Last week, we asked what most annoyed you about the hotels you stay in. Here are the best of your many letters — and a leading hotelier on what the industry should be doing better
In Travel’s Ultimate 100 British Hotels special issue last week, we listed things that hotels, for no good reason, get wrong — from tedious room-orientation tours to hairdryers that lack the requisite puff. We thought we might have missed a few bugbears, so we asked you, the readers, a simple question: what hotel habits annoy you the most?
And boy, are you annoyed. You emailed us in your droves — thank you. The most common complaint by far was poor lighting in hotel rooms. As for the rest of your gripes, it’s over to you. Dear hotel trade, take note.
Not a fan
Does the bathroom fan need to run for 20 minutes after we’ve turned the light off?
I don’t like having to make my own toast in a toaster with a mini conveyor belt from which the bread re-emerges either dried-out and anaemic or resembling a Samsung Galaxy Note7. On the odd occasion when the toast is golden, there is no rack to stand it in, so it has to be placed on a plate. By the time I’m ready to eat it, it has the quality of a wet sponge.
What gets my goat is duvets that are too thick. One hotel I stay at regularly for work has 13-tog duvets all year round, and I have to ring in advance to get them to make my bed with a sheet and blanket. (Last time, the message was altered and I arrived to find a blanket on top of my 13-tog duvet!) Why not provide thinner duvets and leave a blanket in the wardrobe for those who feel the chill? It’s no good opening the window (too noisy) or putting on the air-con (too noisy, environmentally unsound, and it leaves you with a cold head and a sweltering body).
Bedsheets folded so far under the mattress that you need heavy lifting gear to get under them, and then it feels like sleeping in a straitjacket.
I stayed at one of the CitizenM hotels, which had a bed surrounded by three walls (climb over your partner for night-time wee); a lighting system that could land jumbos, but couldn’t help me find the loo in the middle of the night; a sink that could double as a teacup; and a self-registration system that rejects your credit card because you pressed the wrong button.
Breezy does it
Windows that don’t open are possibly the worst crime. Is the reason for this security, suicide or murder? Is there substantial proof that a large percentage of the travelling public have died or suffered severe injuries because of open windows? I suspect the incidence of ill health or lack of sleep is much higher. Small tip: take a Swiss army knife. It will open a lot of (if not all) windows.
Why is it so hard to find out if a hotel is dog-friendly? And why do we so often pay extra for the dog — sometimes £20 a night — and still get the worst room?
I would add shower curtains to the list. They stick to your skin and should be replaced by screens.
There is rarely enough space in the bathroom for all the bottles we ladies cannot travel without. My first reaction on entering such a room is: “Yet another bathroom designed by a man.”
Do not disturb
Many is the night when I return to my hotel room after a busy day, a lovely meal and a bit of wine, absolutely exhausted and ready for bed… then have to spend ages trying to work out how to turn off the TV or radio that the hotel thinks I will want to watch/listen to. In addition, the lights are beaming, the bed is turned down in the way the hotel thinks I will/should desire, and sometimes a mat of some sort and disposable slippers are put on the floor on the side of the bed they think I should sleep on. I have often called down — or gone down — to reception to get them to come and fix things. I tend to throw any of their belongings put where I don’t want them, including unwanted “gifts”, into the hallway. When I am away, my hotel room is my castle, and, apart from morning cleaners, I don’t want anyone in there without my permission.
Long day, check in at hotel, get to room and have a quick power nap before going out for the evening… only to be brutally woken by reception calling to ask if the room is OK.
My wife and I have a quality test: the quality of the hotel is in direct proportion to the size of the towels. How can one get dry with a tea towel?
Having to ask for an extra towel for my hair — the hand towel is usually too small and the large towel will be wrapped around my body.
A big no to towels sitting on the bed masquerading as elephants or swans. Nice fluffy towels, please — in the bathroom.
Socket to ’em
Plug sockets! Why are there never enough and why are they not placed by the bed? I always pack a four-way adaptor.
Why can’t hotels put a socket near a mirror? I now pack an extension lead so I can do my hair in front of the mirror.
Add to the list desks you need to crawl under to plug in your laptop, sockets that don’t have room for an adaptor and telephones we never use taking up what bit of space there is on bedside tables.
Why only one comfortable armchair in a double room? Neither one of us wants to toss a coin for it, or sit on the bed (or floor) if they call it wrong. And why site that chair as far as possible from a light to read by? Always assuming, of course, that there is a light by which you can read.
Let there be light
Yes, it’s nice to have mood lighting, if I’m in the mood, but I’d also like to be able to sit and read a book or a newspaper without straining my eyes. My wife would like to find a mirror with enough light to put on her make-up, and to which she can stand close enough to do her eye make-up without having to put on her glasses.
Bedside lamps are useless for reading in bed. Why illuminate either the ceiling or the top of the bedside table? I want a light angled on my book that is above the mattress and about 3ft down from the headboard. Hotel designers confuse gloom with sophistication. Dark fabrics and carpets suck out what little light creeps through the one window.
We recently stayed in a hotel where the lights in the bedroom were so dim, I had to read in the bathroom. Apparently, the management had an energy-efficiency policy and would only supply extremely low-energy lightbulbs.
Bathroom lights over washbasins that illuminate everything except your face, so you have to shave by touch. Every hotel manager should have to try this one out.
Thanks for the many letters we received on this subject
Back to black
We stayed in a luxury suite in a hotel in Johannesburg this year. We were really tired when we arrived, and just wanted to sleep, but the hotel manager insisted on showing off the outside shower and Jacuzzi — yet he forgot to mention where all the light switches were (hidden behind the closed curtains). I couldn’t work out where all the music was coming from, and had to ring reception to find out how to switch it off.
My biggest bugbear on any holiday is trying to work out how to use the different shower systems. There’s always an interesting 10 minutes of being either frozen, scalded or drowned.
I could go on …
Things I frequently find annoying are:
● Wooden bedframes with really sharp corners hidden under the covers at the end — many a time have I walked into them, sworn out loud and had a bruise on my calf for days.
● Bathrooms with see-through panels or doors, so there is no privacy when you are on the loo or in the shower — what is the point?● “Do not disturb” signs that are ignored — a maid has often entered the room when I have hung one outside. Why have them if staff are going to come in anyway?
If you’re going to put information about local attractions in the room, can they be this year’s brochures, not 2012’s?
● We don’t need to fill in an online feedback form.
● Butter, please, not some tasteless spread.
● Smaller keyring fobs, please — not something the size of Tower Hamlets.
● A fire evacuation plan that doesn’t require a degree in graphic design to understand.
● Minibar? If there must be one, can it be filled with more than a small bottle of mineral water?
● Dim “atmospheric” lighting too dark for reading.
● No full-length mirror.
● No make-up mirror.
● Multiple remotes for the TV and air conditioning, with meaningless instructions.
● Lack of clothes hangers.
● Key cards that fail to open the door, necessitating a trip back down to reception.
● Complicated shower taps and horrible shower curtains that stick to your body.
● Silent breakfast dining rooms.
● Breakfast buffets with fizzy (off) canned fruit, fiddly wrapped pats of butter and lukewarm weak coffee.
I could go on, but life is short.
Oh, yes, and bathrooms with nowhere for sponge bags except the floor.
Sheila Murray (again)