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Why I’m Not a Fan of Hard Floors in Hotels

Sept. 07, 2018
5 min read
James Hotel NYC NoMad
Why I’m Not a Fan of Hard Floors in Hotels
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Look, I get it. Hard flooring is a sign of prestige, a sign that you’re somewhere upscale. Or, at the very least, a notch above average. This is why realtors encourage sellers to emphasize “hardwoods throughout!” whenever possible. For those concerned with leftover germs in hotel rooms, I can’t ignore the fact that hard flooring is easier to clean than carpet, and it generally doesn’t show its age quite as much.

All that being said, I’m still pro-carpet.

Among many other quirks being introduced in what TPG himself has lovingly termed “millennial hotels” – things like an abject lack of hair conditioner and the mysterious disappearance of working desks – we’re finding that more and more new hotels are ditching carpet. While this may be seen as a pro to many, it’s worrisome for folks like me: minimalist packers who appreciate an environment that caters to in-room workouts.

My feet are aching just thinking about doing a set of high knees on this... (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Proper Hotel)

I recently stayed in the San Francisco Proper Hotel, one of the more eccentric Starwood properties to open this year, and while there was (barely) enough room for me to sweat my way through Beachbody’s Insanity Pure Cardio, the cold, unforgiving flooring was a real bruiser. I tried the obvious – laying down a couple of towels in a bid to create some form of padding to leap around on – but those slip and slide too much to be marked as a solution.

A few weeks later, I stayed at The James New York – NoMad. Not only did my room have clean, soft carpet, but the hotel encouraged me to put it to good use. One of the perks of staying at The James Hotels is its exclusive Four Bodies Wellness program, where guests are “invited to visit their in-room TVs to take part in an Aerospace work-out, experience Kundalini Yoga to cure jet lag and clear stress, access a complimentary one-month membership to the INSCAPE app and learn more about booking a one-to-one session with various intuitive counselors.” Now that’s more like it.

In-room yoga mat, found at all Kimpton hotels (Photo courtesy of Kimpton Marlowe Hotel)

You could argue that I should bring cushioned shoes and force myself to love flooring that’s unyielding and bleak, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong. But, I’m a big believer in packing as lightly as possible, and an additional pair of shoes can be the difference between a week’s worth of clothing fitting in the overhead and me having a check a bag which may or may not ever make it to my destination. Here’s the other big problem with using gym shoes in your hotel room: the noise. If I’m crawling out of bed at ‘o dark thirty to start a HIIT session on the fourth floor, I’m guessing the souls a floor beneath aren’t really interested in hearing 45 minutes of thuds. Carpet solves that by absorbing the sound.

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To those who’d encourage me to just visit the gym? I’d say that a gym visit goes against my minimalist approach. Packing gym outfits for a weeklong trip is like packing an entire extra wardrobe. While a few hotel brands (Westin comes to mind) will let you rent gym attire, most leave you to fend for yourself. And, hotel gyms can be crowded when you’re most apt to use them, not to mention the nightmare that is exercising beside someone else if you’re even the least bit introverted.

Yoga mats, included in Hilton's Fitness Room (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Thankfully, I do see a solution, even if carpet truly is on the way out in higher-end hotels. Hilton, for example, has installed fitness-focused rooms in select hotels, and while there’s a dearth of carpet in those, they do hand out sticky yoga mats that provide cushion for impact and sound dampening for those below you. Kimpton got a jump on this, with an in-room yoga mat now being a brand hallmark. Having freshly cleaned mats available at no charge, similar to how umbrellas can be borrowed today from upscale hotels, would keep both parties happy. Those stricken with mysophobia (or simply allergic to particles that tend to get lodged in carpet) would appreciate the default of having hard floors, while folks like myself who prefer in-room exercise wouldn’t lose out.

Featured image by James Hotel NYC NoMad