Things We Love And Hate About Hotels

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Many Chances To Experience What We Love And Hate About Hotels

We spent 175 nights away from home in 2019. There were 136 nights in hotels and another 39 nights cruising. Our nights away from home were spent across all levels of accommodations. So we had a lot of experiences that informed the list of things we love and hate about hotels.

It was always great when hotels provided proactive and personalized service. When they offered options to meet the needs of different travellers, we often were delighted. And we loved to be pampered a little.

New changes to address environmental concerns had positive and negative impacts.

The list of things we didn’t like about hotels changed little year over year. Even when we stayed in luxury or renovated hotels, some of the basics were missed. And we can’t finish this discussion on things we hate about hotels without a word or two about resort fees!

Were Our Expectations Too High?

This year we published our 500th blog post. We learned a lot about blogging during the 5 years of blogging. Someone once told us that we would know we were successful when we started to get hate mail. And blog posts like this seem to draw the critics.

When we made comments about service failures, invariably there were people who dismissed them as “first world problems”. Or they tried to remind us how “lucky” we were to travel as much as we do. On our blog post about concierge lounge etiquette, we got asked if we were the “lounge police”.

Many people use hotels as a place to just drop their bags and sleep. We often worked from hotels and spent longer periods living in the space. So we may have different expectations.

We were certainly not alone in being delighted when hotels exceed our expectations. Nor were our complaints unique or just the whining of the “entitled” few. One blog comment we received referred to us as a “pretentious snob”. When you pay the fair market price for products and services, should there not be a base level of expectations?

We found things we love and hate about hotels. But that won’t stop us from using them as our home away from home when we travel.

The Good Things We Found At Hotels

Proactive and personalized attention to detail always delivered world class service on our travels. We loved when we were greeted by name. When hotel staff paid attention, it was sometimes the little things that created great moments. It was great when our coffee addiction was noticed and extra coffee put in the room. Great re-usable cable wraps were once provided when staff noticed all the wires on the desk! One time there was an eye glass cleaning towel put beside our sun glasses.

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It was great when we were contacted in advance about our preferences. And when these preferences were well communicated to staff. We always asked about a pillow menu. David likes an orthopaedic pillow. Once he was not the only one asking. And he got a full orthopaedic pillow cut in half!

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When we first started travelling, we slept on some truly horrible beds. But in the past years, many hotel chains and cruise lines invested in high end beds and great bedding. They even offered them for sale! We often slept better when we travelled than at home. On the few times we had really bad beds, staff moved quickly and fixed the problems.

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At the end of some of our busy travel days, I often craved a soak in a deep tub. We have been delighted when there is a big soaker tub. And it was stocked with bath salts. Great big fluffy towels and robes were a decadent treat. I just can’t understand why hotels keep bathtubs only big enough to soak your feet in!

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There were many things we enjoyed in hotels when we stayed away from home.

The Things That Annoyed Us On Hotel Stays

Hotels seem challenged to get it all right. We have been surprised when even luxury or newly renovated hotels miss some of the basics.

In this day and age of gadgets, we still found ourselves moving beds and stringing power cords together. When we found hotels with a lot of power outlets and USB chargers, it was so much easier.

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We often wondered if hotel designers ever stayed in rooms they designed and outfitted. On our visit to Utah and Arizona we stayed in one hotel that was so badly soundproofed that we heard every word of the Skype conversation next door.

We travelled with night lights to get us to the bathroom in the middle of the night. But in far too many rooms there was no need. Windows often had no blackout curtains. We even started to travel with large paper clips to help keep curtains closed. And we usually unplugged the clock radio or covered it with a towel when it couldn’t be dimmed.

We often wondered how long the average hotel guest stayed. It was always a challenge when there was no room to unpack our suitcase. How could a person empty a suitcase when there were only two small open shelves for clothes? Certainly a challenge when we stayed for more than a night to two.

There were some things about hotels that simply annoyed us. Over and over again.

Safety Was Sometimes A Concern

And if we could not charge our electronics, we often could not store them safely either. It was a delight when we found a safe large enough for laptops and other electronic devices.

