If I was going to open a hotel…

I’ve stayed in many hotels over the years. The majority have been great. Some have been passable. And just a select few have been bloody awful. Although most have all had more than a few simple things in common that let things down. If I was to open my own hotel, then the following would be on the list of must haves. Whilst admittedly some of these might not be feasible for an out and out budget place, you’d be surprised at how many places fall fowl of this, despite charging a small fortune.

The price advertised is what you pay

Ahh, my old favourite. As mentioned in an article I wrote around a month ago, a seemingly common practice in the hotel industry these days is to block off a certain amount on your card for “incidentals”. I won’t go into too much detail here, as its already been covered. But stop it. Or at least give the option to opt out.

Also a topic that is gaining traction recently is resort fees becoming more widespread. Personally I’ve only had the one experience with these in Las Vegas a few years back. Basically a mandatory extra charge that includes the likes of WiFi, Pool access or better still, free local calls. I can’t even remember the last time I made an actual phone call from my own phone, let alone a hotel phone. And they know this too, so a nice little earner for them.

Hilton Heathrow T4

Bedside power

Ok, so this is a more modern issue, and if a place hasn’t been refurbished for a good few years then you’re more than likely out of luck. However I do recall a hotel that was proud of its recent refurbishment and made a point that they’d upgraded me to one of their “new rooms” when I checked in. So why did I find myself crawling under the bed to unplug the lamp to plug my phone charger in?

I seem to recall another hotel where the ONLY plug socket in the room I could find was where the fridge was plugged in. How did they vacuum the room?

This does seem to be an issue on the decline however. A lot of the most recent builds that I’ve stayed in have not only had a couple of sockets next to the bed, but also USB ports too. Just don’t expect them to charge anything up in a hurry.

I’m yet to see any wireless charging however.

Hilton Helsinki Strand

Decent WiFi

I remember a decade ago, getting any form of WiFi in a hotel – paid or not – was almost unheard of. Fast forward to 2019 however and the world is a different place. WiFi is almost an absolute must. With internet speeds in general the world over getting faster, there’s no excuse whatsoever in my view for hotels to offer internet that is almost totally unusable.

To be fair its getting less common to find this, but there’s been many a time when even sending a simple message has proven almost impossible due to the internet speed being so dire. Either make the WiFi usable, or don’t bother.

Earning points when booked through an OTA

If I booked a British Airways flight through Expedia, I’d get all the benefits, tier points and miles added to my account as usual. If I booked a hotel through Expedia… I’d get nothing. What gives? It’s not just one particular hotel chain either, it’s seemingly all of them. 

Savoy, Marrakech

Easy to use A/C

You’d think this one would be simple. The up arrow makes it hotter, the down arrow makes it colder. Whilst this is the case in most hotels, there’s been a select few where it wasn’t. Most notably in Buenos Aires a few years back where I’d seemingly set the temperature in the room to 20 degrees. Only to come back and find it significantly hotter as the aircon was blowing out warm air. I figured maybe it was wired up the wrong way around, so did the opposite of what I’d already done. It only got hotter in the room.

I eventually gave up and went with the old fashioned method of opening a window, although as it was pretty warm outside too, this didn’t do an awful lot.

Easy to use lightswitches

Much like the A/C, a seemingly simple issue has had me stumped on many occasions. Surely the switch on the wall next to the bathroom is the bathroom light? Nope, that turns on the light above the bed. So what do these three light switches next to the bed do then? Well, one turns all the lights off, the other does the hallway light and the final one does the same light above the bed that the switch next to the bathroom controls. How do you turn off the bedside lights off then? Who knows.

True story: I once spent two nights in a hotel in Helsinki with the bathroom light on because I genuinely couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. Even pulling the key out of the socket next to the door did nothing.

The offending bathroom light in Helsinki. Chances are, it’s probably still on now…

Which leads me on to the next point…

No need to put the key in to get the power on.

I know, save the planet etc. But in a hot environment, it would be satisfying to come back to a cool room and relax. Not possible if all the power shuts off the moment you leave the room. Same goes for wanting to charge up laptops/tablets etc. while you’re out. And forget about that bottle of water you’ve put in the fridge to cool down while you’re out.

More often than not, I’m given two keys to a room so one stays in the room, while the other comes out with me.

There has been the odd occasion however when upon reaching the room there is already a key in the power port – rendering the whole practice pointless anyway if even the hotels are bypassing their own systems.

Intercontinental, Bahrain

Keys that work first time

One that hasn’t happened to me for a while now, and hasn’t happened all that often. But it has happened. You get to your room to find neither of the keys you’ve been given work. So you have to head back to reception, and in the case of my stay in Rome a few years back, queue up for a further 15 mins behind a tour group that has just arrived. Only to find the supposedly reprogrammed key still doesn’t work.

If the technology is out there for Hilton Hotels to let me unlock my door from my phone, how come reception can’t program their key to work in their doors?

English TV channels

You’ve reached the end of the day. You’re in bed and want to see what movies or documentaries are on. Once you’ve figured out whether you need to press the power or the channel up button on the remote to turn the TV on, you start flicking through only to discover there’s a million and one channels in every single language other than the worlds most common – English.

Again, this is something I’ve experienced. I cant remember where I was, but when looking at the list of TV channels, I saw more than a few in Spanish, around the same number in Italian, French, German and even a few in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Heck, there were even two Turkish channels available. The token English channel? CNN. An early night it was then as its not like I could watch Netflix or YouTube on the 0.001mb internet the hotel provided…

Parc55, San Francisco

There we have it, a somewhat light-hearted look a few of the somewhat minor and other not so minor irritants experienced at various hotels around the world. And lets be honest, more than a few of these issues can be easily solved by the hotel.

The hotels pictured here are purely for illustrative purposes and don’t necessarily feature any of the issues raised in this article.

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