What sort of hotel suits the business traveller?
Do self-proclaimed business hotels cater well for business travellers – or should we look further afield?
Recently, I have been thinking about what sort of hotel suits the business traveller best. A lifetime of travel and working in hotels has, perhaps, made me a little particular (my wife might say peculiar), but I know that many of you also have specific likes and dislikes. Here are mine.
Firstly, I am looking for a property that maintains high standards, will sell me a room for not much more than £250, and is near the city’s business centre. Ideally it would be adults only, and have easy transport to take me to the financial centre. I also want super-fast broadband, a breakfast without soggy toast and a really, really comfortable bed.
In response to my admittedly specific online questions during my internet search, I have been offered alternatives. No blanket ban on families with children, but a promise of some segregation while staying at the Georgian Court Hotel in Vancouver, who – unaware of my gender – offered me a “Ladies only floor”. To tempt me further, the online sales agent also proposed padded hangers for my delicate clothing items and a yoga mat. Presumably that means there are travellers who have those two things on their personal wish list. I hope that I never meet them.
I should add that although I do consider a fitness room a top priority, on my secondary roster of “useful but not essential”, I seek out a heated swimming pool with a sauna. Some hotels have particularly grim examples of both of these, but when they are well maintained, and preferably deserted, they can make a traveller very happy.
During my inquiries I insist I am on a business trip, and need a hotel that can cater to these needs. This has elicited lots of information about business-focused amenities: a daily newspaper, a business lounge, a selection of stationery items in my room and all-day tea or coffee. One Hilton hotel believed my bedroom was not a place of rest, and suggested a room that looked like an office space with a bed jammed in the corner. This design might appeal to Churchillian workaholics who follow the great man’s lead of conducting business by the bedside, but it doesn’t appeal to me.
WINE AND DINE
In my ideal business hotel I have also considered the options for food and beverages. I want a dining room that doesn’t look as if it is feeding five thousand, and a breakfast that offers more that the ubiquitous buffet. I appreciate it when the serving staff don’t look at me strangely for choosing Coco Pops as my morning cereal (after all, there are no children to eat them in my ideal hotel). It is certainly preferable to have a restaurant that has linen on the tables and carpet on the floor. I like tables that are significantly well spaced from each other in order for me to discuss my business discreetly with the dining partner seated with me. All too frequently I am pressed into a banquette alongside a stranger.
In addition, the acoustics are important. Unadorned walls and hard floors cause sounds to ricochet, something that can be off-putting when your favourite chocolate-flavoured breakfast cereal is balanced close to your mouth. Nothing spells disaster to a business trip like a morning spill. And in the evening I like a bar as a place to relax, where I can perhaps watch some sport I don’t normally get the chance to view at home – basketball, for instance, or baseball, or kabaddi.
BED AND BREAKFAST
None of the above criteria are easy to satisfy, but I have not yet given up all hope of finding my Valhalla. For many years I have probably been focusing too much on the big brands and their obvious amenities. Research has revealed that the best places for peace, tranquillity, fine comfortable beds and excellent food has to be the smorgasbord of humble bed and breakfast establishments existing in most major cities. Mid-week there will be few children, the breakfast will be served freshly cooked, and the tables will be suitably spaced apart. Not all meet every requirement (few have sports bars, for instance, though they do have local TV), but the top ones are usually well located near good transport, and the hosts are always personable. Not only that, but there are morning papers and good broadband speeds. Many of the best aren’t cheap, but they still fit within my budget.
The next time you meet a business colleague and they tell you they are staying “in a little place I know” perhaps they have come to the same conclusion; that the best hotels for business might be bed and breakfasts.
For many years I have been focusing too much on the big brands and their obvious amenities