The safes have often been put in bad locations. Some we needed to sit on the floor to access. Others required a chair. And some were not even affixed to the walls! Far too many times we used suitcases and locks to store our valuables.

We even stayed in one hotel room that had a door that only locked a minute after it was closed! Unless we used our key card or deadbolt to lock the room. An unusual practice. I guess that was good if we forgot something when we left and needed to quickly return. But loitering people could also easily gain entrance if we walked away quickly.

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Some of the things we love and hate about hotels can be annoyances. But safety concerns are real.

The Good And Bad About Environmentally Conscious Choices

It was great that the travel industry made changes to be more environmentally responsible. Some changes have made the travel experience better. But not all.

We travelled with refillable bottles. And always checked to see if the gym had a refilling station. It was awesome when we found hotels with water refilling stations on all floors.

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We were not happy when hotels replaced single use bath products with large unsanitary dispensers. We believed it was far better if they went to recyclable containers.

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Even if hotels address single use bathroom products, have you ever noticed how much waste goes into making coffee in your room? Plastic pods in plastic bags, plastic stir sticks, plastic creamers and plastic coffee cup lids. We loved when hotels offered good coffee all day in the lobby. And don’t get us Canadians started on why so many hotels offer no recycling bins!

We understood that hotels may try to be energy conscious. But was it really about cost savings? We liked to have a cool room when we slept. But far too many hotels set the lower temperature limits too high. Or they turned off the air conditioning at night. We even visited a hotel in the fall that had its heat turned on. And there was no way to cool the rooms. The only thing that helped in some places was to request a fan.

Changes to help preserve the environment added both things we love and hate about hotels.

How Can Hotels Get Away With Some Things?

There were a number of things that were more than just annoying.

Wifi was a standard offering in all hotels. Our Elite Marriott Bonvoy status usually got us enhanced internet. But we continued to be surprised at how many hotels had completely wide open wifi with no user identification or password required. Although we must admit we took advantage of wide open networks to get connected when we wandered in cities.

It was a good thing we always travelled with a VPN to provide some privacy and security for our online activity.

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One of the first things we looked for in a hotel was the refrigerator. When we travelled, we often had snacks in our room. And liked to picnic for a meal a day to save a bit of money.

But mini bars filled in every spot with hotel food and drinks meant there was no room for us to keep anything cold. And when there were sensors in the fridge, we checked our bill carefully to make sure we had not moved anything that caused a charge on our bill. Who would really pay mini bar prices? Our hotel profile was changed to include a request for a fridge in our room. But one hotel charged $25 per day for an emptied mini bar fridge!

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There were some things that reminded us that hotels were in the business of making money first. And customer satisfaction could be sacrificed.

And Then There Were Resort Fees

No list of things that are unacceptable would be complete without a discussion about resort fees. Or sometimes called destination fees in big cities. This year there was a lot of press about misleading pricing because resort fees were not disclosed until well after a purchase decision was made.

We always went through the full booking process to get the full price before we made a hotel decision. But it was an additional insult when the things included in the resort fees were things we should get as guests with reward status (e.g. bottled water, enhanced internet). Or when the things included in resort fees were not available (e.g. bikes).

This year we used our hotel points and booked luxury splurge vacations. It was always great to get a “free” room. But unfortunately these luxury hotels often had resort fees. And those were payable even on reward stays.

Resort fees did not got on the list of things people love about hotels.

New Hotel Trends We Wished Would Spread Further

During our travels, we stayed at a wide range of hotel brands. It was always interesting when we found new hotel design principles.

When we travelled in Asia, we were delighted with the level of automation in the rooms. Anything and everything was controlled from the bedside tables. And most of these hotels had high end bidet toilets. Some with heated seats. But many of these rooms required a user guide to figure out all the features.

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We were delighted when we found that the Ritz-Carlton Montreal took many tips from international hotel design when it was renovated. They even installed Japanese toilets. We wished more hotels would!

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Hotel Trends That Were Not Designed For Us

We loved when our Elite Marriott Bonvoy status got us suite upgrades. We often worked when we travelled and liked to have space in our room. If we had Concierge Lounge access, that provided a place to work outside our room. But we also loved when we found quiet spots in hotel lobbies to lounge and work. The lobby space at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego was one of our favourites.

