Our love-hate affair with hotels
What’s a sure-fire way for hotels to earn poor reviews?
Ilove hotels. Most of the time. It should be very obvious why you pay more than a rental apartment or roadside motel: think plush pillows, great service, spotless bathrooms and a luxurious bed. But it’s not always like that, is it?
Thankfully in the last decade the consumer has regained some power: yes, the online review that is TripAdvisor (and its rivals). Isn’t it great to have somewhere to vent.
Hidden fees and extras
I’ve had to shell out extra for everything from a daily electricity charge in France to a dental kit in a four-star hotel in England. Backpackers on the Banana Pancake trail will be well aware of Southeast Asia’s love of charging for rooms with air conditioning. All of the above should surely be included in the rack rate right? Wrong. The ridiculous resort fee in many US hotels, which ‘‘covers’’ amenities like the communal pool needs to be boycotted. Holding fees or deposits against things like the minibar are far less common, but still out there.
Showers for short people only
The average human height is about 160-odd centimetres but it seems the average hotel shower struggles to extend to 155cm. I’m exaggerating, but not much. I can’t understand why, when installing a new bathroom kit, hotel operators wouldn’t try to satisfy all guests by allowing the shower head to reach 2m.
That’s if you can get it to work
I don’t know where hotel companies buy their showers, air conditioning units, TVs, even kettles – but it’s not from the electronics shop down the road. Because if that were true they wouldn’t take a good 30 minutes of trial and error to figure out how to turn them on and make them work.
Put a sock(et) in it
If you’re like my party of two you’re likely to be carrying around four or five pieces of electronic kit: laptop, chargers, kindle, hairdryer et al. It’s the way of the world. Except if you’re a hotel room designer and you think electronic sockets are ugly so you hide them in silly places or just disregard them.
Six-hour window of nothingness
Who wants to get up unnecessarily at 9am to check out before 10am? Nobody. The worst destinations for this are Australia and New Zealand. I feel like I’m demanding their first-born child just to be granted a sleep-in on holiday and checkout before noon. I know there will be rooms to clean (although it’s unlikely that all guests will be checking out that day) but why keep us from checking in until 4pm? It seems awfully lenient to the cleaning staff and barely lets you make the most of the hotel’s outdoor facilities in the heat of the day.
You pay for the service, but you don’t get any
If I was lazy, I’d say this comes down to the host nation culture, with some anecdote about fantastic service standards in Asian cities and lazy, grouchy service along the Med. A cliche that is often correct. But sadly, you find crap service the world over. Staff who would rather be anywhere else and owners who lost their passion for the industry years ago. That being said, unlike physical problems like a blocked drain it’s rather hard to confront a manager or wait staff and say: ‘‘You’re incompetent and your service is an embarrassment’’. I can’t imagine that wins you favours or (shock!) an apology – which is probably why aggrieved guests turn into keyboard warriors on TripAdvisor later. Email if you have a travel issue you’d like Josh Martin, a London-based travel journalist, to write about.
Good room service is worth paying for.