I‘ve spent enough time in hotel rooms over the last few years that I have a pretty good idea of what the ideal room would be like. My ideal is probably different from many others, but I suspect it isn’t that different.
In order of importance:
Clean: I mean really clean. I’ve been in too many mid-range “nice” hotels with hair on the bathroom door. In the room where I am writing now, there is a fairly wide assortment of black hairs on the ceiling of the bathroom. I get it–it’s hard for many people to reach; get a stool!
Frankly a lot of this has to do with looking clean. Hotels choose materials that are supposed to wear well and not need replaced. However, many of these get funky pretty fast. I generally prefer things like hard floors and less textured walls not because they are comfortable, but because they give the impression of being clean. Likewise, modern furniture isn’t always my favorite, but it often seems cleaner.
Some people, I guess, find peeling wallpaper and worn carpets charming. I do not. Part of being clean is being relatively new, or at least “like” new.
Bed & Linens: I loved the Bed Wars. My current room has the Sheraton bed, which rocks. The linens are a little rough, but generally, this bed is way more comfortable than mine at home. Given these rooms are mostly for sleeping, this is really important. I don’t care if the other furniture is sparse or cheap, as long as the bed is good.
People: Every staff person I see should be the friendliest person I’ve met today. Honestly, a hotel that falls short on a lot of these other things will be saved by the right people behind the front desk. It’s not that I don’t care that you have had a long day, or that you are not thrilled to be working the late shift–I genuinely do. But part of your job is to believe that I am the best thing that has happened to you today, and to make me believe it too.
Dark and Quiet: Why, oh why, do hotels install blackout curtains that don’t close completely. I want a black room. And I want it as silent as a tomb. I know there is only so much you can do about this once a place is built, but given that I lived in an apartment in a pre-war building where you couldn’t hear the neighbors, I don’t know why that’s impossible for hotels. Even with this, you should provide ear plugs and a eye mask in every room. (I bring my own.)
Shower Pressure. I want insane amounts of hot water at a moment’s notice. And I don’t want the curtain touching me. (I’d prefer there were no curtain.) And I want a high shower head. I like the rain shower heads in the ceiling, but the only hotels where I’ve encountered those, I think, are in Europe.
Location / transportation: Of course, location, location, location. But especially in cities with good public transportation infrastructure, I love being across the street from a subway stop, and easy access from the airport. If I have to park, I want to park myself (I hate valets) in a garage under the hotel. I also love hotels that are across from a market, and an easy walk to a wide range of restaurants.
No Waiting: I should be checked in no more than 3 minutes, and out instantaneously. Even if you are friendly, I don’t want to wait. I want to get showered and get some sleep.
No Tipping: Unfortunately, much of the world is picking up the US tipping culture. I would happily pay more for a room where they payed their staff a salary that did not require tips and instituted a no tipping policy. It’s not going to happen, I know.
Usable Fridge: In the room I’m in, there is a fridge with minibar stuff. They charge you $25 if you empty it and put your own stuff in. They charge you $25 to rent a fridge. It’s not about my comfort and convenience, it’s about how much discomfort you want to inflict for those unwilling to pay. The principle of the thing annoys me. I know there are people who pull stuff from the mini bar. If it were only marginally more expensive than the market downstairs, I would too. But I’m not paying $0.25 an oz for Perrier. And given what I’m paying a night, you could buy me a fridge and send it home with me.
Water. Speaking of which: on a $200 room, you can afford to provide a 1l bottle of purified water. Hell, bottle it yourself, I don’t care. At this one, they want $3 for that 1l bottle. They do give you the tiniest bottle of water you’ve ever seen for free. Do not capitalize on my dehydration!
Net. You would think, given how often this is raised, one of the large chains would really leverage free WiFi. A number of the mid-range and economy hotels do. I want WiFi in my room. I rarely touch the TV, and although I’ve ordered movies for the kids at some point, I don’t think I have for myself in at least five years. I don’t need a phone. But I need net. The hotel I’m writing this in has basic net for $13 a day and higher speed for more. Interesting idea, but make the basic free, and you’re getting somewhere.
Light. I hate anemic lighting, and despise fluorescents that buzz or whine.
Ninja maids: I want my room made up within seconds after I leave it. At the very least, when I’m away for four hours, I shouldn’t come back to a dirty room.
Design: I love hotels that have taken design seriously, and don’t look like every other hotel I’ve been to. Again, the Europeans do way better on this account in my experience. I get that people feel more comfortable with a design they’ve seen before, but I would rather a bit of funkiness. And when in doubt, add water features and greenery.
Note that there are a bunch of things I really don’t care about. I don’t need a fancy lobby; they’re sometimes fine, but I’ll go hang out in the lobby of some other hotel if I need one. I don’t need a giant room: as long as I can move comfortably–especially in the bathroom–I’m fine. Unless it’s a resort, I don’t really care about the pool or gym. And as long as there are good restaurants around or attached, I don’t need a hotel restaurant. I’d far prefer they give me some local delivery options than having to rely on room service, generally. (Though if you are going to do room service, be sure to offer Eggs Benedict with real Hollandaise!)
I realize that hotels have to cater to different kinds of guests, as well as to individual differences. But if you follow the above guidelines, at least I’ll have some places to stay.