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As someone who spends well over 100 nights a year in hotels, I thought it was high time to put together a post with my thoughts about what every hotel room should offer (and what they definitely should not) in addition to all the basics like free WiFi, good personalized A/C and heating, and, you know, running water.
Some of these are obvious – with the proliferation of lightweight laptops, smartphones, tablets and more, every hotel room should have an abundance of power outlets – while others might be more TPG-specific. However, these are things I’d like to see in every hotel room I book in the future, and feel free to share your own wish list below.
1. Power outlets galore. As I mentioned, we all travel with tons of gadgets these days, from computers and tablets to phones, cameras, music players and more, and the one thing they all have in common is that they must be charged. So it’s astonishing to me how many hotels still lack more than one or two outlets for guest use – you know, where lamps, phones and other odds and ends aren’t already plugged in. Not only that, but every hotel room should have bedside outlets. So many people tote their computers to bed to work while on the road for business, and so many use their Smartphones as alarm clocks (probably because hotel alarm clocks can be so byzantine to operate) that it just makes sense to have outlets near the bed that you can access without ripping the mattress away from the wall. Tons of lamps even come with outlets in their bases to make things easier. Hotels, take note, this should be a standard feature in your rooms.
2. A Nespresso machine. Call me a caffeine fiend, but I believe that every hotel room should have some sort of miniature coffee or espresso machine. Oftentimes, that’s all I want in the morning before grabbing something on the go from a lobby shop or a nearby cafe. I just want to be able to enjoy my first cup of the day in my room as I go through emails and my calendar without having to get dressed, leave the hotel and pick up coffee somewhere else. Or tea. Put in an electric kettle and some tea bags for the tea-drinkers out there. Who knows, maybe I’ll be feeling so productive I’ll order room service and up your revenue with a full-on breakfast if I feel like I’m getting a lot done.
3. A shower that doesn’t take advanced calculus to figure out how to work. Hotel showers can be glorious. Indoor showers, outdoor showers, showers with 12 showerheads, steam showers, rainfall showers…they’re all just wonderful. Except for one thing: so many of them are impossible to operate! Personally, I’m an old-fashioned, one knob for cold water and one for hot and you turn them to adjust the pressure and balance of temperature kind of guy. But so many hotel showers these days have temperature controls, pressure controls, controls to determine which showerhead is operating…I often find myself getting blasted with a rocket of cold water from one direction and volley of scalding drops from another these days. I mean, I love options as much as the next person, but can we please make these things easier to operate so I can get in, clean up and get out? And not to be too American about this, but would it be possible to include both Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures on the knobs? I can do simple arithmetic on the fly with the best of them, but I don’t want to have to panic and try to figure out why 47 degrees is so hot.
4. Toothbrush and toothpaste. Call it a symptom of always being on the road, but I forget a toothbrush and toothpaste a lot when I travel and it would be such a nice surprise to find a mini travel kit in my hotel room when I arrive. If airlines can do it in amenity kits – and I’m not just talking business and first class ones here, but some airlines offer it in economy as well – then hotels can provide a mini oral hygiene set to guests.
5. Free water bottles. It’s midnight. You’re off a really long flight. You’re parched. All the stores are closed. All you want is a bottle of water, especially if you’re in a place where the water might not be potable for you. Any water will do – it doesn’t have to be Evian – but your only choices are in the minibar and they each cost $10. Why is that? Hotels need to start offering guests two free water bottles per day (that’s the other thing – even if you get a couple free bottles, it’s a one-time thing with a lot of hotels – once you drink them that’s it!). We would all appreciate it, and it’s such a simple provision.
6. A room service menu that doesn’t take 20 clicks on the TV screen to navigate and order from. This is another old-fashioned quirk of mine, but as much as I love new technology, sometimes just having a paper menu and calling down to room service is just so much easier than trying to learn to navigate a hotel’s “state of the art” television ordering system. If you’re going to put such a system in place, put an iPad in my room and let me order from there, which is so much easier.
7. Blackout drapes. While I appreciate a good fabric pattern as much as the next guy, when it comes to draperies, the one thing I’m unwilling to compromise on in a guest room is blackout drapes. Especially if you’ve flown overnight and arrive very early in the morning and need a few hours of sleep during daylight, blackout drapes can be a godsend to getting on the right time zone. Even if you’re not traveling far, sleeping in a new place can throw you off, so having a dark, undisturbed place to sleep is a good way to make sure you get the rest you need.
8. No decorative bed pillows. Every hotel room these days seems to be operating with a white-on-white palette…well, maybe with a shade of beige or taupe thrown in. Decorative pillows can be a nice way to add a splash of color to the room…but before you go plumping yours up, think about this: you can’t wash a decorative pillow. That’s right – those pillows have been sitting there since the day they were put in the room, and goodness knows how many germ-covered hands have handled them, if they’ve been thrown around the room or tossed on the floor, or what. So I wish hotels would just use washable decorative covers on their regular-size pillows and leave the little pillows to private homes.
9. A decent luggage rack. It seems like it’s been a while since we were all bombarded with alarmist stories about bedbugs invading the major metropolises of the world – and I know I was obsessively checking my luggage and clothes for the little critters for a while there. These vermin are still a threat, so one thing I’d like to see in every room is a full-size luggage rack, preferably built into the closet. I can’t count how many times I’ve just had to put my suitcase on the floor, or just on a folding rack in the middle of the room when it should have been possible to make a shelf in the closet for my suitcase…all a safe distance away from any possible bedbug infestation.
10. Abundant hangers, and not those that don’t come off bar. I’m a bit of a clothes horse, and though I pack light (I’ve been known to make do with what I can fit in a carry on for trips as long as 3 weeks), I still like to bring some nice things along with me (especially on business trips) and I need to hang them up so they don’t get wrinkled, but it seems like every hotel has decided that they will only have approximately 4 hangers in the closet. Not only that, but some hangers these days don’t even come off the bar – like, at all – so I end up having to contort my clothes just to get them on in the first place. Hotels: I am not going to steal your old hangers anyway (how would I even pack them?) – just put a bunch more in and make sure they’re user-friendly!
11. A door to the bathroom that closes (I’m looking at you, W!). One of the biggest trends in hotel bathrooms for the past several years has been the peekaboo bathroom with only a window (sometimes with glass and sometimes without!) separating it from the main room, while other bathrooms don’t have actual closing doors. I don’t care how close you are to the person you’re sharing a room with, or even if you’re traveling alone, but you need a little separation and privacy. And for that matter, what’s with all the open showers with just a pane of glass separating them from the main bathroom rather than an enclosed space? The only thing that accomplishes is getting your floor all wet, and it doesn’t save much space. All I want is a private, dry bathroom to get clean and go about my business. Is that so much to ask?
12. Better Do Not Disturb Signs. We all like our privacy when we travel, and one of the simplest yet most integral parts of the hotel experience is that “do not disturb” sign. But how often have you found a tattered, frayed or ripped one hanging on your door? One minor innovation I love is the electronic DND sign where you can just hit a button and it illuminates a red light on your door that lets the staff know you want your privacy. Some hotels even have it bedside so you don’t have to pad to the door to light it up. And while we’re on the subject of signs, can we please get rid of the ones that have “do not disturb” on one side and “please make up my room” on the other? It’s so easy to hang the wrong side up and just as your falling asleep for a nap or getting dressed for dinner you get a knock on the door from housekeeping. No thank you!
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