Hack My Trip outlines his hotel annoyances and I found his list a bit anachronistic, but at the same time it was useful in prompting my own thinking about the features and services at hotels that matter to me.
So allow me to share some of his dislikes and my own thinking on each, perhaps an odd exercise for Christmas Day.
I don’t like room service. It takes just as long as going to the hotel restaurant and usually has the same menu. I’d rather sit at a real table and eat my food in comfort.
I do like room service, and if you’re pressed for time try ordering ahead, I occasionally ring up the hotel enroute from the airport if it’s late and ask to have room service delivered at a specific time.
Sometimes you’re just too tired and would like to change and get comfortable, more so than you’d want to be seen in public, while getting some sustenance. Or you want to eat while getting ready in the morning, you can multitask where you couldn’t carve out time to spend in the restaurant.
Or multitasking may mean taking a conference call for work or working on a presentation, which the restaurant isn’t as good for.
I don’t like designer toiletries. I am not a cool person and have never heard of these companies. All I want is something that lathers, rinses out, and is easy to open.
This is just personal preference I suppose. I love high-quality products, and discovering new products, the variety across hotel chains is great and the things I do like I bring back into my daily life at home. Some will scoff, I’d imagine.
I don’t like hi-tech rooms.
I think what he actually means is that he loves technology that’s done well, but if the technology isn’t intuitive or serving a purpose then it isn’t valuable. No one has ever complained they didn’t like a room because it had too many outlets. I like interacting with a hotel electronically, but then I’m shy, if I can order room service off a tablet instead of picking up the phone I’ll do that.
I don’t like no lines at check-in. Again, let me qualify. I don’t like waiting, but I also need to know where to go. At boutique hotels, the whole sit-down-and-have-a-drink aesthetic unsettles me.
The very best check-in is where you don’t need to do anything at all or at the very least can handle whatever formalities in the room.
The check-in desk is a convenience to the hotel, not to you. You queue up while they process you in the manner most efficient for their staff. But they could pre-check you in and have keys made already, they have a credit card number on file.
Walk up, hand a key, no time at all. Or they take you straight to your room and deal with paperwork there. So you’re on your way dropping your bags already if you have any.
I don’t like mini bars, with local treats or otherwise. The local idea is nice; charging isn’t. You could give me a free $2 granola bar and I’ll be happy. But charge me $12 and I’ll never eat one.
I’ve had the great fortune of being an Intercontinental Royal Ambassador for about 7 years, the most famous benefit of which is complimentary drinks from the minibar. At first that novelty seems like the Greatest. Benefit. Ever. You have parties up in your room. You shove all the mini-bottles into your Ziploc Freedom Baggie to cart back home.
Then after awhile the novelty wears off, at least it did for me, and I realize that what I really value is having free bottled water in the room, though I’d be happy with bottled water that’s just not pricier than what I would buy at the airport. Since I can’t carry much water with me given the liquid ban.
I often grab a couple of bottles at the airport once I’m through security so I can go straight to my hotel and still have water for the night. That minibar water, at an Intercontinental or an Andaz where it’s free, is really nice.
The rest of it I could do without I suppose. Some people really value an empty refrigerator. I wonder how many people run up big minibar tabs and pay them, my fascination with the Intercontinental benefit was precisely because they seemed such a forbidden fruit. I’ve heard that minibars aren’t actually a profit center when you factor having to monitor and stock them, so I wonder if hotels couldn’t be a bit innovative here.
Resort fees are stupid, no matter how you justify them, and should included in the advertised rate
Hear hear! I have an upcoming stay booked where the hotel has a $50 per night resort fee, which I didn’t know until I returned to the hotel website some months after booking. It includes internet which I’d get free based on status anyway, and valet parking but I won’t have a car. A ‘resort fee’ is part of the price unless it is optional, and breaking it out from the price is a deceptive practice and should be roundly shamed.
I do think we’ve begun to take for granted many of the good things about hotels, the things that have been real improvements over the past decade or so.
Hotels have paid a lot more attention to their beds, I think that Starwood was especially revolutionary here beginning with the Westin Heavenly Bed (they promoted themselves as ‘better in bed’ and got a ton of mileage out of the consistent quality sleep they offered) and then rolling this out to other brands, the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper is really good athough I think they somewhat lost steam with the ‘Four Comfort Bed’ at Four Points.
Other chains mimicked this to varying degrees, but overall the quality of beds and bedding is greatly improved.
Starwood tried to match its heavenly bed success with the heavenly bath, but mostly fell flat. Still, the curved shower rod is a simple but meaningful innovation that’s gained broad currency across the industry.
And thank goodness for e-mailed receipts, for free internet (still not everywhere of course), for late check outs… and for the arms race that has been hotel loyalty programs. It used to be tough to use your points for reward nights, now most chains make most standard rooms available on points. And suites are much more accessible to elites than ever before.