From the Ed­i­tor

Qantas - - Contents - Our writ­ers are not arm­chair trav­ellers. Rest as­sured any as­sis­tance we ac­cept from the travel in­dus­try in the course of pre­par­ing our sto­ries does not com­pro­mise the in­tegrity of our cov­er­age. Kirsten Gal­liott Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

A COU­PLE of months ago, I checked in to a five-star ho­tel in Mel­bourne that I don’t usu­ally stay at. When I opened the door to my room, I found that it was, well, al­ready oc­cu­pied.

No-one was naked so it wasn’t such a big deal. The ho­tel staff were ob­vi­ously mor­ti­fied but it was a sys­tem er­ror and these things hap­pen, right?

My ex­pe­ri­ence was met with hor­ror by some and mirth by oth­ers. “Who was it? What did they say? What were they do­ing?” one friend fired at me. “I heard you had a ‘guest’ in your room,” emailed a col­league. “Was he hot?”

I was so sur­prised by the an­i­mated re­sponses to my sit­u­a­tion that I de­cided to do an of­fice poll on what ho­tels get wrong. The gripes were many and var­ied: Com­pli­cated light switches. “You should be able to turn off all the lights from your bed,” said one per­son. “You should be able to ac­tu­ally find the light switches,” re­torted another. Nowhere to plug in your phone near the bed... un­less you pull out the alarm clock. A hair dryer you have to hunt for. No free wi-fi. “What year is this?” A bath­room with­out a door. A toi­let with a glass door. No. The ab­sence of full-length mir­rors. Bath­room tiles that sit higher than the car­pet so you con­stantly stub your toes. Poorly de­signed bath­rooms. Space for toi­letries? Yes, please. Down­light­ing above the bath­room mir­ror? Pass. A stingy num­ber of coathang­ers. No com­pli­men­tary wa­ter. Pay­ing $8 for a bot­tle of wa­ter smacks of ex­tor­tion. De­spite this list, I’ve had many mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ences in ho­tels. Hol­ing up in the St Regis New York and watch­ing it snow through the win­dow. Sit­ting on the out­door ter­race of the Ho­tel Spadari al Duomo and hear­ing Milan all around me. Gasp­ing with de­light at the view from my room at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal in Hong Kong, which looked di­rectly onto the neon har­bour.

A good ho­tel feels both deca­dent and like an es­cape from re­al­ity. Which is what travel should be, too.

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