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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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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