Thursday 21 November 2019

Pól Ó Conghaile: 10 things every hotel room should have, but often doesn’t

From blackout curtains to bedside power sockets, why do so many hotels neglect these crucial details?

Do we need so many mini-toiletries?
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

As a travel writer, I stay in my fair share of hotel rooms.

Along the way, I've noted that good design doesn't always equate to a good user experience - something even five-star hotels can forget.

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I've been making notes on basic details guests would benefit from, skipping obvious, big-ticket items like great beds and standalone showers (sometimes you can tell more from the small touches, anyway).

Here's my list of what every room should have, but often doesn't.

1. Power

Everybody has a phone. Everybody needs to charge it. Everybody wants it within reach during the night. So why are bedside plug or USB sockets so mystifyingly rare?

Generally speaking, the number and placement of power points fails to reflect the devices we now travel with. Hotel rooms should also have a socket next to mirrors where guests are likely to dry or straighten their hair.

"I’m convinced 99pc of hotel rooms were designed by someone who has never had to put on make-up or dry/straighten/curl hair", as Colette Sexton nailed it on Twitter.

Go the extra mile: Add international adapters to sockets.

2. Lights

Decent lighting is essential, but nobody wants to spend 10 minutes figuring out what switches operate what lights (and in what sequence). The single most important switch is the one by the bed that turns EVERYTHING off.

Go the extra mile: Blinking lights in the room - on TVs, alarms and other devices - can disturb sleep. Can these be minimised? In a list of hotel room hacks, some guests suggested packing masking tape to block them out.

3. Wi-Fi

By now, fast Wi-Fi should be as seamless as electricity or water. Tedious forms and passwords annoy guests. You gather enough of our data at booking and check-in.

Go the extra mile: Most guests have Netflix or similar streaming accounts on phones and iPads. Can they cast to your TVs?

Do we need so many mini-toiletries?

4. Toiletries

I'm happiest to see large, refillable dispensers of soap and bath products. These can be as branded or budget as you like; they show a hotel cares about the waste mini-toiletries create. Make labels legible, too - for guests washing without their glasses on.

Go the extra mile: Lots of travellers would like to see toothpaste provided alongside other amenities, but is there an environmentally friendly way to do this?

5. Bathroom

I often end up hanging towels over the door or shower glass. A few hooks and a retractable clothes line for hanging wash-bags or drying togs and clothes are smart touches. A flat surface or shelf also provides an area for us to lay out toiletries and cosmetics... this is overlooked more than you'd expect.

Go the extra mile: Guests tend to appreciate big towels and a couple of flannels/faceclothes.

6. Water

Stock rooms with large, refillable glass bottles of filtered water so guests don't have to drink from the bathroom tap, fork out €3 for a mini-bar rip-off, or contribute to plastic waste. You can brand the bottles, too.

Go the extra mile: I love a decent tea and coffee-making kit in the room, with real milk. This may necessitate a fridge (another facility I enjoy, but I appreciate adds cost). Real milk also eliminates the waste of tiny UHT milk tubs.

7. A tip sheet

Enough of the brochures. Instead, engage your staff in creating a genuinely useful list of local places to eat and drink, a gallery, a short walk, or a few surprising shops. Keep the list (or map) short, the quality high, and make it personal. You'll really bring the neighbourhood to life for guests... and improve relationships with local businesses.

Go the extra mile: Bringing a destination into a room helps enliven a generic space. Higher end hotels can splash on local art or photography, for example. Or what about simple turn-down notes with lines of local literature?

8. Blackout curtains

Because not all sleeping is done during hours of darkness, and not every guest is on the same time zone. Check for annoying light gaps!

Go the extra mile: Turndown service often comes just as guests are getting ready for dinner. Try to time housekeeping knocks for when guests are out of the room.

9. The door

Could it please close quietly? We'd like to come and go without waking the whole corridor. Could it reach the floor, so light doesn't spill into the room?

Go the extra mile: For security, and the comfort of solo travellers, a chain, peep hole and doorstop should be standard.

10. Little luxuries

These depend on budget, but in an ideal world: Netflix, a decent hairdryer that isn't wired to the wall, good tea and coffee (with real milk), an iron and board, cosy extra blankets and a Bluetooth speaker.

Go the extra mile: Air-con that doesn't take an engineering degree to operate is always appreciated, and several readers suggest "windows that open... even a little bit".

Read more:

Seven hotel room hacks you'll wish you knew before now

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