I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels over the past several years — some amazingly swanky, some terribly average. There are some things that cause me to remember a hotel forever, whether it’s for very good reasons or very bad ones. It’s also completely possible for an average looking hotel to outdo a seemingly fancy one with just a few minor things. In general, as long as I have a clean bed to sleep in, a place to do my business and a shower I’m pretty good. But when a hotel serves as your home away from home it’s nice to be comfortable where you’re at. Want to be able to rate hotel rooms like a seasoned traveler? Here’s a few of the things I look for (and hope for) when I first open that hotel room door.
A Thermostat That Actually Works
This may sound crazy, but you have no idea how many hotels I have stayed in — both high and low end — that have thermostats there just for show (or that is what I am led to believe.) I’m fairly certain my thermostat in my tiny hotel room in Spain was simply sticky-taped to the wall and was never actually connected to anything. (Also, I learned from my tiny hotel room in Spain that when a hotel brags about air-conditioning, there’s probably a reason they’re bragging.)
All I want is a towel thicker than a paper towel and longer than my underwear. I’ve never thought that’s too much to ask, but some hotels are convinced towels should never fully wrap around your body or cover any area below your bellybutton.
Those big rain shower shower heads look so inviting and relaxing, until it comes time to wash your hair and it takes you a good 10 minutes to (maybe) get all the soap out. I can remember being in a hotel in Florida where it was actually raining harder outside than the water pressure in my room.
Shower Curtains That Mind Their Own Business
Thankfully almost all hotels now subscribe to the curved shower rod, but OH THE ICK when I end up with a shower curtain that insists on caressing my wet, naked body. Just, ew.
A Bed That Doesn’t Respond to the Fluttering of a Butterfly
This one isn’t so bad if it’s just me, but if I’m sharing a bed with another human? I’m going to need it to stay still when that other person breathes. Cody and I once slept on a bed so bad I was shaken awake any time he even so much as shifted his leg.
I’ve come to rely on the ice machine in many different ways, from storing a canned beverage, to snacking on to filling a cooler. Once Addie and I even made three trips to and from the ice machine to give Cody an ice bath after he ran a marathon. You never realize how handy an ice machine is until you don’t have one available. (I’m looking at you Residence Inn Santa Clarita.)
Good Light and Big Windows
I always try to request a room with good light, East or South facing. Bonus? If I can get a corner room with an East AND South facing window. I like being woken up by the sun, and hotels are one of the only times that happens. The Westin Cadillac in Detroit even had windows in the BATHROOM. That was huge, so often hotel room bathrooms are little caves with terrible lighting.
The Ritz wins this award hands down, little lint rollers, shoe shine, mouthwash, cotton swabs, floss, laundry soap — not to mention their yummy shampoo and soap. The Gansevoort in NYC even had a spare pair of underpants in the bathroom you could use (for a fee) in case you, um, misplaced yours.
A Sweet Minibar
A local hotel here in Indy, The Alexander, stocks their minibar with locally made artisan goodies while Kimpton hotels let you “raid the minibar” once per stay when you’re a member of their rewards program. The Roosevelt hotel in Hollywood had some of the best Swedish Fish I’ve ever had in my life. But be careful, a lot of minibars are weight sensitive, so even if you pick something up just to look at it and put it back? You’ll be charged.
A Fluffy Duvet
Westin and their Heavenly Bed as well as any Ritz Carlton wins the award for fluffiest duvets. I’d much rather curl up under a duvet than a thin scratchy blanket any day.
A Cheeky Door Hanger
I love collecting funny door hangers. I have one from the Hard Rock Hotel that reads “Go Away, My Ego Needs a Rest” and one from the hotel at West Point that reads “Future Commander in Chief at rest, stand down.” But my absolute favorite? The Haiku door hanger above from The Alexander.
Any robe is better than no robe, but I love the terry robes that are lined with super soft cotton. Kimpton hotels often have animal print robes as well as junior sized animal print robes that can be borrowed for free during your stay.
Ew. When I walk into a room and my shoes stick to the carpet? My shoes stay on for the entirety of my stay. There’s no reason I want to know about for there to be sticky carpet in a hotel room. I mean, if the floor is sticky, what happened everywhere else?
If a hotel says no smoking, there had better be no smoking. There’s nothing I hate worse than having to smell smoke coming from an adjoining room and this is the one area I will make a bit of a stink (no pun intended) about. I can put up with a lot as far as noise and activity, but smoking on a non-smoking floor? Nope. (This is also why I don’t like Vegas very much.)
No Bathroom Door
Thankfully I was alone when I stayed in the hotel room with no door, because had I been with my husband one or the other of us would have had to leave the room when the toilet was being used. There wasn’t even a solid bathroom wall! JUST GLASS! I’ve also been in plenty of hotels that have glass bathroom doors (why?) as well as one in New York that had a window with little shutters that opened right onto the bed. Hotel bathrooms may be badly lit, but just let them stay badly lit, don’t go adding windows on the one room where total and complete privacy is appreciated.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.