What features make a hotel room worth returning to?
Since covering theme parks tends to land me in a lot of hotel rooms over the course of the year, I thought I'd let off a little steam by ranting a bit about what makes a hotel room one worth returning to someday. I hope that you'll jump in the comments, too, and add your thoughts about what's most valuable to you in selecting a place to stay on the road.
Inside the Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando Resort, from last summer's roadtrip
It should go without saying that a hotel should be fairly priced and provide a secure, immaculately clean facility with comfortable beds, as well as working plumbing and climate control in each room. Rooms also should have adequate water pressure and places to store one's clothes. And you shouldn't have to hear the goings on in adjacent rooms, either.
Beyond that, though, here are some of the must-have "extras" a modern hotel that wants my business also should provide:
Free WiFi at broadband speeds: Internet connectivity has become a basic utility in modern life, as essential as the telephone. Business travelers demand the ability to connect back to their network at office speeds, and even leisure visitors expect to be able to connect with the broadband capability many of us have back at home.
Unfortunately, at the last few hotels where I've stayed this year, the WiFi connection crawled at speeds I haven't endured since I last had a dial-up connection. Hotels must accept that Internet connectivity isn't a fad, and add capacity to support a full house of guests at broadband speed. The conspiracy theory holds that hotels are trying to protect their lucrative pay-per-view movie business by throttling WiFi connection speeds. The reasoning is that if you can't watch, um, a certain kind of video for free online, you'll give in and pay to watch it on your hotel TV.
Please. How about quit trying to nickel-and-dime us? As cell phones killed hotels' lucrative phone-charge business, the Internet is eliminating the pay-TV profit center at hotels. Smart hoteliers should accept that, provide excellent WiFi service and price their rooms fairly, given the loss of phone and pay-TV and video-game revenue.
High-definition televisions: Speaking of televisions, they've better be hi-def. When I see a standard-def TV in a hotel room now, I react the same way as I did when I was a kid and we pulled into a motel with black-and-white TVs. Not only is the picture so inferior to high-def, standard TVs take up too much space in a rooms where space is already at a premium. TVs have become markers for the overall quality of a hotel. If it hasn't upgraded its televisions, I wonder what else it hasn't fixed or improved recently.
Free toiletries: Blame the FAA for this one. A decade ago, I would have said to ditch those little bottles of shampoo, to save a few bucks on the room. But now, personal-sized shampoo, conditioner and - ideally - toothpaste and mouthwash are essential for a traveler who flies with only a carry-on. (That's me.)
A powerful hair dryer: This is the one "essential extra" that I don't need, but my wife demands it. And not some skimpy, underpowered hair dryer that shorts out as soon as you turn it on, either. Again, this is a great element to check to see if a hotel is paying attention to its details.
Available electrical outlets: We're traveling with cell phones and laptops these days, and need places to plug them in. Unfortunately, older hotel rooms hide their electrical outlets, since at one time they were needed only for the room's built-in lamps and appliances. Today, a King room should offer at least four open and accessible outlets. A two-bed room should include at least six. And two of those outlets should be located on, or next to, the table top.
Now, let's talk about the amenities that aren't essential, but that I still find nice to have in a hotel:
Free breakfast: I hate having to go out to eat for breakfast, if I don't have to. Having breakfast ready to go at the hotel helps me get a great start to the day. Free breakfast set-ups speed me along since I don't have to wait for service - just hit the buffet, get your food, fit a seat, then clean up and go.
Space to dry clothes: Doing laundry in your room is the traveler's secret to packing lightly. (Again, no matter how far I travel, it's with only a carry-on.) But even people who travel with their entire closets need a place to dry a swimsuit now and then. Yet, it is surprising how many hotels are designed in such a way as to make hanging wet clothes to dry nearly impossible. (I hate those shower rods that curve outside the tub!)
Free in-room refrigerator: Minibars don't count. It's nice to have a place to chill water bottles for the next day, or stash a leftover sandwich for a later meal. But for families traveling with infants, or people who need refrigerated medications, the in-room fridge moves up to the "essential" list.
Swimming pool/fitness center: Again, not a deal-killer, but after a long day in the car or on a plane, man, is it ever nice to be able to stretch and get your muscles moving in a pool or gym.
Large window with a pleasant view: I wish more hotel companies would think harder about siting when building their hotels. No, all hotels can't offer views of the ocean or the mountains. But did you really have to place a wing of rooms so that they all overlooked trash bins?
Finally, here are four things I'd love to see hotels eliminate, as they work to add the features listed above:
Minibars: Again, quit nickel-and-diming us in the room. I endorse the current trend to replace in-room minibars with lobby pantries. With a central location for food serving the entire hotel, you're less likely to be stuck with stale items that have been sitting in your room for weeks. Getting rid of the minibars also allows housekeeping to focus on cleaning your room, instead of stocking and policing the minibar. No minibars also means less costly theft and fraud disputes for the hotel, too.
Water bottles for sale in the room: Ditto.
Newspapers: We get our news online now. Delivering an unread newspaper to every room wastes an enormous amount of paper. If anyone really wants a paper, make them available for sale in the lobby.
