Neale Whi­taker shares his ho­tel hits and misses.

In the age of Airbnb, ho­tels must work harder than ever to woo weary trav­ellers

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents -

I’m cur­rently spend­ing a cou­ple of nights each week in ho­tels. Re­la­tion­ship prob­lems? Thank you for ask­ing, but no, ev­ery­thing’s fine. We’re film­ing Love It Or List It Aus­tralia in five cities – and that means a lot of do­mes­tic air­port ter­mi­nals and ho­tel rooms. But I love ho­tels (I could give TV’S The Ho­tel In­spec­tor a se­ri­ous run for her money) and I’ve stayed in plenty over the years, some breath­tak­ing, some toe-curl­ing, and the ma­jor­ity some­where in-be­tween.

I have ho­tel anec­dotes to make you squirm (rats, any­one?), and some to elicit pure envy. But I also have a list of ho­tel gripes that might cor­re­spond to our bur­geon­ing, In­sta­gram-fu­elled pur­suit of per­fec­tion or per­haps the new ubiq­uity of Airbnb. What­ever the ra­tio­nale, my list is get­ting longer. On a dif­fi­cult-to-please scale, where one is “what­ever” and 10 is a Real House­wife of Mel­bourne, I’m barely a five, but hote­liers please take note: you need to lift your game.

Red Bull and gi­ant choco­late freck­les do not make for a so­phis­ti­cated mini­bar. “Love those de­caf­feinated in­stant cof­fee gran­ules,” said no-one, ever. I need more than four coat hang­ers in a dou­ble robe and, when pos­si­ble, a mag­ni­fy­ing glass so I can tell the shower gel from the sham­poo. That in­fu­ri­at­ing raised bath­room floor needs LED light­ing so I can avoid stub­bing my sleep-be­fud­dled toes. When I order room ser­vice, cut­lery shouldn’t be an op­tion that I need to re­quest. And don’t get me started on wall switches that re­quire train­ing man­u­als, wind-tun­nel air-con­di­tion­ing, iron­ing boards that leap from cup­boards and one-switch-flicks-all light­ing that comes with just two op­tions: pitch dark or sun­glasses. Or cur­tains that go from to­tal black­out to ex­hi­bi­tion­ist.

In­te­rior de­signer Nic Gra­ham (nic­gra­ham.com) knows about th­ese things. Cur­rently putting the fin­ish­ing touches to the 312-room W Bris­bane, he has de­signed more than a few ho­tels, in­clud­ing the cut­ting-edge QT Ho­tels in lo­ca­tions like Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Port Dou­glas and Queen­stown in New Zealand. Gra­ham un­der­stands that ho­tel rooms have to spark “an im­me­di­ate feel­ing of well­be­ing”.

His manda­tory check­list in­cludes sim­ple switches and phone charg­ers; over­sized flat-screen TVS; ver­sa­tile, task-ap­pro­pri­ate light­ing; gen­er­ous mir­rors (“for good selfies”); am­ple suit­case stor­age and a flex­i­ble work­ing space. Gra­ham also notes the im­por­tance of “a sparkling bath­room that guests don’t have at home, prefer­ably with two basins and ad­e­quate space for your toi­letry bag”. I may be bald, but I travel with a ver­i­ta­ble phar­macy of prod­ucts. So to that fi­nal point I have just one re­sponse. Hal­lelu­jah. Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-at-large of Vogue Liv­ing.

“Red Bull and gi­ant choco­late freck­les do not make for a chic mini­bar”

CHECK­ING IN (clock­wise from top left) In­te­rior de­signer Nic Gra­ham’s rooms at QT Bondi in­cor­po­rate the manda­tory “sparkling bath­room” with sub­way tiling and deep tub; his de­sign for QT Queen­stown show­cases Bondi Beach has been newly ren­o­vated.

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