These are not tips for travelers. They are tips for hotels and inns on how to make a guest (me, to be specific) happy. My wife, Jane, and I travel a lot and stay in a variety of accommodations, from a sleep-on-the-floor desert oasis in Iran to landmark hotels in Europe to jungle eco-lodges in Nicaragua. Wherever we are, though, it’s easy to see things that could be changed to make our stay more pleasant.
The room itself
We recently stayed at the five-star Esplanade in Zagreb, Croatia. Although we had booked almost six months in advance and were staying for four nights, we were given a room with a view into an air shaft. A hotel might call this “a courtyard view,” but air ducts and other visible infrastructure made this just a large air shaft. We complained to the desk and were told that rooms are not assigned until the night before a guest’s arrival. We ended up staying one night in the original room, and the next day we were moved to a room in the same price category and just as spacious, with park and city views. If we had been walk-ins with no reservation, we might have been happy to get the original room, but it was poor customer care for the hotel to place guests there who had a longstanding reservation. We now know to ask if we’re getting the best possible room in our price category.
My wife and I each travel with a carry-on-size wheeled suitcase and usually another under-the-seat-size bag. Hotel rooms that are clearly set up for couples (two bathrobes, for example) almost never have a second rack for a suitcase. So the room’s chair (and it is likely there’s only one chair) gets used for a suitcase, or maybe the cabinet that the TV or the coffee maker sits on.
The safe should be large enough to hold a small laptop or at least a tablet, and it should be mounted high enough that the guest doesn’t have to sit on the floor to use it.
Please provide a list of the channels, and set the TV so that it returns to the same channel after being turned off and on again. I hate it when every time the TV is turned off, it returns to a default setting, so that it again welcomes you to the hotel and makes you click through a menu to get to television channels, and then you have to click through maybe 30 channels to find the one you were watching earlier.
In the Bathroom
Many hotels and cruise lines are getting rid of these little bottles of bath gel, shampoo and conditioner. I’d rather have those three products in wall-mounted dispensers in the shower.
There should be room for at least two toiletry bags on the counter or a shelf in the bathroom. Even the most rustic inns usually have room for a wooden shelf above the toilet or elsewhere in the bathroom. And there should be a rack or shelf in the shower for the guest’s razor or the guest’s own soap and hair products in the shower.
Traveling with small suitcases for weeks at a time means there is going to be laundry to do. We often handwash items at night and hope they will dry overnight, hanging on doorknobs or shower heads. Remember the clothes lines that some motels had in their bathrooms? Guests could pull a line out of a stainless-steel disc on one wall and attach it to a receptacle on another. Why aren’t they universally available? Even quick-drying clothes marketed to travelers need a place to hang.
It’s a small thing, but a few wall hooks can be important, especially in the bathroom. Many hotels encourage guests to use their bath towels a second or third time, but give them no place to hang the towel to dry other than maybe a shower curtain rod. And, like the towels, the bathrobes are likely to be folded and on a shelf at check-in. Where do we put them when we take them off? We need hooks, which are also good for baseball caps, shopping bags and other things. Such a small thing can make a difference.
Steve Bailey is a former travel editor at The New York Times who now runs the travel blog, TouristFirst.blogspot.com.
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