Saturday, August 19, 2006

What makes a hotel great?

If you travel, what is it that makes you say "Wow, I really liked that hotel. I'd gladly stay there next time?" Is it a comfortable bed? Furnishings? The hotel staff's attitude? Maybe it's more the little things, like a good shower, or nice linens. Is there a chain you like or do you try different places such as boutique hotels?

Things I look for in any hotel, regardless of rates:
> Good parking - I don't want to walk a million miles or trust a valet that seems questionable. I expect covered or restricted access at a higher price hotel.
> Internet Access - It should work. I shouldn't have to say that, but it's sometimes an issue. It should also be included for free. The days of charging $10 per day for it are nearing an end.
> Quiet - Every door nearby that closes or child that charges down the hall to their room should not disturb my sleeping in. Speaking of noise, if the bar or restaurant area plays music at high volumes past 7pm and your room will be situated nearby you should be told of this on check-in and have an opportunity to choose a different room.
> Non-smoking - As a non-smoker, I have refused rooms in the past or had to change rooms when I walk in and am met with a knockout smell of stale cigarette smoke. (So please if you're a smoker, don't smoke in the non-smoking rooms! Thanks!)
> Cleanliness - This should go without saying.
> Shower & Bathroom - Adequate water pressure is essential. There's been a few hotels that I want the owner to take a shower with the air running and see how the curtain blows in and sticks to your body. Not cool.
> Bedding - Please opt for the fitted sheets on bottom. It's handy to be able to use the same for both top and bottom, but try sleeping on one at home sometime and you'll know it's annoying. While we're talking bedding, it's great to see how some hotels will leave a spare blanket and extra pillows in a drawer or closet.
> Refrigerator - Any hotel, regardless of how upscale should put a small fridge in rooms. If the fridge is a mini-bar, leave me at least a little space for my own items.
> Water - If the tap water isn't fit to drink, provide a couple of bottles of water. It's cheap in bulk, make the investment.
> Plug-ins - There's never enough of them nearby the desk areas. I need to plug in my gadgets so at least 3 is a good starting point.

My expectations from upscale hotels or resorts are higher, as they should be.
> Afternoon snacks - Thank you to those hotels that have a cookie, coffee and/or cocoa available in the evenings at check-in. It's nice to relax with a little something sweet after traveling that day. I've seen this more often at mid-priced hotels than high end ones. They could learn from this idea.
> Room Service - If I'm staying in a hotel with room service, offer it 24/7. The whole point to me is to get a fruit & cheese tray at midnight when I've got the munchies!

The biggest thing I want from any hotel, anywhere is to get what I've reserved. If I reserve a non-smoking king room, I should get a non-smoking king room, period. I've had better luck overall getting what I reserved with smaller hotels than with large resorts.

It's a lot of questions, but I'd like your opinion. Maybe there's something I should be looking for when I travel that I haven't even thought of that's important to you.

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