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Many hotels turned lobbies into co-working spaces. It was great to have desk space and places to plug in. But groups often took over the space and it was not a quiet spot to work. We were not the target market for this new trend.

There were some hotel designs and offerings that did not meet our needs. And others that we wished would become more commonplace. But we understand that design choices may add to the list of things that people love and hate about hotels.

A Few Of The Things We Love And Hate About Hotels

We had a lot of great hotel stays on our travels. But we were away from home a lot. That drove some expectations for our home away from home. And meant we found a few things to love and hate about hotels.

We loved when hotels took guest comfort, safety and satisfaction as basic requirements. Hotel brands or local management that scrimped on the basic needs made our stays less than ideal. And some hotel practices just made us shake our heads

Do you have a list of things you love and hate about hotels? Do you think things are getting better or worse?

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About TravelAtWill 739 Articles
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  1. Have to agree with you on your observations. Top of my list
    -electrical outlets
    -water (don’t drink anything until see if there is a cost)
    -Mini Bar? LOL
    -Glasses not in sealed plastic bags
    -Hotel safe a must have

  2. Oh no! I can’t believe that safety was an issue for some. And YES, I feel that hotels need to modernize and make things a bit more convenient – you shouldn’t have to be moving beds. I think that all hotels should have USB ports near the outlets – it’s a necessity nowadays. And you were away SO much – great times for you all, and congrats on 5 years of blogging!! 🙂

    • Jennifer, We do like to feel at home when we travel. Especially if we are moving slower and enjoying the hotels we choose as a base. Hotels are doing better as they renovate. But that takes time. I do something think that the designers should really stay in the rooms for a few days to see their results. Linda

  3. Lounge police… that made me laugh. I hate resort fees. Ridiculous. Kinda like tipping the person at 7-11 for taking my money. I would have a fit if I was charged 25 for an empty fridge. In fact, I think I would tweet that out on a daily loop!!!

    • Sherianne, It is sometimes amazing what hotels think they can charge for. It has made us very wary about using anything without asking the price before. I was once hit with a $20 cost for one local phone call! Linda

  4. Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites!! 🙂

  5. Wow what an incredible review! Love the part about safes! I’ve never found one in a weird place! That’s funny! What I love about hotels is little details … I am also a Marriott elite member but sometimes those rooms are so simple so boring. I’ve stayed sometimes with other chains and those little things like cool coffee table or even cool box with toiletries make a big difference

    • Ada, I agree that sometimes the Marriott standard hotels don’t have a lot of charm. Some of the boutique brands in the chain add a bit more interesting design elements. Hope you never have to climb on the floor to fill your safe! Linda

  6. Very well written and totally agree with you on a lot of things here. I hate rooms which are not soundproof and had a lot of problems like this in Central Paris. Was always getting woken up at 4am by those green machines outside which clean the streets. It also doesn’t help a lot of hotels were used as brothels after the Second World War and most of the walls are paper thin….they havent been worked on since. Ugh. And in North America, I really hate resort fees and charging for the internet. That really gets up my nose.

    • Danik, Noisy rooms and no blackout curtains just mess with my sleep. So I get cranky. And then notice everything bad! A good sleep can smooth lots of edges with problems. Linda

  7. Hahah, I’ve always been a budget traveler-lots of couchsurfing experiences with a few hostel stays in-between. Thus, I was never quite aware of the varying hotel standards whenever I stayed in one 😀 But I have to agree, some of the automated features I came across in Asia were really cool! Super interesting stuff 🙂

  8. The Hotels do come with different standards even if they are from the same chain. The ones that get me is the personalized service. I was surprised when I got a pre-greeting mail from a Hotel in Paris asking me about my preferences and meeting them. In addition to that they asked if I were interested in restaurant recommendations around the Hotel areas and provided me a list. Now that’s what I call service.

