There are a lot of big things that make or break a hotel room. I’ve seen enough top 10 lists to know that free wifi, big TV’s with lots of channels, and nice toiletries are what people usually want to see. If you read a budget travel site the needs are more humble and if you read a luxe travel blog then the needs can be pretty extravagant. Having done my fair share of business and pleasure travel mostly in the upper and mid-range market, I find that the small touches hotels offer can make a big impression.
Yes, a hotel is often just a place to sleep. I hear that argument for slashing your budget on accommodations but I find that I need to have somewhere comfortable to return to after a day of work or exploring. If I’m not comfortable with my hotel then that impacts the overall experience. Here are a few small things that I’ve seen that I feel really made a difference and gave me the impression that the hotel actually understands what I want and strives to make my life a little more comfortable.
Easily Accessible Power Outlets
We live in a digital age. Even my friends who don’t blog pretty much jump onto Facebook as soon as they settle into a hotel room to let friends and family know that they’ve arrived safely. Nothing gets me off on the wrong foot with a room like having the search for power outlets. Most hotels understand this and will have an extra plug near where they expect you to plug in a computer, but they have to also include accessible plugs near the bed for phone chargers. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to pull a nightstand away from the wall and unplug the lamp or clock to get access to power.
The Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver gets bonus points for including a full power bar in the room. They also had available power ports on each side of bed!
Choice of Soft or Firm Pillows
Okay, I admit that this is a bit of a princess preference, but having an incompatible pillow throws off your sleep and could ruin an entire trip. Most hotels have pretty middle of the road pillows that can keep everyone happy, but I’ve had some nights where my pillow felt 9 inches thick and as firm as a bag of sugar. Some hotels, such as most Westins, solve this problem by including 7 or 8 different pillows to choose from on your bed. I like the options that this approach provides but I don’t like that I have to find a place to put all of the ones I don’t use. Other hotels keep a spare pillow in the closet that sometimes is slightly different than the ones on the bed. An alternative solution is to bring your own pillow, which makes all sorts of hygienic sense, but it’s not a cheap option now that airlines rip us off with extra baggage fees.
Extra points to the Holiday Inn Express in Regina for not only offering firm and soft pillows, but even labeling them!
Once upon a time I checked into a hotel room that wasn’t made up yet. There were no other rooms available so the front desk sent someone to make up the room. As I discretely kept an eye on the cleaning process while watching TV, my suspicions were confirmed: they don’t change out the duvet (the usually colourful scratchy top layer above the blanket), just the linens. I’m not really a germaphobe, but I pretty much throw the duvet on the floor or at least fold it all the way down to the end of the bed now. Some hotels now don’t use duvets at all and you are greeted with a bed made up entirely of white linens. Assuming that the comforter covers are changed for every guest, I see that as a good thing.
I’ve mentioned this in a post before: Nicer hotels often include free slippers which is great, but let’s face it, it’s the not quite as nice places where you really want those slippers. They can change the bed linens but they can’t change the carpets and sometimes those carpets look very well used. I can understand why mid range hotels don’t offer robes but I’ll bet that ultra-cheap pairs of slippers bought in bulk would not add much to the price of a room.
I wish I could remember where I saw this, but right next to the TV remote was a sanitizing wipe. I’ve heard that the remote control is easily the most germ infested object in a hotel room and it’s frighteningly easy to imagine why. Again, I’m not a germaphobe but I totally understand this one. I always try to wash my hands after touching the remote, which brings me to the next item:
TV with Sleep Timer
I’m one of those people who likes to fall asleep with the TV on, especially on the road. I know it’s not good for my sleep but it’s part of my routine and being able to set the sleep timer before I wash up means I don’t have to touch the remote right before falling asleep. Some hotels have TVs that are so locked down that you can’t get into the menu controls to set the sleep timer using the remote. Usually I find the menu button right on the TV can be used to access the sleep timer but some places even have that locked out. If you’re really lucky you might even find a TV that leaves the sound on but turns off the picture. I’ve only come across that option once but I’ll be looking for it when I replace my bedroom TV.
Adjustable Shower Heads
Adequate water pressure is one of the this big items that hotels must have, but the ability to adjust the water flow and the height of the shower head makes a good shower great.
This post was shared with Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Traveler’s Sandbox.
Great point about the duvet cover. I’ve often wondered if those were changed; same thought with the toss pillows in chairs and on the small couches in some rooms.
I have always felt icky about the bedspread or duvet on the top of the bed. Australian hotels from across the cost range were tested and most were covered in semen and other things. From memory there was only one that was clean and it was not from a top of the range place.
I still use the duvet but make sure that the flat sheet is shielding me from it. One thing that I’m starting to miss is plastic laundry bags I would use for my dirty/wet clothes. Now hotels are moving towards reusable laundry bags, and I’m hesitant to take them. Also, my hubby’s Size 12 feet never fit in the slippers in Asia.
Good point about the duvet covers and the duvet covers. Last time, I had to get on hands and knees to find a free outlet.
Sorry, that should have been “duvet covers and outlets.”
Yes its usually a race in the hotel room to see who gets the most convenient plug! I’ve started traveling with my own mini-powerbar! Pillows and water pressure are also on the top of my list that will make a hotel great.
I like that they label the pillows- I love soft pillows and love having multiple ones!
I’m a semi-germaphobe. I wipe down everything before I let my kids touch anything in the room. This is after hubby takes pictures of the room for the blog 🙂 This is a great list, Ryan. I love those Disney slippers. We’ve only gotten a whole set once at the Tokyo Hilton. They gave us pajama sets too. I like robes which I wear really hooing they’ve been washed. You’re so right about those power cords that we finally just started bringing our own power strip.
Easily accessible power outlets — Amen! Good list. I haven’t seen the alcoholic wipes anywhere, but it’s a great idea.