Resort fees, or any other mandatory fees or surcharges, outside the room rate and taxes. For that matter, hotels ought to do better by including applicable taxes when quoting rates on their websites. Give us the real cost, upfront, and disclose any additional fees (such as daily parking rates) where we can see them.
What do you think? What's most important to you when deciding where to stay on the road?
You got most of mine in your list.
When traveling, I tend to stay with hotel brands I know or at hotels I've previously stayed at. Knowing the conditions of these hotels helps a lot, you know if they are clean which to me is the most important part of hotel hunting.
I'll just stipulate that wherever I wrote "free," I meant "included in the room price." Good point.
I pretty much with everything you said. One of my biggest complaints are the way us pet owners are treated. Sometimes it is also essential for me to bring my 15 year old shih tzu along for the trip, and for that I beg of hotels to stop shoving us pet owners in the run down rooms. I don't honestly remember the last time I went to a hotel that allowed pets that I didn't think I needed to be vaccinated before entering. I understand their reasoning because pets do put a lot of wear and tear on bedrooms and can tend to be destructive... but charge a higher pet fee or hit the bad owners with a damage fee when we leave.
Lights! Please! I'm well aware of the cost of electricity, but when the light bulbs are not high enough wattage so that you can read a book or see how you look before going out it's so frustrating. The last time we were staying at a hotel for a week, my husband went out and bought bulbs for all of the lamps in the room so we had decent lighting.
I'm a roller coaster and amusement park junkie. I'm not spending the day in a room. The motel room has no bearing on my choice of lodging. As long as the room is reasonably clean and relatively inexpensive, I'm good. The most important criterion is the BBB rule. It has:
-Free Breakfast. I hate having to go out for breakfast. I want to grab my bagel and go.
I like the included breakfast and the place to plug stuff in and work with my laptop. When I'm booking a room please tell me the real TOTAL for the stay, not after I've spent the night.
Not something that is a deal breaker, but on my most recent Disney trip we stayed at Pop Century but one day went to the Polynesian for breakfast. I noticed that the toilet paper at the Polynesian was of much better quality than that of Pop Century. Interesting how the cost of the hotel translates to better amenities everywhere.
We just stayed at a not so very nice hotel in Tampa right after staying in a relatively nice one in Orlando. The one in Tampa had terrible service, was dirty, old, and plain gross. After staying there I can postively say that my musts include:
I need to have a nice room. I always need some time to relax after a busy day of seeing sites and visiting theme parks. Some necessary amenities are laundry facilities (to do my own), good sized pool, nearby market (for shopping for groceries), clean carpets (many are dirty), a refrigerator with SPACE for my drinks and food, and enough room so I would not feel cramped. Luckily, I own a time share resort that offers this.
When it comes to planning which hotels to stay at, TripAdvisor is my friend. It's not about which costs the most or has the most stars. It's really about value for your money and you can get the most of it by either having to pay a little more or even less.
I have yet to travel on business, so phones, WiFi, and the like are expendable. My biggest deciders are balconies with decent views and kitchens/kitchenettes.
I agree with just about all of those
I am in agreement with most comments for hotel rooms. It really does pay to stay in a major chain hotel. Even though they are more expensive, it is usually worth it. I found any JW Marriott as the best I have stayed (and most expensive) although any of the Marriott brands tend to be excellent.
All I need is clean and quiet.
U have to do camp grounds next Not all people choose to stay in a hotel although a good amount do so. anyway things I look for is resort activities stayed in DC and it was nice they had FREE shuffleboard pool tables and afew other games along with a free breakfast. In the rooms yes a VIEW is certainly a MUST. stayed in DC in a room that overlooked a FERNICE/ movalbe AC unit with hoses coming ou. THis hotel also looked over the main lobbey so peopel can see inside the rooms. ALSO when traveling with babies and extra gusts I look for rollaway beds and cribs should be added to the MUST if U have a babe.
Owning a flexible time share with Interval Getaways are the only way to go. NO HOTEL, Condo. I own at Westgate and have for 11 years.
I enjoy a room with a good view. I like a room that is close to the action with internet access and a nice pool.
Okay attention hotels of the world. If you would like my business and like to see me at your hotel listen up. I hate Small rooms, dirty sheets and brown water. But i do indeed enjoy Big rooms, lots of electrical outlets and kind service.
What I hate is staying by Disneyland and the hotel does not have enough parking when you come back late at night. So they tell you to park next door or where it says do not park.
No Bed Bugs.
I have to comment regarding pets. perhaps you might think about the flip side as well. I do not want to stay in a room after a pet owner has used it. Gross! Even if your dog/cat hasn't relieved himself one way or another in the room, that pet has been dragging itself all over the room, carpet, counters (esp cats), etc. We all know rooms are not well cleaned usually by staff. And if you suffer from any animal dander allergies, staying in a room after a pet is a nightmare.
