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Wednesday 21 December 2016

Dear hotel manager: Could I please have a quiet word.

Anyone who spends time in hotels will know that very rarely are they "an oasis", or "a palace", as claimed in their brochures and on their websites. 

Unless you strike it lucky and get upgraded to a fabulous suite, hotels are basically places to sleep without interruption. The hospitality industry has become the making-money industry with hotels looking squeeze every cent they can from guests - which means cost-cutting at every corner. 

I very much doubt if many of the "stylists" who create hotel rooms have ever stayed in one of their modern creations.

Among the penny-pinching and sheer stupidity that most annoy me: 


You know those massive cushions that are piled on just about every hotel bed? People have sex on them, throw them to the floor and use them to prop themselves up when enjoying a cup of tea in bed. How many times are they washed or dry cleaned? I'd love to know. 


So many hotels boast about their high-tech lighting systems. All I want is to be able to press a master switch so that all the lights go on and off. I don't want to have to get up to find the switch for the table lamp, or the soft lighting under the bedside table. Just sort it. 

Open-plan rooms

There is a new tendency towards rooms with no walls between the bedroom and the bathroom area. Now unless I am sharing a room with Miss Bodacious and Willing (which is most unlikely) I have zero interest in hearing or watching anyone else's ablutions. And I certainly don't want to be subjected to lights going on if someone else wants a wee. 

Extra charges

So many hotels try to nickel and dime their guests by charging extra for wifi, water or the morning newspaper. I've seen charges of $30 a day for wifi (you'd have to be a moron to pay that) and $9 for a bottle of water. Just build the costs into room rates. There is nothing more annoying than finding you've spent $50 more than you expected to.

TV remote controls

How many times have you settled back in a hotel room bed, shattered, clicked the remote control and found it has a flat battery. You then have to get back up again to open the door to the staff member bringing a replacement. Remote controls should be checked by hotel staff at least once a week. 

Room service 

So tempting. You look at the room-service menu and are tempted by, say, a burger and chips for $16. Sounds great. Except you have to order from someone who has barely a basic grasp of English and then wait for up to 45 minutes for a soggy, only slightly warm meal to make its way up several floors to your room. And it won't cost $16, because the menu hid away the details of a 20% service charge and other extras. And the server will expect a tip anyway.

Electronic room keys

You juggle your suitcase, hand luggage and a newspaper up to your room (rarely will you find a porter any more) - and you slot your credit-card sized key into the slot. Nothing happens. This can occur when you have just checked in, or at any time during your stay. Frustration plus. And so often the staff say: "That happens quite a lot". 

Power points

Why is it so often impossible to find a convenient power point in these days of everyone needing to recharge multiple devices? No-one wants to have to climb underneath the bed to find an unused power socket. Two at least by the desk, and two beside the bed please.  

Environment notices

I call bullshit on hotels where there is a sign in the bathroom asking you to keep recycling your towels and save the environment. These are often the same hotels that have giant neon signs on their roof, leave the TV on with a welcoming sign and use heavy industrial chemicals for cleaning. 

Loyalty schemes 

Just about every hotel has a loyalty scheme that offers upgrades and rewards. I find it hard to actually collect those points. My wife and I recently paid upwards of $200 a night at an upmarket property in Bangkok. Those points have never been added to my account - and most regular travellers do not have the time to check their accounts and query the missing points.       

Of course, then there are staff who ignore the "do not disturb" sign to check the mini bar (almost always outrageously over-priced), wake up calls at 5am that were set by the previous occupant of the room and hotels where they expect one small bottle of shampoo to last four days. 

So, Mr/Ms Manager. please do not smile and say "have a nice stay". Just make it happen by paying attention to this list and input from other guests. 

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