    • Adele, It is indeed interesting to see the variation across the brands. But I guess that means there is something for everyone. Love when we get that advance communication. Makes you feel like they really value your coming visit. Linda

  9. I agree when you pay the sometimes exorbitant market price for products and services, there is a base level of expectations. Wow eye glass cleaning towel put beside our sun glasses! That is good attention to details. I have experienced badly soundproofed hotels and I can relate to your experience. Temperature settings have bothered me too. Great post on the pros and cons of hotel stays.

    • Indrani, I am glad this list resonated with you too. I do love when someone is really paying attesting to the details. Something like a glass cleaning cloth is not a standard item. Hate when sound or light affect my sleep and make me a cranky guest! Linda

  10. Loved reading your candid reviews of your experience of staying in various hotels all over the world. It is great that Azores Hotel has provided you with complete orthopedic pillow on your request. And it is fun to read that when you stayed in one hotel room it has a door that only locked a minute after it was closed! It is good also in one way that if you forgot something, you could quickly sneak inside and if you rush quickly then some passerby can sneak into your room. But sometimes we learn a lot from pros and cons of staying in particular hotels.

    • Yukti, Given we travel so much, it is not surprising the we would have experiences at both ends of the spectrum. But the great ones do spoil you a bit. The safety ones were a bit more concerning for everyone. Especially if you arrive tired and are not paying attention! Linda

  11. Firstly, I don’t see why you shouldn’t have high expectations if you are paying for a service in a hotel, love the fact you were called the ‘Lounge Police”, made me chuckle. Fluffy towels and dressing gowns are a sign you are in a lovely hotel… and a relaxing spacious bath tub of course. I’ve come across the electrical wires and lack of plugs issue before, it’s quite annoying! Oh and the environmental part really makes me angry, I like to stay in hotels that promote sustainability. Awesome points highlighted, great read!

  12. Thanks for the lovely blog on this topic. In my personal opinion I prefer the hostel rather than a hotel. In your blog, you have nicely described good and bad things about hotels. I am glad you talked about the waste part. Recycling and sustainability is really something one should consider.

    • Shreya, It is good to see hotel improving with their waste and sustainability efforts. As Canadians, we recycle religiously. And we have been known to carry around our recyclables until we can find the right disposal! Linda

  13. So many of these ring true for me! I am especially please you offer a solution to the single use vs. large unsanitary dispensers in the form of recyclable containers. That seems a much better compromise to me. And, I will be sure to double check my bill when it comes to the mini-fridge. I never even realized some have electronic sensors. Spot on in many ways, here. Thanks for affirming many of my pet peeves and echoing my appreciation for world-class service.

  14. This is such a wholesome list of everything about hotels. And it is good to see that you bring out both the good and the bad. We also love it when our needs are taken care of, people refer to us by our first names and definitely when I get the pillow I am looking for. Two of my biggest put offs are the lack of soundproofing and inadequate power outlets. And you have covered both. Small things can make such a huge difference during every hotel stay.

    • Soumya, Soundproofing and dark window coverings are a big one for me. Especially when I really need my sleep. Don’t want to be near me the next day if I am grumpy from lack of sleep. I agree that small things can make a difference. Linda

  15. What I like when I check in a hotel is the water cooker since I want to drink tea carried by myself. The other thing is to have a fast speed internet access. That leads to another thing, the adapters to the sockets. Though this is no longer an issue since I can carry my own on the trip.

    • Mijia, We too often carry our own tea. So having a kettle is necessary. Internet is essential on trips when we try to work. Right now we are cruising and everything we do takes so much longer on the slow internet. Even though hotels are improving with outlets, I won’t stop carrying my extension cord! Linda

  16. There have been many times I’ve wondered if the hotel manager should stay in a room to iron out problems and think about how things could be improved. Ill-fitting curtains are an annoyance as well as a lack of plug sockets. We have had some wonderful hotel rooms and some awful ones! Pillows is a major thing for us and I’ve got to say the Princess Cruises Luxury Bed and pillows are my absolute favourite it’s just a shame they don’t ship to the U.K. or I’d have bought them!

