Friday, 5 July 2013

Problems of Posh Hotels

Four years ago I wrote a post in which I complained about issues I regularly encountered at B&B accommodation.

The list included inaccessible power points, hard pillows and lack of space for one's toothbrush - you can read the full post here.

Having stayed in a great many high-end hotels over the past year, it occurs to me that I'm being unfair to B&Bs by only picking on them.

So let's have a look at some of the problems I've encountered with classier accommodation:

1. Windows which can't be opened. This is an enduring mystery. The entire raison d'être of an upmarket hotel is to create an experience which is far more pleasant than living in your own home.

How can this be achieved when you wake up with a dehydration headache after being forced to sleep with the airconditioning on? It's particularly galling when the night-time weather outside is perfect.

I've heard vague excuses for this policy over the years, including the alarmist explanation that it's intended to stop people falling out of windows. I find this hard to credit, particularly as I have stayed in hotels which allow windows to open far enough for air circulation without a body being able to slip through.

2. Unexpected interruptions. You have to be on the ball with the "Do Not Disturb" sign when staying in an upmarket hotel. Otherwise, you'll be in the middle of answering an important email, or maybe lying on the bed in your underwear watching telly, when there'll be an unexpected knock on the door.

Cue mad scramble for trousers and other garments while shouting "Just a minute!" to forestall the staff member opening the door. For it will indeed be someone offering some pointless service - a fruit plate or a turn-down - in order to justify the high room rate.

3. Extortionate bar fridge prices. Yes I know, this is an old complaint covering most hotels. But high-end hotels take it to daring new extremes. I remember one posh hotel in Sydney listing a small orange juice for $6.50. $6.50! And it's not confined to the fridge, with various expensive bottles of water dotted around the room just waiting to be opened by the inattentive.

4. Guided tour of the room. To be fair I haven't had this happen often, and usually it's been overseas. A member of staff will come with you to tell you a bunch of things about the room (how to work the airconditioning, the TV, etc) which you will promptly forget because you're distracted by being tired from travel and would really like to be left alone in your room.

5. Hard pillows. I know I included this in the B&B post, but it's worth repeating. Hotels seem addicted to sourcing rock-hard pillows, without a softer alternative necessarily being available. If I were being cynical, I'd assume it's because they look better in the publicity photo shoot.

6. Impractical showers. There are some amazing-looking shower stalls in the more cutting-edge upmarket hotels. Shunning the traditional cabinet, they aim for a sweeping open appearance via a single sheet of glass, no door, and a shower floor seamlessly connected to the rest of the bathroom.

Looks great; and is guaranteed to produce a vast lake of water across the bathroom which will take several fluffy white towels to soak up.

7. Dim lighting. Of course the room's very low lighting accentuates the sexiness of its design - but it also makes things difficult when it comes time to pack and you need to see what you're doing. At this point I find myself turning on every single light and lamp, and using the Flashlight app on my phone as well.

Of course I've enjoyed many things about upmarket hotels - I'm particularly a sucker for places with contemporary design - but these little niggles have popped up time and again. Do you have any issues to add? Please do so in the comments below.