27 September 2017
Hotels – the good, the bad and the hopeless
I know I've ranted about hotels before, but some things need repeating – namely that it's immediately obvious when hoteliers have never spent a night in their own hotel. They've never turned up – with luggage and a companion – and discovered all the niggly things that set your teeth on edge. They've never noticed that there's only one plug socket. They've never figured out that the huge expanse of bare wall in the room's entrance would be a really handy place to hang up your coat.
But no. Some designer or architect has convinced them that style comes before function. So you dump your coat on the bed, or hang it on the only chair in the room – despite the fact that it's a double room. Hoteliers: buy some hooks. There are some very stylish ones on the market. They don't cost a bomb.
You then check out the desk, and realise that you have to move the bloody thing to get to the room's second socket. I stayed in a hotel recently that had undergone a complete refurbishment, with all new furniture – furniture that was an inch higher than the existing sockets. This room cost £250 a night.
I've noticed a new trend in which shiny new bedside lamps come with a USB port. This is a good thing. More of this, please.
I've also noticed minibars with an insidious notice warning you that if you move anything in the bar, you will be charged for it. Even if you don't drink it. You pick it up, you pay for it. Apart from the fact that it's complete tosh, you're left with a feeling of animosity. This is a bad thing.
Hotels like to show their appreciation of their guests by leaving little treats, such as bottles of mineral water. This is a lovely touch, especially when there's a tag around the bottle saying "with our compliments". This is also a good thing. Otherwise, it's not obvious that it's free. I once witnessed a stand-up row at reception when a guest was charged for the bottle of water he thought was free. It wasn't. Bad feeling all round.
Espresso machines are a nice touch too. What's not so nice are the hotels that offer you only one free capsule before they start charging you. Stop being so stingy.
Bathrooms are another story. There's a bathroom designer somewhere rubbing his (or her, but probably his) hands with glee because everyone seems to be buying his long, flat basin with the too-short taps. Looks very sleek, but totally impractical. Water gets everywhere except where it's supposed to be. And showers without shelves are a nuisance.
And if hoteliers actually slept in their own hotel rooms, they would notice that the curtains don't meet in the middle. Or that the minimalist white blind doesn't come close to blocking out the light.
Don't even get me started on wall panels with absurdly complicated light switches. Especially when they're in bright LED lights that are right in your line of sight. In addition to clothes pegs to keep curtains closed, I now have to travel with BluTack and a piece of cardboard.
These things usually happen in four- and five-star hotels. I've stayed in the simplest little two- and three-stars that have managed to get these things right, even if the materials are on the cheap side. But as design hotels seem to be following the same uniform pattern, the same mistakes are being made.
And as far as hotel websites are concerned, those that refuse to give you any indication of rates but ask you to fill out an email form ... well, those can sod off. And there's never, ever, an excuse to put music on hotel websites. Ever.