For now, let’s leave aside reception desks and restaurants, bars and spas, bedrooms and bathrooms, cleanliness and concierges, and concentrate on what every hotel guest wants at the end of the day -and that’s not a cliché - a good night’s sleep.
For me, the formula for success starts with a T – turndown service. A little spoiling goes down well, doesn’t it? And don’t you just love that when you go back to your room to turn in for the night, it looks as if it’s expecting you? I like that feeling so much that I do it at home – not just for guests, but also for myself. Every night, I draw the curtains, turn back the covers and switch on the bedside light: three simple steps that spell ‘welcome’.
Wise hoteliers, knowing that the personal touch is always a winner, do more. Towels in the bathroom refreshed, a robe on the bed and slippers beside it, a chocolate on the pillow – and a pillow that’s to the guest’s liking. Are pillow menus pretentious? No: good hosts are sensitive to guests’ needs, and some guests are sensitive to feathers. (And would I ever have discovered the bliss of a buckwheat pillow had I not had the opportunity to give one a whirl one five-starry night?)
Putting a message on the pillow is another nice touch. Lala Salama – Swahili for ‘sleep well’ – often appears in Kenya. A beribboned bookmark bearing a quote from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon comes courtesy of the superb Shangri-La chain – which, in my book, writes the book on hotel hospitality. Elsewhere, you could find a poem or an inspiring quotation waiting. Top marks, however, go to those thoughtful enough to leave a weather forecast for the morrow. A little card with rain, cloud or sun glyph circled and a note of expected temperature highs and lows will suffice.
And so to bed…
Good night? It will be for me.
PAT RICHARDSON Founder, HotelsThatWereNot.com