walk a lonely street."