The past 18 months alone I have spent 200 nights in hotels, and that is not counting hotel stays for holidays (that would be another 20 or so), ... sad ... perhaps, but it does mean I do have an informed opinion on the topic of hotels, I also have several hotel gold cards as badges of honor or shame depending how you look at it.
Most hotels I stay boast 4 or 5 stars and have an army of people and logistics keeping them operating, so why is it then that most of those hotels get a few very essential things wrong?
- Let start with the plugs ... where the hell are they ? Anyone traveling for business these days has a need for plugs: cell phone, blackberry, PDA, laptop number 1&2, portable DVD player, ... ok that might seem like a bit much, still most people have at least 2 devices to charge these days.
In a lot of hotels you have to get on your knees to look for the damn things, if you are lucky there is one near the desk, but often you have to go an unplug some (un?)necessary light fixtures to get your plugs in. Some hotels get it right though: Park Plaza in Bangkok has their plugs on the desk, and not just one, but 4 of them ... Hotel conglomerates take note: BUSINESS PEOPLE NEED ACCESSIBLE PLUGS !!!
- Next thing - Bath versus shower - how many people do you know that take a bath in hotel, the vast majority of us take and want shower, so why is it that there are so few hotels that have good sized walk-in showers...why spend the space on a bath that few people use, most of these hotel baths are only suitable for child sizes anyway, unless you like having your knees in your ears whilst taking a bath. It must be cheaper, easier to clean and a much better idea just to get rid of these bath tubs and just give us good sized walk-in shower, and if I can be truly demanding can you make that a rain shower? Again, Park Plaza in Bangkok got that one right, also the Royal Park on Beach road in Singapore got that one right.
- Non Smoking rooms -- is exactly what it that means non smoking, not a room with the ash tray removed. This is a pest especially in China, Mexico and Brazil. You asked for non-smoking room and then you enter the room and it stinks! Note to all hotel staff worldwide: A non-smoker can smell a smoky room from a mile away, do not insult our intelligence, if you can not provide a non-smoking room give us an upgrade or just plainly tell us, do not lie about it.
- Single does not mean we want to pay the same price for a broom closet sized box room, especially the 5-star up the range hotels booked by travel agencies put you up with that. Because you are a single traveller they assume they can half the room size and still charge a fortune for it. One of the many reasons why I prefer to book my own rooms and not rely on travel agencies do it for me. I tend to avoid the flashy big name 5 star hotels and go for the better value 4-star one and get myself a bigger room.
- Two chairs please the last year a few times Roger joined me on my many business trips, you might want to check out some of his great pictures of those trips. One thing that did bother us what that in most hotels you have exactly one chair in the room, if there are two of you, the bed is your only other option. Whenever I can afford I will opt for a junior suite to get some seating space. But still, hotel decorators, surely the price of an extra chair should not break the bank, even if it is just a little stool. Let me send you the IKEA catalogue...
- Speaking of which, that catalogue is the most published item worldwide, so can we not have one of those in the drawer by the bedside instead of Bibles/Korans etc ... If business folks are so religious they need to read up on the bible or Koran when away from home I am sure they got their own well thumbed copy, so why not give us some more interesting to read, No Bibles next to the bed please
- When designing a hotel quite often they seem to take into account street noise, with some proper sound insulation, unfortunately the same consideration does not always seem to have been done with the walls between the rooms. When in an hotel room we are not interesting in hearing the neighbours going at it, or hearing somebody snoring or, worse still, a baby crying. Can we have also a strict separation of floors between folks with, and without kids. Kids invariably tend to scream, cry or be out of control in hotels.
- Hotels seem to spend a lot of money on decoration, accommodation and training the staff, the latter however does not seem to include training on doing things quietly in the hotel corridors. In quite a few instances you find staff treating the corridors and the room they are servicing as play rooms, loud conversations, frolicking on the beds, having an impromptu party in and empty room I have seen it all. When we pay for a hotel room we expect some privacy and peace, when we want noise and boisterous atmosphere we will head for the bar area, please get some basics drilled into the staff.
- DO not disturb signs, most hotels have them either as a tag you put on the door or using button you can switch on. Mostly these things are respected, except when you leave them on all day. When I am staying in a hotel during the weekend, I sometimes just wants to vegetate and be left alone, the number of times I got disturb to ask if I really did not want my room serviced ... NO is the answer, please respect the DO not disturb sign and implement it on the room phones.
- Light switches is it possible to have some sort of standard system? Every hotel seems to invent some other way of combining the lights, never giving you the combination you want. Especially the light next to the bed, the one you need to get to when you wake up in the middle of the night, for the first seconds you are not quite sure in which country, city, bed you were sleeping in, and desperately need some light in an unfamiliar room --> hint give us a big easy button next to the bed for a pleasant not too bright bedside light, much appreciated if that would be possible. And god forbid that the room has one of those impossible-to-figure-out light/sound/arico/tv consoles next to the bed, usually impossible to figure out without being on your knees and having to search for your glasses to read what each button was for ... not helping.