Whether you turn a key or use a card to do it, opening the door to your hotel room for the first time should be a moment to savour – and will be, if that room finds favour. And it can do so, or fail to, in the blink of an eye.
Of course, we won’t all like the same colours, design or decor – one woman’s romantic retreat borders on another’s idea of bordello, one man’s minimalist suite makes another want to beat a retreat, one’s soft lighting is another’s gloom, one’s wacky another’s tacky – but we surely all agree that our room must be clean. Stained carpets, dusty headboards and dirty windows spell disaster, as all good hoteliers know. And as for the bathroom, nothing less than spotless will suffice. In fact, the best hotel bathrooms look as if they’ve never been used, and you’ll be the first to do so. Achieving such ideals calls for very good housekeeping and constant vigilance – but guests should expect and accept nothing less.
Keeping up appearances is hard work and costs money, but my money’s on guests being willing to pay a bit more for clean and decent rooms – and voting with their feet when they don’t meet the required standard. Hotels that get it right can expect to take and make money. Those that don’t will only change their fortunes if they spend some. Or shut down. Being spotlessly clean really does matter that much – but even when it’s a given, hotel bedrooms can still fail to please…
I don’t know what gets you down, but my pet hates include these: windows that I can’t open; skimpy curtains that barely meet; low lighting where I need it bright – i.e. near the wardobe and in the bathroom – and bright lights at the bedside, where I want it soft, and also at the right height for reading, please; wardrobes designed with only men in mind (as are a lot of hotel rooms in their entirety, but don’t get me started on that one in this blog!) and fine if you have only shirts or suits to hang, but short on length for skirts or dresses; big-screen TVs that take up almost all available desk/dresser space; sockets I can plug my hotbrush into, placed where I can’t see into a mirror to do my hair with it; and in the bathroom, no shelf or space for my toiletries, and no hook for my robe.
And here’s what I hope to find when I open that door: harmonious decor, whatever the colour scheme or style; a welcome gift, be it flowers, chocolates, wine, whatever – it really is the thought that counts; a big bed with a firm mattress and plenty of pillows; well-placed and mood-variable lighting; sufficient storage space for clothes, shoes, cosmetics and suitcases; a full-length mirror, and a mirror I can see to do my hair in, with my hotbrush plugged in; a robe and slippers; lots of put-things-down space in the bathroom; big, soft, fluffy towels – and preferably three of them: one for my hair, one for my hands and one for my bath or shower.
Oh, and a view. I’ve left it until last but have to confess I head for the window first – don’t you? I don’t expect a picture-postcard vista every time, nor do I get one. All I ask is that whatever I look out on is clean, tidy and prettied-up if possible – not a forgotten corner that hasn’t seen a stiff broom or a bucket of soapy water since the millennium, or a container that’s been placed in plain sight, planted up, then neglected ever since. Only the best hoteliers know that good housekeeping doesn’t end at the front or back door…
PAT RICHARDSON Founder, HotelsThatWereNot.com