A bath in the bedroom, an embarrassment of scatter cushions and too few hangers are among the common peeves
September 2, 2023 6:00 am(Updated 9:05 am)
Think back to your last hotel stay. What did you find useless, out of date or rage-inducing about the room? Perhaps you spent 20 minutes before bed, getting ever more frustrated, as you tried to find the right light switch. Or maybe you were rushing to get ready for a meal reservation and needed an iron. Then you opened a wardrobe… and found a trouser press.
Have you ever arrived with a friend and learned that the two of you would soon be more familiar because the bathroom door is glass – or the bath is in the bedroom? Even if you’re travelling as a couple: can a soak in the tub really be relaxing when it’s set on a stage?
“Everything that goes into a hotel room should be effortless for the user,” says Liz Calder, founder and design director of Biddis Lifestyle Design, who has worked on hotel design for 20 years, including for large chains, such as W Hotels, and independents. “People want to feel special,” she adds.
Her hotel nightmare is amenities that don’t work, such as televisions that can’t get a signal; and they should never be the focal point. Some hotels are doing away with TVs, including riad boutique hotel Izza in Marrakech; it has books in each room instead. I find a corner screen soothing, but I’d cut half the channels.
Other long-redundant features still persist in many places. That trusty trouser press still tests its welcome: I spotted one in the past few months, in a four-star chain. This summer, a colleague discovered the Book of Mormon in her airport hotel room. And I’ve recently used a hotel bathroom that had a phone by the toilet – a feature I thought had retired in the 90s.
In fact, landline phones may no longer be vital, argues Anna Burles, creative director of design studio Run For The Hills. However, she points out that some features are a requirement to meet a star rating. Burles says that her latest project, Faern Arosa Altein, in the Swiss Alps, has an app (not of her making) on which you can chat to reception.
An in-room phone may be useful to some, but a phone charger would be a more welcome addition. “It’s the thing everyone forgets,” said Harriet Marsden; hers was one of many replies when I asked on X (formerly Twitter) for hotel room wish lists – and peeves.
What we don’t want? “The 67 light switches,” suggested Grace Holliday.
Then there’s the herd of scatter cushions put back on the bed each night. For Mike Caine, they led to a battle with housekeeping. “I won by locking them in my suitcase for the duration.”
Hotel owners, take note: these are the other features that wind guests up: bath towels that barely brush your hips, overpriced mini-bars (but, please, give us a fridge); little bottles of water (how about a jug?), wasteful mini toiletries and low-wattage hair dryers.
As for what we do need: kettles, bubble bath (we love a bath on holiday), more plug sockets, full-length mirrors, hooks and clothes hangers that aren’t fixed to the wardrobe.
You have a right to a room as it was described when you booked – and even if it’s just a niggle, you can request a swap – but would that be as satisfying as dissecting all the flaws?