Suggestions for Hoteliers

The Thinker by Rodin

It amazes me that with competition for hotel rooms so brutal that hoteliers are missing some very obvious features that would bring back repeat customers.

The number one annoyance I have in a hotel is noise. I’ve slept in more than a few four star hotels and noise has been as big a problem there as in the two star hotels. Maybe I’m a bit different but I’m used to sleeping in relatively quiet surroundings. When a door slams in the middle of the night I usually wake up. When lots of doors slam in the middle of the night I wake up a lot. This makes for a broken night of sleep. There are solutions to the problem. The doors themselves could be insulated with heavy sound proofing material. But there are more obvious things that could be done. The doors could have resistance hinges so they don’t slam shut. The doorknobs could be engineered so they don’t make so much noise opening and closing.

And I still hear much more of my neighbors than I would prefer. My recent stay at a Courtyard Inn proved as much. It’s not quite as bad as some apartments I’ve lived in. Hotels are usually built these days with lots of concrete between floors. This is good because I don’t usually hear people above or below me. But Wednesday night I was inadvertently entertained/annoyed by a very noisy couple in the room next to me engaged in what Bob Eubanks (former host of “The Newlywed Game”) called “whoopee”. It might have been more titillating at half my current age and at an earlier hour. And I’d rather have been the one getting the whoopee. Given my druthers though I’d rather not have heard it. Sex happens. Sleep sometimes doesn’t.

Pipes can be annoying too. I almost always hear water running in rooms next to me. I can tell if it’s the shower or the toilet that’s in use. I’m sure today that pipes can be insulated and made reasonably soundproof. It shouldn’t make much of a difference in the cost of a hotel anyhow so why not just do it during the construction of a hotel?

Hotel rooms don’t have to be bland. In appealing to the least common denominator hotel rooms become wholly uninteresting places to inhabit. Why not have 10 percent of the rooms done with truly decorative or offbeat colors, or with something other than Early American furniture? Given the choice I’d likely go for the decorative room. I might even pay a few dollars extra. And I’d be more likely to remember the place.

Beds should be something hotels get right by default. But I am amazed by the variations out there. I had a king sized bed all to myself at the Courtyard Inn I stayed in this week. But I am six foot two inches. The standard king sized bed is a bit more than six foot in length. That meant that my feet were sticking out. I guess I could have slept sideways in the bed but that’s ridiculous. And sleeping diagonally feels weird.

And why not use fitted bottom sheets? I can understand there may be an economical reason to avoid fitted bottoms but I’ve rarely slept in any hotel room where tucked in bottom sheets didn’t pull out overnight. The bedding is almost always too dense (multiple blankets and/or a heavy comforter) or too light. In the latter case my legs often end up exposed and cold when I arise.

The mattress should invite deep sleep. I prefer firm mattresses but there are some mattresses that are firm but snug and meet even my wife’s picky standards. Whatever mattress was used at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando met my seal of approval. It was as comfortable, if not more comfortable than the high-density foam mattress I have on our queen size bed at home. It’s very rare to get a hotel bed that is conducive to deep sleeping. I’d say only one in ten hotels meet my high quality standard, and I almost always stay in three star or better hotels.

Then there are annoying interior room noises. The most obvious one comes from the air conditioner/heater unit, almost always built into the wall. These suckers are usually noisy. They abruptly cycle between on and off throughout the night. These noises are not always something I can sleep through. I prefer a hotel with central heating and cooling for that very reason. But as long as I am dreaming, how about humidity control in the room? Most hotel rooms become too dry for my taste. A couple days in most hotels can leave me with eczema.

Curtains should not only offer privacy but also actually keep out the light in the morning. Some of us are very light sensitive and this time of year the sun is up early. That doesn’t mean I want to be up early. It doesn’t take much sunlight creeping above, below or between the curtains to wake me up. And while we’re on the subject of annoying light, how about doors that are low enough so the light from the hallway doesn’t come streaming into the room during the night?

There is almost always one annoying thing in a hotel room. This week it was that my sink did not stop completely. This is not a hard problem to fix. You would think that someone would go through all the rooms in a hotel once a month checking for things like this. But apparently they don’t or they figure we don’t care.

Non-smoking rooms are great and I always ask for them. Nonetheless there are still hotels that haven’t figured out that a whole floor should be nonsmoking, not just a few rooms at the end of a hall. And if the air is controlled centrally a hotel defeats its purpose if smoke from adjoining rooms comes into my room via the ductwork. This isn’t rocket science. Just do it! When possible hoteliers please put the smoking and nonsmoking rooms at opposite ends of the building.

Okay enough of the whining. I am sure I could find more things to complain about. And yes I am aware it could be worse. Most of the hotels I sleep in these days are very clean. The staff is very professional. The maid service is usually excellent. Most hotels routinely add a continental breakfast in the morning. Not only is it convenient but also it saves me a few bucks. It’s been years since I have found a bug in my hotel room. So the good news is that the three star and up hotels are ninety percent there. Why not go the extra mile and show all your customers that you say you care about that you really do care about them? It’s not hard: give us an environment conducive to a good night’s sleep. Upgrade the mattresses, cut the noise and make sure the room can keep out exterior light. If you do you can bet if I have to visit your city again I will be coming back to your hotel.

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