9 basics I expect when staying in a hotel

What do you want and don’t want when checking into a hotel? The list could go on forever. But there are some things most people expect; not all of them are ones you’d predict. After traveling across the world as a business woman and, more recently, as a journalist and journeywoman tourist, I have become a bit demanding. Well maybe not so demanding — all hotels should offer these basics.

People want clean — clean rooms, clean linens and clean bathrooms. Easier said than done. There are frequent complaints about rooms not being up to sanitary snuff. We’re not only talking about down-and-dirty motels on rarely traveled remote secondary roads. There have been many reports about glitzy hotel rooms not passing the white glove and bedbug test.

One person said he no longer stays in hotels that have quilted bedspreads. He prefers duvets with crisp white cotton covers so he can tell whether or not they’re clean. This was before the bedbug crisis. Jim explained he discovered a floral patterned cover had some extra designs that betrayed a lack of washing or dry cleaning.

People do care about thick towels and comfortable sheets. Some would like air cleaners to insure the room always smells fresh. Then there are those who want black-out curtains and a coffee maker in the room with a free selection of coffee and tea. One woman asked why couldn’t there be complimentary bottled water. She’s irritated by having to ante up for it. Others resent to paying $4 for a soft drink. Guess they’ve never heard about profit centers. Please be sure the rooms are quiet. Let someone else’s room be next to the elevator or the ice machine.

Some travelers feel breakfast should be included in the room price. Others said they’d appreciate some fruit and edible goodies awaiting them upon check-in. How about being given something to drink as soon as they walk through the hotel’s doors?

People who travel a lot wish there were a list of restaurants that locals frequent so they wouldn’t end up eating all the time in the hotel or at place next door that’s a tourist trap.

A couple of people interviewed said they’d like access to a change machine, or tips for the staff, added to their bills. They don’t like having to fumble around looking for money or experience embarrassing ‘tip’ moments.

Get connected
Others see red when they have to pay for the internet or are unable to log on without calling someone from the IT department, who’s frequently not available for a few hours. “Paying extra for internet, these days, is like asking someone to pay extra for electricity in the room,” one person stated.

They’re the same clients who want sufficient electrical plugs (a communications console) in order to charge all of their electrical gadgets including an IPod docking station. Many complain about insufficient light. I hate when there’s no easily visible alarm clock that doesn’t require an engineering degree to set the alarm.

And more
Beds glorious beds: Some voiced they’d like to be able to adjust the mattress’s firmness. Other complaints included pillows that are too hard or too soft. It’s a highly personal choice, which is why I travel with my own.

One traveler joked, “After a long trip I’d like to see robotic bed waiting for me next to the front desk so I could fall into it and have it take me up to the room. Then the next day if we get bored we could have motorized bed races in the hallways.” That’s a bit extreme – but hey …

People want doors with good locks on both the doors and windows. Secure parking lots are important with camera surveillance. Hallways should be well-lit.

Service was the main complaint – or rather the lack of it

Clients appreciate being treated with respect and not being greeted as if they’re intruders. They have the nerve to think that after their first stay, they should be addressed by name.

One person said, “All I’ve ever wanted from a hotel is that when I walk in, they hand me my room key. None of this, stand there, sign this, let me rehash everything you already filled out online, let me take your card, even though we have that info.”

Others said they’d like to check in with the same type of confirmation documentation airlines are sending to clients’ cellphones — in other words, a room pass.

According to Joe Brancatelli of JoeSentMe some hotels are getting the message. The Courtyard by Marriott chain is dumping the big, imposing central desk in favor of “welcome pedestals” in its lobby redesign. They’re small areas where lobby personnel can handle the check-in and check-out formalities. The pedestals are designed to allow the hotel employee to step forward and assist guests with other needs too. The new Hyatt Place chain has also eliminated front desks and are making the check-in process increasingly self-service.

Pamper me
Jillian said, “Take care of me. Care that I’m happy and get a good night’s sleep. There are only two hotels I’ve ever stayed in that I’d absolutely return to and that’s because they did pleasant little extra things — free wine tastings, free food at happy hour, a nice exercise room and helpful staff who remembered me. This is in addition to getting the basics right.

Both properties also had comfortable, inviting public spaces. That’s important on long business trips when staying in the room becomes claustrophobic and I’m too tired to go out. I just want the service people to be pleasant and smile.

That’s certainly not asking too much, is it? Please post what you want to find when you stay in a hotel. Perhaps some people who work in the hospitality industry will read your responses and take them to heart. We can always hope.

Karen Fawcett is president of Bonjour Paris.