To me it would have to be clean room, clean bathroom, clean sheets and towels, decent TV (HD ones always a plus), and FREE (or included in the price like it was mentioned) internet access!! I lost count of how many places I went where they don't disclose about the internet access fees until I try to connect... you call the front desk and they tell you how to log on... and how to pay for it!!!
I've been quite the road warrior for about 8 years now. I guess you could say I'm a discriminating type of guest when it comes to a hotel. It does depend on why I am there, as I travel for work and play quite a bit. I also use Google street maps when looking into hotels. Highly recommended to do that, as it helps to choose the right locations and temper expectations. Assuming that the room is clean and everything works as it should, I have a few requirements.
I got 4 dogs at home and I love them but I do agree with the comment about pets in hotels and in airplanes. When I travel, the dogs stay at home with a relative/friend/neighbor/sitter taking care of them or they are boarded.
Not too bothered about the wi-fi as I'm generally on holiday but a fridge and an iron are always useful. I'm not the most sartorially elegant person but I don't like going down for dinner in a nice hotel wearing clothes that make me look as if I've just fallen out of a passing airplane into a nearby tree.
"Pet friendly" is the same as "smoking" room. You avoid them!!! No amount of charging for the priviledge will fix the damage that comes. A hotel room has quick turnover. Most housekeepers have barely 15 to 30 minutes to clean each room. A pet that pissed in the room will not have their carpets shampooed. They might just use a deodorant and spot cleaning. Then the next guest has to deal with the mess or ask for a new room.
If I book a non-smoking room, I expect a non-smoking room. Twice in Las Vegas we booked a non-smoking room at the resort at the end of the strip and when we checked in we were given a designated smoking room on the smoking floor. The 1st time that happened we got a Very Rude clerk at the front desk who told us we should not expect a non-smoking room, my reply to her was why is that a choose on the website without any disclaimer stating that information. She had no answer and after almost 10 minutes she put us in a non-smoking room and left us with her oh so well thought out parting statement "I hope this makes you happy". W did return the next year and got a new guy at the front desk who in very broken english assured us we were in a non-smoking room. Wrong again, we didn't even get off the elevator because the floor was desiignated for smoking with a neat little placard on the wall. This time we got a very polite and compentent clerk who very quickly got us a non-smoking room with profuse applogies.Why did we go back after the 1st time, well we were willing to give them a 2nd chance; which they failed, and because they had (and still have) a very attractive room and ticket deal for the National Finals Rodeo.
Elevators that work is important too. I hate it when I wait too long for an elevator or when they are always packed.
I forgot to mention outlets! I always try and bring a power strip with me to any hotel or vacation home. I'm not sure why, even newly built homes and hotels, hide the outlets behind beds and furniture. I know "back in the day" they weren't needed as much outside of the bathroom (hair driers and such) but they seriously need to get over this notion now.
I also want clean rooms and a fridge. I come from a family where we usually travel with someone who needs their medications kept cold. After that, if I am staying near a theme park, I think having free transportation to and from the park being the biggest returning factor for me. We HATE having to remember where we parked, being exhausted after ten plus hours, and then fight our way out of a packed parking lot. This is why we stay on Disney property when we visit. We love a vacation where we don't have to worry about anything other than having the best time possible.
Disagree with your comments about not needing the free paper. I don't bring my computer on vacation and I like to be able to read the paper and do the crossword puzzle comfortably stretched out in the room in the morning (preferably the local paper too, not USA today).
I would like my room to be very clean and have up to date furnishings. I love for it to have free breakfast and to have a refigerator and a microwave.
A washer and dryer are always nice to have.
I am sorry that so many of the Pet non-friendly people have had issues with their rooms. My dog, that goes everywhere I do, is kept in a crate when in the room - she is walked and fed per her schedule. There is not any - I repeat any incremental damage or visible evidence that i had a pet in the room. Therefore it amazes me that there is not a "child fee " like a pet fee...... I constantly encounter food and juice stains on the carpets, parents that do not care that their kids are screaming in their rooms at 12 midnight when i have had to work all day, loud, screaming kids noises by the pool when I am tying to finish my report. I also raised 4 children, but i never - I repeat NEVER let them carry on so much that they bothered anyone else..... Now just give me a responsible pet owner in the room 1st!!!
I don't normally take my pets to amusement park vacations,but I really feel for the lady that gets stuck in the nasty rooms just because she has a pet.
About the one who made the comments about families with terrible children. It depends on the mentality of the parents. My wife and I travel with our children a lot. We don't go into each hotel thinking that it doesn't matter what messes our children make because the maid will clean it up. We try to be as neat as possible. On the other hand, my wife's sister's family allows their children to do anything in the rooms and make all kinds of messes because it doesn't matter(which is ridiculous). The maid will clean the room anyway. As far as the noise is concerned, it is not always the children that are noisey. We were in New Haven,CT a few years ago. One night we were trying to sleep and there were a whole lot of people outside our window partying at like 1,2,3 in the morning. As anybody could imagine, I was extremely upset about that.
I will not equate kids with pets. There are a few major differences. Do you put diapers on pets? Do kids leave fleas and hair? The smell from pets are long lasting and could cause allergies. Pets are equivalent to a smoking room.
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