What makes for a great hotel room? It’s a good question, though a room is not easily separated out from the whole hotel experience. As someone who created her own Hotel Room Scorecard and writes hotel and room reviews, my curiosity peaked when Gary at VFTW wrote a piece on just this topic. I’m already well over 100 nights at hotels this year, so naturally I have my own lens and opinions to share. And frustrating stories of my own that I can rant on and on about. I do, however, agree with some of Gary’s thinking and found his readers’ comments added even more value to the topic.
What frustrates me about hotel rooms and hotel experiences? Glad you asked.
Let’s start with add-on fees.
Who isn’t dismayed about MANDATORY resort fees for services they don’t use? What actually makes a property a resort? Beach, ski, and entertainment locations are how most of these hotels would classify themselves. Would I otherwise be charged for a lounge chair on the beach? One hotel listed pool towels as covered in the resort fee price. I’ll not only sit on the sand, I’ll bring my own towel if I must!
In 2015 and 2016 the number of hotels charging a mandatory resort fee grew by 25 percent throughout the United States. Zach Honig from The Points Guy reported in 2017 that “According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), only 7% of hotels charge a resort fee. Additionally, the AHLA reports that the trend of adding resort fees has declined overall, and hotels have gotten better about disclosing fees following a 2012 FTC investigation.”
One tool that can at least help you sort out the resort fee mess is ResortFeeChecker.com. It is an online tool that allows users to look up resort fees at more than 2,000 properties around the world.
Let’s not forget destination fees or what some disgruntled customers call “just because” fees. This one really irks me. As a World of Hyatt Globalist these destination fees are waived. Yet every time I’m at a Hyatt in the states, these fees show up on my bill. Certainly, Hyatt knows I’m a Globalist, so why aren’t these fees adjusted off BEFORE I look at the bill and check-out? If Hyatt’s tech capabilities aren’t there yet, then why doesn’t the front desk employee spot these fees and adjust them off BEFORE I look at the bill and check-out? It’s a waste of my time and energy to have to point this out to the front desk staff and then wait for them to adjust my bill.
Hotel Bills With Erroneous Fees
While we’re talking about our bills upon check-out, Gary had quite a good rant on this point. He’s tired of hotels billing customer credit cards for additional charges after checkout or on the final bill. I’m tired of that happening as well.
Just last week a $70 charge that no one can identify went pending. It’s still pending in my account and I’ve talked with both the hotel and the credit card company. Over the summer at a Hyatt property in NYC I was billed for a bottle of wine that I did not drink. I had to contact the hotel and have my Hyatt concierge step in to get the charge corrected.
Gary has a lot to say about coffee, or the lack thereof. He feels hotels should have 24-hour coffee available and access to real milk and cream. I have no idea which one of us drinks more coffee, but to Gary I say good luck. Kidding aside, even most hotel executive lounges don’t open before 6:30 AM, so how hard is it to put coffee in the hotel lobby? I know you think Gary and I should just carry packets of instant coffee and boil up some water, but it’s the little efforts like coffee in the lobby that people notice, especially since it’s so rarely provided.
Hotel Room Features
When I pen my hotel reviews I always write about whether black-out shades work, the type of lighting in the bathrooms and if outlets and ports are plentiful. I know these make a difference to me so I figure they do to other guests as well. Light switches that are easy to use and locate so you know which switch does what makes a big difference in a hotel room and simply saves time and frustration. Here’s an example from the Park Hyatt Bangkok of a master light switch that is EASY to understand and control.
Room Keys That Don’t Work
I’ve learned that I have to be proactive about room keys that stop working at noon when I have a late checkout! I always remember to have my keys reset when I’m using a late check-out.
I learned this lesson through sheer embarrassment. At a hotel pool a few years ago, having finished a swim I returned to my room to find my key not working. I went to the hotel lobby to have it rekeyed and was caught in the hotel lobby in my bathing suit just when a conference of perhaps 200 people were heading to the banquet hall for lunch. I did have a towel around me but still……..I hope this doesn’t happen to Gary!
One reader responded to Gary’s post by saying, “High end hotels should have well-maintained decor and high-end furnishings.” I agree. It’s disappointing when the rooms are shabby, furniture or carpet is frayed and there’s a general sense of ownership cheapness about maintenance. I don’t mind if a hotel isn’t modern and boasts a more classic older style of furnishings IF the rooms are in good shape and clean.
What’s with the lack of drawers in hotel rooms? This is a real mystery to me. Even if I don’t necessarily use them, if the logical space where a dresser and drawers might be is empty, it just gives the room a strange feel. It’s not like anything useful gets added to the rooms in that space. Somehow the surface of a dresser always comes in handy, so without the dresser the room is also minus a useable surface area.
Reading comments is valuable because it often reminds me of things I’ve noticed but forgot. A great comment on Gary’s post was from a reader who said, “One thing I’ve noticed the last few years is hotels getting rid of the in-room info book. What time is check out? Damned if I know. Where is the ice machine? What are the hours for breakfast? Meanwhile, you try to call “guest services” only to be connected to the front desk who doesn’t pick up because they are busy checking people in.” I’ve noticed this lack of information, as well.
Just last week I called the front desk to find out the breakfast hours of the lounge on the weekend because it was nowhere in the room and I didn’t feel like going up to the lounge to ask. The front desk told me it was 6 AM. During the week the lounge didn’t even open that early, so for the weekend it didn’t seem possible. I called the front desk back and had them connect me to the lounge. Sure enough it opened at 7 AM on the weekends. Glad I didn’t set the alarm for 6 AM!
When hotels get some key things wrong, whether it’s service or the rooms themselves, this does keep us from booking repeated stays. Some pet peeves we can overlook and some, especially the ones that are easily remedied, we can’t. You’ve got pet peeves, I’m sure. Do they make or break the hotel experience for you? Let’s air them out and see what I’ve missed.
Shelli Stein is a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! Besides contributing to PointMeToThePlane, you can find her at Joy in Movement.
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