A boring, bland, business hotel room.
This is usually about as exciting as it gets!
So, last weekend I wrote in detail about ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs which are a real and genuine irritation of mine but it doesn’t end there. There is a whole host of other things that really get on my tits when staying at hotels and when you are as frequent a traveler as I am, that is one big long list!
Sadly my experiences are more frequently (though not exclusively) of bland business hotels and not luxury holiday resorts, though I have just recently returned from another little holiday to Spain and we were lucky enough to stay at two very pleasant hotels (I’ll write about that separately as it doesn’t fit in with this whinge-blog).
Holiday resorts and leisure hotels can still have their faults of course but I find that they are generally more geared up to providing a pleasant overall experience but for me the vast majority of business hotels are truly abominable, they really couldn’t give a crap, despite their constant reassurances that ‘your custom is important to us, please take the time to complete our customer satisfaction survey’.
I think perhaps the problem is that people have stopped complaining. Weary businessmen and women, who are traveling on company expenses are so jaded by their experiences and the fact that their complaints are rarely addressed that they’ve just stopped bothering altogether.
Yes, the breakfast is both awful and ridiculously expensive, the general maintenance is appalling, the WiFi is crap, the bathroom is in desperate need of refurbishment, any room service meal is clearly designed with the stomach size of a field mouse in mind and the ‘homemade soup’ will always have completely lost any flavour on account that the ‘couldn’t give a crap kitchen staff’ have heated it up in a microwave for eleventy-billion times longer than necessary and it is now hotter than the surface of the sun, all of these things are true, but on the other hand the tired, bored and somewhat deflated guests are generally not paying for it out of their own pockets and they really can’t be arsed with the added faff of bothering to complain to someone who really can’t be bothered to genuinely do anything about it, they just want to do their job, check out and get back home and I can completely understand that but if they are going to be a regular guest at that particular hotel, due perhaps to it’s proximity to a customer or head office or whatever, then the only people they are continuing to inflict such shoddy customer services upon are indeed themselves.
A hotel’s main goal and their paramount focus should be to provide somewhere safe, private and comfortable (the ‘comfort’ part covering a multitude of aspects) for a guest to spend a single or perhaps many nights and of course a large assumption of this, is that during that time, they will want to regale themselves of some peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Beyond this, food and beverage services are probably the second biggest priority and only after they have truly excelled in providing these first two should they attempt to offer various other services
I personally feel that hotel Management and other staff members should periodically stay as a ‘guest’ to test their own facilities and provide feedback. If they did so, they may well far better appreciate the many seemingly small complaints and grumbles that genuine guests have after which these may not seem quite so trivial to the hotel management.
Noisy water or climate control systems:
I am well aware that no system is completely silent when in operation but I am also aware, when I hear it, of a poorly maintained system that is in dire need of an overhaul. When someone showers in the room next to you, it should not shake you out bed with a sound akin to that of a pneumatic drill and it is simply not acceptable to complain to reception that you didn’t get a wink of sleep due to the air-con system constantly gurgling all night long, even though you didn’t even have it switched on in your particular room, and to ask to be moved to a different room and for their reply to be
“I know, we’re very sorry about that but it’s the same in every room”.
Wow, the same in every single one of their 150 rooms, that’s a lot of tired, grumpy guests. I previously stayed at the same hotel for about five weeks on and off and the aforementioned problem was on-going. Initially at first check-in I was told that the problem was due to be fixed ‘in the next few days’ but as I returned to the hotel each week, it became apparent that the problem had obviously been going on for a lot longer and they simply told new guests that it was due to be fixed to pacify them and reduce the number of complaints, assuming that most guests are only there for a maximum of a few nights. It was still the same on my final visit. Quelle surprise!
Advertised services being closed but no mention of this on their websites or at the time of booking:
Earlier this summer, my husband had occasion to make a booking at a well known chain of business hotels but the difference this time was that this particular establishment had an outdoor swimming pool complete with sunbeds. As you can imagine, my excitement was immense for any of you who have stayed in countless business hotels will know that a feature like an outdoor pool is very rare thing indeed. The average temperatures of the location were in the mid-thirties during our visit, so I made the decision to accompany my husband on his business trip where I fully intended to make use of the pool and do a spot of sunbathing in between my writing, of course. Imagine my utter dismay and total disappointment when I arrived to find the ‘pool’ was a complete building site. Not only could I not use the pool (for it didn’t effectively exist) but the on-going works were dusty and loud, a drill was almost constantly in use during the day, there was nowhere at all to sit outside, building supplies and a large skip occupied much of the parking area and to top it all our room was right above the skip where for much of the day, rubble and, tiles were being thrown into it making a hell of a racket. It was far, far from peaceful and of course none of this was mentioned at the time of making the booking and certainly, no mention of these rather sizeable building works was evident on their website. Just the enticing pictures of the clear blue pool with a delicious looking cocktail in the foreground. So miffed was I that on the day of our arrival, I actually decided to make my disappointment known to the receptionist and she fixed me with a simpering look and completely ignoring my very valid complaint, she announced “You will be pleased to know that our new restaurant will be open tonight for the first time” as she indicated in the direction of the restaurant before then answering a phone call to no doubt signal that she had finished dealing with me. I looked and indeed there did appear to be a brand spanking shiny new restaurant and at that moment, despite that I was still mightily pissed off at the lack of service, I thanked my lucky stars that I hadn’t been visiting in any of the days previous when clearly both the restaurant AND the swimming pool were a building site and neither were available. Absolutely unbelievable to make no mention of this! Bastards!
