5 small things hotels can do to make a big difference

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) An Unreliable Witness

Listen, I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotels and hostels around the world. I’m no Michael Palin, but I have clocked up several hundred nights spent in various establishments over the years. These have ranged from dollar-a-night West African flophouses with concrete floors, no electricity and no running water to a couple of five-star places on last-minute deals.

Each with a story to tell, right?

True. I could tell you all about the place in Mali where I arrived in a malarial state after a long desert truck ride, head thumping and fever rising, only to find that while the hotel indeed was in the “light off, water off” category it had its own bonus concept. Upon opening the cardboard-thin door to my room I discovered that it was supplied with its own prostitute.

Wow. You know, a chocolate on the pillow always seems a bit over-the-top to me…

At the other end of the scale I could tell you all about arriving at a hotel which turned our to be rather classier than I thought with just a plastic bag for luggage; only to be greeted by a uniformed doorman with a hat, white gloves and a puzzled expression. But I digress…

Yes, I’m assuming that neither are examples of “small things hotels can do”?

No you fool. But these are:

1. Free and fast Wi-Fi, all over the building

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Wayda Dreamscape

Surely a minor investment with great customer satisfaction as a reward? Radisson started this a while back, and kudos to them. But why not every hotel? I know you guys are miffed because you can’t charge us ridiculous prices for calls from our rooms anymore now we all have mobiles and can be charged ridiculous prices by our very own operators, but that’s life. You still have the mini-bar and Pay TV to fleece us. We have Trip Advisor.


2. Unless you are prepared to keep them immaculately clean, can’t you just rip up the carpets and have hard floors instead?

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Abby Lanes

Okay, sometimes it’s nice to go barefoot if it’s cold outside, but not when the carpet is flecked with dubious stains and you trample something sticky underfoot… I don’t want to lie awake at night wondering whether my room was the scene of some horrendous crime. Plus it’s hell for people with allergies and it must cost you more to keep clean?


3. Stop with the super wide-angle shots of your indoor pool taken immediately after construction

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Leo Reynolds

Give us the dimensions so we can work out whether that vast ocean of tranquility we see on your website is in fact a postage stamp-sized paddling pool that will reach capacity if two other guests decide to use it at the same time as me.


4. Provide enough power sockets

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Adam Mulligan

You know we’re all travelling with stuff we need to charge, I know you’d love to bill us for the extra few volts we use but it ain’t gonna happen. Don’t make us have to unplug the television or mini-bar in order to recharge an iPhone.


5. Allow us to open the windows

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Vitor Antunes

Not all of us like that authentic Siberian chill you get from air conditioning and even in London fresh air is preferable to the recycled stuff. If you’re genuinely concerned we’re going to jump out, we’ll accept some kind of locking system so that we can’t open them fully in order to give in to temptation, okay?


Look, it’s not much to ask, is it? Of course it may be for some places (only number 5 could possibly apply to that place in Mali) but surely all you hotel folk can at least consider this list?

Now I know I have missed some things, but these seem like reasonable requests. Maybe you have some more ideas – we’d love to hear them!

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1259


  1. One annoying thing hotels are doing, interestingly stems from them trying to make a difference ecologically. Love the initiative to ask their guests to hang towels etc so that energy is not wasted washing them after one use. Unfortunately, when you follow these instructions ( & DON’T throw them in the bath so they know they are to be washed ) the staff are not trained, or not informed and replace them ALL anyway!! Grrrrr! As now, I am an extremely ‘Grown Up’ traveller, who for more than the last 10 years has been trying to make a difference in small ways planet wise …THIS DRIVES ME NUTS!!

  2. I’m with you on this one Lisa. Also the way they replace all the small bottles of shower gel, shampoo etc. even when they’ve barely been touched. On a slightly different note, minibar fridges specifically designed so as not to allow you to put anything of your own in there. Bah!

  3. This is a girly rant – only one bath towel. The times I’ve had to dry myself with a tiny hand towel because I’ve had to use the large one to wrap around my head after washing my long hair because it’s the only one big enough. Are hotels being ecologically aware by asking you to hang your towels up to be re-used – or do they just want to save money on laundry costs. Hmmm…

    • Well it is a bit girly, but I’m sure I’m not alone in also being irritated by the towel thing too Suzanne. And you’re probably right on the motivation behind the towel hanging thing too…or are we just cynical? 🙂

    • That’s a good point Andrew. Best ever was when I splurged on an admittedly expensive place in New York, the Andaz Wall Street. Not just free coffee and tea, but all non-alcoholic drinks in the mini bar fridge (which was big!) were free and restocked each day, and in the lobby you could get any type of fancy tea/coffee and a pastry for free too. That was something else!

  4. What I really appreciate when entering a hotel room, is a complementary bottle of water. As a traveller, you usually have quite a time of travelling behind you when checking in to a hotel, and every so often don’t find time or a place to buy something to drink on the way to the hotel.

    • Agreed. It costs so little but does make a lot of difference. One place I stayed had free (non-alcoholic) drinks and snacks in the minibar, that cost them a little but boy did it make a good impression. I tell everyone about it (it was the Andaz Wall Street, reviewed on this site)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.