Make it a double: 8 reasons why hotels are not designed for couples
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After giving up our apartment in Austin, TX, TPG Senior Writer JT Genter and I have been living out of hotels since June 2017. As you might assume, we have developed some strong opinions about what hotels do right and wrong. But to narrow the scope, today we'll consider eight ways I think hotels could improve in terms of providing amenities for couples who travel together.
Related: Talking to your reluctant spouse about miles and points
JT and I stay mostly at IHG properties, but we've been trending more toward Marriott recently. We stay at Hilton, Hyatt and Choice properties occasionally as well. Although our style is definitely higher-end budget to mid-tier, all of the following areas for improvement were inspired by stays at brands within these loyalty portfolios.
Lack of storage space
It's amazing how little storage space some hotel rooms provide. Moxy and Aloft properties tend to lack storage space, as do some Holiday Inn Express, Choice Ascend Collection and lower-end Choice properties. In many cases, these rooms don't provide enough drawer space and closet space for one guest, much less two. I particularly dislike the hotels that forgo a closet and instead provide two or four hooks. This might be acceptable for one traveler, but not for two or more.
When we stayed at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso, we requested a king bed and were originally given two twin beds. When we noted that we'd like a king bed, we were given two twin beds pushed together with an insert placed between the mattresses. Although this kinda made one bed, it's not ideal -- especially for a romantic getaway.
A makeshift king bed is disappointing, But, a more important issue is that many hotels advertise king or queen beds, but provide something significantly more narrow. JT and I have gotten enough so-called queen beds that were actually double beds or smaller that we've started booking either a king-size bed -- which is usually at least queen-sized -- or two beds if we're staying somewhere longer than a night and multiple room types are bookable for about the same cost.
Limited status earning opportunities
JT and I usually travel together, and we've decided to book most stays with him as the primary guest so that one of us can reach high-level status instead of both of us reaching midlevel status. It's worked relatively well: he'll earn Marriott Platinum, IHG Spire Elite and Choice Diamond status this year and he has Hilton Diamond status though the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. So, we're generally treated well when traveling on his reservations.
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But, when I travel without him, I don't have access to his status. So, I'm left with the status I get from The Platinum Card® from American Express (enrollment required) and the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card: Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold and IHG Platinum. And, Best Western Gold through my AARP membership. These status levels can still get me perks on some stays, but not to the same level as when we travel using JT's status.
Related: On the hamster wheel of chasing hotel elite status? Buy it instead
Reservation name limitations
Some hotel brands allow you to add one or more traveling companions to your reservation, which can be handy if one person arrives at the hotel first or happens to leave their key in the room after a late night at the bar. But, most hotels only track the primary guest and aren't willing add a second guest, even at check in. This is likely to avoid the member making bookings for other travelers on trips during which he or she doesn't actually stay -- but it's frustrating as a secondary guest who may simply be arriving a few hours earlier than my husband.
I've usually been able to avoid issues by having my husband call the property on the day of check in. But, this isn't always the case. For example, when I stayed at the Gowanus Inn and Yard, a boutique Choice Hotels Ascend Collection property, my husband called the property before I checked in -- but they still called him to ensure it was OK and that he would be checking in soon.
I'd like to see more hotels register all guests instead of just the primary guest, as this would reduce issues for guests during stays as well as for hotels that want to ensure the member who is being credited for the night actually stays.
Limited Wi-Fi connections
Usually, we're given unlimited connections either as a benefit of elite status or as a benefit of our booking. But, there have been multiple stays in the last couple months where the hotel stated we'd only get two or four connections. This policy isn't couple friendly, and it's even less family friendly. I don't need more than two connections myself, but it's nice to have unlimited connections so you don't need to argue with the front desk when the network provider decides your computer is a new device just because you've restarted.
Related: How to find lodging with good Wi-Fi
Insufficient sitting space
I'm still surprised when I walk into a hotel room that's clearly designed to sleep two or more people, and there's only one chair. Unfortunately, this isn't as rare as you might expect, especially at lower-end properties in the Choice and IHG portfolios. It's usually not due to lack of space either.
I've learned to study the room photos carefully when booking to see whether the photos show more than one chair. And if a room shows multiple chairs in photos online but doesn't have multiple chairs when I arrive, I've started calling reception to ask for another chair. This usually works, but multiple properties have promised to bring another chair to our room but never delivered. In one case, I resorted to asking reception if I could just take a chair from their lobby to my room (they said yes).
I've become a huge fan of rooms with a couch, as this can be a great place to relax with your partner.
Related: How to avoid booking a bad hotel
Minimal work space
JT and I both work full-time for TPG from hotels, which is admittedly a unique situation. But, having adequate work space for both of us is important, as I'm sure it is for many modern travelers who may spend a few hours working before going to explore a city.
However, it is rare to find a hotel that offers desk or table space for more than one person. Some extended stay properties like IHG's Candlewood Suites offer table space for two or more, and often times higher-end properties will also offer table space for two. But, at most properties one of us will end up working from a lounge chair, stool or an extra chair we've requested from reception. Or, in the case of hotels with work-friendly lobbies like Moxy, we may find it more comfortable to simply work in the lobby.
Inadequate bathroom amenities
Although some brands are moving toward bulk toiletries, some hotels still only provide a mini-bottle of each toiletry. We oftentimes decide to forgo housekeeping for multiple days in a row -- both to earn extra points and because we don't need our room reset every day -- but this means that as two people using the toiletries, we tend to go though the mini-bottles after a day or two. This isn't a big issue though, as you can always get more from housekeeping or reception as needed.
Robes are another minor annoyance. We always book hotel rooms for the correct number of people. So it's frustrating when a property provides robes, but doesn't provide enough robes for all registered adult occupants. Sure, we could request an additional robe -- but the property should provide enough robes from the start.
Did I miss any issues you have when staying at hotels as a couple? If so, leave a comment below.