10 Things Hotels could do better
1. Put your best pillows forward
Everyone has pillow menu’s these days. That’s a good thing because – each to their own. However, stop putting out the crappiest crumbled or solid foam ones as standard. Put out your best down ones instead, and let people request a change from those. Ok, maybe more capital cost, but I bet it means less staff time spent answering pillow requests.
2. You can never have enough towels
When was the last time you entered a hotel bathroom and exclaimed ‘Oh-My-God, there are too many towels in this bathroom! And they are all too thick and too large!’ Never.
Dear hoteliers, many people need at least two towels, one for their hair and one for their body, or they take two showers a day, or, they just don’t want to think about ‘conserving’ their towels. If you can put a sign in the bathroom about throwing your towels in the bath if you want them replaced, or hanging them if you don’t, then you should be able to put enough towels in the bathroom to start with.
Now let’s talk size. If I can’t wind a towel around myself and tuck it in sarong like, and it doesn’t come somewhere within touching distance of my calves, then it is not big enough.
And about thickness – if I can see through any part of the towel, then it is definitely not thick enough. My ideal thickness is closer to the thickness of a mattress topper than a sheet.
Ok – hoteliers, let me make this short and sweet. You need to place a minimum of two ‘body’ towels, one hand towel, and one bath mat (who wants to stand on someone else’s soggy pile?) per person, per room.
And the next time I see a frayed edge on a towel – it goes straight into your bin!
3. Bathrobes will not be worn by high-waisted aliens
Now, I accept that the quality of bathrobe will depend on the class of hotel you are staying in and that in some, a thick toweling one will be appropriate, and in others – say in the tropics, waffle weave cotton is the way to go. But, under no circumstances should you stock a bathrobe that only fits the waist of a zero-sized model, or that has a tie located just a little below the armpit. Both of these design features, seem to be prominent in many hotel bathrobes. They should be banned.
And on a separate note, not all your guests will fall into the category of ‘small female’ and ‘large male’ guest, so it is not acceptable to stock one large and one tiny bathrobe in a room. Firstly – you are discriminating against same-sex couples, and secondly, you are enshrining the subjugation of women! OK, I’ll put my copy of The Female Eunuch back on the shelf now.
And again, frayed garments, like the mixing of wool and linen are an abomination before the sight of the lord.
4. Getting wet should not be a requirement of turning on the shower
OK – hotel architects, and interior designers. What your guests want is a way of turning on the shower and allowing it to achieve ideal temperature, either through flow or mixing hot and cold sources BEFORE we get into the shower. That usually means putting the shower control anywhere but directly under the shower head, or directly in the path of the shower flow. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
5. Guests need REAL coffee
There are two great wonders of humanity: we keep evolving, and we keep inventing.
In 1976, Eric Favre, an employee of Nestlé, invented, patented and introduced the Nespresso system to the world. The coffee they make is vastly superior to anything that involves freeze drying. Forty-something years later, there should be one in every hotel room. Discussion over.
Another human invention – the drawer. They happen to be really handy to store things in and to hide them away from view. They are really great to store clothes, and various other items travellers tend to pack in their suitcases. When you open them, you can instantly see what is in them, which makes choice easier.
They are vastly superior to shelves in the clothes storage department. And look, since some of you seem to have most of your furniture provided by Ikea – Ikea even sells them – in a couple of styles and finishes.
You should get some. It’s OK, they are not too fangled for your guests. They probably have some of their own at home.
7. Clothes get creased in luggage
I know fellow travellers, this is no news to us, but it appears to be news to some hoteliers. The concept of using tools adequate to the task also seems to be foreign to some accommodation suppliers.
How many irons have I come across that either discharge some brown grit on use, won’t get hot enough, or don’t have the facility for steam? Probably about the same as the number of ironing boards that equate stretching a lightly singed cloth over barbed wire to an adequate ironing surface. That is if they can be made to stand at all.
Hoteliers, although sometimes, we have a highly ornate, or incredibly delicate garment, that we need you to professionally steam, most of the time, we just need to get the creases out of a shirt. Is providing an iron and ironing board equal to that task too much to ask?
I don’t think so.
Please place an iron at least as good as the one I have at home, and an ironing board with an adequate cover and the capability to stand on its own in every room.
8. Luggage storage
One of the hidden aspects of travel is that we journeyers carry luggage, and then, strangely unpack it in hotel rooms where we choose to stay.
Having unpacked – that means we have suitcases left over, and hoteliers on the whole somehow think that the cases themselves magically disappear once unpacked – or so it would seem if you looked at most hotel rooms. You provide wardrobes to put clothes in, showers to put bodies in, beds for us to sleep on, but nowhere for us to put our empty luggage!
Ok, I shouldn’t generalise – not all of you are miscreants in this department. At a recent hotel, I stayed at in Suva, Fiji (the Grand Pacific Hotel) – there was a convenient bench under which luggage would fit, and an overhead shelf in the wardrobe, where my carryon could be concealed. But come on hotel proprietors – you spend all that time making a hotel room feel comfortable and welcoming, waft scent into the hallways, make sure there is appropriate mood lighting, and still nowhere to place an empty portmanteau.
9. Roomus Interruptus
There are basically only three reasons that a member of hotel staff should enter a guest’s room uninvited. Let’s deal with the least obvious first – in an emergency. This cannot be planned, and – well it’s an emergency, so let’s put this to one side.
The second reason is for cleaning (see below), and the third and final reason is to tend to the minibar and its associated contents. This final one is the one I have never understood. Many a time I have been working in my room, vacated it for the cleaning staff, and then settled in for a quiet afternoon, of work, or even a nap, only to be interrupted when the minibar guy knocks on the door. I know that I should have put the do-not-disturb sign out, but I didn’t.
If hotels were truly organised around customer service, then the person who checks the minibar and mischarges you / restocks the fridge with things it never had before – would not have to make an independent visit. It should be coordinated with the cleaning staff so that there is only one interruption to my day.
In fact, I have taken to asking the staff to remove all minibar items from my room on some occasions, so that I can put in what I want, and they have no excuse for interrupting my day.
10. Cleaning times
Why can’t I book-the-cleaner for a hotel room? I can book the chef on an airplane, but apparently, I cannot determine when I will be interrupted by the cleaning staff. It always happens at the least convenient time: when you are having a rest or when you have just come back from the gym and need a shower.
I’ve tried many things – like telling the reception or housekeeping staff that I am going out for an hour or two, and could the room be cleaned before I return. Sometimes it works, but mostly it doesn’t.
And we all know there is no option to refuse cleaning when it is offered – ‘cos if you do or put up the do-not-disturb sign, then you inevitably get one of those cards under the door that point the finger squarely at you as being the cause for your room not being ‘serviced’ – not because the cleaning staff would not come when you requested it.
And another thing . . .
Bottled water – don’t be stingy. And if I arrive at 10 pm in the evening, why is leaving at 2 pm the next day regarded as a late check-out? I haven’t even had 24 hours in your establishment. Coathangers – like towels can never be present in too great a number, and as for those ones that can’t be used outside the hotel because they haven’t got a hook – in the bin they go. Grrrrr.