    • Laura, It is amazing how some small things seem to be missed. Great to know that the beds and pillows on Princess are good. The cruise ships seem to really do it right! Linda

  17. We are more to people who use hotels as a place to sleep and drop our bags. So, the resort fee was really upset us when we went to Las Vegas. I also don’t believe the glass/cup in the rooms if it’s not fully sealed after I watched an investigation on how the cleaning service people used the same towel to clean everything in the room. And I agree with you, when they address us with our names, feels like the service is a step higher already.

  18. I totally agree with you. I hate it when power outlets are not located in ideal places or they do not have enough outlets in the room. There was one time I was so annoyed that the sockets are far a way from the bed that I have to stand up to access my phone.

  19. Great post!! I have a lot of common concern as you , I do feel that some hotels do get away with a lot things and I have felt it so many times that it even makes me super annoyed just to think about it. I have often thought about the waste part too as many hotels seem to have an overflow of trash, in which most of them are non-recycling materials.

    • Daniel, I am always glad to hear when a post resonates with readers. Hotels sometimes do seem to put unreasonable fees on silly things. Always good when a hotel is taking conservation seriously. Linda

  20. i like the title so was immediately intrigued to have a read.Found this an absorbing post and inline with much of our thoughts about hotels, Unfortunately being budget travellers we havent stayed in many of the amazing hotels you have stayed in. but they definitely add or subtract from he experience.

    • We have had some great experiences in budget hotels. Sometimes better than some of the expensive places we stayed. It is all about management’s commitment to satisfaction. Sometimes at the budget spots, that focus is so much more noticeable. Linda

  21. I travel full-time so I do spend a lot of time in hotels. I used to think hotels were just for sleeping, but when you are basically living out of them that changes quite a bit! It’s so nice when hotels have big tubs. I have stayed in quite a few lately that only have showers. I loved your questioning about if hotel designers ever stayed in the hotels they designed! Isn’t that the truth!? I was in one room where the only accessible outlet was in the bathroom and I had to move the dresser. I’ve never heard of a door that takes a minute to lock.

    It was really interesting to see what you loved and hated about hotels. I definitely nodded by head along with most of them.

    • Elizabeth, I agree that expectations change when you are doing more than just sleeping in a hotel. Although some of the basics still need to be there. I don’t think I have even had to go to the bathroom to find an adapter! Glad to know most of the points resonated with you. Linda

  22. I am impressed by the number of nights you spent in hotel rooms (136), and on cruises (39). Congratulations! I stayed 180 nights in a camper truck, but some we spent in hotels, too. I like your summary of the plus and minus hotels. Safety is most important to me, so the safe must be large because we have a lot of electronics, laptops, and cameras. But unfortunately, the safes are too small. It is excellent that hotels have water refilling stations. But lots of them still use single-use bath products. It’s great that you travel with a VPN to provide some privacy and security. We do the same. It is excellent to know that many hotels turned lobbies into co-working spaces.

    • Agnes, We did stay in an interesting variety of hotels over the year. High end ones were good and bad. Some low end ones surprised us with great customer service. We love when a hotel checks all the boxes. Linda

  23. It is so true what you said in this post. It was such an interesting read. Even though I know about the VPN I never used it because I usually don’t use cards when I travel but I will have to adapt to this as the issue is big. I like what you said after 5 years of blogging. Good for you you are successfull now.

  24. Oh my…. I HEAR you! I think that large hotel chains that have presence all around the world have zero excuse for not getting it right, especially if you’re a 5 star hotel chain. My biggest pet hate is having to pay for wifi. In this day and age, how is it we are still paying for wifi in developed nations, that is just ridiculous. Hence why in the last couple of years I have only been staying in Air Bnbs! Truly! And we are much happier.

    • Amy, I too am amazed at charging for wifi or for slow wifi speeds. It is an essential for most people travelling. Glad that AirBNBs are a better choice for you. Linda

  25. I resonate with some of your observations here. I hate it when the hotels charge you for items like water bottles. In one corner they have complimentary filtered water and the other has commercial bottles with price tags hidden. This particular place charged the customers at checkout citing that they had put the prices. And yes, some of them have their plug points all messed up too. Was a good read to realize I wasn’t the only one feeling some of this.

