Life Travel Hotel horrors: The little things that mean a lot

Hotel horrors: The little things that mean a lot

Good hotels
Getting the details right starts at check-in. Photo: Getty
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It can’t be that hard. What most travellers want a hotel to be is just three things: Clean, quiet, comfortable. Yet too many aren’t – even the priciest. These are the little things that put bumps in life on the road.

3pm check in, 10am checkout. The world’s shortest day is not during winter in the North Pole, but at a hotel, which apparently has about 19, not 24, hours. You can’t get into your room until 3pm, and you have to get out at 10am. As any long-haul Aussie traveller knows, this isn’t fun when your flight landed at 6am or leaves at midnight. Kudos to hotels that set checkout at noon, check in at 2, and are compassionately flexible when asked nicely.

Having to share a room with someone we can’t stand. Smokers and non-smokers don’t get along. Don’t make us share a room even three days apart. Non-smoking rooms are a good start. Non-smoking floors are even better.

Weird pillows. They’re too skinny, or too square or too fat or too hard. Hoteliers should be made to sleep on their guests’ pillows. And if they do, I bet, quite often, they’re going to hate them. One firm, one soft, per guest would be nice.

Charging for Wi-Fi. Make it free or I’m going to take my business elsewhere. Having to cough up $10 a day for it feels outrageous, and that’s without mentioning what hotels charge for parking or a room-service hamburger. Making guests pay for internet feels like a 2018 version of trying to make people pay for colour TV.

Hotel wi-fi
Charging for Wi-Fi is so last century. Photo: Getty

Loss of climate control. If you’re going to set the climate control to 22, then mess with me by giving me a remote that does nothing to change it, then don’t put a winter-weight quilt on the bed. While we’re on that, a window to open would be nice. And European hotels, do you really have to turn the aircon on, and the heating off, on a set date each year?

Noisy rooms. I don’t have to sleep next to a lift shaft, a 24-hour housekeeping dumb waiter or linen store at home, why would I pay to do so when I’m travelling? Please don’t look surprised when I complain about the room. Maybe, if your walls are thin, put some earplugs next to the foam shoe shine pad in the amenities box.

The previous guest setting the alarm for 4am. Wouldn’t it be nice if housekeeping could make sure the bedside alarm is off when they clean the room so the schedule of the room’s previous road-warrior occupant is not yours? And, let’s ensure there are intelligible instructions for the clock radio while you’re at it.

Hotel alarm clock
Please, please, housekeeping … check the alarm clock settings. Photo: Getty

No tea- and coffee-making facilities in the room. Kettles and cups are one of Australia’s great gifts to the world. Rest of planet, catch on.

$50 breakfasts. I know you’re just trying to turn a buck, but I’m going elsewhere. And $US8 espresso? Ditto.

Making me queue for checkout. If everyone has to leave at exactly the same moment, please make sure there are enough people on duty to let them out. And give us a proper concierge. Not a receptionist. Someone who can give you the right bus number and a restaurant recommendation.

Charging for stuff you don’t expect. You’re staying in a resort … do you really have to pay extra to rent your lounge, or cough up for a “resort tax” that can be as much as $50 a night? And if you do, please be upfront when we book.

Credit card pre-authorisation. Suddenly find your traveller card unexpectedly running low? Or your credit card rejected at a restaurant when you know you’re not over your limit? Chances are you’ve handed it over at check-in and the hotel has used it as protection you won’t bolt in the night without paying your bill and put a hold on your funds for the room. NEVER hand over a traveller card at check-in unless you plan to use it to pay the bill.

Hotel reception
Be wary about handing over your credit card at reception. Photo: Getty

You don’t get to choose your room. Understood, hotels usually don’t know exactly which room is vacant until just before you check in, but letting someone who doesn’t know you choose where you’ll sleep is fraught with dangers. Especially if they’re grumpy or in a hurry. Bring on the technology to fix this.

Despite the gripes, good hotels are still a spoil that has the potential to make your day.

Take turn down service – yes, it’s frivolous, but also a reminder you’re not at home any more. The last time anyone came into my bedroom, fluffed the pillows, replaced the damp towels from the morning shower and straightened things up, it was me. And I never leave chocolates on the pillow. So, hoteliers, please keep doing it.

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