Being given a quadruple room when you booked a double:
This may sound like an incredibly trifling complaint but when you have booked a double room, why then would you want to have to navigate two extra single beds in a room that is no bigger than a double room. To me, this is just pure laziness on behalf of the hotel who could obviously not be bothered to move the additional single beds out of the room. I appreciate that this must be irksome and labour intensive for a stay of just one or two nights but then I wasn’t the one that accepted the booking for a double room. Tut! Eye-roll.
Ridiculously designed window appareil that is no good to man or beast:
I recently stayed in a hotel that had a large window that stretched the entire width of the room. It would, perhaps, have been quite lovely if there had been a beautiful panorama upon which to gaze, instead there was a car park and a very noisy college with a constant stream of teens coming and going on their mopeds. Essentially the large window, was three adjoining windows, with just the middle section being the one that opened. At the time of my stay, it was 33 degrees Celsius, the room was in direct sunlight for most of the day and the air-con system was unsurprisingly currently broken , though I was ensured that this should be fixed by ‘tomorrow’ (yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever!).
Unfortunately, the one and only curtain was fixed at one end and ran the full length of the window. If I had the window open with the heavy blackout lined curtain closed I could feel no benefit whatsoever from the window being open, also like this, the curtain flapped around knocking my bottled water over onto my laptop, whipped unreservedly and repeatedly at anything that happened to be on the bog standard hotel desk (cheap kitchen worktop) that also ran the length of the window and generally behaved like a complete arsehole. If I wanted, in any way, to feel the benefit of the lightest wisp of breeze from the open window, I had to have the curtain open which meant drawing it back a full two-thirds to allow for the middle window section to be opened, this also meant being bathed in blinding sunlight and intense heat, the result: I was no better off. Frankly, whilst this is a very trivial observation, it was intensely bloody irritating and prevented me from doing any work that day. Also, a similar problem occurred during the very hot sticky night, with no air-con still, again in order to feel any benefit from the open window and to not be kept awake by the constant flapping of the curtain we had to have the curtain drawn back almost fully. This is rather unsettling when you choose, as we do, to sleep naked and the hotel room is overlooked by two different apartment blocks. I could quite clearly see people watching television in their homes!!!
Yes, your bed is made with crisp, white, starched, freshly laundered sheets and pillowcases, but how often are the bedspreads, comforters and cushion covers laundered?
I’m guessing anywhere between six months and possibly never!
I shudder to think, what manner of bacteria and DNA samples they must contain.
How many people’s stinking feet or naked bums have been on them? How many sweaty heads or dribbling, snoring mouths have soaked into the scatter cushions? How many curtains and bedspreads have been used to mop up suspect spills in the absence of immediately to hand tissues?
When you think about it, hotel rooms are potentially disgustingly, unhygienic places. I would hate to go into one with a forensic DNA wand.
It’s bad enough seeing the bits that you can with the naked eye, flecks on the painted walls where flies and mosquitoes have been splatted with the room service menu or a hastily grabbed shoe. Perhaps the odd bogie wiped on the wall. Yes, I have seen these too! Strange, unidentifiable stains on the carpets; is that blood or just red wine? Crusty residue and the occasional stray hair on the bathroom fitments.
I’m not a bacteria-phobe or a clean freak by any means. A neat freak? Yes, I will admit to that, but I am not the sort of person who wanders around armed with a spray bottle of Dettol and a pack of wet wipes but even so, I am shocked as to how grimy and horrible a lot of hotels are. I appreciate that this is quite a generalisation and indeed there are some hotels that have much better standards than others but to me, a lot of things I notice are quite obvious. I am not moving pieces of furniture around and poking about behind wardrobes, I am not playing at being hotel inspector, I am often merely looking at the ‘tea tray’ in its designated square foot of real estate and wondering why they go to the efforts of providing clean cups, saucers, and teaspoons but neglect to notice that the kettle (with its awkward 12 inch power chord) is covered in splats and stains from previous guests attempts to successfully make a drink in the confined space.
Why do business hotels still insist on installing a Corby trouser press in each room? To me, this is a bizarre choice of accessory since it has just one single use unless, of course, you plan to take a stock of pillowcases and tea towels on your travels with you so that you can make use of both the time and the trouser press to its full capacity and get up to date with your laundry. Surely an iron and an ironing board would be far more useful for the array of clothes that a traveling individual, couple or family might have with them?
Why do they provide you with an expansive desk area that is about 8 feet long but then only provide two tiny little drawers and six coat hangers in which to unpack your entire clothes? I can tell you that when two people are staying for a whole week, this is utterly insufficient!
Who is arbitrarily responsible for dreaming up the client’s needs in a hotel room? I often wonder if the people tasked with such a job have ever actually stayed in one.
As you can imagine, the years of staying in many, many crap hotels have made me seem quite a fussy bitch but in reality, my needs are few and I have just four main priorities when we are able to indulge them. Quiet and comfortable is the primary factor since a decent nights sleep is the key to enjoying almost everything else (almost!). Cleanliness is important, nobody wants or needs reminders of the previous occupants. For me, a pleasant view is very important if we are choosing a holiday destination, having spent more days than I care to remember sitting in hotel rooms staring out at a featureless concrete block or a car park and of course, free WiFi goes without saying! In fact, it really annoys me that many hotels still feel a need to charge for this service since it is one of the few things that costs absolutely nothing to provide. It is like charging you for the oxygen that you breathe.
I shall leave you this week with a very simple but oh so true quote….
“No matter how nice a hotel room is, it’s not home!” Bill Kreutzmann (Drummer, Grateful Dead)
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.
The Virtual Recluse