  26. I once was in a hotel where the walls were so thin I could hear the people next to me getting busy, and then the guy had a heart attack or something. No joke! And the outlets situation is so annoying! When I’m going to be staying somewhere for awhile I’ll take a power strip too because there’s just not enough most of the time. And I was able to find a long cord for my phone that has been great for traveling. I would say that my favorite thing about hotels when they pay attention to details. They see it’s your birthday and put something in the room, or ask if you’re celebrating anything when you check in and then do something for you. It’s the little things like that that I love.

    • Lia, It is indeed the little things that sometimes make a difference. And I love when they pay attention to the details. So much of how a hotel operates does come from the local leadership. Linda

  27. Lounge police made me snicker. So I love your perspective on what you guys love and hate about hotels. I agree with many who commented on expectations due to return on investment. Now a days, with so many other options for places to stay at a bargain or discount, you would expect to receive the best from hotels of any sort. I often say that concepts like Airbnb or Uber may never have happened if the mainstream industry hadn’t let their level of service drop that a need was then created.
    I was a little shocked when you said how Hotels were under your hate side for possible safety concerns. I guess if you are staying at the Stanley Hotel or the Bates Motel that would make sense. I, in general, would have though airbnbs, or couch surfing, or hostels would have given more issues.

    • Eric, Our biggest surprise was the variability in standards with a brand or even a chain. So much depended on the local management and their approach. This was true for cheap or expensive hotels. I would say I have seen the same in AirBNBs. We have had some stellar experiences. But the most expensive one we stayed in was the worst experience. Safety is one concern though that is non-negotiable for me. Linda

  28. I just love staying at hotels. Actually, if I had the money, I would live in hotels. I like having my privacy and still being somewhat detatched. To have the hotel feel at home, too, I tried to furnish my bedroom like a hotel room last time my flat was remodeled 😀 However, I’m still working on the service part – especially since I’m living by myself 😉

    • Renata, I too like to spend time in hotels. Sometimes it is just a place to sleep. But many times I like the whole experience so may have higher expectations. I love to be spoiled that little extra bit when we are away. Harder to get that at home. Linda

  29. Loved reading your views on what you loved and hated about hotels. I know sometimes safety is really concern for me too. It is good that at some places you were greeted by hotel with personalized name. I love such gestures. But it is great to see all good and bad while traveling and it really becomes lot of learning for us too.

    • Yukti, We have been amazed at the variation in customer service and offerings in hotels we have visited. Expectations are often tempered by what you are looking for. Since we like to stay in hotels and use them as more than a place to sleep, we have sometimes higher expectations. But basic things like security should apply to all! Linda

  30. In general, I love to stay at hotels. If I hade the money, I would live at a nice hotel. My expectations depend also on the price I pay. However, if I feel comfortabel doesn’t depend on luxury alone but on the atmosphere in general. Small, cozy places can make me feel much for comfortable than sterile luxury.

    • Renata, I too love to be spoiled with stays in hotels. Our views often depend on how long we are staying. We have had exceptional service at all price points. So leadership at the local site seems to be a big factor – do they really care? Linda

  31. Great blog post! Yes, all hotel rooms do not provide proper workspace for laptops with power outlets at the right place or chairs if two people have to use laptops. We love two pillows each and have to always ask for extras. Coffee machines in Spain were not user friendly at all and we had to ask for help and even the hotel staff found it difficult to get it going.

    • Jan, We love to spend time in hotels when we are away, especially if we are there for a longer time. So need the room to work and spend time there. May seem like nits, but we are paying for some basic things. Always strange when staff don’t know how to troubleshoot in-room equipment. Linda

  32. You are bang on point around many observations. Honestly I never got to get the cleaning towel for the glasses, though in one hotel I got personalized stationary. It made me feel special and I was definitely overwhelmed with the hospitality. The most disappointing thing for me is paying huge amount, and getting a horrible room service,where you keep waiting for hours, after placing the order. The list is endless, nicely compiled article.

    • Ramya, I am glad this post resonated with you. We too hate to pay huge amounts and then not get service. On the flip side, we have been delighted when we stayed at more budget hotels and had awesome service. They certainly get our return business. Linda

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