From the Editor
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.