The great hospitality gripe list

by Admin
The great hospitality gripe list

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I’ve spent so many nights away this month I hardly know my own bedroom any more. From conference centres to festivals and fashion shows, I’ve been bouncing around Europe and America on a circuit of three-day work commitments since the start of May. Lucky me, obviously. But I have used the experience to compile a gripe list, nonetheless. Here are the rules that make for a better hotel room. Please do add your own online.

Let there be no weird light

The absence of a master switch to ensure blackout at bedtime is an ongoing problem. Hoteliers seem to delight in turning the basic act of lights-out into a trick of advanced physics where one must trigger some secret combination to shut down the wardrobe light. I stayed in a “five-star suite” quite recently that had no fewer than 15 switches mounted on the entry wall. Each seemed to operate a fixture, but in such combinations that no on/off remained the same. After 10 minutes of flicking, I could still only illuminate a curtain pelmet while the bedroom remained dark. I also hold a particular grudge for those dimmable “mood” switches that cast one in a grim penumbra, like an evil hobbit, throughout the night. Just put a master by the bedside that knocks the whole thing out.

See also: blackout blinds. Should be mandatory.

Cut the ventilation

I loathe air conditioning. It’s loud, it’s dehydrating and it’s a conduit of contagion. I understand that this is a personal preference, but I was perturbed, while staying somewhere last week, to find my room still ventilated even when it was switched off. Apparently the room was being “oxygenated” through some central orifice for the benefit of my health. Surely, that’s what the windows are for?

Kill the quilt

I am deeply suspicious of all extraneous bed furniture. The 12 additional scatter cushions on the pillows, the peculiar strip of brocade quilt placed across the bed? These things are simply gross, conjuring thoughts of sweaty buttocks and on-demand pornography. The only things I want on a bed are those that have been newly laundered. So please take that homely floral eiderdown and throw it on the nearest fire.

See also: strewn flower petals and “creative” towel arrangements. No one wants to dry off with something that once looked like a martyr’s crown or floating swan

Try not to criminalise the guest

Nothing says “I value your custom” so much as the discovery that all the beauty products in the bathroom have been nailed to the wall. Sure, I get it. People are disgusting liggers and will steal the ice bucket and the bathrobe given half a chance, but few things incentivise bad behaviour more than the knowledge that the hotelier already thinks you deviant. Not only does imprisoning the shower gel encourage wanton profligacy, but also the placement of such bottles requires the digital dexterity of a ninja — and so I end up squirting shampoo all down the walls.

See also: teeny, tiny hairdryers that shoot air out of a vacuum-cleaner hose mounted on a unit. Loathsome. These are designed only to give you neck pain and to incinerate your scalp. Similarly, those coat hangers that must be disassembled and then rebalanced in the wardrobe. I hate those hangers. Who the hell steals hangers anyway?

The USP of the well-placed USB

I pity the hotelier having to keep up with all these newfangled tech updates and cable challenges. No sooner have you installed one mobile-phone port than a new one comes along. However, can we all agree that guests should have a dedicated port — or plug point — beside the bed? I don’t want to have to unplug three lamps and an alarm clock just to recharge my phone or laptop. On which note also, please don’t move my computer to some secret cubby, or tidy my cables into a fastidiously knotted bundle, every time I leave the room.

Keep the caffeine flowing

Time was when having a coffee maker or a kettle in one’s room was considered a bit “budget”. Then Airbnb came along with all its modern conveniences and the hotel had to follow suit. Put a Nespresso machine in all hotel rooms. And a kettle. Hell, why not throw in some milk? Hotel beverage selections vary wildly, and are almost always wildly overpriced, but failing to replenish that one 500ml bottle of water you downed on day one does seem a bit draconian. It’s not chic having to gulp from the tap after a night out because the hotel hasn’t thought to furnish you with water or a new cardboard receptacle. But, readers, it has been done.

Stay off-screen

I don’t want to have to navigate a giant flatscreen television playing rolling ads for every hotel in the chain in order to watch the news. Nor do I need to scroll through the highlights of downtown Liverpool while trying to order a sandwich. Neither do I care to untether myself from the wall of muzak that must accompany me into every room — including the lavatory — unless I engage with an iPad offering in-house services. Put away all such devices and give the girl a phone.

Forget about fine dining

Room-service menus should only offer foodstuffs that a three-year-old would recognise. In fact, they should take on nursery infants to act as food consultants for this purpose. Give us tomato pasta, burgers, salads and ice cream. The bed is no place for fusion gastronomy.

Email Jo at

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